You’re getting your new business off the ground but have you fully defined its brand identity? I’m not talking about using a cute picture for your company logo. I’m talking about identifying the attributes of your brand, being clear about how it differs from the competition and deciding on its tone of voice. These fundamental concepts must be given due consideration if you are going to launch a brand which customers want to buy.
Some of these concepts may seem somewhat vague to a practical minded business person, but just look around you. We live in a heavily branded world. When you choose what to buy, invariably you will opt for a brand you recognize, know, trust and that meets your needs. You will opt to purchase life insurance from a company with a reassuring and trustworthy tone of voice; you will buy innovative website design services from a company with a pioneering tone of voice.
The brand identity encompasses everything a company stands for in a clear, concise and consistent way. It’s the way in which the company is shown to the whole wide world. A powerful brand identity is seductive and persuasive. It provokes an emotional response in the customer who learns to trust the brand and believe it is superior. The resulting brand loyalty is strong and it’s very difficult to convince these dedicated fans to experiment with another.
McDonalds is one of the world’s best loved brands and is highly admired amongst brand managers and marketers for its phenomenal success in the fast-food market. It is clearly positioned in the market to appeal to children with the option of Happy Meals and Ronald McDonald parties. In this health conscious time it now offers lower fat options ideal for the accompanying parents. The fast-food concept at McDonalds is simple – queue for your food, eat with your fingers out of paper cartons, sit on plastic chairs and obediently take your waste to the bin when you leave. We all know what we are getting when we step through the doors of any McDonalds the world over.
The brand identity of McDonalds completely and utterly supports this approach – a bold, simple logo in child friendly colors and the use of a consistent tone of voice by trained staff who greet you with a big friendly smile and a ‘How can I help you?’. The tagline ‘I’m Just Lovin’ It’ suggests it’s more than gobbling up a burger; it’s about an enjoyable, informal eating experience.
At the other end of the scale, BMW is an example of a company whose brand identity is clearly and deliberately pitched at the top of its market. With a tagline ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ and sleek, glossy and sophisticated adverts, the brand is clearly identified as high quality and highly desirable- even if not always attainable!
For your new business, it is essential to define your unique brand identity or your brand will drown in a sea of competitors. This is a highly creative process and it’s imperative to call in the professionals. A good brand identify is developed as a partnership between the company and the brand designers. Key elements need to be firstly defined, to give clear guidance to the brand designers:
Core values of the brand – what are its attributes? How does your brand meet clients’ needs? What are its cultural values? If you are starting an accounting company, you need to persuade customers that you are professional, trustworthy and accurate in your work. A new kindergarten needs to come across as caring, professional, safe and fun.
Positioning of the brand – where are you pitching your products and services in the market place? Are you selling economical or luxury items? Be clear about the vision you have for your brand.
Brand differentiation – how is your brand different from all the rest? What are its unique selling points?
Brand essence – what type of brand do you have and how will you communicate it? Should the tone of voice be friendly, formal, hard hitting or reassuring? This is the key way you will communicate your brand to all audiences – when staff communicate with customers, when PR managers talk to the media, when the directors talk to the shareholders. Tone of voice also applies to the written word, for example in brochures, adverts and on your website.
Once you have clarified these elements, the experienced professional branding company will fire up their creative juices to develop the brand’s visual identity – the outward expression of your brand, which will be strongly influenced by your chosen tone of voice. The tangible items they will produce include the logo, point of sales material such as brochures and flyers, signage, websites that work and product packaging that sells – all created to consistently and effectively transmit the brand’s core values and essence to your customers.
The creation of the overall visual identity of your brand is a sophisticated art. It is not something you should try at home! Let the professionals tap into their many years of experience and use their collective creativity to produce a brand identity that will raise high above the competition.