AS A CREATIVE BRANDING AGENCY, DARWIN COMBINE MARKETING, DESIGN AND BRANDING EXPERTISE TO GIVE OUR CLIENTS THAT EXTRA ADVANTAGE THAT WILL HELP THEM ACHIEVE THEIR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES.
The ability to produce creative and consistent branding is a Darwin signature, and given our 30 years’ experience in branding, we believe we have advantages and insights to offer that can make significant differences to almost any company, large or small, local or national.
Such strong branding experience, combined with our expertise in marketing and design, gives us (and our clients) an added advantage in enhancing the awareness, performance and impact of products and services in virtually any sector, whether public or private, retail or corporate, B2B or B2C.
This quick introduction is intended to clarify the fundamentals of strong branding for business, and to help you understand how expert branding can help your business improve its profits.
With amazing regularity, one of the first questions we get asked is how do you define brand?
From long experience the way we see a brand as a living thing that requires attention and investment. The term ‘brand’ can be applied to a product, but also to a service, or even an entire company. A genuine, true brand cannot be seen, but the emotions and feelings it invokes shape and guide a customer’s decisions.
At one level a brand is a product or service with a name. As consumers in a consumer society we use brands everyday to help us define our values, our lifestyles and our goals. Products that are well branded sell better than those that aren’t. The exact same is true of companies. If you don’t have a brand you have a commodity, and commodities have a limited shelf life. They can be imitated, undercut and eventually forced out of the market.
Our goal is to ensure that our client’s brands, whether products, services, or organisations, stand out from the crowd and communicate effectively with their customers.
Well, the Oxford Dictionary covers brand definition as:
1. A type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name. ‘a new brand of soap powder’
1.1 A brand name.
‘the firm will market computer software under its own brand’
‘it takes a long time to build a brand’
1.2 A particular identity or image regarded as an asset.
‘you can still invent your own career, be your own brand’
1.3 A particular type or kind of something.
‘they entertained millions with their inimitable brand of comedy’
The Business Dictionary definition of branding business is:
‘The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.’
Whilst Entrepreneur Small Business Encyclopedia defines branding as:
‘The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.’
Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small. Develop an effective brand strategy and you equip your business with a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. And the hard truth is, no business can afford to ignore branding because it’s the personality, voice and character of the business: a distinctive brand identity helps you get recognised instantly in a crowd, and be thought of in positive, relevant ways.
So, to answer the question: the perfect business branding definition comprises the immediately identifiable and positive expression of your product or service’s major strengths and unique attributes in ways that are memorable, entirely yours and compelling in their engagement and motivation of your intended market.
Let’s reduce that mouthful to bite-size: in the Darwin book, for the perfect business brand you have to create something that is unique, relevant, positive and concise.
We believe that perfect branding is branding that is apparent in every aspect of the company, product or service it belongs to, from staff uniforms to stationery, taglines to typography, corporate colours to … every contact point the brand has with the world, in fact.
Bear in mind that what makes one business brand perfect is probably unsuitable for any other company. But the principle is the same. Everything is the brand, and the brand is everything.
Businesses survive, succeed, grow and prosper by boosting profits. There are various ways to achieve greater profit, but one of the routes forward and upward is to brand build.
Now, there are businesses and organisations that, for whatever reason, hold to an ‘all the eggs in one basket’ approach, meaning they rely on just one or two sources of contracts, commissions or leads. This creates an over-dependence which can be fatal: if the one key source dries up – and we all know it can happen – the business’s lifeblood ceases to flow. Suddenly new clients must be found, and fast. It’s heart attack stuff, it’s inefficient, it means downtime and downtime is bad news.
What’s this got to do with building a brand? A unique brand is a differentiator between your business, service or product and your rivals. A well-built brand can help strengthen loyalty in customers, making them less likely to stray, more likely to stay. A brilliantly built brand predisposes prospective clients to coming over to you, making it easier to attract and win more business and counteract the dreaded, ‘all eggs in one basket’ syndrome.
Let’s go a step further. If you really want to maximise the returns on your brand build, you have to be prepared to look much further beyond refreshing your logo.
Most businesses think they know how to accomplish a successful brand build. As you have seen on many a television quiz show, the answers are obvious … when you know them. Here are Darwin’s top tips for getting professionally organised on your next brand building project.
1. YOUR BRAND HAS TO BE CLEARLY DEFINED
The defining of a brand can be a revealing experience, leading to unexpected and painful truths being laid bare. It can be cathartic and produce dazzling insights that set you off on hugely successful routes. It is important that you undertake research; study the needs, desires and routines of your clients, current and potential alike.
2. MAKE YOUR MAIN BRAND VALUES AND MESSAGES ABUNDANTLY CLEAR
Work out the principal messages you must convey about your brand. Make sure that all employees understand your top line brand values and messages. Keep them simple.
3. MAKE YOUR BRAND POSITIONING OBVIOUS
The definition of your brand’s position is a cornerstone of your brand build and has to be easily and quickly understandable. Your positioning should be built on clear benefits that are of ready interest to your target consumers. Your positioning should be significantly different to your competitors’. To establish your best positioning stance, it’s always best to thoroughly research your industry, your clients and your rivals.
4. DEVELOP A VOICE FOR YOUR BUSINESS THAT IS IN TUNE WITH YOUR BRAND
This voice should be consistent across every piece of written communication and visual material, offline and on. Is your brand long-established and technical? Then perhaps you should endow it with a cool, almost academic mood, always getting to the point without elaboration? Or is your brand young and new? Maybe reflect that with an informal, stripped-down, more in-your-face style. You get the gist…
5. CREATE YOUR OWN BRAND STRATEGY
Work out where you want your business to be in the short, medium and long term. Then map out how you intend getting there. That’s your brand strategy, in simple terms. It sounds easy and you’ve heard it said before. But surprisingly few people actually do it thoroughly and honestly. The temptation to kid yourself on is strong, so be brutally honest about your abilities and expectations.
Your brand strategy is your plan for developing a successful brand that will hit particular targets. The best defined and delivered brand strategies impact on every facet of a business. Your strategy will be directly linked to your clients’ practical needs, emotional impulses, and competitive marketplace. Distribution channels, advertising media, logo, typography, office furniture … everything, absolutely everything, should be considered when composing your strategy.
The brand strategy for your business will be highly specific, based on the particulars of your market, products and services. It is unlikely that another company’s strategy for a brand will perfectly fit yours. By all means learn from others but don’t be slavish when planning how you intend creating and delivering your brand communications.
6. CONSTRUCT A POWERFUL BRAND IDENTITY
We all know great brands when we see them and hear them. After all, they make sure we know them. They work extremely hard at being instantly recognisable. They convey their benefits with total clarity and immediate effect. And they always, always nurture the priceless mother-lode of customer loyalty that binds people to the brand and generates repeat business at enviable prices. A valuable fixed business asset in its own right, a brand has to represent your services and products; it must also fit with your prospective customer base. Your brand identity is how your company is perceived through its communication of benefits, strengths, values and function. Get your brand identity right, and it will open doors you didn’t even know were there.
7. TAILOR YOUR COMMUNICATION MATERIALS
Well-managed, engaging brand communication material – ‘collateral’ is another term for it – wins a foothold for your brandname where prospective customers will see it. If your brand communication collateral is good enough, they’ll remember it, and repeat viewings will build up your reputation. The best branding enables customers’ familiarity with your services and products and pre-disposes them to purchase and recommend them (which is free advertising of the best kind: word-of-mouth).
By ‘materials’ and ‘collateral’ we mean stationery, logo, social media, brochures, pamphlets, flyers, advertising across all media including tv, website, vehicle livery, signage, packaging, exhibition stands and banners, promotional videos, PR and uniforms – any part of the business that makes contact with your marketplace – is a touch point. Even the humble key ring and pin badge are collateral. As the legendary Fred Lebow, founder of the New York Marathon, said, “Never underestimate the power of a well-designed t-shirt.”
8. SPREAD THE WORD
If someone has no idea who you are, what you do or where you are from, do you really expect them to simply buy straight into what you’re offering or selling? It’s a big ask. However, when people have at least heard of you and know something about you – if only your name – they are more likely to at least hear you out. It is crucial that you put your name, logo and tagline into the marketplace, in as many places as you can that are relevant: take care over the signage of your offices, your vehicle livery, your website and all collateral.
Make your brand communications precise and aim them accurately. But get the word out there – Paulo Nutini sings it perfectly, “I’m out and about, so I’m in with a shout.”
9. STAY CONSISTENT
Keep all your brand messages and materials consistent in tone of voice and appearance. “Repetition is erudition,” as the wise old admen say, so once you have settled on your branding, do not stray: stick with it. You may be endlessly familiar with your brand, seeing it day after day, but beware subjective thinking. Customers need time to get used to your brand. Try not to be swayed by personal hunches, random comments or anecdotal evidence. Audit your brand at regular intervals: it is sound procedure, but do it with the help of a professional branding consultant, for genuinely objective scrutiny and advice.
OR TO PUT IT ANOTHER WAY, AS WE WERE ASKED RECENTLY AT AN INITIAL MEETING WITH A NEW PROSPECT, ‘WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF BRANDING?’
Well, firstly, branding is all about forming relationships with your customer. Companies do not choose customers: customers choose them. This choice is based on trust. Trust is based on clarity, sincerity and integrity of communication. The underlying ethos of all branding is this bond that has been nurtured between company and consumer.
