Digital Brand Identity Essentials – How to Build, Resonate and Grow

Successful branding requires consistent communications both on and offline. The question is, is your digital brand identity consistent and congruent with what your brand stands for? Does your brand strategy fully integrate your digital brand identity? Does it congruently express what you stand for? Is it well thought out and compelling? Does your digital brand identity connect with your customers, serve them and give them great value? Do your customers even care?

 

As you build your winning brand on its fundamental pillars, you fill its heart with the essential values of your organization, be that a product or service. You craft your brand promise to let people know what your brand will deliver. To make that commitment heard, it’s mandatory that your brand is active and fully engaged wherever your customers (and potential new customers) are. Increasingly, that’s digital and especially via mobile.

 

 

Google Goes Mobile-First

 

Google got everyone’s attention in April 2015 with an update that put mobile-first indexing on every marketer’s lips.[1] In today’s “always connected” marketplace, small businesses (including those with a bricks and mortar presence) must think digital…more specifically, mobile first, desktop second.

 

 

 

Years ago, marketplace presence might have meant a choice corner shop location in a vibrant neighbourhood, busy shopping mall or flashy billboard advertising supplemented by a basic website.

 

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These days, “A successful website has gone from a ‘nice-to-have’ to an absolute necessity for almost all businesses,” counsels the UK’s National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses Limited.[2]

 

Your digital brand — and what others think about it — is in your customer’s pocket on a 24/7 basis.

 

 

Always-On Brands Mean the Future is Now

People just love their mobile devices. Your customers don’t leave the house without their smartphones. In fact, research[3] shows that one-third of Americans check their phones before brushing teeth in the morning.

 

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Image via GigaOm.com

 

Approximately three-quarters of mobile phone owners sleep with — or next to — their mobile phones (71%).

  • Younger Millennials (ages 18-24) are most likely to sleep with their smartphone on the bed (34%).
  • In the morning, more than one-third reach for their mobile first thing (35%), before coffee (17%), or a partner (10%).
  • A majority (89%) check their phone several times a day (89%), or constantly (36%).
  • Nearly half (44%) of Americans say they couldn’t make it a day without their mobile device.
  • About one in 10 (11%) respondents say they would last less than an hour. Of those, more than half (52%) check their smartphone at least every 5 to 10 minutes.

 

 

Brands Must Avoid Band-Aid Solutions if They Want to Build a Winning Digital Brand Identity

A band-aid solution is nothing more than a quick fix for a systemic problem that’s bound to re-emerge later. If your mobile communications strategy is lagging, there’s a good chance that your brand needs a refresh or a rebranding.

 

Best practice says that if you’re not reaching mobile customers, it’s time to start…yesterday. It’s no longer a question of which brands gain increased market share by attracting customers via the internet. It’s now a basic question of brand survival.

 

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, digital consultant and investor Barry Libert says, “Transforming an organization is difficult, and the research proves it. But it is still worth doing. Forrester’s assessment is that by 2020 every business will become either predator or prey. As a leader, you likely already know the basics of managing change, but a digital transformation goes deeper…”[4]

 

There’s little point for a small business to invest in online presence without taking a deeper dive into the life and the long-term health of your brand. Perhaps that’s where the expression “like brand new” comes from?

 

If you need to evaluate your brand’s weak points, areas in need of innovation and change and opportunities for growth then now is the time to use the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ for your brand. It’s an online programme that takes you through, step-by-step, the process of giving your brand a health check. In fact the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ is a critical brand evaluation process that’s an essential part of every brand owner’s or manager’s toolkit.

 

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How to Know When a Brand Refresh is Required

Consumers and businesses alike are aware that brands age, just like everything does.

  • Has your brand seen a drop in sales?
  • Is your brand losing market share?
  • Has competition for your brand heated up?
  • Does your brand message lack oomph?
  • Is your brand logo and supporting brand collateral outdated?
  • Does your brand still reflect your customers’ preferences?
  • Have you got a great new service or product?
  • Are you looking to expand your brand’s customer base?
  • Has your brand had a merger or created a partnership?

 

At Persona Design, we share the top reasons why SMEs may need to refresh, revitalize their brand or a complete rebrand and how to achieve successful outcomes for both processes.

 

 

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to start from scratch. But, let’s be perfectly clear about what a brand refresh is not. A brand refresh is not just a new colour for your logo, a tweaked tagline to accompany it and an updated website! A brand refresh is a strategic re-think that provides the key to a company’s long-term survival and market leadership.

 

The bad news is that procrastination will only make the problem worse.

 

 

Why a Brand Audit is the Way Forward for SME Businesses

Large corporate brands are constantly refreshing coupled with developing and launching new services to market. We’ve all seen the parade of boxes on the grocer’s shelf declaring “new, improved.” Car manufacturers produce new models every season to sustain the ever hungry consumer appetite for ‘new’.

 

Interest builds as Pantone® unveils a new colour of the year to reflect the latest colour trends — also enabling colour aficionados to leverage colour psychology to the full to further increase sales.

 

 

 

As an SME / SMB or smaller business, the timing for a brand refresh is actually a larger undertaking because it isn’t such a frequent occurrence. The first question is: Do you need a refresh or a rebrand, and where to begin? The quick answer is: Don’t guess.

 

Rebranding strategy is a complex process that allows no wiggle room for getting it wrong. Happily, a brand audit provides a tried and tested tool to nicely remove the urge for any guesswork.

 

Fine-tune your brand’s identity. A professional brand audit will identify weaknesses and shine a light on opportunities, identifying new areas to grow your brand and potential new customer audiences. These steps are critical before investing in a rebrand, refresh, new website presence or any other brand collateral for that matter.

 

If your brand message isn’t responsive and on point, there’s no point in an astonishingly beautiful mobile app or web site. If you’re struggling with your brand message to make it standout and be trusted, loved and referred by your preferred customer then the Personality Profile Performer™ is the online brand building programme you need right now.

