Branding is in our nature but it doesn’t ‘just happen.’ We live in a branded world where everything from water to technology has an identity, a personality and values we, as consumers, can relate to. Many people view this as a modern day side effect of commercialism but if nothing else branding is about expressing a recognisable identity and therefore it has actually existed since the dawn of man.
The first human tribe would have had no need for an identity but by the time there was a second tribe it is probable that they would feel a need to order to stand out and be different. The effect would be that the first tribe now ‘needed’ a brand too…and so it began.
Times change, people change and businesses change. Like with those early ancestors our modern day take on branding and identity is ever-shifting. To begin with it appeared that brand was aligned with things, products & organisations, then it evolved to represent services and experiences before becoming more about concepts, ideas and images. But there is another change on the horizon as, it now believed that, it should focus on shared values, culture and a sense of identity.
Brands are more important now than any other time in the past 100 years. They are head and heart combined to form a promise mark rather than a trademark. A product has a shelf life but a brand will out live even the longest running product…which begs the question how can we create a brand that will stand the test of time?
Keep up with trends, then do something different
Well, we all know that certain things age better than others and brand elements are no different. Drawing styles and typefaces go out of fashion as quickly as they come in. This doesn’t mean that when developing a graphic identity you should be overly worried about how ‘cool’ it will be in 10 years time because nobody can predict that. However, it is something worth considering. Don’t become so distant from trends that you end up with something too conservative, bland and unmemorable.
Some markets rely on stability and consistency whilst others thrive on change. Financial organisations are not expected to follow fashion but media companies should always be at the cutting edge and echo pop culture. But, in the fight for brand differentiation, the rules are changing. We are seeing their softer side as banks now focus on being consumer friendly.
We have all been told how great change is. We embrace it and that’s how evolution happens. Brand identities need to be able to evolve with customer needs as change is inevitable but the rate of change needs to be part of a well thought out strategic plan and the brand must have solid foundations, which will remain constant no matter what changes on the outside.
Build it and they will come
The best branding is built on a strong idea. One that you, your team, and your customers can hold on to, believe in, and commit to. But how do you do that? Well, it should be noted that it is not an easy process, it will take hard work and dedication, but by putting energy in the right place the chance that your brand will become as good as your market's leaders becomes greater.
To help we have identified a shortlist of 5 reasons why you should have an amazing and considered brand:
People do business with companies they are familiar with. In fact, research has shown that, when it comes to purchasing household goods, customers are loyal to a brand over 90% of the time. Therefore, if your branding is consistent and easy to recognise, it makes people feel more at ease purchasing your products or services.
Your brand is what sets you apart from the competition and, in today’s market, the competition is global. If it is done right it will add value far beyond your tangible assets. Just think about some of the market leaders like Coca-Cola or Apple.
Your brand should touch every aspect of your business, from marketing materials to how you answer the phones, and let the customer know what sort of business you are. It is far more than a logo.
A clear brand strategy will work internally to let employees know what sort of business they work for and what part they can play in become a successful team.
People connect with brands because of that feeling of shared culture and they want to invite their friends to be part of it to.
A good brand should feel natural but it is something that doesn’t just happen, it is always much more than just a shiny logo. A good brand is every element of a business working in conjunction to be engaging, exciting and, above all, lasting.
If this has whetted your appetite, the Advertising Educational Foundation have published an excellent comprehensive overview.
BrandChannel.com give further thoughts on the importance of consumer recognition.