The importance of branding lies in its ability to engage its target market, wherever and whenever it is encountered, and to overcome its rival brands.
Here are just six reasons branding is important:
1. BRANDING MAKES IT EASIER FOR THE CUSTOMER TO BUY
Customers automatically and instinctively understand a product, company, or service’s feature and benefits from its brand. This makes branding an essential tool in influencing consumer purchase decisions.
2. BRANDING MAKES IT EASIER FOR YOUR COMPANY TO SELL
Not only does a brand influence customers, but it also places an inherent value judgement on the company itself, and influences what people are prepared to pay for it.
3. BRANDING MAKES IT EASY TO BUILD BRAND EQUITY
Brands can create a repository of recognition, awareness, and customer loyalty, if you invest in the brands carefully. These benefits exert influence further, for longer than typical profit-based initiatives.
4. BRANDING CREATES AWARENESS
Awareness is created by precise and accurate brand communications, utilising the right media, targeting the right people, and using the right overall message.
5. BRANDING BUILDS TRUST AND BRAND LOYALTY
A brand is a shortcut to conveying the compelling truth behind your product, company or service. In addition, if a brand lives up to its promises, a greater bond of loyalty will develop between it and the consumer.
6. BRANDING CAN INCREASE SALES
Only one company can ever be the cheapest, so a strong brand is a more valuable asset in customers choosing you over the competition. We recommend that you differentiate yourself in ways other than just price. Being cheap isn’t unique.
Those six points above are the stripped-down key benefits of branding, if you can get it right. Getting branding right is another matter, usually best dealt with by a professional branding agency such as Darwin, where experience, expertise and creativity in not just branding but also design and marketing can accelerate the journey to more effective branding.
Branding is one of the most powerful tools in business. It is a truly influential and dynamic symbol of a company’s activities. If you understand exactly how and why branding influences customers in their consumer choices, then you can start utilising the limitless potential your brand contains.
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THE TERM CORPORATE BRANDING DESCRIBES THE PROMOTION OF THE BRAND NAME OF A CORPORATE OR COMMERCIAL BUSINESS, RATHER THAN PRODUCTS OR SERVICES.
The work that goes into creating corporate branding differs from product and service branding in that the scale is normally significantly wider, being applied mainly to larger-scale businesses.
While corporate branding is recognisably distinct from product or service branding, these separate means of branding can occur in tandem within a single corporation – in some instances they will complement and strengthen one another, increasing the overall effect, but this isn’t always feasible or even desirable (some brands are best left to stand alone). How corporate brands and their related brands combine is called the corporate brand architecture.
If your business has not yet created its own strategy for corporate branding, the best time to start is now. Please set aside any notions that this seems too much like hard work – many clients tell us they feel like they are way too busy to begin again on logos, brochures, packaging, website, marketing collateral, social media, and so on … but when the business looks, sounds and feels unified and corporate with its own, unique, well-honed branding edge, they acknowledge it is well worth the effort.
Basically, the longer the delay, the more opportunities you miss to progress your business faster, and the more entrenched customers’ misconceptions become about your company’s brand. At Darwin we have an impressively big file of case studies showing how dysfunctional a business brand can become through years of misdirection or, well, no easy way to say it – neglect. As we said, best start the overhaul today.
With painful regularity, corporate branding is regarded as merely changing the company logo. This assumption is not only simplistic, it is also wrong, to the point of being detrimental to the financial health of the business.
Yes, your logo, colours, tagline and so on are important, but we recommend you only review them after your strategy has been finalised. Good, productive corporate branding deserves your comprehensive focus, drawing on more professional expertise and action than a made-over marketing shop window stocked with irrelevant promises.
Put a solid corporate branding strategy in place and you make it easier to a) develop your long-term vision and b) create and exploit distinctive positions in the market place. When your corporate brand strategy is clearly thought-out, it is easy for your whole company, from shop floor to boardroom, to understand the idea behind it, and to implement the actions required. The most accessible strategies for corporate branding can enable even entire global corporations to maximise the value of their assets, fixed and non-fixed alike.
Properly executed corporate branding strategies create a halo effect of Branding Excellence throughout the company’s people, which in turn encourages pride in the business and better performance and results. All going well, more people perceive the company as a place worth working; they are attracted to work for you, results kick on again … you see how it works. All rooted in preparing the strategy.
Yes and no. While we are at this point, let’s add Business Branding and Enterprise Marketing into the mix. To a certain extent, they are all pretty similar with only the scale of the project differentiating one from another.
The terms Company Branding and Business Branding tend to refer to single-site and smaller businesses, whereas Corporate Branding refers more to multi-site, national and, most commonly, international businesses. Enterprise Branding focuses more on attracting and securing new customers, versus serving your existing clientele.
The processes used are essentially identical, and no matter what type of entity you are dealing with, you are still branding a business or organisation of some kind.
The branding business goes back a long way, and the model of business branding has always been the same, from the days of the Wild West, up to the multi-media market place of today. Cattle ranchers in the Old West had to brand-mark their herds in order to differentiate them from their competitors’ and neighbours’ stock; they did their branding with hot irons, searing letters or shapes onto the hides, literally to mark them out. The same still holds true today, where companies, products, or services attach a name and a symbol or shape to their goods and communications.
Branding in business refers to every touchpoint your business has with the outside world, including prospects, existing customers, suppliers, employees and stakeholders. Now think about how important that is for a second: consider how you would like to be perceived by each group. Next, think about how each group currently perceives you. Is it as you would like?
Being part of a business that makes a difference has an inspirational and motivational feeling to it. Contributing to the success of a company that is identifiable through a powerful, unique brand image carries a certain cachet. Management and staff alike are proud to say they work for a major-league company – after all, these companies are superstars in the marketing universe, and they all have managed to burn their name, mark and attitude onto millions of minds and memories. Such companies prosper through more than a logo and a slogan or tagline – their brand touches our emotions and instincts.
It is important to understand the business of branding. Only then can you harness branding’s strengths, and genuinely set about branding your business in ways that help you stand out from the crowd. As branding and marketing consultants Darwin work with businesses of many sizes, in numerous sectors, to do just that – be outstanding.
Businesses use branding to give them an edge. It allows them to stand out from their competitors and become desirable. The importance of branding a business lies in the ability to engage the target market, wherever and whenever it is encountered, and to out-think and overcome rival brands.
Four real reasons branding is important:
1. GIVES YOU A SALES EDGE
2. BUILDS GOODWILL
3. PROTECTS YOUR GOOD NAME IF THINGS GO AWRY
4. MAKES IT EASIER TO NETWORK WITH POTENTIAL CLIENTS AND INFLUENTIAL DECISION-MAKERS
Those are the stripped-down key benefits of branding, if you can get it right. Getting branding absolutely on point is another matter, usually best dealt with by a professional branding consultancy such as Darwin, where experience, expertise and creativity in not just branding but also design and marketing can accelerate the journey to more effective branding.
The ‘products’ of retailers are their shops or stores, which can be advertised and marketed to consumers in ways not unlike those used on branded items. The ‘retail brand’ is often considered to be a chain of the retailer’s outlets which bear a distinctive name and logo.
Every retailer has its own brand, though some are bigger, more recognisable and stronger than others. Consumers’ recognition of a brand and affinity for its values are vital to the creation of a powerful retail brand. Branding professionals understand retail branding as a comprehensive marketing management idea, built into every aspect of the business and targeted on generating long term customer loyalty.
In branding retail goods, services and concepts, businesses expect that better levels of differentiation from rivals will lead to bigger profits. Brands that stand out from the competition can build up long-term consumer loyalty, which has two benefits: customers spend more money in your stores and consequently deny business to your competitors.
It takes time to establish a unique, readily recognised brand image. Brands take root as consumers learn about them, accumulating memories of the brand and its benefits. It is important to repeat the same brand message over significant periods of time, because that helps strengthen brand associations. Without regular reminders, memories fade and are overtaken by competitors’ branding messages. Previous investment in building your brand can be wasted if you alter the brand marketing. Continuity and clarity are key. Some of the most successful businesses on the planet stick to a consistent, sometimes unchanging, brand message for tens of years, because they know through experience that continuity is fundamental to the success of branding. Tinker at your peril!
Inconsistency damages a brand. Consumers are reassured by familiar harmonies and regular confirmation of their understanding, their knowledge and the facts they have gathered about your brand. This effect is recognised in science as The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance … in other words your brand will only really succeed when you join up all the different aspects of the retail brand and get them functioning as one.
Risk management is another important function of a brand. Customers have confidence in a favourite brand, because they don’t just see a familiar name, they also instantly (almost subliminally) associate it with a neat bunch of attractive features and benefits they like. And why choose some unknown brand over one you know and trust?
A retail marketing ‘mix’ is what happens when a retailer brings together every marketing tool available to him or her and puts some or all of them to work on the target market. The term ‘mix’ means that no one tool is used solo; it’s the combination of several tools that does the job. Every element in the mix has to complement the others; all must be synchronised together; all must convey the same brand message. Otherwise, you are not working to the max.
The modern retail environment is a complicated place. Achieving a good, tight fit among the many marketing elements available to you, plus all your brand contact points is testing. But it is worth the effort. Businesses such as Boots, Waitrose, IKEA and Next, for instance, are brands that prosper in part because they convey a consistent image and identity with not just their signage and logos, but also their in-store ambience, ticketing, price ranges, correspondence and face-to-face customer care.