 

 

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What a Branding Agency Can Do For Small Brands

It’s enlightening to study big budget, big brand name examples of successful updates that have harnessed the power of the internet. Great case studies emerge:

  • The swagger of Old Spice on YouTube (53 million views)

 

 

 

  • The cultivation of Harley-Davidson fans

 

 

 

 

  • The story about rebirth of heritage brands like Converse

 

 

 

 

However, SME brands can achieve big successes with rebranding to include digital presence. Here are several examples:

  • A restaurant called Mama’s Pancakes serving only breakfast has added lunch and dinner. A rebrand draws attention to the new hours, midday and dinner menus coupled with a proactive digital brand strategy developed for Instagram and Facebook.
  • An accountant’s firm named A Hand for Small Business who focused on business accounting has added individual tax return preparation. A rebrand ensures that her brand speaks to both types of customers. Her digital strategy ensures expert posts on LinkedIn support her repositioning brand strategy, raise her profile and highlight her specialist services.
  • A primary school that expands its class offerings, age groups, or single sex status must rebrand and develop a strategy to reach parents of infants and toddlers. Facebook for Business is one way to target custom audiences by demographics and geography.
  • A barbershop called Billy’s Beard changes its focus from men’s grooming to a unisex salon needs to rebrand both in-store and online. The owners embrace a presence on Pinterest and Instagram to supplement their mobile responsive website.
  • A long-term serviced apartment complex called Urban Homes that now markets to short stays needs to rebrand to compete with hotels and private home rentals such as Airbnb. A completely revamped online presence is required.

 

Are you an SME / SMB business owner?

Think about these six questions to ask yourself about the state of your brand’s health:

  1. How can I identify new growth opportunities?
  2. Am I completely happy with my current market share?
  3. Is my brand promise resonating with my customer base?
  4. Does new business walk in every day? If so, do I know what prompts it?
  5. Am I completely happy with my brand packaging? My brand’s online presence?
  6. Do I have a 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year business plan in place?

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[1] https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/6196932?hl=en

[2] http://www.fsb.org.uk/first-voice/fifty-great-tips-to-building-a-winning-website

[3] http://newsroom.bankofamerica.com/files/doc_library/additional/2015_BAC_Trends_in_Consumer_Mobility_Report.pdf

[4] https://hbr.org/2016/07/7-questions-to-ask-before-your-next-digital-transformation

 

 

Rebranding Strategy: Gems of Wisdom from 5 Successful Brand Revitalizations

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.[1]

   

    

Digital Trends Target The Always On Consumer 600px 

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.

  

 

Harley Davidson Free Wheeler 600px

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]

 

 

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 Logo 2012 72dpi

 

 

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.

  

  

Massey Bros Brand Guidelines Cover

 

 

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.” [3] 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.

 

 

 Target Express Store 600px

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.   

 

 

Target Ocd Sweater

 

  

  

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. [4]

 

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.

 

   Hybrid Technology Partners

 

 

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.

  

   

Narragansett Beer 2015 

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.[5]

   

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:

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

   

• Rebranding Strategy: Using Premium Repositioning To Increase Profitability 

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Rebranding: How to Make It Through a Rebrand and Emerge Stronger 

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can It Be Improved?

 

• Brand Naming: Top Ten Methods for Brand Name Creation    

 

• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable  

 

 

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?

  

• Is your brand identity consistent with your core values, and the type of products and services you offer, or is it unnecessarily pigeonholing you into a single niche?

   

[1] Steve, Cubemc.com, Digital Trends: Understanding and Targeting the ‘Always-On’ Consumer, April 2015

[2] Mark Ritson, Branding Strategy Insider, “Can The Harley Davidson Brand Age Gracefully?”, October 2015

[3] Sarah Halzack, WashingtonPost.com, “Target’s new strategy: We need more than just minivan moms”, March 2015

[4] IrishExaminer.com, Small Business Q&A: Paul Brown, September 2014

[5] 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

  

Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

The combined value of the various luxury goods markets in 2014 was an estimated 865 billion euros, with luxury cars, personal luxury goods and luxury hospitality taking the top three places, with values of 351 billion, 223 billion and 150 billion respectively. [1]

 

In order to understand the branding strategies developed and utilized by the top luxury brands, those who have maintained their reputation for over several decades, as well as those that have successfully re-positioned themselves as high-end brands, we must first look at the very definition of luxury.

 

There are four main characteristics by which the luxury customer defines a luxury brand:

  • Quality
  • Craftsmanship
  • Exclusivity
  • Elegance

 

However, the way in which someone perceives luxury will depend on factors ranging from their socio-economic status to their geographical location. According to latest Albatross Global Solutions and Numberly study, “The Journey of a Luxury Consumer”, people from different parts of the world prioritize the order of importance of these key factors differently when defining luxury goods. For example, an overwhelming majority of luxury consumers worldwide value quality above all else, however, UK luxury consumers place more importance on craftsmanship, while elegance plays a more vital role when it comes the global luxury market.

 

Since customer preferences and definitions can vary from one jurisdiction to another, luxury brands need to tailor their brand communications strategy for each of the relevant market segments they are targeting, while remaining true to their core brand values, brand DNA and brand story. It can be challenging but with the right brand strategy it can be hugely rewarding, as evidenced by Louis Vuitton and their distinctly different approach to marketing their luxury brand in Japan.

 

The brand collaborated with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami in the early 2000’s to create a more colourful version of their classic monogram, and even reduced prices slightly during the economic crisis, to retain its position on the Japanese luxury market. However, it performed best when focusing on the quality and craftsmanship aspects of luxury brand on the Japanese market, as opposed to the allure of exclusivity and elegance — that had a greater impact with their customers in Western countries.

   

    

Luxury is About Exclusivity

In order to thrive, a luxury brand needs to secure its own unique corner of the market. Premiumisation strategies or high price points are designed to attract a particular kind of customer while alienating others – the high quality, and the unique experience that a luxury brand provides will not be right for everyone, nor should it be. To quote the head of Lexus Europe, Alain Uyttenhoven: “Our cars won’t please everyone.”

