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Investing in Brand Identity


A brand becomes stronger when you narrow the focus.” 

– Al Ries and Laura Ries The 22 Immutable laws of Branding

Reasons to invest in or upgrade your brand identity

A strong brand identity presents any company – regardless of size – with a recognizable image that can help to position it for success. An identity helps to manage perceptions of that company while separating it from the competition. The brand identity will help build brand equity through increased brand recognition, awareness and customer loyalty.

Strategic brand identity works across diverse audiences to build awareness and generate loyalty and companies that capitalize on every opportunity to communicate their company’s brand value build a precious asset.

A brand identity begins with self-knowledge and builds on that in five steps:

  1. We know who we are
  2. Core messages
  3. Targeted messages
  4. Look and feel
  5. Logo

When thinking about “brand” it has been my experience that many companies often want to start at the bottom. Clients will get excited about colors or logos they have seen and offer suggestions. While this input is valuable at some point, it is misplaced. By having a clear understanding of what the company is and their core and targeted messages, the look-and-feel and logo will emerge in a rational and less emotional way.

Five brand essentials:

  1. Capitalize on every opportunity to position your company in your customer’s minds
  2. Communicate your brand idea over and over
  3. Demonstrate your competitive advantage — just don’t say it
  4. Build on customers’ perceptions, preferences, dreams, values and lifestyles.
  5. Identify touch points where customers interface with your products or services

Stay on Message:

The Achilles heel of any branding program is the deviation from message. Regardless of who delivers the message from the President of the company to the salesperson, the company needs to project the same unified message. Whether it is a call-to-action or product description, language must be vital, straightforward and have substance. Brand messages work well when they distill the essence of a product or service. Content and design work together to help differentiate the brand.

Eight keys to Successful Branding:

Matt Symonds, a Forbes Contributor offered these insights about brand from Frank Goedertier, who teaches Brand Management and Marketing at the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School in Belgium, and is currently a visiting scholar at the Kellogg School of Management, suggests there are eight keys to successful branding:

  1. Memorable. Is your slogan (or other brand element) easy to recognize, and easy to recall? Does it have ‘sticking power’?
  2. Meaningful. This can be achieved in a descriptive way, such as a clear link with what you do – a product category, the business you are in. Or it can be done in a persuasive way – emphasizing your unique selling proposition, or a key point of difference, such as a special benefit you offer. In either case, credibility is essential, as a slogan must link with customer expectations.
  3. Likeable. Does it look good, and does it sound right?
  4. Transferability. Is the slogan universal enough to cover new categories, new business ventures and international markets? Make sure the words are easily pronounceable in as many countries as possible and look out for possible misinterpretation.
  5. Protectability. Think about the aspect of copyrights, and make sure you can legally protect your brand elements internationally. Also, make sure you don’t invest in building up awareness of brand elements that can be easily and legally copied by others.
  6. Authenticity. The best slogans reflect the essence of a company, its very soul. And the best way to achieve authenticity is to work from the inside out, by understanding what your people believe the business is about because every single one of them will need to be an ambassador for the brand in the outside world.
  7. Simplicity. In an age of information overload less is most definitely more. Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it clear.
  8. Adaptability. In a rapidly changing world you need to future –proof your brand as much as possible, which means making it as adaptable as possible. Brand consistency and brand relevance are not mutually exclusive. With courage and inventiveness they can be made to work hand-in-hand.

Brand identity may be best summed by this quote from Walter Landor, Landor and Associates; “Products are created in factories. Brands are created in the mind.”

How do you want your brand perceived?

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by Toby Cowan, Performance Design Group

Toby is practicing designer with over 35 years design experience from branding, to packaging to product design to promotional marketing. His most visible branding project was the rebranding of Exchange Bank. Performance Design Group, Sebastopol, CA 95472 [email protected]