Your Brand is Much More Than Your Logo!
by Phil Latz
What is branding? It’s one of the key differences between large, highly profitable companies and struggling small businesses.
Successful businesses understand the importance of branding. They respect key laws of branding and build their ‘brand equity’, that is, the value of their brand.
Brands can be worth many billions of dollars. Think of the Golden Arches or Flying Kangaroo. I don’t even need to name the companies. You already know.
Branding is far more than just a logo. The logo’s ultimate power is that it represents the positive attributes of that company at a single glance. Those attributes will vary from company to company. You can’t be all things to all people so don’t even try. No matter how big you are, you’re better off majoring on your strong points, your key positive attributes.
For example, when it comes to cars, what does the Volvo brand mean? Safety.
BMW? ‘The ultimate driving machine’ that is, vehicles that handle well and give great tactile response through your hands.
Mercedes? Engineering excellence. You get the picture.
Volvo could spend a billion dollars next year telling the world that they’re the best handling brand, but they’d be wasting their money because BMW has been building that key brand attribute for decades.
Once you’ve established the key attribute (or an extremely short list of attributes) that your brand stands for, the next step is to make every point of customer contact consistent with that attribute. Your customer likes to know what to expect. They like consistency, not nasty surprises.
For example, a customer walking into a Ferrari showroom is not likely to be impressed if they see that Ferrari has introduced an economy people mover model. Conversely, I don’t think Kia could sell too many $500,000 sports cars, even if they out-performed an equivalently priced Ferrari.
To have maximum value and effectiveness, your brand needs to mean something in the minds of your current and potential future customers. You can only build this over time through consistency.
How do you achieve this consistency? There are too many factors to write about them all in a single blog, so let’s focus upon the low hanging fruit that is within the budget of even small businesses.
You should create your corporate style. Or better still, hire experts to help you do so. This will not be as expensive as you might think. The first place to start would be with a good graphic artist experienced in creating corporate style guides for businesses.
Once your guide is created, it costs you nothing to stick to it, other than consistent discipline and organisation.
At its most basic level, for your small business to produce a style guide, you select a colour palette, one or two fonts (typefaces), a logo and a set of rules about how and where you are going to use these colours, fonts and logo.
Think back to those example of the Golden Arches and the Flying Kangaroo.
How often do you see those arches in blue? Or the kangaroo in yellow? Never!
Interestingly, if you Google to see images of these logos through the decades, you’ll see that they’ve been regularly ‘tweaked’ to keep them looking fresh. But these changes are so expertly done that a casual observer might not even notice the difference from one version to the next.
Large companies know that their logo and corporate branding is worth millions, or even billions. A quick glance at the ‘worlds most valuable brands’ list in Forbes for 2019 shows Apple at the top of the list with a brand value of US$182.8 billion (A$261 billion). Scroll down through a list of famous brands and you’re still looking at US$7.4 billion (A$10.5 billion) for KFC at number 100.
You might think that has nothing to do with your business which is perhaps a single location retail store, but good branding, even for a small business, could mean an extra $100,000 or more on the price achieved when you decide to sell.
Notice that I previously said, ‘hire experts to help you’. Don’t let them create your logo and corporate style for you without your input. They might have the technical expertise, but you know your business better than anyone else. The fonts, colours and styles that are chosen need to accurately reflect the key attributes of your brand.
For example, if you have a ‘blokey business’ that sells macho products mainly to young men you might choose a masculine font such as Machine. This is the font they use for the numerals on gridiron football jerseys. If your key brand attributes and customer base is feminine then you might choose a slender, elegant font such as Optima. Walk into your local chemist shop and look at the skin care products. Optima is all over the packaging like a rash…
Once you’ve got your corporate style created and fully documented, including examples, the next step is to use it – everywhere! Use it on your shop front signage, on your website, your Facebook page, your staff uniforms, your invoices, your shop fit-out, your shopping bags and everywhere else that you are seen by your current and potential customers.
If after a while you see it so often that you’re getting sick of it, great! You must be doing a good job. Resist the temptation to change.
Research says that your customers are exposed with around 5,000 ads per day in some format. That can mean everything from a two minute immersive cinema ad through to a split second flash of a billboard as it goes past their train window or a brand logo that they quickly scroll past on the margin of a computer screen.
If you’re going to achieve ‘cut through’ with your current and potential future customers you need to make the most of every precious slice of their attention that comes your way. You do this by playing smart, just like the big boys with their multi billion dollar brands all do.
Your Next Steps
- Work out ideally just one key attribute that your brand needs to represent, certainly no more that two or three.
- Get help to design your corporate style to reinforce that attribute.
- Stick to your corporate style like you-know-what to a blanket!
Then you’ll gain a competitive edge in your marketplace and build your brand equity.