 

The brand strategy developed and deployed in different jurisdictions often varies because the definition of luxury changes amongst consumers as we move around the world and up the socio-economic ladder. Also, some of the top luxury brands strategically choose to stay out of the most obvious limelight. Very subtle marketing and the fact that the general public isn’t necessarily aware of their existence creates a unique aura of mystique and exclusivity. It also alludes to the fact that high-quality craftsmanship and aesthetics are amongst luxury brands’ highest priorities, values which are not compromised by things such as price sensitivities.

 

The brands at the very top of the luxury spectrum are not necessarily bound by the same constrictions of the more mainstream ‘accessible’ luxury or premium sector. Indeed, more exceptionally wealthy clientele might perceive price tags or ostentatious displays of affluence as lacking in taste in certain markets. In fact, there is a wise old saying in the luxury yacht industry: “If you have to ask about the price, you probably can’t afford it.”

     

     Super Rich Shopping Habits Infographic 600px

Infographic via Raconteur.net

 

 

The French purveyor of personalized luggage, Goyard, is a fine example of a luxury fashion brand that has retained its high-end status for over a century, continually prospering without engaging in many of the strategies that are considered to be the cornerstones of effective mainstream marketing.

  

The brand favours direct sales and word of mouth marketing over media hype, large-scale advertising and online sales, even though Goyard has thousands of followers on several social media platforms, including the luxury brand’s newly launched YouTube channel.

 

   

   

  

This extreme level of exclusivity amongst long established luxury brands, e.g. specialising in a single product category to the point of elevating a brand to the level of art or supreme craftsmanship, can be used as one element of a brand strategy to create distinction and separate it from the rest of the market, but it can also be a more challenging route for newer entrants to the luxury market.

 

The luxury landscape is changing, and a brand can quickly become irrelevant if it lacks online exposure. Millennials are close to outspending Baby Boomers, according to a Berglass + Associates and Women’s Wear Daily study that explored the retail industry, which means that a brand has to account for the values that drive Millennials when developing their brand strategy.

 

For Millennials the bigger purpose of a brand, its big why, has a significant impact on their purchasing decisions which means that CSR and so forth has a bigger role to play in brand strategy than every before — for this growing audience.

  

The smartphone is an essential component of the Millennial lifestyle because it allows easy access to multiple online platforms and immediate connectivity – 85% of Millennials in the 18-25 age bracket and 86% of those in the 25-34 age bracket own a smartphone[2], while 88% of Millennials use Facebook as their primary news source.[3] For more traditional brands this means embracing new fully integrated brand strategies that wouldn’t have seemed relevant eight to ten years ago.

 

Even luxury brands that are primarily focused on in-store purchases, e.g. Goyard, are investing in social media and reaching out to affluent Millennials. The way that younger generations perceive luxury is markedly different from the way Baby Boomers perceive it, and luxury brands have a challenging task ahead of them – educating Millennials on luxury goods and adapting their brand strategy to fit the Millennial lifestyle.   

 

 

Develop Trademark Brand Symbols and Assets Beyond Just Your Brand Logo

Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé has been virtually unchanged for years, and the silhouette itself is just as recognizable as the logo, brand name and the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot attached to the bonnet.

 

It’s the Rolls-Royce uncompromising commitment to quality craftsmanship and attention to detail that has the brand where it is today. When we work with clients to develop a distinct brand identity that reflects their core brand values, personality, story and communicates their brand message it requires a similar level of focus from everyone working on the project coupled with a deep understanding of the brand’s primary target audience in order to achieve successful results.

  

   

 

  

  

Burberry’s trademark black, tan and red check pattern and Channel No. 5 perfume’s simple, yet elegant bottle design are both instantly recognised by the average consumer. These are distinct, different and memorable brand assets that are as important as the brand names themselves.

  

Founded 150 years ago Burberry is a particularly interesting case study because not long ago it was struggling to maintain a consistent brand identity leading to the brand falling off its luxury positioning, despite its admirable provenance. Inconsistencies in product variants, pricing and communication strategies all combined to undermine the brand. In fact this brand, now worn by Emma Watson and Kate Moss to mention a few high profile names, was once at risk of being considered frumpy before its very successful luxury revitalization strategy was implemented so successfully.

 

It wasn’t until Angela Ahrendts took over as CEO that a long-overdue brand repositioning and brand relaunch was set in motion resulting in the iconic and much sought-after luxury brand we see today. The company was restructured and the sourcing of materials and production was centralised in the UK. Burberry stores were modernized and equipped with iPads, digital displays and audio equipment that enabled the brand to showcase its quality craftsmanship through video material, and to provide a more engaging customer experience.

 

However, the true stroke of genius was the decision to focus on a younger demographic, and utilize social media as a powerful promotional tool. To successfully target the affluent Millennial consumer, Burberry had to diversify its product line and make significant stylistic changes, while at the same time retaining the timeless aesthetic that the brand was once known for.

 

The results of the brand relaunch were astonishing – Burberry doubled their revenue and operating income within five years, and successfully repositioned their brand as a luxury brand. Their famous Burberry check is once again associated with premium quality British craftsmanship.

 

 

Provide a Memorable Brand Experience for Your Customers

With a luxury product, the brand packaging, presentation and shopping experience are just as important as the quality and exclusivity of the product itself. Luxury customers are far from average shoppers, they are wealthy and powerful people with refined tastes. A luxury brand has to engage these customers on multiple levels – spark curiosity, engage all the senses, stimulate the mind, and make an emotional connection.

 

The Gentleman Floris, a new line of luxury men’s grooming products launched by the Floris London, a nearly 300-year-old British family perfumers brand since 1730, uses understated heraldic symbolism on the embossed navy blue packaging to reference its noble origins and royal patronage coupled with its renowned to quality, craftsmanship and rich heritage. The brand story is used eloquently to draw its audience in and sell its brand proposition.

