Have you ever had someone tell you “This isn’t consistent with our branding!” or “No, this doesn’t reflect our branding!”? How about “This company’s branding is awesome!”? Branding! Branding! Branding! What is it really? You hear it so often, but people don’t really tell you what makes up a good brand or what ‘branding’ actually covers. Funny, when you can’t design one or know if you have a good one without knowing what they consist of.

The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

  • Delivers your message clearly
  • Confirms your credibility
  • Connects your target prospects emotionally
  • Motivates your buyer (if you are in the business of selling a product or service)

So what does a strong brand have? A strong brand has:

1. A Logo. Not just any logo, though. A strong brand has a logo that’s memorable, distinctive, and says something about the company and what it is about. Think Coca Cola – no one will confuse it with, say, Pepsi, or any generic soda brand.

A logo is very important and you must be careful when making a decision about the design since your logo appears on your website and anything else it fits on. Like the coat of arms or wax seal of royalty, your logo becomes your company’s representation – your brand’s “ownership” that people will associate with your company, permanently.

2. A Tagline. That catchy, memorable line of text that says what your company stands for. It’s almost like the summary of your brand and the text version of your logo. As a matter of fact, when used in just the right way, customers can recall taglines just as easily, if not more easily than the logo itself. Think M&Ms – Melts in your mouth…not in your hands!

3. A Design. A company can go through several poster or website designs. Even brick and mortar stores can have several design changes, but regardless of what type of design it is or where it’s found, the feeling, traits, and images it provokes are the brand.

a. Colors. One of the key elements of building a strong brand is color choice. Every color has a different feel and various associations. By choosing a color or a combination of colors for your brand identity, you will take on those associations. Colors will evoke certain emotions and feelings towards your brand so it is vital to choose a color that will represent your identity effectively. Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.

Facts you should also remember about colors:

  • Color is a powerful promotional tool. Brand color can be a niche marketing tool the way a movie poster finds the movie audience.
  • The right color scheme can get people interested in your brand and remember it.
  • Colors should be trendy and catchy (use “colors that pop”) – Think Skype Blue or Yahoo Red or Google Rainbow.
  • The most important thing to remember about colors in branding is to be consistent and original in colorizing your brand.

Some questions to ask yourself when deciding your brand’s color scheme:

1. What color represents your brand’s personality? Colors aren’t tied to any particular industry — though some may be better suited for some services/products than others. You should aim to pick a color that will represent your brand’s personality best. One that will give your customers the right impression the first time they see it.

2. What color suits the characteristics of your product/service?

a. You aren’t limited to one color. Some brands like eBay, choose to go with many colors to represent variety — but you can also choose a couple of colors that work well together.

b. Consider differences in cultural interpretations of your color. For example in the Western world, white is considered the color of purity and peace, however, in some parts of Asia white is the color of death. Make sure the color you select will give the right impressions in the markets you’re present in.

3. What color does your competitor(s) use? Pick a color opposite to that of your main competitor. The color of your main competitor is probably the most important point to consider. If you’re the first in a new industry or market segment, then you have first picks. Choose the color that represents your product and its personality. If you’re second, then that first choice may already be taken. Instead of picking the same or similar color, pick the opposite. Pick blue if your competitor has red, pick purple if they have yellow, etc. A brand’s strength lies in its ability to stand out. Picking the same color to that of your key competitor makes you a me-too product. Instead, you want to separate yourself from the competitor, you want to show that you’re different.

b. Font. Users assess it subconsciously, business owners often brush it off, and typographers are obsessed with it. The fonts used on letters, advertising, and websites may not seem that important at first glance, but they can have a profound effect on the perception of a company. It’s yet another important ingredient of a strong brand.

4. Content. What a company says can become a vital ingredient in a strong brand, but don’t think it ends there. The tone and style of that content can become even more important. Fun, light-hearted, and creative text hardly conjures images of the tax department or an academic school. On the opposite end of the scale, stiff, dry, formal content hardly makes a company feel approachable or seem easy to connect with.

5. A Marketing Style. How a company chooses to market itself greatly determines how customers see it. I don’t think there’s any greater example out there of this than those budget car dealer commercials. If a bank, bar, or luxury hotel did that, consumers would run the other direction! Plain, boring, uninspired text ads wouldn’t inspire consumers to buy if they were for a graphic design company either.

6. A Customer Service Style. How a company provides its customer service is often not thought of when it comes to brand strategies, but it’s another ingredient consumers remember most. Is it cold, disconnected, and formal? Is it precise and do customer service representatives demonstrate an eye for detail, putting the customer first? Is the process fun, light, and creative?

7. An External Image. Social media presence, search results, reviews, and public interactions all play a part in determining a company’s brand. The traits expressed in these situations can quickly and easily overshadow all of the other branding designed by the company, particularly if the two differ.

In summary, your brand is more than a series of words or symbols; it is your corporate identity. Your name and logo should tell people who have never been to your establishment or your website something about you. Your brand should be strong enough to convey a message and a feeling in an instant. When you run a small newspaper ad, besides a website, phone number and address, your logo and tagline may be all someone has by which to judge your business. If your logo and tagline look professional, that alone may be the reason that someone decides to try your product or service for the first time.

If you need help developing your brand identity, contact us here.