Once the heavy lifting in creating your brand is done, basic care and ongoing maintenance to preserve and protect it must not be overlooked. “Nurture your brand as you would a child,” says brand expert Jagdeep Kapoor, author of the bestselling “Twenty-Four Brand Mantras.” Just like all living things, a brand requires nurturing to remain healthy and to grow.
From creation through to end-of-life, a brand can encounter unexpected challenges arising from all sorts of corners, not just from the competition. From a poorly planned campaign to a corporate takeover, and from an outspoken CEO to a badly chosen name, a few examples that made recent headline news are worth a closer look to form takeaways and lessons learned for brand owners and managers everywhere.
Case Study: Rhode Island Is Not Iceland – Tourism Campaign Has Too Many Mistakes, Says Governor
America’s smallest state ought to know that details matter. When Rhode Island set out to create its new $5 million integrated tourism and new business promotion campaign, big guns were brought in. Who better, you might think, than Milton Glaser, the graphic designer who created the iconic I ❤ NY campaign?
Lesson #1: Politics matter! Milton Glaser and Havas PR North America, chosen for the PR contract, are New York City firms, not Rhode Island firms.
The newly launched campaign featuring a slogan “Cooler & Warmer” left many people cold…and guessing. What does it mean, they queried across social media channels. One Commerce Corporation board member said he saw “no emotional connection” and “no personal brand to the state or the people.”
An ATOM Media executive in Providence, RI said, “Usually a slogan is something that people know instantly and understand. I think the fact that you need to explain it could be a little problematic.” That sentiment was echoed by the owner of a Newport, RI marketing and graphic design agency, who said the slogan, “Doesn’t make any sense to me. In order to create a good tagline you have to have a brand strategy.”
Lesson #3: Graphics must reflect and express a brand’s persona, and that must be one that resonates with people, not one that needs to be explained.
Lesson #4: Social media matters! A tagline containing a special character or symbol (such as the ampersand in Cooler & Warmer) won’t function as a hashtag. Ever.
That wasn’t all. A YouTube video released with great fanfare was yanked within 24 hours when it was pointed out, “Hey, that’s not Rhode Island — that’s the Harpa concert hall and conference center in Reykjavik. Iceland.” Other footage featured a highly acclaimed restaurateur who had already moved his operation to Boston. And the video also claimed 20 percent of America’s historic sites are in the little Ocean State, when it’s actually 2 percent.
This was the ‘alternative’ Rhode Island Cooler & Warmer ‘spoof’ version produced by The Wonderful Show!
Lesson #5: Accuracy matters! The state’s marketing director resigned. Media partners are returning their contract fees to the taxpayers. Cooler & Warmer was scrapped.
After an initial attempt — picked up internationally, even by The China Post — Governor Raimondo took a different tack at a news conference, saying, “One of the things I’ve learned from listening and engaging with people is that there should’ve been more public participation in this thing from the get-go.”
With that in mind, Newport Buzz posted a public contest, pitting “Cooler & Warmer” against the previous slogan, “Discover Beautiful Rhode Island,” and a local amateur entry, “Sea to Believe.” With 15,000 votes in so far, the local resident’s idea is clear away the favorite with 80 percent, versus the traditional one at 18 percent and the costly new-fangled entry coming in dead last at 2 percent.
Lesson #6: There’s no room for ivory tower decision-making. Consultation is critical, brand audits are essential.
More Takeaways: All brands should consider geographical location of their contractors and supply chains when performing due diligence in order to avoid potential embarrassment. The look and feel of the brand via tagline, logo, adverts, all brand collateral, media and all touchpoints must resonate with its audience, make an emotional connection and be authentic. The importance of fact-checking and the need to eliminate exaggerated claims cannot be overstated. Handle a brand crisis with carefully thought-out strategy, not something to poke fun at.
Case Study: Brand Takeover – Richard Branson Reacts to Virgin America Sale
Sir Richard Branson is himself a brand who runs a brand that has sub-brands. The self-made billionaire wasted no time addressing the Alaska Airlines purchase of Virgin America — just in case of any tarnish rubbing off on the overall Virgin brand name.
Image via www.virgin.com and Virgin America
Well aware of the fierce loyalty of Virgin America fans for what they consider a superior product at parity prices, Branson let everybody know, “I would be lying if I didn’t admit sadness that our wonderful airline is merging with another. Because I’m not American, the US Department of Transportation stipulated I take some of my shares in Virgin America as non-voting shares, reducing my influence over any takeover. So there was sadly nothing I could do to stop it.”
Lesson #7: Confront a brand crisis. Deal with it, manage it, communicate about it professionally and do not hide from it.
In a statement that’s a pleasure to read in its entirety, due to the passion readers can sense, Branson goes on to discuss the importance of the brand, “…once Alaska witnesses first-hand the power of the brand and the love of Virgin America customers for our product and guest experience, they too will be converts and the US traveling public will continue to benefit…”
Even in the face of a forced merger, the rest of the Virgin brand received immediate reinforcement from the top. “Our Virgin airline has much more to do, more places to go, and more friends to make along the way,” Branson stated.
Lesson #8: Find the silver lining. Notice how Branson uses this corporate takeover event as an opportunity to reiterate the ongoing benefits of a Virgin travel experience.
Case Study: Tarnished Brand – Trump Empire?
In his run on the US presidency, Donald Trump’s raucous attention-grabbing style and statements is affecting custom at Trump Collection branded apartment towers, hotels, resorts and golf courses.
Image via http://www.npr.org
Polling and consulting firm Penn Schoen Berland survey results found that 45 percent of respondent US residents with annual earnings of $200,000 or more will make a point of not visiting a Trump hotel or golf course over the next four years. Within that group, 77 percent indicated they would actually boycott the Trump brand.
Lesson #9: From the CEO to front line employees to the back of the house operation, your brand is represented by everyone in each and every customer (and potential customer) interaction. Everyone is, or should be, an ambassador for your brand.
Case Study: Stay Relevant, For The Times They Are A-Changin’
In the 1980’s, four-time Olympic diving gold medalist and five-time world champion Greg Louganis was passed over for one additional honor — an appearance on the Breakfast of Champions Wheaties Legends cereal boxes. Louganis is openly gay, HIV-positive and an LGBT activist. He is also “widely viewed as the greatest diver in the history of the sport,” according to a recent communication from the Wheaties maker, General Mills.
Calling it “a ground swell of love,” Louganis told Hollywood Today that a petition signed by 40,000-plus people brought the oversight to the attention of General Mills. At age 56, Louganis joins a highly decorated Olympian swimmer and hurdler, a woman and a black man, in the brand’s revamped Wheaties Legends series packaging, available on the grocery store shelves (one million boxes!) from May 2016.
Image via http://www.blog.generalmills.com
Lesson #10: A brand needs to stay relevant to stay alive. The brand must respond to feedback and act to correct an out-and-out mistake.
Case Study: What’s In a Name – Law School Learns to Study Harder
Experts highly recommend that even the smallest of brands invest time and effort in getting a name right from the start to avoid potential legal issues and massive upheaval if a change is required. That advice takes into consideration everything from spelling to acronyms to trademark and domain name. Later, a brand might tweak a logo, revamp packaging design, shift media channels, or even undertake a rebrand if necessary.
AdWeek reports that a recent study by U.K. research firm MillwardBrown found “many brands that change their names can expect an immediate 5 to 20 percent drop in sales, and that the new brand image ‘may not be as strong as it was before.’”
After U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February, George Mason University outside Washington D.C. renamed their law school after Scalia upon receiving a $30 million gift to do so.
Several tweets later, the school realized the awkward acronym they’d created and made a swift change away from Antonin Scalia School of Law, or ASSOL. A crisis was averted at Antonin Scalia Law School before any signs went up or ribbons were cut.
Image via https://www2.gmu.edu
Spelling Counts: When Small Brands Make Big Mistakes
Branding experts point out that misspellings, bad foreign language translations and tricky signage is an area frequently causing trouble at small companies which attempt an in-house branding effort. Even big brands don’t always get it right, with sometimes alarming results.