 

We have created many different packaging design solutions for clients over the years, both luxury and FMCG, and when you consider that on average you have less than 9 seconds to engage your customer through the impact your packaging design has on them, it is critical that your customer gets an immediate sense of your brand story, promise and values if you want to close the sale.

 

  Gentleman Floris Gift Set 600px

Image via www.florislondon.com

 

In luxury branding everything from the customer journey to the brand experience and customer service, not to mention the accessories, has to be carefully considered to ensure that it’s elevated to an exceptional level.

 

The brand experience has to be much more personal, which means that staff, your brand ambassadors, must be chosen to fit with your brand values and culture. They need to be fully inducted and trained in all the details of how your brand is lived and experienced, both internally and externally, and how that unique brand experienced is transferred and cultivated with each the individual customer.

 

Sometimes this training may also require the front line staff to make important judgement calls in the heat of the moment, in order to accommodate the customer’s specific needs. At the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, each employee is empowered and trained to anticipate and fulfil their guests needs with an exemplary level of service.[4]

  

 

Ritz Carlton Logo 600px

Image via www.Ritz-Carlton.com

 

 

The Ritz-Carlton is another good example of a luxury brand that successfully maintain its positioning for decades and in fact case studies have been built around its success. The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Centre is now the place where executives from other companies worldwide in many different sectors come to learn The Ritz-Carlton principles of service.

 

The Ritz-Carlton success is due to a number key factors such as they have:

  • A formulated a set of standardized hiring criteria
  • Empowered their front line staff and instituted a standardized brand language
  • A consistent high-end luxury brand experience regardless of location
  • Take note of user feedback, perform regular brand audit health checks
  • Constantly evolved to adapt with the times while staying true to their core brand values

  

The Ritz-Carlton has created an admirable balance between maintaining a consistent brand image and evolving to meet the needs of a new generation of patrons who prefer more authentic interactions with the staff. It’s their uncompromising commitment to excellence which has made them the only brand to win the much sought after US Presidential Baldrige Performance Excellence Award twice, firmly establishing Ritz-Carlton’s positioning as a luxury brand and setting the highest standards for customer service throughout the luxury hotel market.

  

  

Create an Aura of Exclusivity by Limiting Supply

Special limited edition items often become cherished collector’s pieces and dramatically increase in value over the years. In fact, the lack of product availability doesn’t negatively affect a luxury brand they way it might other mainstream brands. Its limited availability to the select few makes it even more appealing to its target customers.

 

Long waiting lists have never deterred Hermès fans, who often wait several months for the privilege of purchasing the brand’s signature Birkin bag. [5] Some of the most popular luxury car brands are the ones with both the highest prices and longest waiting lists. Only the most persistent and loyal customers gain access to these limited items, which enables you as a brand owner or manager to create an elite subgroup within your customer base.

 

The Rolls Royce SG50 Ghost Series II is a prime example of a brand offering a limited edition product to a particular segment of their target demographic, another example of the exclusivity strategy at work, and establish an emotional connection with its customers. In this particular example, Rolls Royce honours the fact that 2015 marks 50 years of Singapore’s independence, helping it increase individualised customer brand relevance and secure an increased market share in one of Asia’s most developed economies, second only to Hong Kong in terms of financial freedom.

 

 

 Rolls Royce Sg50 600px

Image via www.luxuriousmagazine.com   

 

 

The Apple Hermès brand collaboration helped connect the luxury fashion brand connect to a well-developed demographic of tech-savvy affluent Millennials while at the same time opening the horizons of the wealthy Apple users to the allure of a luxurious brand such as Hermès.

 

  

Apple Hermes 600px

Image via www.apple.com

 

 

High-end craftsmanship and a sense of exclusivity have already been associated with both brands, but the halo effect of this collaborative project, the super-luxurious Apple watch, has proved to be quite beneficial in terms of exposing previously unexplored segments of the market to each brand.

  

  

 

  

 

  

Luxury watch aficionados and loyal Hermès customers who are delighted with this new offering will be tempted to explore some of the other Apple devices. On the other hand, the more affluent Apple consumer may easily eschew their previous luxury favourite and make Hermès their alternative preferred choice instead.

 

  

  

 

     

Be Proud of Your Heritage, but Offer Customization to Build an Emotional Connection  

Giving consumers some decision-making power over the production process, even if their contributions are limited to the choice of colour or engraving, accomplishes several things:

  • It turns each product into a personalised more unique item that is to be cherished
  • It creates a more personal connection between the customer and the brand
  • It enhances the overall customer experience

 

Goyard doesn’t offer a diverse product range, but what it does offer is the ability choose from a wide range of colours and styles. A luxury customer can leave the Goyard store safe in the knowledge that the product they have purchased is truly unique, and tailored to their personal tastes.

   

      Goyard Paris 600px

Image via www.Goyard.com

  

  

Luxury brands can also use their geographical location to their advantage. A luxury brand is often associated with its country and region of origin – sparkling wines from the Champagne region have become a key component of many major celebrations, BMW and Mercedes are touted as the epitome of German engineering precision and so on. The brand thus takes on the qualities associated with the local culture. We can use Burberry as a good example once again – its British heritage has been a key component in successfully repositioning the brand as a high-end brand.[6]   

 

  

Create an Epic Brand Story that Mesmerizes Your Customers

A good brand story is instrumental in capturing the imagination of customers, but a luxury brand needs to go beyond mere storytelling and develop a veritable fairy-tale that fully immerses a customer, to the point where he or she wants to become a part of your luxurious world. The brand experience and how that is created lived and experienced is the penultimate test.

  

  

Coco Chanel 600px

  

  

The legend of Coco Chanel and the immense respect consumers still have for the Chanel brand matriarch is a prime example of how effective legends can be in promoting a luxury brand. Her humble beginnings, timeless style and daring persona are woven into a narrative that all ambitious, independent, fashionable and adventurous women around the world find inspiring.