Many of today’s brands position themselves as a way of life – they are sometimes described as lifestyle brands. Flagship stores and shopping malls are no longer simply big shops or retail outlets; they are deliberately designed to be places where people enjoy getting together within a beautifully crafted and staged environment. Such stores are where a brand’s public (or ‘population’) can see the brand at its best and, almost as importantly, be with people who think the same way as they do. All of which reinforces the belief and trust in the brand. Do not underestimate the power that a venue can exert on a person’s preferences.
Flagship stores provide an outstanding way for a robust brand to quickly make an impressive, signature statement, as well as establish and emphasise profile in a fresh marketplace.
There are three massive answers to that question: sales strength, commercial vitality and business influence. Brand image is immensely powerful, particularly when developed by a marketing, design and branding company that appreciates all the angles. Like Darwin.
Whilst every client and every project may differ, whether its corporate branding, company branding, business branding or retail branding the goal is nearly always the same, and that’s why investing in branding your business is crucial.
1. INCREASE MARKET SHARE
2. INCREASE SALES
3. INCREASE PROFITS
4. RAISE BRAND PROFILE AND AWARENESS
5. GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
LET’S START AT THE START: FOR A BRAND TO EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE, IT HAS TO BE RECOGNISED (IF NOBODY RECOGNISES A BRAND, IT IS NOT REALLY A BRAND AND MAY AS WELL NOT EXIST). SO, BRAND PERCEPTION BEGINS WITH BRAND RECOGNITION. BUT WHAT IS BRAND RECOGNITION?
Before a brand can be truly powerful, it has to possess its own unique brand recognition. In other words you have to know how to create a recognisable brand, that is immediately distinguishable from the competition and consistently identifiable wherever and whenever seen.
Skilled branding companies know how to build recognition into a brand through colour, typography, brand logo design, packaging, shape, taglines … if you’ve ever wondered why is brand recognition important, you only have to consider how many ways there are for your brand to be confused with someone else’s. A good branding agency can help you set your brand apart from the rest, memorably and effectively. Darwin have massive experience in small business branding services that work.
Here’s a basic question that too few people ask often enough: what is brand perception? It’s how your brand is viewed by other people. Frequently, how they see your brand is not how you see your brand. Many otherwise excellent business owners and managers are too close to their products and services, too embedded in entrenched assumptions, to have an objective overview. It’s worth hiring a professional branding, marketing and design company like Darwin to help you gain 20/20 vision on your brand’s perception.
The capacity to share massive amounts of information freely and immediately, 24/7, has made perception of brands more important than ever. The sheer speed and influence of social media exerts immense power on customer opinion, which in turn is pivotal in maintaining and establishing brand perception. When you want to understand how to improve brand perception, and control brand perception, you first of all need to know what the opinions of your customers truly are.
At this point, there are serious questions to be asked, such as what does the brand represents to the customers? How do they view the brand’s logo, tagline, services and products? What do they take from the brand’s printed material, or shopfronts or packaging? Once you establish what the customer’s perceptions are, how do they measure up against rival brands?
Owners of brands often say that they fully comprehend what their brand embodies and conveys. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? The truth is, an owner’s understanding of the brand, while valuable, is often influenced by personal hopes, ambitions and assumptions, rather than what the target market actually think. In business and commerce, this situation can be limiting, damaging and sometimes deadly.
Perception is not always reality. There’s always a kitten who sees a fierce tiger in the mirror. But when it comes to your brand, the truth lies 100% in the customer’s perception. Their perception is reality, every time. So your brand strategy can either open their eyes to the wonderful world of you, or it will suffer a first-round knockout.
To create a unique brand perception requires sound knowledge of your market, including rival products and the media that most effectively presents your messages. And in understanding brand perception you must be ready to accept some home truths about what you are saying and selling – mind you, some home truths turn out to be good news: Darwin have helped clients uncover some brilliant business opportunities and product benefits they didn’t know were there.
Brand awareness is how strongly a brand is identified by prospective and existing customers, and how accurately it is associated with a specific service or product.
Normally measured in terms of percentages within the relevant business sector or market, brand awareness is often the main, if not sole aim of advertising in the introductory or launch period of a campaign. Branding awareness campaigns can exert significant influence on investment in goods and services and deserve to be created carefully and strongly with professional attention to detail.
Understanding brand positioning is, in essence, about where you place your brand in the mind of your target market. Do you want them to think of your brand as high-end or bargain basement? Sophisticated or cheap and cheerful? You have to define your brand position in detail, and be honest about your brand’s features, qualities and shortcomings. You have to look closely at who buys your brand … and who you want to buy your brand.
Knowing how to establish a brand positioning requires patience and clear thinking, plus a willingness to regularly review the situation and subtly reposition the brand whenever necessary.
Defining your brand positioning statement requires a concise summation of where your brand stands in the minds of its intended market. You should also write a brand positioning statement suited to your staff and any suppliers – these will be slightly different, so you may need two. When we say ‘concise’ we mean 25 words max.
How to create a great brand positioning statement is more of an art than a science, and ideally you should take advice from a professional branding agency, who can contribute experience and objectivity.
Okay, you have positioned your brand. Eventually you will have to consider repositioning.
Repositioning brands is simply an adjustment to how your brand is perceived by your intended audience. At least, the principle is simple: in practice you’ll have to reconsider every aspect of the brand because, like doing a Rubik’s Cube, once you shift a couple of pieces, the rest are askew.
Is brand repositioning worth the outlay? Yes! And no! Accurately and sensitively re-calibrate how your brand is viewed by others, in terms of pricepoint, upmarket versus low end, change of unique selling proposition, and so on, and you can reap significant rewards. Professional brand repositioning can be achieved relatively inexpensively, maybe even just by altering a colour or font. It depends on how much needs to change, how tight a grasp you have of where your brand stands at the moment, and how wide-ranging your intentions are.
Be careful – you could subtly tilt peoples’ perceptions away from where you’re trying to steer them: people sometimes fail to recognise repositioned brands at all. All the brand repositioning information you need could be just a brand audit round the corner, and Darwin have delivered many high quality, remarkably revealing brand audits. See more on our BRAND AUDITS HERE >>>
Firstly, what is a brand promise? Simply put, it is the benefit to the customer. As a wise marketing executive once said, nobody wants a hammer; they just want their pictures nailed firmly to the wall.
And why is a brand promise important? For one thing, if you don’t have a branding promise, what’s the point in buying your product or service ahead of any other? For another thing, your promise is the hook that pulls in the customer, the reader, the listener, the viewer and whoever. To do its job effectively your promise has to be clearly, engagingly and consistently stated in a way that complements your brand strategy.
Develop an effective brand promise and more and more customers will trust your product, and keep coming back to you. Get things really right and you build brand loyalty, which is very valuable – create strong brand loyalty and people will choose your brand over others, even being happy to pay more for yours when all else is equal. Which is why brand loyalty is important.
Above all, sales-winning brand promises have to be true. You have to come good on your promises or it’s unlikely that people will ever trust your brand again. When you promise that your cleaning fluid will make swimming pools smell like California lemons, then those pools better smell like a Santa Barbara lemon grove every time. Otherwise, you run the risk of learning some bitter truths about your hard-won brand perception.
A brand personality is often described simply as a series of human traits ascribed to a brand.
The personality of a brand is – when properly created – a feature of a brand readily related to by targeted consumers and customers. If the chosen audience enjoys the characteristics displayed by the brand, and those characteristics are consistently portrayed, then so much the better for the brand’s equity.
A good, imaginative brand personality adds qualitative value to the brand, as well as contributing functional advantages, such as emphasising a particular tone of voice, or enhancing associations with a specific industry or business.
Another way of understanding brand personality is to regard it as a means of helping a business influence how consumers feel about its aims, goods or services. A well-constructed brand personality stimulates the emotions of customers in ways favourable to the brand.
A brand personality is never entirely to do with imagery, although imagery should reinforce and reflect the personality as well as the brand’s values. Imagery can help provide vivid, clear expressions of the personality and better enable the communication of emotion and messages. But imagery alone is not the personality.
It is vitally important that a company creates a strong brand personality and attitude that consistently strikes a powerful chord with its chosen audience. A brand’s personality impacts on brand equity and has a profound influence on how the marketplace behaves towards the brand.
To summarise, in simple terms: you know how you usually work more productively with people you instinctively like, respect, trust or admire, or just enjoy hanging out with? That’s it, right there: that’s why you should seriously think about developing the right brand personality.
To provide a quick context, here’s Darwin’s brand loyalty definition. We define brand loyalty as a consistently strong, positive, long-term attitude in favour of a particular brand, along with a willingness to opt for – and pay a premium for – the branded product or service, time after time. Intense brand loyalty will resist anything that a rival brand offers or does, regardless of any variations in the marketplace. Brand loyalty is a valuable commodity, well worth understanding.
Brand loyalty is most obvious in word-of-mouth support and spoken recommendations for a brand. Brand-loyal people also reveal their brand credentials by repeatedly buying goods from the same maker even when faced with basically identical items that are cheaper.
