Very often, I get marketing executives asking my opinion on their current brand state, and whether do they require a rebranding. And if they do, should it be a major overhaul, or a minor revision.
I usually answer their questions by asking a few other questions. To name a few:
• What was the intention of looking up for a brand agency.
• Are they convinced that their current brand image corresponds well with its belief(s).
• How do they want the brand to move forward and be remembered within the next five years.
Sometimes, they already have their answers. They merely needed someone to guide and provide them assurance. Most of them, do want to stand out and be the best amongst the rest.
Naturally, there will almost always be monetary concerns. The more conservative minds still and will not believe in investing in any form of branding exercise. Fortunately, there are the more liberal minds that appreciate the value of branding, and will consider it a factor from the get-go.
Big campaigns and executions can be proposed. I could suggest heaven and earth for your brand. But we have to ask ourselves, is it the right time yet? Are we carrying on mistakes? Or denials from the past, the brand has failed to address? In such cases, we would only be wasting more resources.
I suggest we take a step back, and do an audit on the current brand state. I cannot emphasize enough, on how important the foundation of the brand is; that with its first impression, it must portray the right message. Therefore, you must at least get it right and established first.
We will then proceed to move forward, one step at a time.
I shall right now, clarify the differences between a Brand Logo, the Brand Identity and Brand Image. These are the basics.
What is a Logo?
A logo identifies your business through an icon or word-mark in its purest form. At first glance, it should almost scream about on the nature of your business.
What is Brand Identity?
The overall visual appeal that sets the tone of your brand. From the signage, to the website and throughout all communication touch-points. Ranging from your business cards, packagings and to your powerpoint slides.
What is Brand Image?
This is where it clicks more on an emotional level. Like how you dress, walk and talk, everything is a representation of yourself, a brand’s image is therefore a reflection of how consumers perceive your brand emotionally.
The Logo is an identifier.
This is the first and very crucial step in any branding journey. Whether is it developing a logo from scratch, or to revitalize on an existing design. It depends entirely on the company’s belief and how you would want the brand to move forward.
A Logo is a form of identifier that translates the nature of your business visually.
You can either have it portrayed using an icon or a word-mark. You can have the business name spelt out and have it designed with a good font choice. This is the more straightforward approach.
Alternatively, engage the usage of an icon or symbol. Think ”Apple” and the “Nike Swoosh”. These are successful brands which manage to have its icon identified without having any explanation nor description. However, to get recognised simply with a symbol requires years of brand discipline and effort.
For starters, I always recommend the company to adopt a tagline, to further elaborate on the nature of your business.
The physical appeal.
You seldom get the second chance to make the first impression, therefore, every single communication touch-point counts. Make it work and make it impressive. This is the stage when the created Logo starts to implement itself across all the touch-points.
- Business Cards
- Letterhead and Envelopes
- Marketing Collaterals (Presentation Folders, Brochures, Powerpoint slides)
- Environment (Stores or Office decor)
- Website and Social Media presence
The fine details of the Logo, along with its colour guidelines and design templates will be well-documented in an Identity Guide in which I recommend for all businesses to have at least one. This allows future designers / agencies and any marketing executives a clear insight to the creation of the brand logo and its identity.
It also provides visual consistency to any future adapation or development of future marketing materials.
Represent yourself well, and uphold the reputation.
A good and reliable brand image builds itself from within. It is only when you are confident of what you really are, in turn, you will then exude that same amount of confidence externally.
The same goes for your brand.
You cannot control how the consumers perceive your brand, this is entirely up to them. You can only convince them by having a good reputation. Connect with them emotionally and make them believe in you. Develop a strong brand belief that you want the consumers to know. Communicate on this belief strongly. Breathe it, live by it and promise to uphold it. With time, this contributes to the overall brand perception.
Consumers will be kept happy and with satisfaction, they will in turn become your promoters. This, is brand confidence.
What this means.
Think of it like your name. We work hard to protect the integrity of our names. The brand is our reputation. It is entirely up to us to uphold and keep our reputation intact such a way that people will always have faith in us.
Convey it the wrong way by developing a wrong approach, wrong messages will in turn, be delivered. It will become harder and harder to make the U-turn and more effort will be required to swing the favour back into your game again.
Start early. Recognise the need to establish a proper brand image early. Then build on it from there, taking a step at a time.