BLAME THE COW
When asked, many people including many advertising creatives who should know better, will tell you your brand is your logo.
Perhaps it is the cow’s fault. After all the mark put on the cow is called a brand. But even there the true meaning of the brand is so much more. I mean if I’m a cattle rustler and see the Ponderosa’s brand on a cow I’ll probably move on—who wants Hoss and Little Joe after them?
So, to differentiate and avoid confusion I usually refer to a company’s logo as it’s brand signature. Not unlike a painter signing his work, yes, that is a Picasso. Or, wow that new phone looks awesome…yes, there’s the Apple logo.
So if we can agree to call the logo the brand signature, that begs the question what exactly do we mean by a product, service or company’s brand? Let’s begin.
WHAT IS YOUR BRAND?
“Your brand is not your logo. Your brand is all of the associations and projections your customers put on you—either with your input, or without it.”
— David Ogilvey“
David Ogilvey was a rather famous advertising executive hailing from the Madmen era, often quoted and called “The father of advertising” by the New York TImes.
He also referred to a brand as, “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” Your brand is the heart and soul of your business. It is a collection of feelings, attributes and perceptions, real or imagined, about quality, service, image, lifestyle and status. It creates, in the mind of customers and perspective customers, an image of your product and service. It is what a person thinks when he or she hears your brand name or sees your product. It is a combination of factual observations (the packaging is white), and emotional ones (it’s sexy). Your brand exists in a person’s mind.
Or a simpler and very succinct way of explaining it:
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
— Jeff Bezos, CEO founder of Amazon.com
CREATING A BRAND STRATEGY
Your brand is at the heart of your product and service. It is supported by all of the influences and messages around it. From, yes the logo, to your corporate messaging, marketing strategy through all of your design initiatives and marketing. Your brand should inform every business decision. Is this on-brand or not? A clear and concise brand informs both staff and customers, allowing you to create and maintain a unique marketing position.
For this reason we must strive to understand where our brand is now. What it is saying. What it isn’t saying. Then we can begin to decide what if any changes may be required to our brand communications, both internally and externally. To aid us in this discovery we use a brand wheel to help us analyze our present position.
THE BRAND WHEEL
At its core is the one key value that defines the brand. The soul of the brand. It should:
1. Resonate with customers, increasing perception and awareness.
2. Be unique, improving your competitive position and increasing new business/sales.
3. Be compelling, energizing customers, employees and partners, increasing brand financial value and improving employee recruitment and retention.
The Body of the brand is two to four values that surround the core and act like glue, binding the brand together. These are the innermost key attributes of the brand. And finally the body is surrounded by three to seven extended supporting values of the brand. These help define the look and feel of the brand supporting and nurturing the key values.
A branding or re-branding of your company may mean just new business cards and letterhead or full multi-media strategies incorporating everything up to and including office design and furnishings. Remember everything you do and say, positively and negatively, works to create your brand.
The partners at Catfish Creative have worked on brands both large and small. From a small re-design of a logo and letterhead to a complete international corporate rebranding.