People sometimes express their brand loyalty almost without thinking and it can operate at effectively subliminal levels in everyday situations such as being confronted with a massive choice of goods on a supermarket shelf: if you don’t know most of those labels, you’ll more than likely pick a brand you’re familiar with, whether through previous experience or exposure to marketing. In extreme cases, people will do without certain commodities until their favourite brand becomes available, or will travel out of their way to buy that brand. That’s the power of brand loyalty and the financial implications are obvious.
Companies and organisations which rely extensively on brand loyalty, and invest heavily in it, are using the brand loyalty business model.
Businesses working on accumulating brand-loyal customers occasionally field Brand Ambassadors – often celebrities or people with influence in specific sectors. A Brand Ambassador’s job is to promote the brand to associates and friends, either in person at events, as well as online and via social media. Simply put, this is paid-for, word-of-mouth, testimonial-style marketing for the brand. It is a remarkably worthwhile way of encouraging, winning and strengthening brand loyalty. Just be sure to appoint your Ambassadors carefully – if something goes wrong for them, professionally or in their private life, it could reflect negatively on your brand.
These days, when markets are more competitive than ever, brand loyalty hinges on the ability to almost constantly communicate with consumers in ways that engage and involve. Otherwise it is difficult to accurately profile the consumer’s expectations, needs, preferences and desires. Any gaps or flaws in the communication and the customer may stray, lured away by some other brand’s seductive promises. Which is yet another reason to build brand loyalty as fast and strongly as possible.
Final brand loyalty tip: When are brands most successful? When they tap straight and deep into the emotions of their intended audience. Get the emotional impact and nuances right and you will increase customer engagement and boost repeat business through greater brand loyalty. And the higher the repeat customer rate, the higher the profits for the brand, for less effort and expense.
Everything we have talked about so far – and everything that follows – comes under the jurisdiction of your brand management. Managing a brand requires overall control and direction of everything to do with the brand, from logo to interior décor, staff uniforms to taglines.
As you can imagine, managing brands efficiently demands knowledge of media and design, awareness of your market and a clear idea of where you want your brand to be. Plus creativity and drive. Experience is a big help too, and that’s where a brand management company such as Darwin comes in.
Three elements are needed to create brand equity: customer perception; positive or negative impacts; the ensuing financial worth.
Many marketing research studies have confirmed that brands are among the most valuable of business assets. But how do you assess a brand’s value? One feature that can heighten the financial worth of a brand – not to mention the company or individuals that own it – is its brand equity. The value of brand equity can be derived from such diverse elements as margins of profit, market share, how recognisable their brand logos are, whether the brand features significantly in consumer conversation, and perceived quality. They are elusive and amorphous things, brand values, but they do exist, as the next paragraph explains.
Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand value, which can be defined as the total amount extra that people will pay for your brand versus another, identical product or service. In the car industry, it is estimated that a strong brand is worth up to 10% more than a not-so-strong brand, simply because it is viewed as better, and not because of any functional differences.
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BRAND COMMUNICATION COVERS EVERY WAY THAT YOUR BRAND REACHES OUT TO EXISTING AND PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMERS, AND OTHER INTENDED AUDIENCES, SUCH AS COLLEAGUES, SUPPLIERS AND ASSOCIATES. IT ENCOMPASSES HOW THESE ACTIONS AFFECT THE WAY THESE AUDIENCES THINK OF YOU AND YOUR PRODUCTS.
Brands communicate with people in numerous ways, like advertising in newspapers and tv or radio, seeing packaging and promotions in supermarkets. There have never been so many means of communicating brand messages. But there’s one constant question: what impressions are you making? Effective, professional brand communications ensure that you achieve much more than contact: customers will see your messages, engage with them and buy into them.
The purpose of brand communications is unchanging. So are the restrictions, so always bear in mind that brand communication is only one of the tools that enable marketing people to achieve their aims. Communicating brand messages doesn’t happen in a bubble, it has to work closely with distribution, pricing and the development and production of goods. Otherwise, you may start making promises that cannot be kept, and customers don’t like that.
Also, brand communications are not the answer to every marketing question, no matter how brilliant the communication or communicator. The basics have to be in place – your product or service has to be right, for instance. After that, you should have good stories to tell, and brand communication gets that bit easier and more enjoyable. You can see some of our BRAND COMMUNICATION EXAMPLES HERE >>>
There are subtle differences between these terms and it’s worth being aware of them. You might define brand marketing as the promotion of goods or services or a person, say, by consistently and prominently highlighting the brand, so that people make their purchase or commitment almost by instinct: they associate the brand with what they want and that’s the decision made. This is really founded on building strong brand loyalty, which can take a long time and deep pockets.
Brand marketing is recognised as effective in swaying the decision-making of customers, by which we mean anyone from supermarket shopper to boardroom boss. Brand marketing often works best in helping build repeat business, since it plays on the customer’s perception of the brand which is in turn derived from previous experience of that brand. It’s all about familiarity, and consistently producing layers after layer of brand reminders, until any encounter with the brand triggers instant recognition and response towards the brand. Create brand marketing properly, and the response will be favourable and recurrent.
By ‘comparison shopping’ we don’t just mean checking price against price. The majority of consumers are interested, rightly, in the quality of the service or product they are paying good money for, along with whether they can trust the brand. They ask themselves (and each other) awkward questions: “This brand, I’ve never heard of it, is its stuff really okay?” and, “Are there any online reviews for these services?” and, “If I book these services, will I have any comeback – does this company keep its word?” A lot depends on the cost and importance of the purchase, of course, but those are among the thoughts going through the minds of customers, who are savvy people … and this is where the reassurance of regular, high quality brand communication comes in.
When customers can quickly see concise, informative and useful answers to their doubts, their questions diminish. A well-established brand name will instantly inform and remind customers of a business’ reputation. Branding empowers trust in products and services.
The briefest glimpse of a logo, the mere mention of a brand name, can be all it takes to trigger the customer’s experiences, knowledge and views of a business.
It is worth understanding brand promotion because it is a potent weapon in the sales armoury. A strong brand promotion is the sustained exposure towards a chosen audience of a brand and its qualities and benefits. Or, more likely, a concentrated sales effort pushing a specific brand. But consider if it is the brand and its values you are promoting or if you are simply trying to shift lots of product (which is often an exercise in pricing and/or discounting, which itself says something about a brand).
You can define brand promotion as a marketing tool that informs, reminds, attracts, engages and influences customers favourably towards a brand, and ultimately the purchasing of that brand’s goods and services. Brand promotions can be deployed using any mix of media. The brand promotion must complement the brand’s values, tone of voice, personality and image.
Brand promotions: what are they for? At Darwin, we believe the principal purposes of a brand promotion are:
1. TO DISTRIBUTE RELEVANT INFORMATION TO THE INTENDED AUDIENCE.
2. TO HELP DIFFERENTIATE THE SERVICE OR PRODUCT FROM ITS RIVALS.
Sometimes called ‘brand differentiation’ this means persuading customers that your brand has unique benefits, or at least is somehow superior to the alternatives. This is important when competing against very similar goods, as in the motor car and soft drinks markets. In the latter, for instance, we’re really only discussing sugary, fizzy drinks, but people get worked up about Coca-Cola versus Pepsi, Seven-Up or Irn Bru. In some business sectors, the only difference is the marketing.
3. TO INCREASE AND ACCELERATE DEMAND.
Effective brand promotion work can stimulate demand for services and products, which is good for profits and market share. As long as production and distribution can keep pace of course.
4. TO HEIGHTEN BRAND EQUITY:
A company’s brand equity is the sales power and financial worth that a brand adds to a service or product and consequently the value of the business that owns it. Brand equity relates to being able to charge more for a branded item than an unbranded one, even when they are to all intents and purposes, identical.
5. TO COUNTER RIVALS’ MARKETING:
In any hotly contested marketplace, there can be no respite in marketing, or your rivals’ messages will prevail in the customer’s mind, and your brand will be denied space to breathe. Brands can lose ground frighteningly quickly. So you must promote, promote, promote, to keep up. Anyone remember Texaco Petrol, or Dimple Scotch Whisky? No, thought not.
6. TO BUILD A BETTER IMAGE:
The creation of a positive image of a company, product or service is another major role of brand promotion. The better the image, the better the customer’s perception, the better the sales, goodwill and opportunities that open up.
7. TO CONTROL SPIKES IN SALES AND SPREAD THEM OUT:
Jumps, or spikes, in sales that occur for seasonal reasons, or in other cycles, create challenges in sales, production and distribution. No company wants to depend on making all its profit in one intense weekend of harassed trading – what if you miss out? How do you deal with any subsequent tidal wave of returns? Brand promotion is a way of stabilising sales by spreading demand into other periods. It takes a little creativity and lateral thinking: Lipton’s started promoting ‘iced tea’ to increase sales during summer months.
In summary, brand promotion is a popular and effective marketing tactic geared to increasing awareness of a service or product, or news about them or offers on them. The well-crafted brand promotion will also enhance customer loyalty, sharpen competitiveness, improve sales and grow the overall worth of a business. Companies and organisations use brand promotion to communicate what is good, new or different about what they do or sell. Promotion of brands serves to remind people of the brand and what is positive about it. Brand promotion can provide a short-term fix for retail, commercial and corporate reasons. Regular brand promotions help keep the brand front of mind with the target market and deprive rivals of exposure.
