Most small and even some medium sized businesses use the term ‘brand’ interchangeably with ‘logo’. In reality, a logo is just the graphic device that represents the company or product.
SO WHAT IS A BRAND?
A brand is more than a simple graphic device. It tells the entire ‘story’ of your marketing strategy.
A true brand brings meaning and relevance to your product and occupies a particular position within the mind of your customer or prospect. It speaks to your market in ways that are less obvious, using non-verbal cues, metaphors and other subtle, albeit powerful tools.
Take a moment to think about these well-known and easily recognized brands; Mini Cooper, iPod, Hell’s Pizza, 42 Below, Tui, Volvo.
You may not be able to immediately recall the logo devices of all these brands, but you will most likely have an innate feeling and opinion about their brand personality and what they mean to you, positive or negative.
The reason for this is that over time we look beyond the logo device and base our brand opinion on the experience we have with a product or company, from the way they speak to us in the written and spoken marketing word, down to the way they interact with us in personal contact situations.
Nothing kills a brand faster than failing to deliver on the brand promise. Unless you are confident you can deliver, don’t over promise.
The use of carefully selected colour palettes and fonts, style of copywriting, general format of printed material and templates, all communicate a specific message. In fact, a strong brand can create recognition even when the logo device is not visible.
Branding is all about personality. Compare a brand to our own personality – in assessing ourselves we would include our appearance, voice, style of speech, mannerisms, sense of humour, temperament and a host of other traits. All of these aspects would add up to brand ‘ME’.
Although some of these elements may not be unique to us, when combined in a particular way (according to our DNA) they create our own unique personality. In the same way, numerous brands may use similar fonts, others may use the same colours, but your brand brings these elements together in its own unique way (brand DNA), setting you apart.
TELLING A COMPELLING & MEMORABLE STORY
You can’t build a credible brand without a unique value proposition. It serves the same purpose as the underlying plot of a great novel or movie.
The elevator speech is THE STORY of the brand and captures the essence of your unique value proposition in a concise and easily understood statement.
When an elevator speech is correctly written, anyone in your company can use it to explain to a prospect what makes your company or product different from all the others out there. This piece also becomes a core component of your marketing messaging.
The brand story reflects your marketing strategy and can’t be divorced from it or seen in isolation. Therefore, logic tells us that you cannot develop an effective brand without a clear marketing strategy.
BE FLEXIBLE, BUT CONSISTENT
When you’re developing your brand identity with your marketing agency, don’t be too close-minded. We have seen clients reject a colour or font because it had been used in a logo for a completely different product in a totally unrelated industry. Just because someone else has used it doesn’t mean it’s not well suited to your brand.
There are literally millions of logo designs out in the market and it’s quite possible that your logo may use a similar colour palette or font style to a brand somewhere else in the world. Your brand becomes unique in the way the elements are combined and consistently applied to represent your strategy and personality. This is where a BRAND GUIDE can be a valuable tool.
A typical brand guide details:
- Acceptable versions of the logo (standard colour, reversed, black and white, grayscale)
- Colour palette usage and official colours in the main colour systems (CMYK, RGB, hexadecimal, PMS)
- Font styles and sizes to be used
- How the logo should be applied
- Graphic templates for common applications
FALSE ECONOMY & MAXIMISING YOUR BRAND VALUE
Consistent delivery of your core marketing message and graphic identity elements are critical to building and maintaining a strong brand.
These companies may have their business cards, stationary and even their marketing brochures designed by their local printer. (Local printers often do design work as a loss-leader, making their margin on the printing).
Others may use a nephew or niece who is studying graphic design at university or polytechnic, or even worse, they may try to do it themselves using Publisher. They may also get the Yellow Pages in-house design team to develop their directory ads, usually free of charge.
Some companies have their advertising material designed, either free of charge or at low cost, by the media that it is due to run in. It’s just hard to imagine how a graphic designer at a magazine or newspaper would have the depth of understanding of a company’s marketing and brand strategy to be able to produce anything more than a ‘pretty’ ad.
In most cases, these companies use a range of unrelated suppliers or designers to craft their marketing and promotional material. Whilst this can save on costs, the inherent downfall of this approach is that strategic branding (or marketing strategy) is not being applied. This ‘economical’ approach weakens a brand’s potential to develop a firm position in the mind of the customer or prospect over time.
When you consider the total cost of executing a full suite of marketing material, the additional cost to have the brand professionally designed and executed by a capable marketing or design agency is minimal. It’s really false economy to do it any other way.