Branding is much more then just a logo and it is much more then just a design – as a famous man once said:
“Good design adds value of some kind, gives meaning, and, not incidentally, can be sheer pleasure to behold.”
This quote belongs to Paul Rand. A visionary, he worked only for top companies that had a strong reputation to uphold, such as Ford, ABC, IBM, and UPS. Large organisations trusted him with their image and branding and Paul made sure to take the time to produce perfect work, every time.
Paul’s most famous work was produced during the 60’s. He famously charged $100,000 per single logo design and refused to work with non-reputable companies, even if they were willing to pay his sky-high fees.
During 1992 Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) revealed he’d had to persuade Paul to work on branding for his new project, Next Computers. In an interview Steve said:
“I asked him if he would come up with a few options. And he said, “No. I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution. If you want options, go talk to other people. But I’ll solve your problem for you the best way I know how. And you use it or not. That’s up to you. You’re the client. But you pay me.”
Paul’s reputation and past success meant that he could set his own rules for any project/no matter the value, and this also meant that he was able to take the right amount of time to develop something that was highly effective and timeless. Paul knew the formula to use to create a great and vastly effective brand and in testament to him, most of his work is still being used today and looks as fresh and innovative as ever.
Today, famed designers, branding professionals and specialised organisations are still paid huge sums of money to develop a branding idea that will be highly effective, and withstand the test of time, as Paul’s designs did. But the high costs of good quality branding can be off-putting to many small and mid-sized business owners, causing them to disregard it as an unnecessary expenditure that can instead be done cheaply or quickly elsewhere.
What is a brand?
A brand is an idea, an ethos, an image you want to portray to your customers. Your brand should be evident in the way you interact with customers, the language you use in association with your company, the products or services you sell and even the way you answer the telephone.
Strong brands stem from a strong ethos. Look at companies such as Mercedes. Their brand is indicative of the quality of their vehicles, yet this quality cannot be conveyed without the vehicles themselves being well made. Mercedes’ ethos started out as “The best or nothing at all” and it’s this tag line which has influenced every aspect of their business and is the absolute backbone of their brand identity.
Here are a few tips on what it takes to create a great brand:
A brand should offer great value to their customers, not just through their products but throughout every aspect of the customer’s experience. The best brands change how we see the world by having the power to create trust as well as encourage and persuade an audience. For example, a sports or energy drink brand might hope to challenge our thoughts on what is humanly possible when it comes to fitness, achievements and capabilities, with the ultimate aim of inspiring us to push ourselves further. As a result it’s hoped that the consumer will go on to associate that brand with positive feelings whenever they’re reminded of it. A great brand helps people to help themselves by delivering true value with every interaction.
1. Simplicity is key
A great brand should be simple to interpret and easy on the eyes- it’s all about getting the message across to your audience in the quickest and most effective way possible.
Understandably there are many companies that will be supplying the same product or services that you provide, and so it’s essential to set yourself apart from the competition in order to grab your audiences attention. The way to do so is not by bombarding your potential customers with facts, figures and information, but by engaging their feelings and emotions.
2. Use the power of word of mouth (PR)
Snapchat is a great example of how companies can leverage the weight of word of mouth with astronomical success. Snapchat chose not to advertise but instead gained momentum through existing users discussing the app with potential users, as well as being mentioned in multiple blogs which eventually led to more and more downloads. Snapchat has the funds for big advertising campaigns, but instead they choose to develop their software further and use innovative PR tactics to promote their USP.
They have now signed up major organisations to participate in the live sharing process, which in return has brought in many new users interested in finding out more about a particular business or celebrity. Their marketing strategy has paid off as the company is now worth an estimated $20 billion.
Advertising does play a vital role in the growth and maintenance of a brand, but if a company depended on advertising alone to launch a brand then it would likely cost a lot more and be less effective than the success a great PR team could achieve within the same timescale and budget.
When an announcement came out that TV boxes would be able to pause, record and rewind live TV, advertisers were in an uproar. They felt like they where being cheated because people now had the ability to skip through adverts. Yet in reality, viewers have long become accustomed to habitually switching over when adverts come on.
Compare the exposure generated with PR vs. advertising, and PR wins almost every time. Consider this example:
The average cost of a full-page advert in a local newspaper is around £2,600, with TV adverts costing around £6,000 a day.
Yet a well-written article with great photography could easily end up on several different news sites, blogs and social media platforms where it’s highly likely it will be shared among people who are genuinely interested in the content.
3. focus on one thing at a time
To find out what it is about your company that makes it a success you need to first break down the brand by identifying its defining features. Why is it different from the rest and how? In a world of dense markets and copycats people are naturally attracted to what’s fresh and new.
Know what you’re good at and concentrate on this and nothing else. There are many businesses that try and do everything their competitor is doing, the result being that they do nothing especially well. Focusing on a very limited amount of products or services and consistently producing them to a very high standard is the best way to attract a loyal customer base. An example of this methodology is Fred DeLuca who opened a delicatessen that had only one type of sandwich- that deli later turned into Subway.
4. No sub-brands when you’re small
A brand takes a lot of investment to gain popularity, therefore creating a sub brand from the initial brand will only take the focus away and weaken its overall performance.
Large, established companies like Coca Cola have the power and money to create sub brands like Decaffeinated Coke and Coca Cola Cherry, and they invest heavily in them to make them rise to fame. However the top seller has and will always be their main product- the standard Coca Cola.
5. Perception or Quality
What justifies the high cost of a certain product? How much better is an Apple iphone handset starting at £619 over a Xiaomi MI4 handset starting at £250? The secret to the pricing lies within the marketing and branding efforts that go into making the product or brand desirable.
We perceive expensive products as great quality products. Apples branding has always concentrated on quality and simplicity, and over the years the company have built an image that separated them from the competition. Apples products are always priced above the competition, yet we choose to buy them because they look and sound like the best product on the market. Though how much does it actually cost to produce the product? The amount Apple profits from every handset is hardly ever mentioned.
6. Be Consistent and Patient
The majority of globally recognisable brands have been around for 100 years or more. A quick search shows that the most successful companies have made very little change to their brand or logo over its lifetime, despite the fact that many CEOs will have considered changing it at one point or another. Yet by altering any major aspect of the brand they would risk damaging the brand and company, so instead minor alterations are applied to bring the brand back to life and keep it up-to-date.
To begin building a brand that will achieve long-term success you have to first make sure that the in house work follows your branding guidelines to the letter (for example, is the right font being used, are you using the right colours, is the brand mark the right size, is the right tagline being used, etc.) and that your entire design team share the same branding vision.
A brand is much more then just a quick logo design. Branding is about building the company image so customers understand what your company is about and what great product or service it is known for- and that takes time and money.