For many people branding can be a complex topic and there is much confusion as to what denotes a brand and what the merits of a good brand are. To define a brand in it’s simplest form, it is the perception of your company, which you have built up inside the mind of your prospect market.
Building a Brand
A brand describes much more than just a company’s logo. A company’s brand should reflect the company’s corporate values and personality and should be strong enough to stand the test of time. A strong brand should help to differentiate your company from your competitors and build confidence in your company in the eyes of your customers, staff and shareholders.
So, when developing a brand identity, companies need to think strategically about who they want to be, who they want to target and where they want to lead. All of these elements will help define the company’s brand.
Before you even consider brand logos and visuals, it is vital to establish a common brand management vocabulary in your organisation. Branding is all about delivering messages to your target market. If you are to translate a message to your target audience through your brand, you must first be very clear internally as to what you want to say. To create a great brand, we must first tease out what the customer values and then define the promises that will give you a competitive edge. Once this is established, you must create a set of clearly defined corporate messages to educate the customer about your brand promise.
A logo in its simplest form is the way in which your company image is represented on your official letterhead or on the front of your shop or business premises. A logo usually consists of a symbol, the business name and sometimes a tag line that describes what the company does. The symbol is important if your organisation has a generic name that is also used by others – for example a family name.
Tag lines are used for two reasons, either to describe what you do if the company name does not already do this, or to sell the benefit of using your company for example – ‘making your life easier’. The logo can be considered the public face of the company – the unique visual element that makes it recognisable.
Brand identity is a combination of visual, auditory, and other sensory components that create recognition and provide differentiation for your company or product. Once you have agreed a logo, tag line and creative image for your company it should be represented consistently across all your printed materials, signage, vehicles and websites. This includes ensuring that the right colours and fonts are used at all times. This is often easier said than done – the range of colours available for signage materials is very limited compared to the range that can be achieved by a printer; likewise the pallet of colours available for screen graphics in websites is very different.
In order to get the most from your corporate identity, you must insist that your logo is represented consistently across all mediums. Discuss this with each supplier and if possible, appoint one person in your company responsible for maintaining a consistent identity.
The brand is the personality of your company – the way in which words, messages and images are used to support the logo. Products targeted at a young audience will use different themes in their adverts to similar products targeted at their parents.
A successful brand personality clearly communicates to your target audience who you are and what you do. Some of the world’s most successful brands are very simple designs but they are strong because they have been used consistently across all types of media. Good marketing strategy is equally important to good design when building your brand.
The big brands, such as Coca Cola and Heineken did not become successful by accident. They have been strengthened over time by consistent use of their logo and corporate identity and by building a targeted and creative brand personality. It’s worth remembering that you do not need a big budget to make your brand work. Innovative design, a simple message and consistent use of your brand can ensure that even the smallest company stands out from the crowd.