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TO CREATE A BRAND YOU FIRST REQUIRE A BRANDING PROCESS. BUT WHAT IS A BRANDING PROCESS? HERE IS THE DARWIN BRANDING PROCESS THAT CAN HELP YOU BUILD AN EFFECTIVE BRAND:
1. CONCENTRATE ON ONE BRAND AT A TIME
Unless it is incredibly big, or has oligarchs as backers, no business ever feels over-funded. The best way forward when first launching a brand is to put all your branding resources and dynamism into developing the name of your product as a brand. If you are launching a new company, concentrate everything on making the name of the company into a brand.
Resist any temptation to build individual brand identities for the new company plus each of its services or products. You will spread the resources, your imagination and your energy too thinly, and the more brands your customers encounter, the more distracted and confused they will become. Give a customer the chance to misunderstand you, and they’ll take it, every time. Build one strong brand and, in good time, the rest will follow.
2. CAPTURE THE DOMAIN NAME – THE URL
When considering options for names, make certain you can purchase the appropriate URL, or online domain name. This is basic homework, but you’d be surprised at how many smart business people get caught out in the excitement of creating catchy new names.
3. SIMPLICITY IS VALUABLE
When devising new company or product brand names, our advice is try to keep them as short and simple as you can – names are more easily remembered that way. Check out supermarket shelves if you need inspiration: one or two syllables should be more than enough! Make the name easy to spell and easier to pronounce.
4. PICK ONE STYLE OF NAME: REPRESENTATIVE, EVOCATIVE OR QUIRKY
You have reached a three-way split in the road towards your brand name. They all can lead you to good names, but you have to weigh up which is most appropriate for your task.
Route One takes you to a name which represents what your product does, in a tell-it-like-it-is style – think Heinz Baked Beans, Specsavers, Ray-Ban or Inter-Flora. Route Two evokes emotion or more lateral-thinking type ideas, such as Lotus, Sky or Yahoo!. Route Three means going down the road of oddball, possibly made up, nonsense names, like Shazam, Cheerios or Google. Honestly, who would come up with “Google” and think it would ever catch on …
5. STAY WELL CLEAR OF FOCUS GROUPS, WORKSHOPS AND COMMITTEES
By all means invite other people to contribute opinions, views, constructive comments and ideas. But be afraid, very afraid, of committees that insist on putting decisions to a vote. More often than not the result is vanilla when you want mint choc chip with sprinkles, or predictable when you need preposterously precocious. Exciting proposals are tamed, originality is sidelined in favour of safe. And “safe” ain’t safe, it’s dangerous as well as dull. Research groups and studiously filtered findings can lead to the same dead end: it’s sometimes said that good ideas are “researched to death”, with all the original zest and life simply processed out of them.
6. BE CONSISTENT IN HOW YOU APPLY THE BRAND
This is so vital, I’ll say it twice: this is vital. Total consistency in the use and application of your brand is critical to success, and to not wasting all the work to name it, design the collateral, and so on. Be inconsistent and you may as well not bother. Be consistent in look, in tone of voice and you will have a fighting chance. Once you choose your brand name, be faithful to it through thick and thin and do not start messing with variations like using only its initials, or changing the logo every other week. That’s like changing your face on a regular basis and expecting people to recognise you. If you do nothing else with your branding, be consistent.
7. GUARD YOUR BRAND
Trademark your company name, logo and tagline. Use copyright and registration to protect this asset, it’s valuable.
Well the first thing you are going to want to do if you have an established brand – whether it is widely known or not, is to conduct a brand audit.
A Brand Audit describes and evaluates the current state of a brand and its effectiveness in achieving a company’s business objectives. This assessment is the first step in brand strategy development and is used as a diagnostic tool for determining where the brand strengths lie and for identifying its potential vulnerabilities or shortcomings. It is the foundation on which the other steps depend. In this step you should use all available information sources, internal and publicly available information. You may decide to take the time to conduct new research to supplement what you know or fill in the gaps.
The Brand audit will help clarify the brand vision, as well as analysing all of the brand touchpoints looking for inconsistencies and mixed messages. You can see some brand touchpoint examples here>
When people first encounter branding, and all the accompanying phraseology, they hear questions like, “Why is brand vision important?” and, “What is a brand audit?”, “Why is the branding process important to the bottom line?” or, “Here’s how to build brand communications”.
Well, it is important to have a brand vision, which is a clear concept of what you’d like your products or services to look and sound like to the world at large. Think scale, tone of voice, colours, top-end of market or lower … a pro branding consultant can help you complete your vision and get it into focus.
Once you do that, you can work on understanding brand image, then move on to designing a strong brand identity – Darwin have a bank of successful brand identity design examples BRAND IDENTITY DESIGN EXAMPLES HERE >>>
Having completed the brand audit, review and assess the information and use it to create a brand development strategy.
Your brand strategy – sometimes called a brand development strategy – is your overall plan, embracing what your brand stands for now; what you’d like it to stand for; and how you intend getting to the desired level.
Initially, you should factor every conceivable element of your business into your brand strategy template – for instance, your distribution channels are part of your brand strategy and what you communicate visually and verbally are also part of your brand strategy. Understanding brand strategies is important – once you have laid out a basic brand strategy template, ideally in written form, you’ll have a clear idea of where you want to go with your brand, key milestones along the way, a timeline and so on. Sales-winning brand development in the short, medium and long term, is built on planning – that’s why investing in brand development expertise is such a wise move.
THE BRAND STRATEGY WILL CLEARLY DEFINE:
The brand campaign will also map out how we intend communicating these important features to your target audience. The choice of media is integral to your brand: how you express your messages, as well as where and when you express them, is as crucial as what you say – your brand is composed of countless details, every one of them reflecting your brand’s attitude.
A specific, achievable brand strategy is an essential component of any business, because it affects every area of your business. It’s not always easy to do, especially if you are too close to the business to be truly objective, so that is where brand strategy consulting firms come in. Experts in brand strategy can be truly objective and bring a fresh perspective and valuable expert knowledge to the table.
Often in a brand management process, workshops are used to help achieve a greater understanding of an existing brand. Branding workshops can also help define an ideal brand, or investigate and clarify what people would have to do to ‘be’ the brand or ‘live’ it.
Workshops are popular because they are generally productive, and often fun. Well put together workshops for branding provide many benefits, including:
1. DIVERSION FROM EVERYDAY ROUTINE:
Workshops are a chance to do something different, creative and imaginative. They demonstrate initiative.
2. GENERATE FRESH IDEAS AND INSIGHTS:
New perspectives and solutions often emerge when people apply skills and views from one field to other, totally different areas. The all-in-it-together, hothouse-style approach is usually more stimulating and rewarding than having people work in isolation.
3. BUILD COMMON UNDERSTANDING, UNITY AND DEDICATION TO A PLAN.
A branding workshop can gain buy in from the very outset across the key management team.
4. STRENGTHEN OVERALL TEAM SPIRIT.
Contribution is everything in workshops, so it is important that everyone gets to speak and give opinions. Doing this helps build a more productive team.
5. TIME IN WORKSHOPS IS TIME WELL SPENT.
Yes, people get anxious about spending a day away from the desk, but the truth is workshop hours are among the most productive. So, set aside your work ethic for a while – the branding workshop will reward you, your company and your brand.
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WHERE REPOSITIONING A BRAND ASKS PEOPLE TO THINK OF THE BRAND DIFFERENTLY IN TERMS OF ITS BENEFITS, THE MARKET AND THE OPPOSITION, PROFESSIONAL REBRANDING REQUIRES A COMPLETE BRAND OVERHAUL, FROM LOGO TO TAGLINE, PACKAGING TO MAJOR SELLING POINTS AND EVEN WHO YOUR MARKET MIGHT BE.
The depth of a rebrand depends on the specific challenges you face, so the changes may turn out to be subtle or drastic, but to rebrand effectively you should really consider the whole picture. Understanding rebranding is important because you are transforming how people think of your brand, and that carries risks – and potential benefits and opportunities too, of course. Useful rebranding examples and CASE STUDIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM DARWIN, HERE >>>
Rebranding requires the development of a new look, tone and feel for a service, product or company, refining or entirely replacing the existing set-up. Normally, the aim of rebranding is to positively influence a customer’s perception and beliefs by transforming the brand in some way to make it more appealing and relevant to the customer.
A rebranding project can spectacularly alter the course of a product’s commercial trajectory… and not always advantageously. Do your homework. As the Royal Artillery, who know about hitting targets, often say, “Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.”
Putting forward a revised, rejuvenated or even totally new brand image for a business, service or goods can effectively help to:
2. ADAPT TO A NEW MARKET, TO ACCOMMODATE DIFFERENT CULTURAL ATTITUDES LANGUAGES AND PRONUNCIATIONS.
3. DIFFERENTIATE THE BUSINESS FROM RIVALS
Schweppes Tonic Water not so long ago changed its labelling from the iconic yellow to black, in order to create, “A bold new look that drives home the brand’s unique heritage.” (Commercial Director of new brand development) We do wonder though if the change was anything to do with the emergence of so many look-alike brands on so many shelves around the world. Other reasons may apply – see below.
4. UPDATE THE CORPORATE IMAGES TO APPEAL TO A YOUNGER/ OLDER/ DIFFERENT MARKET
Expand the business’s reach into new markets.
5. REFLECT AN IMPORTANT CORPORATE MERGER OR BUSINESS ACQUISITION (the coming together of two brands often means creating a completely new brand from two identities and images … Doctor Jekyll, meet Mr Hyde. This can be complicated to say the least.)