Amusing examples can occur when random neon lights fail and the Essex House becomes Sex House and Dynasty Restaurant becomes Nasty Restaurant.
Image via Reddit
Even an airport parking garage can be considered part of the airport’s brand. Here’s a curious example of why details matter, right down to vetting your contractors and proofing the signage.
Image via Reddit
Lesson #11: Seek professional assistance in naming a brand to avoid potentially disastrous errors and oversights.
Questions to consider:
• Would you agree that branding is even more important and valuable for small businesses than it is for big companies?
• Have you fully considered and defined differentiation within your brand? How is your brand really different distinctive and memorable?
• Have you determined that your brand rings true and authentic for its target audiences? Have you developed you purchaser personas for each of your different customer types?
• Have you seen other examples of common mistakes amongst other brands that you can learn from?
According to a Nielsen poll of consumers in 60 countries, 55 percent of purchasers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that do their part to encourage positive social and environmental impacts.
Clearly, corporate social responsibility influences buying preferences, but how else is it important? We’ll examine the answer to that question below.
Image via www.huffpost.com
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, occurs when companies take into account the sociological, financial and environmental impacts its actions have in the world and decides to ensure its actions make a positive impact. .
Some business experts have simplified the definition of CSR even further to suggest it encompasses everything a company actively does to have a positive impact on society.
There are numerous types of CSR, such as:
- Production Improvements
- Better Conditions for Workers
- Community Enrichment
- Diversity in Hiring Practices
- Supporting Companies with Similar Values
Typically, the manner in which a company engages in CSR is closely aligned with its brand strategy, brand values, positioning, primary audience and industry sector. For example, a clothing manufacturer might iron out a CSR plan that improves working conditions in factories located in developing countries, while an establishment that makes paper products might commit to CSR that ensures the world’s most at-risk forests are protected and regenerated.
Why is CSR Good for Business?
Although many corporate leaders are encouraged by the aforementioned statistic that shows a company’s involvement in CSR may mean a customer is willing to pay more for its services, they usually require stronger beneficial commercial evidence before taking further action.
However, they don’t need to look very far before uncovering some of the numerous other benefits linked to CSR, including: 
- Happier Staff: Employees take pride in working for a company that supports the greater good through worthy actions and happier staff are more productive and better brand ambassadors
- More Informed Customers: If your company announces a CSR strategy, the associated plans could potentially result in a more transparent organization which in turn typically results in more loyal customers.
Research shows customers want to know more about the things they buy, product or service, than ever before. For example, a study published by IBM noted 59 percent of American consumers and 57 percent of consumers from the United Kingdom have become more informed about the foods they buy and eat over the two years prior to the study’s publication.
In other words, customers’ predisposition to buy, product or service, is becoming increasingly influenced by an organization’s authenticity, openness and commitment to the greater good.
- Reduced Costs: CSR can cut costs by helping companies become aware of and minimize risks, plus improve the efficiency of their supply chains.
- Improved Competitiveness: In a challenging marketplace, a worthwhile CSR plan could carve out a more solid place with a unique positioning for a company to thrive.
- Better Public Relations and Reputation Management: A CSR plan gives a company a platform through which to promote good things like community involvement, donations to charities and other big-hearted gestures.
Developing an Effective Corporate Responsibility Plan for Your Brand
In order to launch a CSR plan that’s good for business and engages genuinely with your stakeholders, it must be carefully crafted. The key is to strike a balance between benefiting society at large, and benefitting the business.  Doing that means:
- Evaluating how and where the business can have the greatest societal impact without taxing the company’s leadership and resources. This frequently involves scrutinizing the company’s existing competencies. Those strengths can provide clues to possible CSR strategies that are revealed after tapping into existing skillsets.
- Cultivating a deep understanding of how certain actions could help the business while simultaneously supporting the chosen causes. This often also necessitates having an open heart and mind while listening to feedback from stakeholders.
- Aligning with partners can propel your desired efforts and help bring goals to fruition. Ideally, adopting a long-term mindset when forming collaborative CSR relationships is best for all concerned.
- Ensure business objectives and CSR goals match up. If there is a disconnect between these two components, your CSR activities risk being time-consuming and lacking the power needed to make lasting changes.
Examples of Brand CSR Strategies That Have Worked Well, and Why
Now you have a deeper understanding of what corporate social responsibility is and how to start formulating your own plan, let’s look at the characteristics of some successful CSR programs with companies that are excelling in their CSR endeavors . You can then use these actionable tips to drive your own brand CSR inspiration.
CSR experts agree all successful CSR programmes typically have:
- clear objectives
- measurable outcomes
- well-developed theories for how to achieve the desired goals
- sufficient information for stakeholders about why causes are worth pursuing
- dedicated and highly focused efforts from the entire company
- a willingness to partner with credible experts.
Let’s look at a few case studies that detail some stellar CSR successes.
This UK-based SME spent years ironing out its CSR strategy. Lacking the resources to hire a dedicated CSR team, the company found employees who were willing to champion the company’s CSR causes, which include education and supplier sustainability.
Media clips from the company place a strong emphasis on making things possible for clients that they would not be able to achieve alone, as does the company’s published document about its CSR initiatives. Through CSR efforts, it can also be strongly argued the company is living out its “Make More Possible” slogan by enabling the people and organizations affected by the causes it supports. APS Group is a great example of how even if a company thinks creating a CSR plan is a daunting task, success is still within reach. 
This brand of cleaning products uses natural ingredients such as coconut oil and soy. Furthermore, the products’ packaging is environmentally responsible and biodegradable. Since the company boasts over $100 million in revenue annually, that is proof “green” products can be commercially viable.
Image via www.methodhome.com
Furthermore, Method demonstrates CSR focuses do not have to be separate from the products you make. Some media clips from the company that details its CSR focuses specifically highlight input from industry experts to make a bigger impact.
This company sells bathing and beauty products filled with natural ‘Fair Trade’ ingredients. The brand’s Charity Pot is sold to benefit a rotating assortment of non-profit organizations. All proceeds from the Charity Pot go directly to the chosen groups, resulting in millions of dollars raised. 
The packaging is just one indicator of how easy it is for people to support good causes by purchasing these black, lotion-filled containers. LUSH uses the labels on the top of pots to inform consumers who the recipients are by clearly stating the designated charity concerned.
Image via www.lush.co.uk
The brand also has a fund that supports communities which produce fairly traded goods. It was launched in 2010 and borne from a desire the company had to do something more than just use fair-trade ingredients in their products whenever possible. 
Charting the Results of Your CSR Strategy
It can sometimes appear somewhat difficult to determine with certainty whether your CSR strategies have achieved the desired outcomes. One of the more effective ways you can answer that question is by engaging an independent research firm, with specialist expertise, to rank certain aspects of a company’s CSR performance, from human rights to the environment and community. 
Additionally, you can check effectiveness through various metrics  such as:
- Environmental indices for pollution or air/water/soil quality
- Quality and quantity of mentions in media outlets
- Measurements for the quality of life within a society, such as literacy rates, life expectancy and incidences of disease, plus mental, physical and emotional heath. The latter could be gauged through feedback surveys given to workers
- Indicators of the company’s economic health by way of profits, growth, and stability, before and after a CSR campaign launches
In conclusion, customers are becoming increasingly hyper-conscious of how and where they spend their money. Recent research also indicates this trend is strongest among Millennials, the largest consumer segment in terms of buying power.  Specifically, 91 percent of Millennials actively switch to brands that support a worthy cause, and abandon the brands that aren’t perceived to have an authentic contribution policy.
In addition to boosting your customer base and potential profits, a well-developed CSR plan could strengthen your relationship with suppliers, increase competitiveness in the marketplace and help you cut costs by becoming more aware of risks. Therefore, many business leaders have come to realize it’s short sighted to not be involved in corporate social responsibility.
