Identity crisis – a word on branding
RULES, GUIDELINES AND ALL THAT JAZZ.
If you are one of those people who keeps to guidelines and sticks to rules, then read on. Anyone who has berated you for this in the past can feel a little sheepish right now, because when it comes to your brand identity, you’ve got the right idea.
Ever wondered how the big brands do it, how every piece of visual communications they produce is instantly recognisable?
Way back when, it became apparent that that if every picture, word, drawing, colour and shape that accompanied a brand was all within the same ballpark, an immediately recognisable picture of a business or product was formed.
The idea caught on and after much research, academics began to let everyone know that it worked. Brands all over the world now write documents and guidelines around how their brands should look and sound – and the good ones stick to it.
Your brand is much more than your logo. Industry guru, Colin Bates says “A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer.” These perceptions are created through experiences and associations that are connected with your service, product or entity. Brand equity and recognition (one of your most powerful and valuable possessions) is the result of the good management of those perceptions.
The rewards are worthwhile too. All else being equal, brand recognition can mean sales growth through increased market share, attracting and retaining quality employees, stronger customer loyalty and increased productivity. It influences not only customers, but staff, suppliers, business partners, media and investors.
ALL THIS FROM A LOGO?
Nope, that was a trick question. Let us say it again, your brand is much more than your logo. All this (above) from the good management of perceptions.
A strong brand identity means your brand becomes synonymous with a specific look, sound, emotional response and culture.
Key to maintaining brand integrity is firstly defining and understanding your brand. Part of this is the creation and implementation of a brand identity or style guide document, and sticking to it. This forms an essential part of your internal governance.
Having a clear, precise document for everyone to refer to and follow is a really good start.
Know and understand your brand’s personality – your visual communications needs to reflect this. And while a logo is not the sum of your brand (refer to previous trick question), it is a powerful communicator. So, wherever your logo appears in execution, from business cards, through ads, to websites and beyond, make sure you have followed the rules within the guidelines. Rules include the use of corporate colours, images, background, how much clear space is required around the logo and so on.
Positioning too should stay true to the brand identity. Don’t risk the premium image of a premium brand by positioning it in a budget media and distribution channel – and vice versa.
Rules for your parent/corporate brand might be different to the rules for some of the product brands within your portfolio. Be aware of this and treat them accordingly.
In a nutshell, consistent branding builds instant recognition for your brand, working with you towards a strong, valuable brand.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE INNOVATION?
Don’t confuse brand integrity with boring, repetitive marcomms. You can still have campaigns with cut through and change when appropriate. You can still choose new media channels that challenge traditional marketing. By all means, continue to create your Blue Ocean and Purple Cow Strategies, and of course, make sure your marketing and new product development teams share an office (or at least a lunchroom).
Just always be mindful of the collection of perceptions that you want your customers to have of your brand. Got it?
Can we help with branding? Why yes, we can.