  

    

  

  

  

On the other hand, we have brands with a proud and storied history, such as White’s Gentlemen’s Club in London, which has no intention of expanding or opening its doors to anyone but the most select clientele.

   

     Goyard Paris History 600px

Image via www.Goyard.com

 

 

Much like Goyard, White’s has no need for heavily resourced marketing campaigns, as it relies on its few elite “members” for word of mouth marketing. With patrons like Prince Charles and several British Prime Ministers gracing the bar and gaming rooms with their presence, being a member of White’s Gentlemen’s Club is considered a privilege. Even David Cameron’s vocal critique of men-only clubs and the fact that the British Prime Minister resigned from White’s did little to tarnish the reputation built on several centuries of myth and legend.   

    

Key Takeaways to Consider

In conclusion, here are some key points to keep front of mind when re-evaluating your luxury branding or premiumization brand strategy:

  • Ultra premium luxury brands often use understated branding strategies coupled with word of mouth, but offer unmatched top end quality and exclusivity   
  • Brands that have successfully repositioned themselves have invested in brand audit health checks and embraced the affluent Millennial demographic and use social media to spread brand awareness
  • Luxury brands that have successfully maintained their positioning for decades have used their provenance and leveraged near mythical brand stories to maintain brand distinction, but continued researching the market and changing trends regularly, and encouraged customer feedback to maintain relevance
  • Providing an exceptional customer experience in-store, through empowering frontline staff and developing a consistent brand language, is very important, as a majority of luxury consumers make their purchases in person
  • Involving customers in the production process enables a luxury brand to personalise its offering with a diversified range of unique variations, even if it doesn’t have an extensive reach across multiple categories
  • Collaborating with a brand that has a significantly different customer base and brand associations can produce a halo effect that is highly beneficial for both brands

 

You may also like:

  

• Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships 

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can it be Improved?

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Using Premium Repositioning To Increase Profitability 

 

• Colour in Brand Strategy: Colour Psychology and How it Influences Branding

 

• Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

     

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

   

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Millennial Branding: 6 Ways Your Brand Can Appeal to Millennial Customers 

   

So, what do you think?

• Have you performed a brand audit to identify the holes in your luxury branding strategy?

  

• Is your brand utilising social media to its fullest potential and reaching out to affluent Millennials?

 

• Are you using appropriate brand language?

 

• Have you created a consistent brand image?

 

• Have you considered how you can make your brand more profitable by changing your brand strategy with a premiumization approach to reposition your brand, create an aura of exclusivity and attract luxury consumers?

 

• Do you have an exceptionally engaging brand story that elevates the brand to legendary status and could be leveraged to better effect with a rebranding?

 

[1] Statista.com, Value of various global luxury markets in 2014, by market type (in billion euros)

[2] Nielsen, Mobile Millennials: Over 85% of Generation Y Owns Smartphones, September 2014

[3] Americanpressinstitute.org, How Millennials Use and Control Social Media, March 2015

[4] Forbes.com, Micah Solomon, Your Customer Service Is Your Branding: The Ritz-Carlton Case Study, September 2015

[5] Uché Okonkwo, Luxury Fashion Branding: Trends, Tactics, Techniques

[6] The Australian, “Paul Smith, Burberry and Mulberry Revive ‘Made in Britain’”, September 2014

  

Brand Recall: 8 Strategies for Building a More Profitable Brand

82% of all high level corporate executives in the US stated that their customers had higher expectations of their companies than just three years before, 60% of executives found it difficult to please their customers, and 42% stated that consumers are using social media to shame their company into meeting increased customer demands, according to a Lithium survey.[1]

 

Obviously there is significant room for improvement in the marketplace amongst brand owners. Building a powerful brand is challenging, but consistently providing a great customer experience is central to any successful brand and consequently the quality of recognition, recall, referral, repeat purchase and overall brand affinity achieved amongst your primary target audience.

 

A positive brand exposure and customer experience is essential for developing brand trust and significantly improving brand recall, as a recent Macquarie University study has shown to be the case for durable goods. It is important to note that the study also revealed that advertising had significantly more influence on brand recall than merely personal experience for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

 

In order to improve brand recall in an oversaturated modern market, brand owners need to adopt highly effective and proven brand strategies. Here we share with you eight of the most important strategies, with several examples of both large brands and smaller emerging brands utilizing them to great effect.

  

  

Top 8 Brand Strategies for Enhancing Customer Recall and Affinity

 

1. Invest in Developing Your Brand Profile, Proposition & Purpose

The process of increasing brand recall begins with intelligent brand profile development. Your customers need to be given a reason to choose your brand over other similar options. When we work on creating a brand proposition for our clients using the Personality Profile Performer™ System, we ask them to answer a number of seemingly simple questions: 

  • What purpose does your brand serve? What’s its Big Why?
  • What unique benefits do you offer that can improve your customers’ lives?
  • How would you define the idea or proposition behind your brand in a single sentence?
  • What kind of personality, messaging and tone do you envision for your brand?

The results of this initial brand profiling process sets the foundations for all future branding decisions and communications strategies. Defining what your brand stands for may not seem complicated at first glance, but these essential questions that you need to answer play an instrumental role in determining your future success, or lack thereof.

   

  

2. Create a Strong Brand Story Which Your Primary Audience Can Relate to

The most successful brands have a deep understanding of how their primary audience thinks. They know how to entice their consumers through creative storytelling, and they do so using sophisticated story creations processes like our Story Selling System™. By telling a compelling and engaging story about the company’s history, its philosophy and core brand values, you can create a positive association between your brand and the ideals that your target audience holds dear.

 

To truly understand the power of a good narrative, one need only look at Apple’s success in establishing themselves as a brand for forward-thinking and discerning individuals, who aren’t afraid to go against the grain and value quality and performance above all else.