- Customers are typically willing to pay more for products from companies associated with strong CSR brand strategies
- CSR goals vary depending on a company’s values and the composition of their stakeholders
- A good CSR plan should both benefit the business and help society
- The CSR plan must align with a company’s business objectives
- Expert individuals or notable groups can help improve CSR strategy success
- Metrics and independent research groups can evaluate whether a CSR plan is working well
Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your organization? If not, it might be a good idea to take a look at how CSR could benefit all concerned.
Questions to Consider
- Does your company have well-defined core competencies that could translate into areas of CSR focus?
- How motivated are your stakeholders to pursue a CSR plan?
- Are there obstacles that might delay CSR-related brand strategy plans?
- Have you thought about how to tackle negative responses from stakeholders that CSR is not currently worthwhile?
- Which measurement methods will you consider using to verify your CSR brand strategy effectiveness?
You may also like:
 http://www.nielsen.com, “Global Consumers Are Willing to Put Their Money Where Their Heart Is When it Comes to Goods and Services from Companies Committed to Social Responsibility”, June 2014
 http://toolkit.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?”
 http://www.csrinpractice.com, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?”
 George Pohle and Jeff Hittner, https://www-935.ibm.com, “Attaining Sustainable Growth Through Corporate Responsibility.”, 2008
 Tracey Keys, Thomas W. Malnight, and Kees van der Graaf, http://www.mckinsey.com, “Making the Most of Corporate Social Responsibility” June 2009
 Frederick E. Allen, http://www.forbes.com, “The Five Elements of the Best CSR Programs.” April 2011.
 Lisa Henshaw, http://www.theguardian.com, “How SMEs Can Engage in Social Responsibility Programmes,” December 2011.
 http://www.inc.com, “How Two Friends Built a $100 Million Company”
 Helaina Hovitz, http://www.forbes.com, “Following the Millions in LUSH’s ‘Charity Pot’. December 2014
 https://www.lush.co.uk/. “Introducing the SLush Fund”
 Tima Bansal, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer. http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com, “Beyond Good Intentions: Strategies for Managing Your CSR Performance” January/February 2008.
 Katherine N. Lemon, John H. Roberts, Priya Raghubir and Russell S. Winter, http://www.philoma.org. “A Stakeholder-Based Approach: Measuring the Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility”, 2011.
 www.conecomm.com, “New Cone Communications Research Confirms Millennials as America’s Most Ardent CSR Supporters,” September 2015.
Rebranding is a relatively broad term, as it encompasses both large and small-scale changes to an existing brand, which aim to resurrect a failing brand, reposition the brand and allow the company to reach out to a new target market, or simply help the brand keep up with the times.
While some brands adopt a “back to the drawing board” strategy and change everything from their logo and name to their brand values and product packaging design, a good brand revitalization strategy can sometimes be limited to a few low-key changes that enable the brand to stay relevant or differentiate itself from the competition.
When Should a Company Invest in a Rebrand?
An impressive 61% of consumers stated that an exceptional customer experience was a major determining factor when choosing a brand, and 48% of consumers expect brands to understand their needs and assist them in finding the right product and services based on those needs.
Infographic via Cube.com [Digital Trends Target the Always-On Consumer]
Brands that have trouble understanding or catering to the customers’ needs are prime candidates for a brand relaunch, but a company can also have trouble with brand incongruence, a tarnished reputation or pressure from the competition.
However, the reasons for a rebrand can also be of a positive nature – a brand may experience rapid growth, as well as significant changes in the production process or the expansion of their product portfolio due technological innovations. Repositioning an economy brand as a high-end brand is another good reason for rebranding.
Since a successful rebrand involves performing a brand audit, market research, developing a detailed brand implementation strategy and effectively communicating the rebrand to customers and media, it is not recommended for young brands. You must have a well-established brand identity and a good level of brand awareness before you can embark on a brand revitalization journey.
Lessons Learned from 5 Successful Rebranding Strategies
1. Harley-Davidson – Improve the Actual Product
The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company initially had many advantages over their competition. For one, the brand had a purebred American provenance, a long history – their motorcycles were used by the US army in both World Wars – and were associated with an image of a powerful, fearless and rebellious man and an adventurous lifestyle that was alluring to a fairly large percentage of men in their mid-twenties and mid-thirties.
The brand had a good story tell, but the company still had numerous problems over the years, and faced bankruptcy on more than one occasion. The main issues that the company faced were:
- Their products were objectively less reliable than what their competition had to offer
- They faced very aggressive competition from a number of quality Japanese brands
- The brand had become associated with biker gangs, notably the Hells Angels
- They were seen as old-fashioned and outdated
In other words, Harley-Davidson had to address their reputation issues or face extinction. However, this was not something that could be fixed by merely changing the logo – their products didn’t meet the quality standards that the customers were accustomed to and they didn’t appeal to the younger generation. The brand actually adopted an incredibly smart strategy – spend less money on marketing and focus on making the product better.
Image via www.harley-davidson.com
Once they worked out all the little problems that had plagued their motorcycles, the company experienced impressive growth – Harley-Davidson, a brand that was on the verge of bankruptcy twice before, is now worth around $1 billion.
The company still faces a big problem, their average customer is a white American male pushing fifty, but they have shown that they are ready to reach out to a more ethnically diverse and younger target audience. The brand plans to shift its focus towards marketing in 2016. 
2. Massey Bros. – Leverage Your Premium Service, Tell Your Brand Story and Ensure Your Brand Identity Creates Distinction
Massey Bros. Funeral Directors is a successful family owned and managed business established in Dublin in the 1930s. They operate in a sector which is traditionally very conservative yet they’re industry leaders in terms of developing innovative solutions. They also have the added complication of having more than six competitors also operating legitimately under the ‘Massey’ name. In addition to this, they themselves also operated under two names before their rebrand!
Massey Bros. have always offered a very premium service but this five star, tailor made, message, their industry leadership coupled with their multiple first to market new innovative services solutions just wasn’t been properly represented in their brand profile, tone-of-voice or brand communications strategy. They also lacked a strong brand identity or consistency across their brand collateral.
We conducted research and a brand audit health check, re-evaluated their whole brand proposition and purpose, their positioning, signage, uniforms, brand collateral and brand strategy. The outputs and findings from this initial body of work then provided the direction for a complete brand overhaul resulting in absolute clarity over their brand proposition, a much stronger brand identity, a higher profile with distinction in the marketplace, consistency across all the brand collateral and most importantly strong staff brand custodians throughout the business that continue to pro-actively manage their brand in the marketplace. And of course, increased market share. You can read the full details of this rebranding case study here.
3. Target – Know Your Audience and Keep Things Simple
Target was initially envisioned as a brand that catered to a somewhat more sophisticated shopper, a person looking for a more sophisticated shopping experience than one would normally find in extremely low-priced stores like Walmart, but who also wanted that stay within a reasonable budget. The problem was that, over the years, the “deal-hunting” aspect became more prominent, which essentially lead to Target being equated with the very same economy shopping experience that they originally strived to distance themselves from.
This caused brand incongruence, with fashionable clothes on one end and cheap food items on the other, and they simply could not compete with well-established economy brands that ruled this segment of the market.
Target performed a brand audit health check, and found that they were neglecting a very important demographic. In the words of Brian Cornell, Target chief executive: “Our guest is going to be increasingly a Hispanic shopper.”  The brand, realizing that over 50% of Hispanic Millennials identified Target as their preferred shopping destination, even created several Spanish-language adverts, with a unique hashtag – #SinTraducción (without translation).
Another big step towards engaging their primary audience was the decision to unite their smaller “mini urban stores” under the Target brand logo. The company previously distinguished these smaller outlets as TargetExpress and CityTarget.
Image via Target.com [Target express store]
The logo design for the mini urban stores proved confusing, the words “express” and “city” were simply placed next to the classic bull’s-eye Target logo, and will only feature the Target logo going forward. With these changes, the brand has revitalized its image. However they still apparently have a bit further to go according to USA Today as things like the infamous 2013 security breach, and their latest OCD sweater has reportedly put their customers’ loyalty somewhat to the test.
