Taking your brand beyond your logo

04.29
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The origin of the term brand comes from brandr, the Norse word for fire. It means to burn the mark of the producer onto the product that they made. The Etruscans, Romans and Greeks used to claim their ownership by stamping their pottery with the visuals of the fish, star or cross. Brand has its roots in cattle ranching and farming, when farmers used to brand the cattle to claim their ownership over a specific herd of cattle. During the industrial revolution, factories seeking to introduce their products to a wider market in which customers were previously familiar only with locally-produced goods began "branding" their products in an effort to increase the consumer's familiarity with their products. Since the industrial revolution, manufacturers have moved beyond the concept of brand as a simple mark or logo and have built personality, such as youthfulness, fun or luxury, into their brand.

This modern-day concept of branding is big business. The world's leading brands are worth billions and they spend large percentages of their budgets each year developing and managing their brand identities. And rightfully so, as today's consumers buy the brand as much as they buy the product.

This brand-centric environment creates amazing opportunities for companies to distinguish themselves from their competition in creative ways. Yet, often as we talk "brand" with prospective clients, it's clear that their concept of brand is underdeveloped. Their brand is often thought of as little more than their logo - the unique mark of their business. They are missing opportunities to carefully craft consumer experiences and interactions with their company. The powerful tool of telling the story of their brand is neglected. They are unaware of how simple shifts in their companies brand philosophy can radically influence productivity, market exposure, and revenue.

While having a good logo is an important start, it's only one aspect of the development of a company's unique brand identity. The best way to begin developing a brand is to develop a brand strategy - one that permeates customer experience, company culture, as well as the products and services a business may provide. It's important that your brand identity and personality doesn't just extend to the products you sell, but that every aspect of what you do as a company reinforces and matches this strategy. Here are some tips on developing such a strategy:

Improve your Understanding of your Brand

It's hard to define or communicate your brand to others when you're not sure you've wrapped your brain around it yourself.  In the early days of most companies, we spend our time and effort focused on the products and services we'll offer, our business plan, and our bottom line.  From here, companies develop without a clear sense of who they are.  As a normal part of life, we wrestle with our personal identity.  What will we do for a living? What values will determine the actions of our lives? How characteristics do we want others to identify with us?  These same questions need to be answered about your brand.  Developing a brand strategy begins with understanding the identity of your brand.

Keep Things Simple

Your goal should be to create a brand that be easily understood by as many people as possible.  An overly complex brand can frustrate and confuse the market.  Don't do this.  Keep things simple instead.  Try to communicate 3 brand values instead of 5-6. Communicate the products and servies you ofter succinctly as possible. Choose fewer colors for your visual communication and fewer typefaces in your written communication.  In branding, less is more, and focusing on a fewer number of well-targeted brand goals gives you a better chance at being successful.

Let Passion Rule

Your business was birthed out of passion. Perhaps it was the dream of bringing a new innovation to market that would revolutionize an industry.  Your business might have been imagined as bringing a new level of quality, service, or value to it's market. No matter what the original motivation was, the original efforts of business were fueled by the excitement and passion of it's founders. This passion that initially led to the creation of your business is a vital part of your brand.  It's important that you keep this guiding passion central to your brand message - allowing your customers and potential customers the chance to understand what drives your business and it's team.  Businesses often devote energy to communicatng this passion to it's internal staff to help them continue to carry out the oringal vision of the organization, but it's just as important to share this passion with the world.  Passion is contagious, and your customers will feel even more connected to the products and services your business offers if they can connect to the passion that drives you.


Plan to be Consistent

Nothing kills your brand message more quickly than inconsistency. If you want your customers and potential customers to understand your brand clearly, then keep your brand efforts consistent. Your various marketing collateral efforts (print, advertising, website) should be in sync in their look, feel, and tone.  The subject of your organizational blog or newsletters should match up with your brand goals.  Moods change and changing business environments can often tempt us to change our business mood.  But successful branding demands that we resist the feelings of the moment in order to maintain consistency in our brand identity, brand message, and brand values.


Focus

Your business could offer an unlimited number of products and services.  But it doesn't.  It offers a select few products and/or services that you've recognized as the most profitable, the most  in demand, or the most feasible for your team to offer. Somewhere along the road, you've realized that offering more products and services could distract your business from accomplishing it's core objectives.  It's the same with your brand.  It's needs to be focused.  It can't do and be everything. It will always be easier for consumers to connect with your brand when it's central message is built upon a few focused concepts instead of a be-all, do-all brand.


Evaluate your brand efforts using these principles. Is your brand understandable, simple, passionate, consistent, and focused? In which areas is your brand currently strong?  In which areas does your brand efforts needattention and improvement?  These are important things to discuss with your leadership and marketing teams, and it's vital that you revist these principles regularly to make sure your brand really is more than just your logo.

And if you find some outside help would be beneficial to your team, we're available to meet with your team and walk-through these principles with you.  Contact us for information about our Brand Discovery services and workshops.