  

  

 

  

  

Over the years, Apple has done a magnificent job of keeping the “rebel genius” narrative alive, and has proven to be a highly effective branding strategy. The reason it works so well is that it appeals to people with a specific mindset that transcends gender, race, age and generational differences. The story of Steve Jobs – a talented young man with an idea who overcomes adversity and ultimately builds a corporate empire – is compelling enough that it saw a movie adaptation starring Ashton Kutcher.

  

There is yet another biographical film, aptly named “Steve Jobs”, scheduled to come out later this year. While not every brand has the budget or influence to finance multiple Hollywood movies, Apple’s masterful storytelling can serve as a source of inspiration and a valuable guide for any aspiring brand.   

 

A great brand story is your primary means of developing an emotional connection with your audience, and a fundamental way to inspire trust through its relatability. According to a 2012 Nielsen study[2] 58% of all online consumers worldwide trust the information on company websites and other owned media, and 50% trust the information they receive in emails that they have signed up for on company websites. There is always a compelling story behind a successful brand, but it must be carefully developed and told in the right way.  

 

 

3. Brand Audit, Research and Look for Gaps in Your Competition’s Brand Strategy

A brand audit health check can be viewed as a diagnostics tool, a way to evaluate your brand’s awareness, customer perceptions and the effectiveness of your current brand strategy. It can point out any problem areas, potential outside threats and new market opportunities. A thorough review of your business and marketing plans, your communications and brand collateral, your internal and external audiences helps provide your company with a clear perspective on the most effective brand strategy and business structure. 

 

To build a powerful brand, a company needs to be aware of and tracking what their main competitors and other industry leaders are doing. Another important piece of the puzzle is developing an understanding of your primary audience. Market research is key to acquiring deeper knowledge of the preferences, needs and behaviours of your target demographic together with developing buyer personas for each of your audience types. This knowledge will enable you to develop highly tailored brand strategies and exploit gaps in your competitors’ brand strategy.

 

For a good example of a smaller emerging brand exploiting a serious weakness of a much larger and well-established competitor, we can turn to Made Eyewear. Warby Parker had already become extremely popular, with many smaller companies attempting to copy their products, when Made Eyewear started gaining some traction in the market.

 

 

Made Eyewear 600px

Image via www.madeeyewear.com

 

  

However, the emerging brand had something that their competition didn’t – they owned and ran their own lens company in China. This enabled Made Eyewear to produce quality products at incredibly low prices, which in turn enabled them to offer unprecedented customization options through which each individual customer could express their own sense of style. Made Eyewear had the ability to engrave the stems, as well as mix and match different colour lenses and stems, to create a truly unique pair of glasses – and offer customers the ability to try out multiple frames with prescription lenses at prices that no competitor could match.

  

  

  

 

  

By controlling the entire process from how the moment the product was made to the moment it reached the customer, they were able to find a competitive edge over much bigger and well-established brands.

 

 

4. Invest in Great Brand Logo Design

Creating a great brand logo is about much more than merely designing a small image that will feature on your products, website and promotional material. When our clients come to us with a brand logo design request, they are usually looking for an expert to help them develop their brand identity. We find a lot of companies struggle with defining and articulating their brand’s proposition and purpose together with answering the questions outlined in the first item of this brand strategy tips list. A good logo serves the purpose of crystalizing your brand’s message and its core values, and allows you to communicate these to your audience with maximal efficiency.

  

  

 

  

  

Your logo should be appropriate to the market and your primary audience, and it needs to be unique and highly memorable. It is the first thing that will come to people’s minds when they think about your brand, so it plays an important role in recognition and brand recall.

  

By simply placing their brand logo in the upper corner of their YouTube ad, Libresse managed to improve their brand recall by an astonishing 300%.[3] Even the viewers who only watched the ad for a few seconds before clicking away were noticeably affected.

 

 

 

  

There are numerous aspects of effective logo design that should be considered – things like the choice of colour and shapes can have a profound effect on how the brand is perceived. You can delve deeper into colour psychology here and here to found out how colour psychology influences brand strategy.      

 

 

5. Humanize Your Brand and Engage Employees as Your Brand Ambassadors

Brands that make an emotional connection with their target audience achieve the greatest success. Despite the fact that many people believed that technology would eventually cause us to become isolated, social media statistics seem to show the complete opposite to be true – humans are social animals, and we have a strong desire to involve other like-minded people in our lives. Our brains are wired for face-to-face interactions, and consumers tend to trust word of mouth significantly more then other marketing strategies.[4]

   

Statista Social Network Facts

Image via www.statista.com

 

  

The level of trust that the general public feels for companies has dwindled over the past decade, but there is a way to reach out and earn some of that trust back – engaging your employees as brand ambassadors. As this Edelman global study has shown, consumers are highly receptive to brand promotion efforts coming from company employees.

  

  

Edleman Trust 2015 600px

Image via www.edelman.com

  

  

You can turn your employees into brand ambassadors gradually. Making social sharing an integral part of everyone’s workday is an effective way of nurturing brand advocates.[5] Apart from this, you can further humanize your brand by being highly receptive to consumer feedback, offering various perks to your loyal customers and providing exceptional customer service.  

 

 

6. Eliminate Factors that Jeopardize Your Brand Reputation

When building a brand it is also important to identify all the potential reputation risks that could undermine or destroy your hard earned reputation and nullify all your marketing efforts. We won’t cover all the details or get overly technical in this paragraph, as it is quite a vast topic, but we will provide some insight into the basics.

  

If we set aside things such as common security threats, e.g. corporate espionage and cyber-attacks, the number one reputation risk are social media blunders. Even the largest brands in the world, with impressive online marketing budgets, keep damaging their reputation with inappropriate comments, hashtag misuse, and attempts at exploiting tragedies.[6]  

 

A brand must have a preventive approach to reputation risk management, i.e. companies should strive to discover and eliminate potential risks, rather than try to deal with the fallout after the damage has been done. This can be done by focusing on a thorough exploration of all factors that can jeopardize your brand reputation by high level executives, regularly scanning the internet for potential risks and enforcing a strategy of proactive reputation risk management.