4. Hybrid Technology Partners – Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself with a Poorly Thought Out Brand Identity
Formerly known as HybridIT, this Limerick-based company offer a wide range of services, including IT, software development and customer support. They even offer a product – a unique business management ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. However, anyone who saw the “IT” in their brand name immediately thought of them as just another IT company. 
This prevented the company from accessing a larger market share, and the fact that their logo didn’t communicate their core brand message effectively threatened to keep HybridIT in the shadows. Luckily, this “more than just an IT” company caught on and decided to revitalize their brand.
When working on creating appropriate brand identities for our clients, we focus on ensuring all the brand foundations have been fully developed using our Personality Profile Performer™ system before we even look at the aesthetics or design. The outputs from this system provide the roadmap for ensuring the brand identity outputs together with brand messaging and tone of voice are market and target audience appropriate, unique and in keeping a brand’s core values.
At first glance the change was subtle, they became HybridTP, but that one little letter was a monumental step in the right direction. The new brand identity, Hybrid Technology Partners made two things very clear:
- The brand offers diverse technological solutions for streamlining a business
- The company views its clients as partners, and works with them to find the best solutions
The new brand identity, coupled with some light modifications to their website, allowed HybridTP to convey their brand values – honesty, cooperation and trust – and connect with a much larger audience more effectively.
5. Narragansett Beer – Learn How to Appeal to Millennial Consumers
Pabst Blue Light used to be the beer of choice for blue-collar workers and hipster Millennials, but in recent years an old New England beer has stolen their title as the number one “cheap and cool” US beer.
The Narragansett brand has a long history, it was established 125 years ago, but the company recently made a very wise business decision and revitalised the brand, targeting Millennials. They didn’t stray away from their roots, their New England provenance, and long history being the key elements that distinguished the brand from the competition, but they did make some notable changes to the product packaging and re-evaluated their branding strategy.
The old slogan, “Made on Honor, Sold on Merit”, remained unchanged, but with fun and colourful commercials, local girls photographed in the traditional pinup style for their calendar and increased social media activity, Narragansett has successfully made a transition into the digital age.
Image via www.narragansettbeer.com
We know from personal experience that the Millennial demographic can be a powerful driving force that launches a struggling brand to new levels of success. Understanding both what makes their brand unique and what appeals to a Millennial audience, has allowed this low-priced craft beer to secure its position on the market. Saying that the rebrand was a success would be an understatement – the brand brought in $12 million in revenue last year, 120 times more than in 2005.
These five successful rebrand stories all carry an important lesson for any struggling brand. A brand audit can help you reveal your weaknesses be it a problem with the quality of the product itself like in Harley Davidson’s case, an issue of brand incongruence, a dissonance between the brand logo and core brand values and the services offered by the company or a lack of awareness of your primary audience’s needs and preferences.
A brand relaunch is not something to be taken lightly or done for the pure sake of change, but if a brand has fallen on tough times, lacks relevance or isn’t leveraging its full potential with its target market, implementing a carefully planned brand revitalisation strategy is a big move in the right direction.
You might also like:
So, what do you think?
• Does your brand have trouble staying relevant?
• Did you perform a brand health check to determine if there are any weak points you could improve upon?
• Are you targeting the right audience, and do you really understand the needs of your primary audience in terms of their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations?
• Are your products and services up to standards, or are you having problems keeping up with the competition?
 Steve, Cubemc.com, Digital Trends: Understanding and Targeting the ‘Always-On’ Consumer, April 2015
 Mark Ritson, Branding Strategy Insider, “Can The Harley Davidson Brand Age Gracefully?”, October 2015
 Sarah Halzack, WashingtonPost.com, “Target’s new strategy: We need more than just minivan moms”, March 2015
 IrishExaminer.com, Small Business Q&A: Paul Brown, September 2014
 Kristina Monllos, Adweek.com, “How Narragansett Beer Rebuilt Its Brand With a Meager $100,000 Media Budget, Deep roots and word of mouth”, June 2015
Fourth quarter commercialism looms large. Sparkly red and green Christmas displays are simultaneously mounted as spooky orange and black Halloween decorations come down.
From Ireland to Illinois, consumers react in unpredictable ways to brand seasonal messages that creep in earlier and earlier every year. For retailers, that response can mean boom or bust for critical end-of year-sales figures.
Black Friday Launches the Season
Like a turkey sandwich in-between Halloween and Christmas, America has another huge national holiday. On the fourth Thursday of November, the weekend following Thanksgiving traditionally signaled the official start of Christmas during most of the 20th century. Dreamt up as a marketing concept in 2003, Black Friday is now the most frenzied shopping day of the year. It sees queues forming overnight for big sales, many beginning at dawn and some as early as midnight on Thanksgiving Day.
Black Friday is spreading. In recent years, Canada, Mexico and India have followed suit while giant American retailers like Disney and Apple introduce online sales in Australia, too. French shoppers are familiar with “Vendredi Noir.” In the U.K., Tesco and Argos 2014 Black Friday promotions prompted police action in Manchester, with Argos withdrawing from the event in 2015.
Meantime, as early Christmas shop windows draw back the curtains on November installations, the 114-year-old U.S. retailer Nordstrom takes a different approach, making a statement about celebrating one holiday at a time, as seen in a window display.
Image via www.twitter.com
In America, Hollywood goes nuts at the holidays over box office receipts for new film releases, but the small screen is tame on TV adverts compared to the U.K., where Christmas adverts are a national pastime.
We look at a mixed bag of examples representing both large brands and smaller ones on both sides of the pond to see how campaigns are making the most of the season — while others have misfired and are quickly pronounced a failure. See what you think about these adverts.
Balancing Sales Strategies Intended as Charitable Endeavours
John Lewis is one of those nationwide UK brands that attracts considerable media attention with their annual Christmas message, usually a tear-jerker. This year’s advert tells the story of a little 6-year-old girl called Lily and an old man she spies with her telescope, who lives — all alone and lonely — on the moon. The advert is designed to raise awareness for the charity, Age UK, with its tagline: “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas.”
According to The Guardian, “Last year, the retailer also spent £7m on a campaign featuring a realistic animated penguin and a young boy playing together to the tune of John Lennon’s Real Love, sung by British singer-songwriter Tom Odell. It had drummed up 22m views on YouTube by the first week of January…” This year’s numbers are soaring ahead of last year’s.
Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, is quoted in The Telegraph saying there is a consistent style for the store’s seasonal adverts. “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”
The £1 million production for a six-week-long £7 million campaign, which includes more cost for shop floors kitted out to resemble a moonscape, has seen members of the public ask: Why couldn’t John Lewis make a multi-million contribution to Age UK? In fact, the profits from three small ticket items sold at the department store – a mug, a gift tag and a card – will go to the charity supplemented by donations from the public, inspired by the advert’s message.
Image via www.twitter.com
Brands Play to Emotions to Drive Brand Loyalty
Tugging at the heartstrings via hugs, cute penguins, a melting Mr. Snowman, and even World War I soldiers celebrating a Christmas truce in the trenches are among the emotional connections brands are working and spending hard to make happen.
Why? In a word, loyalty. As pointed out by a retail analyst, for modern consumers to change brands no longer involves driving to another village or shopping centre; swapping brands is as easy as the click of a mouse. All of which means your brand strategy needs to be a lot more sophisticated if you want to first attract and then hold onto your customers. Remember people buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background. Your brand must be rich with authentic personality, have a really big why — reasons beyond the money to buy, create emotionally compelling reasons to engage, and ensure it includes an advocacy strategy within your action plan if you want to increase your profitability and ensure long-term success.
A MindMover opinion poll indicates the following brands are most closely associated with Christmas adverts in the U.K.: Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Cadbury, Asda, Toys R Us and Amazon. Not queried is the million pound question — that is, whether top-of-mind-awareness produces the all-important return on investment.
A Big Brand Blunder at Bloomingdale’s
Bloomingdale’s, U.S. luxury fashion chain stores owned by Macy’s, made such a spectacularly poor judgement in their 2015 Christmas advert that a week after the department store had apologized via Twitter, major editorials continued to call for a deeper response.
