The 4 Steps To BRAND-icide
If you haven’t realized it, branding is all around us. From the coffee you drink to the clothes you wear, all of these brands communicate a message to a specific target audience visually and verbally. Any establishment’s branding can have a profound effect on the community around it, as people who interact with and experience it may come to know and remember it. If anything, it’s why a brand titan like Coca Cola has had such longevity throughout the years. At the same time an establishment’s branding can also fail to have that effect, and people may either be turned off by it or may not be affected at all.
So what might you be doing that’s killing your brand rather than growing it? Here’s a list of four general but significant possibilities:
- Ineffective logo: Think of a brand’s identity as a book, and your logo is the front cover. The logo is a visual incarnation of your brand, a snapshot of what your brand is all about and who its for. And the logo mark and typography (logotype) work together to create a look-and-feel that represents just that. Think about your brand, its message, and whom it’s for when you’re creating or having someone create this logo. Otherwise you risk a complete brand miscommunication and you leave your target audience confused and not compelled.
- Inconsistent messaging: This topic is two-fold. Firstly, the way your brand speaks can really draw attention and increase people’s interaction with it. It’s extremely important that a brand’s “character” or “tone” be established early on. This is important across all media, print or web. Secondly, inconsistent interaction with your target audience can reduce credibility. Try to plan on posting on social media once or twice a week at certain times of the day with high traffic (i.e. lunch time), or even blogging at least once or twice a month. In short, if you’re an urban clothing brand but you speak with a cold, corporate tone when you post on the Facebook page you hardly update, you’re just loading more bullets into your brand’s foot.
- Lack of positioning: Occasionally when talking about their company, you’ll hear business owners say they want to be for EVERYBODY. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t happen. Every brand has its certain target audience. For example, one could say Lulu Lemon’s target audience is primarily female yoga practitioners, ages 18-36. Or that Gillette’s target audience is mostly young to middle aged male professionals. When you’re creating your company’s brand, think about the community you want to reach out to, their age, their interests, and their problems. Furthermore think about what unique quality about your brand you can bring to them; we call this “brand acquisition”. If not, you’ll fall into the trap of trying to please everyone, and that will just confuse everybody. In short, your brand loses integrity.
- Inconsistent branding: Let’s get back to visuals for a minute, and think back to the book analogy I made in step 1. If you’d expect the front cover to match up with the story you’re about to read, you should expect the same thing with a brand’s logo and marketing materials. They all need the right typefaces, the right colors and the right usage of the logo (there can be many different logo lockups) to ensure the utmost consistency in brand messaging. This goes even further with both print and web, ranging from the kinds of paper stock used to the UI designs on the website. If everything coming from your brand is looking different, then your brand comes off as unstructured, unprofessional and most of all, sloppy. A proper brand identity system will include a branding guidelines manual or a style guide to ensure that outside media designed with your brand follows its rules of usage.
In essence, branding is strongest when it looks and speaks its best towards its audience consistently across the board. It builds good rapport with its consumers or users and builds proper awareness amongst competitors. I’ve said this many times in the past, but every brand has its story, and how it’s told can affect its business, its employees and most importantly its consumers.