 

 

7. Reach Out to Your Target Audience Through Social Media and Build Connections

We have already mentioned that engaging your employees in social media sharing can help you create a powerful team of brand ambassadors that the public will trust, but social media can be utilized in an even more direct way – to connect to your target audience firsthand.

 

This approach has many advantages:

  • Consumers provide you with useful feedback
  • Loyal customers are given a behind-the-scenes look at your brand
  • You can organize giveaways and offer additional content
  • You can enhance your customer service
  • By encouraging social sharing, your loyal customers become your brand ambassadors

 

Social media can be used to help you tell your brand’s story in great depth, and you can make your consumers and products themselves a part of the narrative. The British luxury department store Harrods offers excellent customer service through open social media communication, and their efforts, such as their immensely successful “Twenty Ate Days” campaign that focused on promoting each of the 28 different restaurants within their store, have yielded impress results.[7]

  

There are a multitude of different social media platforms which your brand can leverage to build it’s own unique online strategies for improving brand recall – e.g. posting “How to” videos and reviews on YouTube, sparking conversations with consumers on Facebook and so forth. The skill lies in choosing the platform most suited to your product or service and your primary target audience. 

 

 

8. Be Consistent in Your Brand Strategy

Even though some companies revamp their brands every few years, household names like Nike have remained true to their core brand values, mission, promise, logo and slogan for a long time. They adapt their campaigns and brand strategy to suits evolving market trends but their fundamental brand DNA remains unchanged. They stay focused on the essentials – they market their shoes to athletes and pride themselves in a high level of sports performance.

   

   

   

 

  

Your branding must be consistent to be successful, i.e. grow from the same core brand philosophy, values, mission, promise and focus on a consistent brand voice and messaging, together with consistent quality brand collateral design across all your touchpoints, both on and offline.

  

  

You might also like:

   

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

  

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

  

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

  

• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation

  

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaign’s Ever

  

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Strategy: 7 Winning Components of a Market Leading Brand Plan

  

  

So, what do you think?

• Is your brand message clear, and in keeping with the preferences of your target audience?

  

• Does your brand have a compelling story that connects with people on an emotional level?

 

• Is your brand logo a worthy representation of your core brand values and your brand message?

 

• Are you making an effort to humanize your brand and reach out to customers on social media?

 

• Do you know what factors can negatively affect your brand reputation, and do you have a comprehensive brand risk management strategy in place?

  

  

[1] Lithium (San Francisco), “Corporate America Under Pressure From Consumers’ Rising Expectations (Press Release)”, June 2015

[2] Nielsen (New York), “Global Consumers’ Trust In ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows In Importance”, April 2012

[3] Think with Google, “Libresse improves brand recall by 300% with logo placement”

[4] Kimberly A. Whitler, Forbes, “Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media”, July 2014

[5] Sandy Gibson, SocialMediaToday, “Cognitive Dissonance: Why Social Sharing Creates Employee Advocates”, February 2013

[6] Eric Samson, Entrepreneur.com, “10 of the Dumbest Social Media Blunders Ever”, June 2015

[7] Businesscasestudies.co.uk, “Increasing Brand Awareness Through Social Media Communications (a Harrods case study)”

Colour in Brand Strategy: Colour Psychology and How it Influences Branding

Yellow arches. A red can of cola. A bird shell egg blue jewellery box. The colours alone are enough to make you picture the brand – McDonalds, Coca Cola and Tiffany’s.

 

Colour and the psychology or science behind it is an expansive subject with a depth which extends well beyond the aesthetics of just ‘good design’ and subjective preferences. The context of its usage together with personal and cultural associations has significant impact in terms of meaning and perceptions, both consciously and subconsciously, together with usability and purchasing preferences. Consequently the psychology of colour and how we consider its use has a huge impact on all the work we do with our clients and their brands both in terms of brand profiling and brand design. The following four key tips will give you some insights into how colour works, what to use and what to avoid in relation to your brand.

 

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There are many studies on the use of colour all of which agree, colour greatly influences human emotion and behaviour. Colours have a powerful and unquestionable effect on branding. The right colours can distinguish your brand, attract customers and create strong brand-based loyalty, while the wrong colours can sink you in the marketplace.

 

In order to establish a comprehensive and effective brand identity, you must choose your colours wisely – considering not only what colours might attract the right attention within your category – while also giving your brand distinction, and for example standout on retail shelves, but how your brand colour schemes will affect customer perceptions, evoke certain moods and grab attention. Colour psychology is particularly critical in the retail environment and can make or break customer purchasing decisions.

 

 

 

 

Why Colours Matter

For your customers, colour is a powerful motivator in recognition and purchasing decisions. According to recent statistics posted by analytics company KISSmetrics:

  • 85% of shoppers cite colour as their primary reason for buying a particular product

  • 93% of shoppers consider visual appearance over all other factors while shopping

  • Colour increases brand recognition by 80%

 

 Kissmetrics Colour Purchases 600px

 Image via www.kissmetrics.com

 

 

The psychological reasons for the strong effects of colour are numerous. Visual perception is the primary sense people rely on – reacting to colours is hardwired into our brains. Identifying a colour triggers a diverse series of reactions that effect moods and emotions on a subconscious level…in short, colour makes people feel something and impacts their behaviour.

 

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Colour is hands-down the strongest and most convincing factor of visual appeal. When you choose the right colours and ensure that your brand colour scheme is carried out consistently and coherently across your brand identity, logo, packaging design and all your brand collateral, you are creating powerful brand recognition and fostering customer loyalty that will pay off with increased profits.

 

 

 

 

The Meanings of Colours

Different colours evoke certain moods and emotions, and convey a particular sense of expectation. The meanings of colours often vary depending on a number of factors, including culture, gender, age, context and individual experiences, but the basic perceptions of colour remain fairly consistent.