Image via www.twitter.com
“Appearing to promote date rape,” says the Wall Street Journal, the “creepy” and “offensive” advert reads, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Clearly, it went viral in the wrong way for the large retailer.
Image via www.twitter.com
A Storm in a Teacup at Starbucks
At Starbucks, they knew what they were doing when the white snowflakes decorating the seasonal red cup design were removed. A seemingly simple change sent consumers in large numbers straight to social media, to sign a petition, and to boycott the brand, claiming that Starbucks was making an anti-Christ religious statement. “It’s just a red cup”, tweeted the voice of reason while Instagram lit up with Starbucks images and the nation’s top talk show hosts chimed in.
Image via www.vox.com
Three lessons learned, says Entrepreneur, and small brands should pay especially close attention to number three on this list:
1) All PR is good PR. Starbucks marketing knew the response wouldn’t be universally positive, but they also knew this was not a crisis
2) The power of social media sharing is awesome — and free
3) Brands who react fast can newsjack a trend. “Other coffee brands got a boost from the issue, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, with its holiday cup release.
Image via www.twitter.com
The subject has also created opportunities for smaller companies, YouTubers and creative types alike to ride the wave and get attention.”
Image via www.twitter.com
That’s the same brand strategy employed by the many John Lewis parody adverts that follow immediately on the heels of the store’s annual commercial.
Smaller Brands & Seasonal Brand Strategies
Small brands can make a large impact in the community by scaling ideas such as co-branding in a lower key way, supporting a charity or club, adding removable seasonal details to products and packaging design, donating Christmas trees to community centers, hospitals and nonprofit organizations.
In London, independent, privately-owned residential estate agency Bective Leslie Marsh has supported West London Action for Children for over a decade. Estate agents and local residents partner to raise funds for the 98-year-old charity through year-round bridge and tennis tournaments, trivia quiz nights, barn dances, garden fetes and more.
To offset Black Friday’s emphasis on big box stores and chain stores, Small Business Saturday was launched in the USA in 2010. It focuses on the bricks and mortar local shops that are the fabric of the Ma & Pa character neighbourhoods with American Express is the main sponsor. Partnerships and promotion via Google street view, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook come up with initiatives to launch holiday shopping on the last Saturday of November too.
Other successful ideas have included branded shirts and kits for a local sports club, providing staff to serve Christmas dinners at senior centres, running a toy drive or food hampers collection, singing Christmas carols to collect for the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and similar. It’s important to make a small investment in well design brand collateral such as banners, posters, placards, T-shirts, caps and other branded items to decorate and to wear in order to properly associate the occasion with your own brand.
So, what do you think?
• Are you often caught short of time, or do you have a holiday marketing plan drawn up by Quarter 2? Do you need to include this as part of your brand audit health check or brand revitalization strategy?
• Does your brand have a charitable and/or community giving programme?
• Does your brand strategy include corporate social responsibility?
• Do you know what initiatives, outreach or volunteer activities your employees — your brand champions — would feel most supportive of on behalf of your brand?
• Do you feel confident about maximizing the potential impact on sales via volunteerism on behalf of your brand?
You might also like:
 As seen on Twitter #johnlewischristmasadvert
 Bryan Roberts, Kantar Retail analyst, The Telegraph, 16/11/2015
 “Glad Tidings for John Lewis…”, The Guardian, 6/11/15
 “Bloomingdale’s Holiday Ad Draws Backlash…”, Wall St Journal, 12/11/2015
 “3 Lessons from Starbucks’ Red Cup ‘Controversy’”, Entrepreneur, 16/11/2015
Colour is incredible! From rainbows to coral reefs and from bluejays to goldfish, throughout the natural world, the phenomenon that we call colour is a vital source of stimulation and communication.
When translated to the human sphere, its enormous power adds huge impact to communications, opinions, recall and emotional connections. In fact when used correctly, colour can be used as a pivotal tool to substantially influence purchasing decisions, be it product or service.
Leveraging Your Brand with an Exciting Red or a Trustworthy Blue
According to research from Canada’s University of Winnepeg, “Impact of Color on Marketing”, people make a subconscious judgement within 90 seconds of their initial viewing, and that up to 90 percent of the assessment is based on colours alone. 
“Exciting Red and Competent Blue”, published by the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, explains that colours influence how consumers view the personality of brands, looking at the impact on purchase intent. 
The University of Loyola, Maryland, reveals that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent, while KISSmetrics says, “85 percent of shoppers place colour as a primary reason when they buy a particular product.” 
Studies done by the internationally recognized Pantone Color Institute® indicate that “consumers are up to 78% more likely to remember a word or phrase printed in color than in black and white.”  They cite that colour combined with text, as in a logo, impacts readers with the trifecta of getting better recall, recognition and attention — all good news for the brand story.
Creative Violet, Peaceful Green and Bold Red
Certainly, nobody would have thought to suggest to masters like Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh that colours don’t really matter much. Mark Rothko’s canvases, devoid of subject matter, convey their message solely through powerful use of colour, such that “Violet, Green and Red” (1951) was worth $186 million just 63 years after the canvas paint dried.
“Violet, Green and Red” – Mark Rothko, 1951, Wikimedia Commons, public domain
We know that colour is important in our daily lives. We live in a world of colour. Comments such as, “What colour eyes does the baby have?” and “Let’s buy a red car” or “That shade looks good on you” are commonplace statements. Most of us have favourite colours and feel better when we wear them.
What most of us don’t realise is how much impact colour has on all of us subconsciously, or how much it can be used to influence us in the hands of a knowledgeable master.
World Authority on Colour
Pantone® is the world authority on colour. Each December, their U.S.-based Pantone Color Institute issues a hotly-awaited Pantone Colour of the Year, meant to influence fashion runway collections, interior decor and yes, even car manufacturers. In 2015, for example, “a naturally robust and earthy wine red” called Marsala (#18-1438, to be precise) got the annual nod as top pick for stylish nail lacquer, neckties, table napkins, wall paint and more.
Image via www.pantone.com, Marsala 2015 Color of the Year – Pantone®
Colour Strategy in Brand Success
But, your company logo and your product line is far more complex than an accessory. Clearly, when a company manufactures products, designs a brand logo, buys staff uniforms, develops new packaging designs and invests in advertising, there will be no opportunity for a 12-month cycle to accommodate trend-setting changes.
Choosing a business brand palette is not about a designer’s preference, your favourite colours or anyone else’s. Brand colour choices are long-term decisions and it’s a critical identifier and influencer on the perception and personality of your brand. Colour is also widely credited with influencing purchase decisions.
Case-in-point, most people know where this box comes from even without seeing the sterling silver jewellery it contains. Somehow, it wouldn’t quite do if the box were red.
Image via www.tiffany.com
The colour wheel makes your business go round and round. It speaks to your customers. It differentiates you from your competitors. It is bold and discreet at the same time. It’s interactive.
Image via www.pantone.com
Change a signature brand colour and you’ll see how wrong it can feel:
Image via Fast Company Design, Paula Rupolo: Starbucks / Dunkin Donuts
It’s worth noting that Harley-Davidson is aiming to grow their 12 percent female market share with a sleek black model, not a sparkly pink one.
Image via www.harley-davidson.com
London-based colour and design consultant Karen Haller says, “When you use the right tonal harmonious colours, your brand’s message is communicated quicker to the brain than words or shapes as they work directly on our feelings and emotions.”
It doesn’t have to be beige.
Test yourself. We’ve scrambled the colours, their interpretation and one famous example of use in branding. Can you make 10 proper pairings? (Answers are found at the bottom of this post.)
Colour Strategy at Top Brands
Apple brought colour into a marketplace where colour had not been seen before. Steve Jobs introduced colourful iMacs in tangerine, blueberry, grape, strawberry, and lime followed by indigo, flower power, and blue Dalmatian. By the summer of 2000, the first snow white iMac was a thing of beauty. 
Apple was the first to say about computers, “It doesn’t have to be beige” — in the course of which brand packaging helped the company recover from a two-year loss of $1.8 billion to become the world’s largest public company, top in tech and the most valuable brand on earth. 
