Don't assume that a brand is simply a logo or a company name. Do not assume adopting a logo and marketing it will be enough to differentiate yourself from the competition. A brand is more than a name and image. It is the visual stimulus triggering an impression in your customers mind.
How your customer perceives you is the most important aspect of your brand.
A brand, when used correctly, is more than a mark on paper. It grows and becomes imprinted on your customers mind. Customer experiences with your product and service becomes associated with your logo and company name. The brand can become more valuable than any one product which gives immediate credibility to any product sold under that brand logo.
Branding begins with a logo and then needs to expand across all marketing efforts with consistent applications of fonts, visuals and colors. Your logo is the single visual that anchors your brand impression. The graphic format of everything from your advertisements, website and packaging should be cohesive and designed with awareness of the impression you want your customer to associate with your company.
Branding is about beliefs and ideas. Creating a visual expression of the business culture is at the core of brand creation. It should not be created in a rush and should not be changed like the color of your walls. Consider the icons of brand and the length of time their visual icon has been around. Evolving the look to stay contemporary is new mantra of designers who do not understand what brand truly is. Review the evolution of icon brands like Pepsi, Wendy's and IBM. The brand changes they have made can be counted on one hand.
Brands express who and what the company believes in to the outside world in a non-confrontational way. When done correctly, a brand lets your consumers identify with your message and become a part of your movement. With powerful connections, you will get rewarded with loyal lifelong customers that actively support and recommend your brand whenever given the chance. This ideology or belief system that you are building should be different from the competition and true to your product.
You might think that this conceptual side of branding only applies to expensive or extreme brands such as Gucci or Pepsi. Not true! Consider why someone always buys Starbuck instead of making their own coffee or getting a les expensive one at 7-11. You can get similar product offerings at other establishments and you could make your own successfully. Starbucks and 7-11 provide convenience to the early morning rush. Then consider the brand impression built through the store environment and marketing. Starbucks packages its experience through taste, product options, store environment, a deliberate brand experience. Remember Startbuck's began as a humble coffee shop in one location in one city. Coffee was a commodity that people would buy anywhere that was convenient. The only national brand of record was Dunkin Donuts who was built their market on fresh made donuts every day throughout the day. Yumm. Dunkin Donuts has great coffee, but their business model is built on fresh donuts. Starbucks deliberately built their brand and business creating the coffee category we have today.
Now consider your local market area and the companies who stand out but are not a national chain and only have local presence. Brand loyalty is as important to the financial health of these local businesses as it i to national brands. The scale of branding efforts are local and regional as opposed to national.
Brand strategy plays the critical role in achieving customer loyalty, business growth and longevity. Kentucky Fried Chicken, Papa Johns, 7-11 all began as small local companies. They made a conscious decision abbot their business goals. This did not change the core brand image they were promoting it only expanded their efforts of brand reach.
Are you ready to start designing and building your brand now that you have really thought about the culture and impact of your brand on your business?