6. ESCAPE A TROUBLED PAST
This is reputation control/ damage limitation / rising phoenix-like from ashes to present a spotless, trustworthy new image. “It wasn’t us, it was that other brand!” It can be done.
7. FRESHEN UP AN IMAGE TO SUSTAIN ITS APPEAL TO THE CUSTOMERS AND STAKEHOLDERS OF THE DAY.
Images, styles and phrases do not stay contemporary forever.
A CAUTIONARY TALE:
To mark the shift from state control to private ownership, the Post Office rebranded itself ‘Consignia’. The new, expensive name was intended to express dependability. Goodness knows what it cost to research, develop and launch. But launched it was. Everyone hated it. A legendary, much-loved brand with an awesome heritage was being ditched for a strange, grandiose word that next to nobody understood. Less than a year later the company consigned its new brand to the bin and called itself Royal Mail.
Brand design is a company’s identity. Identity is a complicated idea, tricky to pin down but integral to several areas of design, branding, marketing and advertising. As a key element of a business, product or service, and how they are perceived by customers, brand design must not be taken for granted. Good brand design can unlock the door to success; poor brand design can shackle you to mediocrity.
Using its brand identity design, a brand can communicate its principal message clearly with its intended audience, and plant its presence and major benefits in the mind of the audience.
You might define brand identity as a message transmitted via the brand name, logo, tagline, colours, typography and imagery. Note that brand identity is not the same as brand image: it’s easy to confuse the two but there are differences. ‘Brand identity’ is conceived, constructed and controlled by those in charge of the brand, with the aim of sending an engaging, durable, positive message to customers, colleagues and associates. ‘Brand image’ is usually accepted as the opinion formed in the marketplace of the brand – the view from the outside, if you like.
It is important that a company maintains a complete understanding of its identity and its image, if it can. There are so many external factors at work – such as the branding efforts of rivals, or launches of innovative competitive products – and they change so often, that it is difficult to predict and dictate the situation for any length of time. A well-constructed brand design will be impervious to most changes in the market; enable its owners to adapt to fluctuating consumer attitudes; and not be eroded by attacks like cost-cutting by others. All of which makes it all the more important that a business invests time in developing a robust brand design. It is a practical asset
In Darwin’s professional view, you can define marketing as the proactive, organised promotion of goods or services with the intention of increasing sales and/or enhancing the perception of those goods or services in the minds of a targeted audience. To us, marketing means going out and selling, using whatever media, platform or situation that is appropriate. That’s not branding.
Branding supports, empowers and enhances marketing campaigns before, during and after the clinching of the sale. Branding is not the actual, physical, tangible doing of the selling, although it accompanies every action, and should be embedded in all that is done, said, transmitted and shown. Branding clearly and instantly differentiates the genuine, unique voice, character, values and benefits that comprise the brand.
Without branding, marketing is just a transaction, the soulless exchanging of things, money, data or information.
The well-composed brand will help persuade people that buying such-and-such a product is a good idea, and the branding will directly complement whatever marketing or sales activities are being used. Pros understand that it’s not the brand’s job to jump up and say, “Hey, you, purchase this now!” No, the brand does its more work like, “Here I am again, remember me? Look, here is what I do, how I do it, and what I stand for. It’s all genuine. I can be a good help to you, or if not to you then maybe to your colleagues and friends. If not this time, then next time. See you around, cheers.”
It’s both. Generally, branding is far more strategic than tactical, but it can definitely help your marketing campaigns achieve tactical victories. And while marketing may, indeed should, strengthen a brand, the brand has to be larger than any single marketing push. Marketing goes away, often as swiftly as it arrives: branding stays, sometimes for years, decades, even generations. The brand is what you remember and associate with a product, service, organisation or company.
Consequently, the brand is instrumental in whether someone becomes a loyal, repeat customer, prepared to buy the branded goods and services before all others. Marketing will perhaps sway you into buying a specific Bosch refrigerator, but it is the branding that will convert you to buy Bosch again, and to think well of Bosch whenever you see or hear the name, whatever item it accompanies.
In reality, to do as the catchphrase has it and, ‘live the brand’, you would have to willingly, even eagerly, surrender your own identity to that of the brand, or modify your behaviour and appearance to reflect the values and characteristics of the brand. This requires a transformation with almost evangelical overtones (which calls into question how actual religions communicate, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day). However, such transformations can and do happen. In varying degrees, people adopt the attitudes, phrases and tone of voice of certain brands. Fans of particular rock bands, or niche sports seem peculiarly susceptible to such conversions. How often have you heard remarks like, “He’s a Volvo man”, or, “She’ll be wearing Chanel, you can tell she wears Chanel”?
Think of it the other way round. Does the brand mirror its chosen customers so closely that the two become indistinguishable and inseparable? It is in this territory that branding can become powerful, infiltrating every opportune moment and situation.
Many components go into building a strong brand. Among the more important of the components is the customer’s direct, personal experience of the brand, where the product or service is put to the test and measured against promises made.
Customers aren’t stupid. As one wise old adman, David Ogilvy, noted, “The customer isn’t a moron: she’s your wife.” In the real, hard world of sales, customers who have parted with their hard-earned cash will observe, “Y’know, that hair drier doesn’t do what they said it would.” Or, “When I took that stuff back, they weren’t interested in the warranty.” Or, “The service on that cruise was terrific, just like the ads, we’ve booked another one.” Customers relate their experiences – good and bad alike – to their friends and colleagues. Their opinions are part of your brand.
In simple terms, marketing finds customers, and motivates them to make a purchase. Branding turns those purchasers into faithful, repeat customers, as well as brand believers. People who really buy into your brand don’t just know about it: they believe in it. This state of affairs holds true no matter the sector or scale of business, company or organisation.
Always remember that all companies and businesses – including not-for-profit organisations – live or die by engaging, persuading and selling. There are myriad different ways of selling, but one point is universal in branding: every single person in a company has the power to upgrade or degrade the brand with what they do and say. What’s more, all printed material, tv commercials, tweets, internal memos, every stick of furniture, the business card you just handed over (and how you handed it over), the company colours … they represent the brand. They represent you.
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WHY IS A BRAND NAME IMPORTANT? OKAY, THINK ‘BARF’ DETERGENT POWDER, ‘PEE COLA’, OR ‘INDIANA BONES TEMPLE OF GROOM DOGGIE DAY CARE BOUTIQUE’. THEY ALL EXIST, BUT YOU HAVE TO WONDER HOW WELL THEY SELL.
Your brand name – which is usually the basis of the company brandmark or brand logo, which are graphic interpretations of brand names – is one of the first and most influential brand touchpoints anyone will encounter. If your brand’s name contributes to the brand image, conforms to the brand strategy, has memorability and positive vibes then you’re doing well.
Bear in mind that the art of the brand name is now a many-faceted process and it’s hard to come up with truly original brandname ideas so it’s always worth researching what’s already out there. A brand name pro will know how to create brand name ideas and accelerate your progress. An objective opinion on your own pet brand mark solutions can also save you time, money and embarrassment – when the Coca-Cola brand name was first marketed in China it was sometimes translated as ‘Bite The Wax Tadpole’.
Well, the process can be easy and quick and it can be difficult and tortuous, as any experienced brand name professional will tell you. Coming up with a brand name may sound easy, but how to come up with a brand name that works can be slightly more complicated.
First off, brand name ideas can come from anywhere. New brand name ideas can be derived from what you do and how you do it (Kwikfit); from a quirky spelling of an ingredient (Weetos); chopping up or abbreviating words and putting some of the bits together again, even using the name of the owner (Adidas is from Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler); a classical reference, to convey academic or scientific integrity (ASICS – anima sana in corpore sano = a healthy mind in a healthy body); we could go on. There are endless ways to create innovative brand name ideas, and it’s easy to get sidetracked.
There are no golden rules for creating a brand name, except don’t be offensive and try to avoid references to sex, religion or politics. Calling in a pro is a good idea, it can save you time and money in the long run.
The whole brandname concept is inextricably linked to building a better brand image – how do you want to announce and present your company? Which leads us back to examining everything about your company, your products and services – it all returns to getting a pro to conduct a BRAND AUDIT, LIKE THE ONES DARWIN OFFER, HERE >>>
LET’S BE CLEAR ABOUT ONE COMMON MISUNDERSTANDING: YOUR LOGO IS NOT YOUR BRAND. BRAND LOGOS ARE PART OF YOUR OVERALL BRAND, LIKE AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT IN A MACHINE; BUT IT IS ONLY ONE COMPONENT. BRAND LOGOS BRING YOUR BRAND TO LIFE VISUALLY, EXTOLLING ITS VALUES AND POSITIONING.
Wrong. Your logo is a valuable element of your brand, but to build strong business branding you need to think beyond the logo. Your brand communications collateral such as website, packaging and promotional materials, should all integrate your logo, though – it conveys a lot about your product or service, in its use of colour, typography, shape and relationship to everything you put around it.
How to create professional brand logos is one of the great creative marketing tasks that any pro logo design agency would fall over itself to take on. However (there’s always a ‘however’), writing a creative brief for a logo brand is an art in itself, going into who will see it, what you want them to think when they see it, what colours are required (or what colours are not required), where your brand logo will be seen, how big … you can understand why so many people hire a logo branding design expert to solve the puzzle.