Image via www.apple.com
Ketchup is red, right? Unless it’s green. Heinz sold more than 10 million bottles of its EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green Ketchup in the first seven months following its introduction in 2000 — because kids wanted it. That’s $23 million in green ketchup sales because of a simple colour change.
Image via www.fastcodesign.com, Heinz
And then, they over did it somewhat by introducing purple, pink, orange, blue and a rainbow mystery colour. No quite so appetite appealing! Mums hated it, especially when kids mixed them together on the dinner plate. Some 25 million bottles later, the party was over and all but the original were withdrawn. Colour matters and ketchup is red again.
Bright red with elegant white script, the best known logo in the world is considered to be Coca-Cola, which is little changed since 1887. When, in the mid-1980s, Coca-Cola made their first product taste change in a century, they also changed the cans’ packaging design to emblazon them with Coke lettering. They wish they hadn’t. Within three months, Classic Coke was back on the shelves as Coca-Cola. Brand marketers say it was a classic mistake to mess with Coca-Cola’s iconic red and white brand packaging design.
Image via Wikimedia Commons, public domain, Coca-Cola
Where can you go without running into the Golden Arches? McDonald’s introduced them in 1960 to be seen towering above roadside establishments as America took to the nation’s newly-built highways. Why are the arches golden yellow? See how they stand out in this photo of McDonald’s logo seen against the blue sky. The arches rise from a field of red, very much considered the colour of choice for fast food brands including KFC, Wendy’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza and more. That’s it…a simple ‘M’ shape with happy yellow and energetic red, meaning “Stop here now”.
Image via Wikimedia Commons, public domain, McDonald’s
While colour preferences are personal, it’s universally understood that yellow means sunny and happy, while red translates as fiery and attention-grabbing. Whether a message is transmitted subliminally or overtly, the importance of colour in brand strategy cannot be overstated.
Since colour choices impact every aspect of a commercial enterprise, brand owners should aggressively re-evaluate that choice throughout their brand’s strategy, logo, brand collateral, packaging design, web design, product development, advertising and so on. Has your brand’s colour palette been selected with the right intent and applied to best possible effect? We’re here to help ensure that the answer is emphatically “yes”.
What do you think about the use of colour in branding?
- Are you convinced that colour selection in logo design significantly impacts brand identity and consumer perceptions?
- Would you like to know more about how colour selection makes a significant difference in consumers’ intent to purchase?
- Do you suppose that consumers (or just designers) are influenced by Pantone’s Color of the Year?
- On brand design, have you considered whether your brand’s colour palette is a good fit with your product or service?
- Have you experimented with colour innovation in your brand logo, brand packaging, brand collateral or company premises?
- How did you score on the answers to the colour matching quiz for brands?
Yellow = Optimistic, positive, cheerful / Veuve Cliquot e.g. Cara Matches
Blue = Trustworthy, dependable / Facebook e.g. Wavin
White = Simplicity, purity / Apple
Green = Growth, freshness, natural / Starbucks e.g. Connemara
Pink = Youthful, energetic, playful / T-Mobile e.g. O’Egg White Eggs
Brown = Honest, simple, down-to-earth / M&Ms e.g. McConnell’s Gourmet Smoked Foods
Purple = Nostalgic, royal, sophisticated / Cadbury e.g. Massey Bros.
Black = Elegant, luxurious / Guinness e.g. La Moulière
Orange = Trendy, fun, approachable / Easy Jet
Red = Bold, powerful, exciting / Coca-Cola e.g. Tilley’s Confectionary
Is your brand struggling to stay relevant, afloat, or sinking in the marketplace? Do you feel that your brand could be capturing more market share—but it just isn’t happening on your current platforms?
Renaming your brand or changing your tagline can be a powerful strategy for brand renewal or revitalisation, but it’s not a process that should be taken lightly. Effectively pushing the reset button on your brand requires careful consideration and planning, and a sound strategy based on the right reasons.
The name of your company, product, service or range etc. is often the first thing anyone will come in contact with. It’s your first impression. The question here is, do you want your first impression with your primary audience to be something that’s interesting and helps tell your story? Or do you want something that sounds like many others, an industry or category norm but consequently has less impact because it blends in with the rest – that might be a strategic choice but often not the one most desired.
A good name is a compact easy-to-communicate piece of information, it can grab peoples attention and makes them want to know more. It can make them stop and think, laugh or smile, or let people know how you feel about the world around you. Ideally a good name should communicate one key objective, which is strongly founded on your brand promise, positioning, brand values and tailored to fit with your core customer mind set.
Image via google.com
A great brand name is vital to the success of your business. As an example of the power of a name, look to one of the most recognised and powerful brand names in the world: Google. Would the search engine giant have risen to the same heights the organisation enjoys today if they’d kept the original company name of BackRub? Perhaps unlikely—that particular brand renaming might have been one of the best ideas in history.
When creating compelling brand names for our clients we use our Nail it Naming System™. If you’re considering re-naming with some inhouse brainstorming, then here are some of the key factors that you should consider before changing your brand name or brand tagline in order to optimise the effectiveness of a re-naming brand strategy, and ensure true growth for your brand.
Reasons for Brand Renaming: Good versus Bad
The first thing you should consider with a renaming strategy is why you want to change the name of your brand, and / or use a different tagline. There are many good reasons for brand renaming—and some not-so-good reasons.
Some good reasons for changing your brand name include:
- Your brand name has damaging associations. Mistakes happen, but a mistake in business can have a substantially negative impact on your brand name. If your sales or market value are suffering because of a past problem, renaming your brand can give you the opportunity to start afresh with a clean slate.
- Your current brand name is obsolete. Every brand must stay relevant in order to be successful. If your brand name sounds old-fashioned (but not retro), a brand name change may be a good strategic decision.
- Your brand name doesn’t capture the essence of your offering. Consider the brand name Quantum Computer Services. What does that tell you about the brand? Maybe you’re thinking ‘not much’ or assuming it must be some kind of computer repair company. But when this organisation changed their name to America Online (AOL), the brand became synonymous with their service offerings.
Image via www.aol.com
- Your business has expanded beyond the original brand. If your company name originally conveyed particular founding offerings, but you’ve outgrown and expanded beyond what the brand name originally referred to, changing your brand name can help you refocus and expand to capture other larger markets further afield.
- Another brand has a similar name. This type of issue often arises for businesses that are expanding their geographical reach. If there are established businesses in new markets with a brand name that’s similar to yours, renaming your brand can help you compete in these new markets. As an example, 11-year-old Miller Insurance Group based in Florida was looking to expand nationally in the United States, but Millers Mutual already had a strong presence in the Northeast. The company rebranded to Brightway Insurance and successfully grew a national market base.
- Your company is experiencing a merger or acquisition. When two or more companies come together, there are a few different branding options. In some cases it makes sense to keep the brand name for the strongest brand—but a complete brand renaming may also be a viable option for the newly formed company.
On the other hand, here are some situations where renaming your brand may be the wrong strategy:
- Change for the sake of change: Renaming your brand because you think another name would sound better is a poor decision for change. Brand renaming should not be done on a whim—you need to invest time and resources in a brand name change in order to ensure the desired commercial returns. Changing your name without a solid strategically driven reason can also confuse or alienate your customers.
- Destroying brand equity: For brands that are already well established, changing your brand name can be incredibly risky. If your customers already have a strong association and connection with your brand name, renaming it can substantially undermine and negatively impact your business amongst existing loyal customers. Their trust in your brand can become weakened, resulting in market confusion and plummeting sales.
Evaluating Your Existing Brand Equity
Brand equity should also be a top evaluation factor for any brand considering a name change. With brand renaming, you not only risk confusing or alienating your existing customers, you could also end up with high costs for your rebranding efforts that may not deliver the desire return on your investment. For example if you have a large amount of existing brand collateral, changing your brand name can be expensive.
