Identity Crisis: A Brand New Approach for Your Business
Written by Guest Blogger Katie Woods
A black swoosh.
A little blue bird.
A red bulls eye.
A green mermaid.
These words conjure images of established brands and, most likely, the emotions you associate with their companies.
Branding is a word frequently used at the Red Sage office, and one of the services we offer to clients. However, many business owners are unsure of what branding involves, much less its importance to their company.
The 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 includes color, shape, font, voice, even customer experience. A company’s brand communicates its personality to current and potential customers. In fact, a carefully crafted brand should communicate with your customers what to expect before ever doing business with your company.
Let’s examine a few different aspects that determine brand:
Let’s revisit my all-time favorite marketing example, Apple. An early version of the Apple logo featured a multi-colored apple with a bite missing. However, this rainbowed-apple got a monochromatic makeover in 1998 when it was converted to the sleek, silver color it is today. Apple communicated their new direction towards modern luxury with a simple color change.
The brain processes color above all else. That is why traffic signs and signals are delineated with color. Green=Go. Red=Stop. Effective branding must recognize the correlation color has with perception of a brand’s identity and emotional association. When choosing a color for your brand, look beyond your personal preferences to consider what that color is communicating about your company. See Kobayashi’s color theory in action with the following, well-known brands:
- • JCPenney : Light primary colors, casual, bright
- • Virgin Media: Bold primary colors, active, dynamic
- • UPS: Earth tones, traditional, dependable
Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer. What do these browser logos have in common? Their spherical shape. This shape hints at being global, world-wide. This power of suggestion is so masterful that even those browsers that were not originally circular logos rebranded to incorporate a circle in their logo.
Shapes are another source of silent customer communication. For example, a logo that incorporates a star may subliminally communicate quality and innovation, while a leaf suggests growth, health or environmental friendliness without saying a word. Symmetry, geometry, and orientation of shapes may all play into the experience you’re presenting and are decisions to be made carefully.
Your typeface can say “stable”, “vintage”, or “modern” without using these words. Font is another way to bring a unique personality to your company. If done correctly, it can become the identifier for you brand. For example, Google, FedEx, ESPN, LEVI’S, and GAP are all typography logos, but each says something very different about their company’s personality.
You’ve created a logo that speaks to your unique personality, but it also needs to speak about your unique personality. Every company needs to have a voice. Companies need to ensure that their company’s story and voice are being communicated to their target audience. Taglines, social media posts, web content all need to be consistent with the carefully thought-out logo. Put thought into what your company’s personality is and how it would speak. Also consider who your target audience is: what they sound like and how they communicate. With these considerations, release messages that will matter to them through avenues they utilize. Are they looking for education or entertainment? Are they using Pinterest or Facebook? What language do they use in their replies to your posts? What posts are they sharing? Tracking this data will help determine your company’s voice and properly communicate with your audience.
After carefully considering choices about brand color, shape, font, and voice, you must back up those communicated promises with a corresponding experience. Your office location, décor, staff expertise, and customer service all need to confirm the promises (whether they were directly or subliminally communicated) of your branding. If you’ve communicated modern efficiency, consider silver and blue tones for your logo, utilize online processes, and speak with concise, abbreviated posts. If you have promised stability and dependability, consider a deep earth-toned logo and traditional font, to offer your customers a more personal approach to your service.
It’s never too late to begin branding your company. Whether your company has evolved beyond your original brand, or you never carefully considered branding in the first place, now is the time to develop a great strategy for identifying and communicating with customers through a well thought-out brand. If you have an established brand and are worried about the rebranding process, see Mark’s advice for a logo refresh done right.