Brand logo design is specialist area the benefits of which should not be underestimated nor entrusted to someone without the correct skillset. So whether it’s brand logos, a brand mark, logo brand or a brand logo design you require, then perhaps a coffee and a chat might be in order.
Darwin are well versed in what’s in a brand name and can efficiently help you write brand name ideas that are imaginative and effective, as well as create original brand logos and a powerful brand mark – check our brand logo design case histories and examples BRAND LOGO DESIGN CASE HISTORIES AND EXAMPLES HERE >>>.
Well, maybe. Some businesses get by just fine without a brand tagline. Other hugely successful brands have built taglines in with the bricks – ‘Just Do It’ for Nike, is but one. To have the complete, perfect branding armoury at your disposal, you should at least consider how to write a brand tagline, and how to put it to work within your branding strategy.
To create a brilliant branding tagline requires digging deep into not only the features and benefits of your brand and product or service, but also sifting through the minds of your target market for nuggets of phrasing, trade expressions, technical terms that might have extra meanings beyond the obvious, throwaway lines … it takes lateral thinking, creative instinct, an affinity for how people talk (and listen), a sense of humour and sometimes just plain speaking, to hit upon gems of perfect brand taglines. A pro copywriter will have the experience and techniques that can help generate memorable taglines that enhance brand values, stick in people’s minds and generally give your product or service extra impact.
Old advertising hands point out that a good tagline is the knockout punch after the headline and body copy have softened the audience up. Create a great branding tagline and you definitely improve customer goodwill as well as your hit rate in sales.
DARWIN’S BRAND IDENTITY DEFINITION IS:
We define a company’s brand identity as the way that business wants to be perceived by consumers. The brand is constructed from various elements, specifically the name, logo, tagline, tone of voice, colour palette and typeface. Each element should complement the others and together they should ideally form a coherent, strong asset for the company – a brand identity should be greater than the sum of its parts is another way of saying it. The aim is firstly to project the value the company is taking to the market and secondly to engage with its target audience. Brand identity is not brand image, which we at Darwin see as the way that customers perceive the brand.
Of course that’s just our definition of brand identity. I’m sure there are many more out there, but that’s how we view it. You can see some of our BRAND IDENTITY DESIGN EXAMPLES HERE >>>.
The perfect brand identity design will reflect all that is good and useful about your product or service, and it will help customers and colleagues be predisposed towards your proposals and promotions.
Try to keep your brand identity and brand personality distinct from your own – much as people may adore you, it’s the product or service benefits that they want. People get distracted by how other people look, walk, talk and wear their clothes, and that’s not what your brand is about … unless of course your personal character traits enhance the brand, in which case go for it.
The best brand identity will have business acumen as well as aesthetic value. Master Chef’s are fond of saying, “We eat with our eyes first”. The saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” has been around forever, but the fact remains that the majority of people continue to judge things based on perception and appearance. Finding a company that has the right look and feel to it, whether conscious or subconscious, can often be the most important criteria for people when making purchase decisions. A professional looking brand identity will add credibility and trust wherever it is seen.
The bottom line is that a brand identity used consistently across all marketing materials can actually make a huge difference to any size of company, by increasing awareness, sales, profits and market share.
There is an art to brand identity design that goes way beyond simple logo design. Anyone can design a logo. Brand identity design on the other hand takes experience, understanding, skill and vision. It requires looking at the big picture. Not all brand identities are created equal. You can have a look at some of our BRAND IDENTITY DESIGN EXAMPLES HERE >>>
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A brand’s image is the perception that the consumer has in his or her mind of the complete personality of the brand. Sometimes customers have in their heads an entirely accurate view of the strengths and failings of the brand; sometimes customers have a completely false impression which doesn’t match the reality. In both cases, the brand image is true as far as the customer is concerned and therefore authentic in reality. This affects the customer’s attitude and behaviour towards the brand. So, how important is brand image? Very important.
Brand images evolve through marketing and branding collateral, including advertising campaigns, all printed material, packaging and store or office frontages and interiors. Everything should be consistent in look and tone of voice.
Creating a brand image that works hard for a company can take years to establish firmly in the minds of customers, so be patient, while regularly investigating whether the desired effect is being achieved. Remember, it is only the customer’s experience of the brand image, and his or her opinion, that matter.
Note that once the customer has taken a certain brand image on board, it can be a difficult, slow and expensive task to dislodge or transform that perception. Getting it right is worth the effort.
We define brand image as the customer’s present, direct perception of the brand. The definition may be broadened out into taking the brand image as a distinctive package of associations and beliefs in a customer’s mind. But all this happens in the customer’s head, and the only thing that matters is the customer’s perception of the brand.
A good brand image can exert powerful emotional influence, taking its importance well beyond the use of pictures to convey information. The best brand images emphasise and complement a company’s purpose, promises and benefits.
Unpacking a positive brand image: inside every strong brand image you will find:
1. A UNIQUE LOGO THAT REFLECTS THE COMPANY’S IMAGE WHILE CONVEYING WHAT THE COMPANY DOES
2. A TAGLINE OR SLOGAN THAT CONCISELY AND ACCURATELY COMMUNICATES THE COMPANY’S BUSINESS
3. UNSWERVING CONSISTENCY IN DELIVERY OF THE IMAGE
4. AN UNBREAKABLE BOND LINKING THE BRAND IMAGE TO THAT BRAND AND THAT BRAND ONLY
5. INSPIRATIONAL, ENGAGING, POWERFUL EMOTION.
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TO GAIN A BASIC GRASP OF WHAT WE ARE DEALING WITH IN THE THING CALLED A BRAND, LET’S ACCEPT IT AS A COLLECTION OF PROMISES THAT CONNECT A SERVICE OR PRODUCT TO ITS BUYERS AND USERS. IN THIS PIVOTAL ROLE, THE BRAND IS WIDELY ACKNOWLEDGED AS BEING HIGHLY INFLUENTIAL IN CORPORATE AND RETAIL EFFORTS TO:
1. EXPAND AND STRENGTHEN AWARENESS
2. ENHANCE CONTROL OF CUSTOMER PERCEPTIONS
3. OBVIATE NEGATIVE OPINIONS AND EVENTS
4. INCREASE SECTOR SHARE
5. IMPROVE PROFITABILITY
The history of the brand is long and fascinating. One of its more popular manifestations was in the cattle-ranching days of the American Wild West, when beasts had to be distinctively branded or marked – usually with a sizzling-hot branding iron – to make them more easily distinguishable from neighbouring herds. Today the same principle applies when organisations, products, services and even individual celebrities take on specially created names and images to help them stand out in competitive multi-media marketplaces.
The modern consumer wades through a deluge of competing messages at an estimated 105,000 words per 12-hour waking day. That’s roughly 23 words a second, coming right at them, every day. People contend with television programmes and advertising, radio broadcasts, online content, newspapers, posters, texts, tweets, FaceBook … no wonder people become adept at filtering out what they want from what they don’t. You will have spotted where a strong brand might help a product or service swim successfully rather than sink without trace:
1. ESTABLISH FEATURES THAT INFLUENCE A CUSTOMER’S CHOICE OF GOODS OR SERVICES
2. CLARIFY WHAT A COMPANY, SERVICE OR PRODUCT LOOKS LIKE
3. IDENTIFY AND TARGET THE SORT OF PEOPLE WHO BUY THE SERVICE OR PRODUCT
4. DEVELOP STRONG EMOTIONAL BONDS WITH CUSTOMERS
5. DEFINE THE ‘TRIBE’ OF FELLOW CUSTOMERS/ ADHERENTS
6. BUILD A FAVOURABLE VIEW OF COST VERSUS VALUE OR WORTH
7. STRENGTHEN ABILITY TO RESIST CRITICISM AND OVERCOME SETBACKS
8. REMIND PEOPLE OF THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE AND REINFORCE POSITIVE PERCEPTION
9. PREDISPOSE CUSTOMERS TO REPEAT PURCHASE
10. BENEFIT FROM LINKS TO MANUFACTURER/PARENT COMPANY/ORIGINATOR.
The above qualities operate mainly on degrees of perception (and on the assumption that your goods and services consistently perform as promised – if they don’t, well, be prepared for a serious, fundamental rethink of everything you’re doing). Ultimately brands work almost sub-consciously and become the customer’s default understanding of quality, functional relevance, comfort and need. Regular customers rely less on factual comparisons of features and benefits, almost regardless of how much common sense they make. A good brand functions like implanting a factory setting in the customer’s mind, so every time he or she sees your brand marks, the same qualities, benefits and attractions come to mind.
In an age when customers of all ages are more savvy and less loyal than ever – consider the increasing willingness to switch banks, which used to be an act of unthinkable rarity – brands have emerged as indispensable business tools, with important roles to play. Brands must now engage closely with the desires of the customer and tune into the individual personal identity that helps sway decision-making processes. The more a brand can operate intuitively the better its chance of success.
Do your customers truly believe in your product or service? It’s up to you to convince them. You have to be compelling and above all consistent in establishing the perception in their minds that your offering is unique and better than the alternatives. Yes, quantifiable practicalities matter. But in this game, mind matters more. Most consumer decisions are based on emotion and intuition rather than rational reasoning.