Your customers and transitioning them through a potential brand name change is perhaps the most important factor in your brand re-naming brand strategy. Before deciding to change your brand name, you’ll need to conduct some detailed research or a brand audit of your existing brand equity. Find out how customers really feel about your brand, what qualities do they associate with it, what do they think your brand name stands for and how much influence does your brand name have on their purchasing decisions.
If you have significant valuable brand equity, but still need to rename your brand—for reasons such as your brand name no longer appropriately reflects your offering, your business has expanded beyond your current brand name’s relevance, another brand has a similar name, or you’re being legally compelled to change the name—you should implement a transitioning strategy that will help both existing and new customers associate the new name with your original brand name thereby helping them make the move with you and reducing the potential risk of any loss of business.
As an example, U.S. based company CallCopy was launched in 2004 as a provider of call recording software. The company expanded its market and its product offerings, and recently added a complete suite of tools for workforce optimisation, providing greatly enhanced and expanded functionality beyond merely recording calls. The organisation needed a new name, because existing customers continued to associate their brand with just the original more limited offerings—but they already had strong brand recognition for their founding name in their market.
Image via www.uptivity.com
After deciding on the brand name Uptivity, the company not only created new brand collateral and physical materials like employee shirts and business cards, but also launched two parallel business websites. One used the original business name, and the other was under the Uptivity name, but branded with “formerly CallCopy.” The company kept both sites running for three months to build SEO before redirecting the CallCopy website entirely to the new Uptivity URL and phasing out the “formerly” rubric.
Choose Your New Brand Name Wisely
Google is synonymous with Internet searches, but that wouldn’t have been the case if the company had remained “BackRub”—primarily because the original name had no association with the company’s offerings and would potentially have triggered the wrong emotional response for customers.
There are many different ways to name a brand. Briefly, a few of them include:
- Founders’ names, like Cadbury or Disney
- Geographic names like Patagonia or Cisco (short for San Francisco, the company’s home base)
- Descriptive names like Whole Foods or Internet Explorer
- Evocative names that paint a picture of the brand
- Alliteration or rhyming names
- Made-up names (neologisms) like Twitter
- Hybrid names like Microsoft
- Acronyms (did you know that Yahoo! stands for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle?)
Whatever naming convention or strategy you choose, your brand’s new name should succinctly encapsulate your offerings and capture the emotions you want customers to associate with your brand. It should be memorable, engaging, and differentiated from your competitors. Choose a brand name that is unique to your company and your platform, and your brand renaming efforts will have a much higher chance of success.
So, what do you think?
• Is your brand succeeding as a result of, or in spite of your brand name?
• If your brand is struggling, can it be attributed to your current brand name or tagline?
• Is your brand name outdated, irrelevant, or non-descriptive?
• Can your customers recognize the types of products or services you offer based on your brand name? How can you give it more meaning and relevance?
• How much brand equity do you have built into your current brand name? Does your business situation still demand a renaming?
• What brand collateral or platforms would you have to change when renaming your brand?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
We all know great design has a critical role to play in creating a powerful brand as evidenced by the many examples across every sector and category around the world. The question here is, where do you start and how do you ensure that your chosen brand design direction is relevant and appropriate to achieve that much sought after success.
Branding your business, product, service or organization effectively requires a combination of multiple factors, each of which must congruently communicate your brand story, positioning, values and so forth in a way that’s relevant to your primary target audience. Every touch point in your brand communications arsenal needs to maintain consistency across every channel and medium if it’s to be successful. In fact the visual cohesiveness of your brand is so important it can make or break your brand success.
Brand design encompasses multiple elements, disciplines, specialist skills and strategies but for the purposes of this article we’ll touch on a just couple as examples. The principles of good brand design go beyond merely logos but include signature colour palettes, fonts, product packaging, digital design, uniforms, advertising, brochures, stationery, exhibition stands, digital presentations, videos, vehicle livery, signage etc., in short all your brand collateral and even the look of your physical premises or retail space, if you have one. Successful brand design identity incorporates and unifies every aspect of your business including both what your team, and your customers see and experience in the physical tangible sense offline and digitally or online.
The following principles will help guide you in creating, auditing or revitalizing your visual brand assets in order to achieve better brand recognition. They will also help you achieve a more sustained and powerful impact that resonates with your core target audience.
Brand Identity and Logos – The Power of Simplicity
Logos are vital as visual hooks for your brand, they are the tip of the iceberg so to speak. A strong brand logo, managed and protected through well developed brand guidelines, is a very important tool in helping unify all the visual aspects of your business and ensures that your products, marketing collateral, and company communications are appropriately underpinned cohesively by your brand visually.
Image via www.time.com
However, many businesses make the mistake of allocating insufficient resources to really thinking through what their brand logo should convey. Many neglect to develop their brand profile, which essentially underpins the creative direction for their brand logo coupled with all the other elements of their brand identity.
Your brand logo is a distillation of your core brand message, your brand values, the outward expression of your organization, product or service. It underlines who you are and what you stand for and is the fundamental means for customer recognition. It acts as the icon differentiator to your competitors, and yet so many companies and products have non-descript bland, forgettable, indifferent logos lost in a pool of meaningless mediocrity.
Image via www.nationalgeographic.com
It’s also important to note that great brand logos don’t need to be overly complex or excessively detailed either. In fact those that are the simplest are often the most effective and have that much sought after timeless longevity that carries them through all the fickle trends, turbulence and deviances in the market place over the years. Indeed complexity, or too many secondary messages can cause confusion. If the viewer has to work hard ‘to get it’ then its largely failing as the symbol for the brand. Think of brands like Time Magazine, National Geographic, the Olympic Rings, Twittter, Apple, Dell, Guinness and Tayto . All of these brand logos are instantly recognizable, timeless and convey the values of the brands behind them at a glance.
Image via www.nike.com
Simplicity is often the secret to a successful brand logo. Some of the most recognized logos in the world are also the simplest, like the Nike Swoosh. The Nike Swoosh is an instantly recognized dynamically curved line representing all the Nike qualities and lifestyle attributes. In fact, this simplicity underpins all of Nike’s branding, from the Swoosh to the iconic three-word slogan “Just Do It,” to the company’s latest gadget: the FuelBand fitness tracker, known simply as Nike+.
Image via www.mcdonalds.com
In some cases, a simple logo can become a phrase, a slogan, and a beacon for the business it represents. McDonald’s yellow, stylized M is known the world over as “the Golden Arches,” and all it takes is a glimpse of this sign to signal the availability of fast, tasty food to customers.
5 Principles for Effective Brand Logo Design:
1. Simple: Unique and recognizable, without being overdrawn or excessively complex
2. Memorable: Achieves an instant connection to your brand
3. Timeless: Will remain effective and relevant for decades to come
4. Versatile: Works in monotone black and white, spot colour or full colour, large scale or small postage stamp or thumbnail size
5. Scalable: Is fully legible and maintains its integrity in large scale high resolution, vehicle livery or side of building size format to small scale postage stamp or low resolution online thumbnail size
6. Appropriate: Reflects your brand profile, messaging and company brand values
A great brand logo is one that is distinctive, different and memorable and conveys a concept or meaning — the core values of your brand, in one strong distilled message.
The concept, shape, and execution of your brand logo should meet all these criteria in order to function effectively in its representation of your brand while also bolstering your visibility and recognition. Remember a logo is a bit like a tattoo, its not something you readily change, so give it the resources and due diligence it deserves from the beginning if you want to reap those long term rewards.
Brand Identity and Packaging Design
Packaging design is brand identity design at the sharp end, the art of promising and being believed all in the blink of an eye. Consequently your product brand packaging is critically important to your brands success from the moment of visual impact in grabbing the attention of your time deprived and visually overloaded target customer, to communicating your brand message succinctly while protecting its contents and supporting effective ease of use too.
If first impressions are mission critical then the challenge for your brand packaging is to engage your target customer through communicating your brand’s emotional and functional benefits, together with its core brand proposition in a way that’s relevant to them, all in a matter of seconds. In fact recent research would indicate you need to achieve all this in under nine seconds!
