Many people think of great ideas for products or services but struggle with getting them to market. A common problem they tend to face involves creating an appropriate brand image for their product. This piece will dive into what makes a strong brand, and some pitfalls to avoid.
A lot goes into creating a strong brand. From recognition and recall to awareness and imagery. As I have said at different times in this column, a brand is more than just a name. It includes slogans, symbols, colours, logos, mascots, and even website URLs. These are the brand elements.
When choosing elements for a brand, they should meet a combination of the following six aspects: memorability, meaningfulness, likeability, transferability, adaptability, and protectability.
When coming up with brand elements, it is important that they are both easily recognisable and easily remembered. Brands that have elements that match both of these are more likely to stay within a consumer’s subconscious. Think of Nike’s name and logo – a single word with just a tick. Their slogan is ‘Just Do It’. Simple but effective.
The same applies to Apple and McDonald’s. Their names and logos are kept simple but have become iconic. The Apple logo and the McDonald’s golden arches have become ingrained into our daily lives. When you think of fast-food, you immediately think of McDonald’s. The same applies for Apple and technology.
Brands benefit from their elements being meaningful in some way. Whether they are immediately known or not depends on the brand, but there should be some story behind everything.
Did you know that the Twitter bird logo found inspiration from famous basketball player, Larry Bird? Twitter’s co-founder, Biz Stone was a fan of the Celtics basketball team and decided to create the logo in reference to him. Having a story behind elements helps to ground a brand in a consumer’s world, make it resonate with the audience, and as a result, make it more trustworthy.
Read also: Is Brand an Intangible Asset?
This can refer to whether the elements will be well-received by the audience who will view them. For example, having a horrifying looking monster for a logo may not be the best idea for a children’s clothing line.
Likeability also extends to whether how offensive an audience finds a brand’s elements. Two examples include the logos of A-STYLE, a clothing company, and Mont-Sat, a Polish satellite company. The logos are self-explanatory as to why they have caused some people to double-take.
Depending on whether you have thoughts to extend your brand in the future, you should consider the transferability of its name. Great examples of this are Virgin and Easy. Virgin has Virgin Money, Virgin Media, Virgin Hotels and Virgin Music to name a few. Easy are similar but connect their name to their extensions, such as EasyJet, EasyHotel and EasyHolidays.
If you are looking to have multiple extensions to your brand, then it is best to keep the elements simple. This is so they can be transferred across extension lines but still be recognisable. Both Virgin and Easy have done this by having a one-worded name and consistent colour palette that ripples through their extensions.
Brands have the potential to survive a long, long time. Many successful brands are set to outlive their creators. Therefore, when deciding on your brand elements, it would be wise to plan for longevity. Pick a font style and a colour scheme, decide on what makes one element (such as the logo) unique and have that threaded throughout the rest of the brand. Having consistent notable elements attached to your brand will help it be remembered.
Coca Cola first drafted their iconic font in 1885, and it has remained a staple of the brand ever since. The original colour scheme for Coca-Cola was black, the red colour did not come into play until 1950. However, they adapted to still incorporate their original font but with the updated colour scheme which has still stuck around, after all this time.
Once you have thought of and designed all the elements that make up your brand, the next task is to find protection. Have your brand elements registered and trademarked to offer a brand defence against competitors.
With protection, brand elements cannot be copied exactly. However, protection only goes so far and typically does not apply to mixed use classes. So, other companies are still able to have elements that are similar. Just compare the logos of Pepsi and Korean Air to see how similar elements can be.
The above six aspects are all important to consider when building up a brand. The first three; memorability, meaningfulness and likeability are all an offensive strategy that help to build positive brand equity. Brand equity put simply is value that derives from how consumers perceive a brand. Therefore, having elements that increase equity, increase a brand’s value.
The last three aspects; transferability, adaptability and protectability are known as a defensive strategy. This is because they can all be used to leverage and maintain brand equity. For example, having the ability to adapt your brand elements will allow you to remain relevant in a constantly changing world. Therefore, while not completely increasing your equity, it does help you protect it.