A Branding Guidelines template is basically a rulebook that facilitates the efficient and consistent application of a set of branding assets. The assets include your logo and its variations if there are any, a palette of colours and stipulated font or fonts. Anyone using your brand guide template for marketing materials should gain a clear idea of how the brand should look wherever it appears.
The principal role of any Brand Guidelines document is to give guidance to both internal departments and external suppliers such as designers, brand consultants, marketing agencies, printers and signage contractors on how to deploy the company’s branding. The template is indispensable to the proper, rigorous creation of new collateral and brand touchpoints such as websites, e-shots, advertisements, stationery, packaging and pretty much anything that visually relates to the company. Providing Guidelines for Branding often requires descriptions of what not to do with logos and so on. Some brand templates include instructions on tone of voice and give examples of the preferred copywriting style.
A brand style guide should contain the absolute essence of your brand, comprising your mission statement, your vision of the future, your company values, and your unique qualities, all interpreted as design elements. As a design reference tool, the guide should enable anyone using it to consistently present your brand clearly, the way you want it communicated, in any medium, without misunderstandings.
Essentially, your guide to brand style will dictate how your company, product or service looks, feels and sounds to outsiders. Working well, the guide to a brand will exert remarkable control over how the brand is perceived, so much so that – and major enterprises and trendy design houses in particular are fond of this – it may even be referred to as a Brand Bible or Brand Standards Manual. It doesn’t matter what the brand book is called … but straying too far from its commandments is a sin.
Apply the contents of the brand style guide with rigour and you can achieve consistency of look, feel and tone, from boardroom to shop floor, front of house to storeroom. It should make no difference who uses the guide, receptionist, PA, office junior, freelance copywriter, student on placement, sales manager. All should be able to apply the guidelines with ease, and all should be aware of your unique brand culture. Having said that, there should always be one person with the final say on brand guideline questions – usually it’s the Creative Director or Marketing Director, or you may even have your very own Brand Guardian.
Well composed guidelines for branding can save precious time, resources, money and a shedload of exasperation. Marketing collateral is simpler in creation and maintenance because nobody is having to design and write material from scratch. Good brand guides are like roadmaps – they show you how to get to where you want to be.
Mostly, people are recognised by their face. Sometimes you can pick them out by the way they move, or the sound of their voice. But mainly it’s the face that you’re recognised by, and others get used to that face of yours. Now change your hair style, alter the colour of your eyes and make your ears smaller. It’s still you inside, but outside, it’s no longer you. People will look strangely at you, suspiciously even, and worst of all walk right by you. You are not you. Taking liberties with brand guide templates is dangerous.
Brands operate through consistency: consistency in application of all the elements of a brand creates fast recognition and builds confidence. A comprehensive brand style guide is important because it enhances your company, service or products ability to communicate with customers consistently across all channels and through all personnel.
“We are too busy to write a brand guide template! We don’t have time!” Those are common enough excuses for not producing style guidelines, and it’s true that brand style guides don’t write themselves. They demand – and deserve – valuable time, knowledge, attention to detail and effort to make them as individual as your business. On the other hand, consider the hours lost in explaining to different designers why your logo should always appear a certain way, or never smaller than a particular size, or without the tagline … “Oh my god, where’s the tagline gone?” Then there’s the frustration when someone somewhere uses the wrong shade of blue or an inappropriate font. Never mind the imagery that some people come up with … it’s all time wasted, time that can easily be saved by a decent brand guidelines template. A brand’s style guide frees you up to do what you do best: the business.
At Darwin we strongly recommend you create your own brand guide. Invest some time in your own up-to-date brand guidelines template and reap the dividends in greater efficiency as well as a stronger brand that brings you more business, more easily.
With a wealth of experience and expertise in design, marketing and branding, Darwin are perfectly placed to equip companies with highly effective, unique brand guidelines tailored to specific needs.
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THE DARWIN SITE CONTAINS INFINITELY MORE INFORMATION ON BRANDING, BUT IF YOU’RE IN A HURRY, HERE ARE DARWIN’S TOP 10 BRANDING TIPS TOWARDS TO HELP YOU DEVELOP STRONG BRAND IDENTITIES:
1. WRITE DOWN YOUR BRAND MESSAGING.
What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand?
2. INTEGRATE YOUR BRAND.
Branding extends from your brand name, brand mark and brand logo to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
3. CREATE A “VOICE” FOR YOUR COMPANY THAT REFLECTS YOUR UNIQUE BRAND PERSONALITY.
Apply this voice to all written communication and incorporated it in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off.
4. GET BRILLIANT LOGO BRANDING.
Integrate your logo into all your collateral, from stationery to uniforms, van livery to flyers. The logo is your sign-off, not the main message.
5. DEVELOP A CONCISE BRAND TAGLINE.
6. DESIGN BRANDING TEMPLATES AND CREATE BRAND STANDARDS FOR YOUR MARKETING MATERIALS.
Use the same colour scheme, logo placement, and look and feel throughout.
7. BE TRUE TO YOUR BRAND.
Customers will walk right past you if you don’t deliver on your brand promise. Remember, other brands are available.
8. BE CONSISTENT.
Consistency across all aspects of your brand helps create strong brand loyalty. If you don’t have consistency you have inconsistency; inconsistency breeds confusion; confusion costs business.
9. BE PATIENT.
Familiarity with a brand is important to customers and it can take a while to establish people’s trust. Avoid chopping and changing major elements of your branding plan – after all, if you keep turning up with a new face and a different voice every week, who’s going to recognise you?
10. BE AGILE.
Without constantly tinkering (see 9), always be prepared to fine tune your brand in the context of your market or in response to events such as rivals changing tactics. A strong brand will adapt easily without losing its main characteristics and without major surgery, which can be time-consuming (and expensive).
Is your brand lacking vitality? Is your brand feeling a little jaded and under the weather? Maybe it’s time for Darwin’s FREE BRAND HEALTHCHECK >>>.
GOOD QUESTION. BRANDING EXPERTS OR AN EXPERIENCED BRAND MANAGER WILL EFFICIENTLY ENABLE YOU TO ASSESS HOW YOUR PRODUCT, SERVICE OR COMPANY IS PERCEIVED (WARTS AND ALL); WORK OUT SHORT, MEDIUM AND LONG-TERM BRAND STRATEGY; PREPARE CREATIVE TACTICAL AND STRATEGIC BRANDING PLANS; KNOW HOW TO WRITE A STRONG BRAND GUIDE THAT EQUIPS YOUR COMPANY WITH A PRACTICAL BRANDING TOOLKIT FOR EVERY EVENTUALITY; EXPLAIN HOW BRANDING INTERACTS WITH ALL THE DEPARTMENTS IN YOUR BUSINESS AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT THAT IT DOES.
They should be able to provide you with the full spectrum of branding services and help you manage the entire implementation process from start to finish. Some brand experts such as brand consultants may even specialise in small business branding services.
Darwin can readily show you branding examples that work from our own proven BRAND PORTFOLIO. An informal sit down and chat is often the best way to get your head round what a brand consultancy does and doesn’t do, so why not GET IN TOUCH WITH DARWIN TODAY? >>>
Taking full control of your brand requires skill, experience and objectivity, if you are to make your brand work to its maximum effect. You will also need time to assess all the various aspects and implications. Knowing how to hire the right branding agency can save you not only time but also money.
So, hiring a branding agency: firstly prepare a shortlist of candidate branding companies based on their case studies and recommendations from people you respect. Now, branding companies come in all different shapes and sizes as you might expect, and might call themselves; a branding agency, brand agency, brand consultant, brand consultancy, brand design agency, corporate branding agency or a brand design company. Essentially they are all branding consultants of some kind and will all cover many of the same disciplines and skill sets.
You then have to meet the branding consultancy directors and the creatives (sometimes but not always the same people). Prepare a list of questions in advance of the meeting that you would like answered and ask them at the meeting.
Secondly, think carefully beyond the presentation videos and documents – will you get on with each other? Can you talk openly about challenges, opportunities and ideas? Are your chosen branding consultants too radical? Too conservative? How successful have they been in the past?
Brands are things laden with personal emotion and often historic commitment, as well as practical impact. Amongst much subjectivity, a clear head is a priceless asset and that’s why many businesses look externally and set about hiring a branding expert.
Thirdly, set aside a maximum budget, and work out when you would like the work completed. Creating or recreating a brand can be a difficult project to quantify. With years of experience behind them, the Darwin team can provide outline costs to give you a realistic first-base estimate.
From Darwin’s many years’ know-how, we can safely say that not all branding companies offer the same branding services. Darwin are exceptional in being able to provide branding, marketing and design expertise in any combination. It’s a potent and flexible blend that has worked well for a broad variety of clients.
That’s a tricky one, because the difference between branding consultants can depend on who knows what about certain markets and business sectors: so you might argue it’s horses for courses. However, at Darwin we know that there are universal, fundamental principles that constantly apply, no matter what. We always start with the first principles of branding, which include: clearly define your main message that must be communicated; fully audit the present market situation and brand collateral; apply agreed core brand features consistently; be original; be truthful.
In choosing a corporate branding agency, or selecting a brand design company, you should be prepared to go the extra mile in preparing all the information about your present set-up you can, and be ready to answer awkward questions and possibly digest unexpected and unpalatable findings.
On the bright side, in Darwin’s case book, which is full of inspirational branding case studies, we can honestly state that every company that undertakes a professional branding audit comes out of it knowing more about itself and its market, and better equipped to get on with the job.