 

Red is Passionate and Powerful:

A bold colour that stands out, red can be used to signify power or passion, and make a strong statement. Red evokes a visceral response, causing faster breathing and an increased heart rate. The colour red can be energetic, aggressive, provocative, or even dangerous – but it is always attention-grabbing.

 

Blue is Cool and Confident:

42% of people claim blue as their favourite colour, and that enthusiasm is reflected in the many companies that use blue in their branding. Blue colours are seen as calming, cool, serene, and stable – which is the reason for its heavy use in brands where security is a top concern, like banking and social media.

 

Green is Natural, Youthful and Plentiful:

A color associated with both money and the environment, green can point to health, serenity, and freshness. The meaning of green often depends on the shade used – while lighter greens are calming, deeper greens are associated with wealth or prestige.

 

Yellow is Cheerful and Optimistic:

Universally associated with the sun, yellow is the most visible and noticeable colour, seen by the eye before any other. Bright or warm yellows evoke feelings of happiness, optimism, and friendliness.

 

Purple is Luxurious and Creative:

The colour of artists and royalty, purple can evoke feelings of quality and decadence, mystery, or sophistication. The choice of shade and hue when using purple is of vital importance – light purple can be calming and whimsical, and deep purple can be luxurious, certain shades are viewed as garish or tacky.

   

  Color Emotion Guide

  

  

Orange is Fun and Lively:

Ranging from warm and intimate to playful and exuberant, orange can represent comfort, excitement, or even upscale quality, depending on the shade used. Light orange and peach tones are used in high-end branding, bright orange can be effective for entertainment brands, and muted orange is a favourite for restaurants because of its association with food and warmth. However, in some cases orange can come across as frivolous or cheap.

 

Pink is Creative and Feminine:

The range of pinks has long been associated with femininity, as well as nurturing and love. Light pinks are sweet, cute, and fun, while richer pinks can be sensual and energetic.

 

Brown is Straightforward and Dependable:

The right shades of brown can evoke feelings of stability, simplicity, and a dependable nature. Light browns and rich browns can be used to convey an upscale feeling. In some cases, brown can portray a rugged appeal or a feeling of warmth.

 

Black is Dramatic and Sophisticated:

Popular among luxury products, black is the colour of sophistication. Black-heavy colour themes can create a bold or classic look, and lend a serious air to branding schemes that conveys power and elegance.

 

White is Clean and Pure:

People see white as a brilliant and eye-catching colour. While not typically a main choice for branding purposes, white can be used effectively as an accent colour, or as a primary differentiator for products – such as Apple’s predominantly white range of accessories.

 

 

Factors That Affect Colour Perceptions

Not all colours are perceived the same way by the same people. Two of the biggest factors that affect the perceptions of colour are culture and gender.

 

Cultural differences can pose a challenge for brands looking to strengthen their international visibility and appeal. While some of the largest cultural divides of colour perception have been softened, or even erased, through widespread adoption of the Internet, these differences can still play a role in global brand identity. For example, green is considered nurturing and prosperous in the United States, evokes national pride in Ireland, and is often viewed as undesirable for packaging in France. On the other hand, blue is viewed worldwide as a positive and acceptable colour.

 

Gender perceptions of colours are not limited to “blue for boys and pink for girls.” In fact, blue is a favourite among males and females. A well-known study by Joe Hallock, Colour Assignments, found that among favourite colours by gender:

  • 57% of men and 35% of women chose blue (the largest segment for both groups)

  

  • Purple was the second favourite for women at 23%, and no men chose purple as their favourite colour—with 22% of men citing purple as their least favourite

  • Brown was the majority least favourite colour for men with 27%, while women cited orange most often with 33% least favourite

  • 14% of both men and women chose green as their favourite color

 

Another primary and notable difference for gender colour preferences is that men are more receptive to bold colours, while women respond better to softer colours.

 

 

Choosing Colours According to Your Target Audience

The meanings of colours are important, but more important is to be sure that your brand colours are perceived as appropriate for the brand message you’re trying to convey. This is a vital consideration, especially for brands looking to veer from the usual colour choices of their industries in order to stand out. While Rachel’s Organic Butter succeeds in evoking distinction and elegance with black packaging that stands out from all the yellow and green competition, Harley-Davidson might not be so successful if marketing a line of pink, glittery motorcycles to their male customers.

 

Rachel's Organic Butter Salte 600px

 Image via www.rachelsorganic.co.uk

 

 

Gender can be a primary factor in choosing brand colours. If your target audience is predominantly male, for example, you might want to avoid using the colour purple. Green or blue are good choices for nearly any audience, and softer colours can convey femininity for branding aimed at women.

 

Your positioning and pricing strategy can also come into play when choosing your brand colours. Black, navy blue, royal purple, and deep or dark green are common choices that signify sophistication and luxury. Oranges and yellows can convey bargains or fast-moving deals.

 

Ultimately, colour choice is crucial for a successful branding strategy – so consider the psychological effects of colour carefully when launching your new brand to market or rebranding your company, or an existing product or service.

 

What do you think?

• What kind of emotions do your current brand colours evoke?

 

• Are you using the right colours to convey the brand perceptions you want?

 

• Is your brand colour palette similar to the colours your competitors use? Is the distinction helping or hurting your brand?

 

• What colours would you consider using to rebrand your products, packaging, and identity to maximise your success?

 

• Who is your target audience, and what colours would grab their attention?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

 

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Brand Identity Design: Key Principles for Achieving Winning Solutions

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.

 

 Massey Bros Logo 2012 72dpi

 

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.

     

  

 O Egg Logo 600px

  

  

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.

   

Time Magazine Logo

 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.

 

 Noodle Mee Logo Horizontal Rgb

 

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.

 

 

National Geographic Logo

 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.

 

 Nike Swoosh Logo

 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+.

  

 Mcdonalds Im Lovin It 600px

 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.

  

La Moulière Logo 500px Rgb 

  

 

   

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.

 

O Egg Pink Ribbon

  

  

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.

 

 Google Logo

 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!