If the primary objective of great brand packaging is to communicate your core brand messages while achieving stronger sales together with consistent repeat purchases to ensure business growth and a healthy return on investment, then you need to do everything within your power to ensure your brand design leverages everything in your favour. The following packaging design principles are incorporated into every packaging design project we produce for our clients.
14 Brand Design Principles for Effective Brand Packaging:
1. Demand attention
2. Create impulse
3. Communicate your brand proposition succinctly
4. Project and amplify key brand messages
5. Create emotional engagement
6. Build relationships and encourage repeat purchase
7. Be something worth talking about
8. Use structure, shape, closure and materials effectively
9. Provide easily understood product information
10. Provide appropriate consumption or usage information
11. Support and exceed legal mandatories
12. Protect contents
13. Support social responsibility
14. Reduce your brand packaging carbon footprint
Strong brand packaging supports the story of your brand and reflects its personality and conveys emotion that resonates with your target audience. Remember how important emotional connectivity is, people buy with emotion, not rational. Packaging that is witty, clever, bold, challenging, luxurious, unexpected, feminine or masculine, stark or minimalist for example all make different kinds of statements and say something about your brand that creates expectations – all which work hand in hand with your brand promise.
Never forget, you can’t fool the consumer. Their value and perception of your brand is based on how they find them, experience them and engage with them. The bottom line for business is that great brand packaging design will almost always have a positive effect on the company’s profitability.
If brand packaging design is treated as a cost with a token cosmetic makeover or worse still, a plagiaristic blend of all your competitors designs, then the effect on the bottom line is likely to be largely ineffective. However when viewed as an investment and used as a strategic driver, the results can be very profitable on an ongoing basis.
Branding and Managing Your Visual Assets
Effective brand design extends beyond logos and packaging to involve all aspects of your business, wherever it’s represented. Look no further than Google for an example of unified branding. One of the most powerful and recognizable companies in the world, Google’s designers follow a carefully crafted style guide of visual asset management to ensure brand coherence across every product and representation, from their instantly recognizable primary color palette to their fluid, ultra-modern iconography.
And just in case you’re thinking otherwise, you don’t have to be a Google to apply these brand principles and strategies. Establishing a brand style guide, or a set of guiding design principles to create and manage every element of your brand, is essential in helping you achieve brand unification and ultimately enhanced customer brand recognition.
Image via www.google.com
Your ‘Brand Style Guide’ can start as a very simple 15-20 page document, which can be developed and updated as your business grows. It doesn’t need to be encyclopedic in size to support the management and development of your brand. Many of the brand style guides we produce for our clients typically start at between 20-30 pages in size initially and are added to as the brand evolves and extends across the total business. For reference, Behance offers an exclusive look at Google’s visual assets guideline in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2.
Simple and Unified: The Primary Keys to Brand Design Success
Simplified brand design that is carried out uniformly across all visual aspects of your business is the most effective route to success. Consistent brand visuals can do more to solidify your brand than a library’s worth of text. When your customers can recognize, refer and relate positively to your brand at a glance, you’re well on the way to increased brand awareness and growing profitability. Invest in your brand properly from the start, appropriately aligned to your business strategy, and you’ll reap the rewards long term.
What do you think?
• Does your company logo meet the five design principles for success?
• Are your brand visuals truly different, distinctive and memorable?
• Does your brand packaging achieve the top 14 essentials for success?
• Have you developed, managed and consistently applied your brand using a properly developed brand style guide across all design elements of your brand?
• How can you unify your visual presentation and develop brand consistency throughout your business, online and offline?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Understanding What Makes You Different
How is Coca Cola different from Pepsi? Why would you choose to fly Virgin Atlantic over Aer Lingus? When a product or service is not completely unique in the market how do you communicate your “significant difference” to your customers in order to give them a compelling reason to choose your brand over your competitors?
Understanding what makes you authentically different and being able to communicate this succinctly to your customers is the key to creating strong brand equity. In fact giving your brand a distinctive, different and memorable voice is one of the most effective tools in gaining a competitive advantage in your market and building lasting customer loyalty.
Pepsi are currently in the process of re-shaping their brand identity in an effort to clearly differentiate their brand in the market. In 2011 Pepsi’s new president decided to find out what makes Pepsi different to Coca Cola. It took Pepsi 9 months to come up with an answer! Their analysis found that Coke is ‘timeless’ while Pepsi is ‘timely’ which in a nutshell means that Coke represents permanent happiness while Pepsi embraces excitement.
Identifying what makes Pepsi different has given the brand leverage to shape a clear position for the brand within their market. Understanding who they are and what they represent has enabled them to articulate their brand message to target consumers much more effectively because they are now armed with a brand message that communicates what makes Pepsi unique.
Pepsi are now shaping this revitalized brand identity through all their brand collateral including tagline, imagery and advertising campaigns etc. With a clearly defined brand strategy they are now consistently reinforcing what makes them different from their competitors throughout all their marketing campaigns.
Finding Your Brands Unique Voice
For many companies, identifying the very essence of what authentically differentiates their brand, be it product or service, from their competitors can be challenging, yet the untapped secret often lies within the heart of their business. It is the people, the corporate or brand culture, the internal core values on which the foundations of the brand has been shaped, that are often the greatest assets to a company endeavouring to build strong brand equity.
These elements are intrinsically unique within each business and can’t be readily replicated by competitors because the fundamental brand proposition is shaped, nurtured and developed through the internal character and strategies of the company and the people within it. The key is knowing and understanding which aspects of your brand “character” and “story” need to amplified in a way that matters to, and resonates with, your target audience.
If you want to develop strong brand equity to grow your business profitably then you need to start by getting a clear sense of who you are, as a brand/company, what you represent or stand for, what makes your company brand different.
When you can answer these questions you are in a better position to understand how to give your brand a unique and compelling voice that stands out from the crowd, resonates with your target market and ultimately builds your brand equity, giving you a competitive edge and increased profitability.
Have a Clear Sense of Who You Are
Virgin is a leading example of how to develop a brand with a voice so clear that it transcends industry and market boundaries. Their expansion through multiple channels has been very successful because Virgin has a clear sense of itself and consistently communicates their brand values to their target audience, while injecting their brand culture into everything they do.
From its inception Virgin embraced a ‘challenger brand’ status. Regardless of the industry, Virgin aimed to differentiate themselves from their competition by not playing by the rules. Virgin’s brand equity is founded on their brand’s ability to challenge both consumer perceptions and industry assumptions.
How has Virgin managed to succeed in industries as diverse as insurance and airlines, mobile phones, radio and rail? They succeed by consistently building on their brand values of delivering value price, high quality, cheeky fun, innovation and great customer service to every market they enter. They behave like the impudent, yet endearing smaller company that engenders customer affections when in fact they are a global brand power house.
Virgin has been able to consistently leverage its brand across multiple channels because it has so successfully developed it brand voice to “own a place” in the minds of its target audience.
Look how Virgin has been repeatedly able to enter new business arenas with a bang and shake up the existing status quo. The voice of the brand is clear and consistent throughout all the marketing strategies of the various brand/business ventures – a voice that tells the story of a brand that is fun, innovative, a maverick in its field, but equally synonymous with being consumer-centric and providing a quality service. Consequently, Virgin’s brand personality is highly visible in every market within which they operate.
What Does Your Brand Say to Your Customers?
If your product is not unique to its market, then your ability to distinguish your offering from that of your competitors lies in creating a remarkable and strong personality for your brand.
Your brand personality, together with its simple idea, brand story, way of doing things, the brand world it creates and the special relationships it engenders are the defining elements which will attract your target audience and compel them choose your brand over that of others in the market and consequently help you build a much more profitable and sustainable business.
Do you have a strong “voice” for your brand ?
• Do you know key strategic do’s and don’ts for your brand behaviour?
• Do you have a clear sense of where you stand in the market and what works best for your brand?
• Do you have a great product or service but are struggling to say what makes you different?
• Do you know the “magic ingredients” for your brand which makes it irresistible to your target audience?
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Persona Branding & Design Consultants
Contact: Lorraine Carter
T: +353 1 832 2724
Sutton, Dublin 13, Ireland
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