Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Hearts and Minds Branding

A brand is not a logo
Paul Hitchens is Author of ‘Create the Perfect Brand’ and ‘Successful Brand Management – In a Week’ published by Hodder Education. He is co-founder of Verve Brand Consultancy Tel: +44 (0) 1932 352353 and presents the CIM Branding Masterclass - https://www.cim.co.uk/Training/CourseDetails.aspx?course=0069. 
‘A brand is not a logo’ has become something of a mantra in the years that I have been working with clients helping them to build stronger brands.
Your logo is not your brand; it’s just the tip of the iceberg, a signpost pointing to a deeper experience.
Your brand is the heart and soul of the organization.
Your brand is multi-dimensional and exists in the past, present and future.
Your brand has a reputation, provides an experience and raises expectations.
Your brand audience includes your customers, suppliers, partners and most importantly you and your colleagues.
A successful brand means that everyone shares the same idea of the brand and both customers and employees become brand ambassadors. Great brands sell themselves, creating emotional bonds and rewards that surpass rationality. We are all willing to pay more for something we cannot get anywhere else.
At the close of March I presented the CIM Practical Insights Webinar on Brand Identity. The presentation attracted 1,444 registrants; many of who chose to listen to the event live. I posed ten brand identity questions to the audience to gauge how CIM members are using their brand to build value in their organisation. These are the results:

1, Do you see branding as critical to the success of your business?
·      89% Yes
·      11% Maybe
The majority of respondents indicated that branding was firmly on the agenda.
Since 2008 and the credit crunch, a lack of values and an unhealthy culture has been blamed for the absence of many household brands that failed to survive the economic downturn. A clear brand strategy, shared across the organization is an effective way to guide employee behaviour steered by strongly defined values.

2, Does your branding communicate the scale and scope of your business?
·      39% Yes
·      36% Maybe
·      25% No
The results from this question suggest that 61% of respondents are not making the most of their brands equity. A brand Identity has the potential to communicate an organisations business strategy clearly. From Branded, Endorsed and House of Brands models of architecture, each system has the potential to create equity and offer leveraging possibilities. Customers are more likely to buy new products and services from brands they trust and admire. 

3, Does your branding have a narrative?
·      47% Yes
·      36% Maybe
·      17% No

We all like a good story and news travels faster when it’s worth repeating. In the age of Social media, brands would be wise not to try controlling the narrative and would be better advised to assist. Foundation stories, innovation stories and customer stories can provide a compelling dialogue that builds firm foundations of authenticity and empathy for the brand. The power of storytelling is often overlooked and yet every brand fits an archetype. 

4, What type of naming strategy do you use?
·      33% Descriptive
·      28% Family
·      11% Invented
·      11% Abbreviated
·      11% Symbolic
·      6% Geographic
Inspiration for a brand name may come from many sources. Toys-R-Us, General Motors and PC World are all examples of Descriptive brand names. The majority of respondents to this survey indicate that they have chosen this strategy, which makes it very clear which market they operate in. The negative side to this approach is that it can restrict the perceived scope of the organization and it lacks personality. There are pros and cons to each approach and it is worth considering these before settling on a choice. Please refer to my new book written with Julia Hitchens, ‘Successful Brand Management – In a Week’ published by Hodder Education, for more insights. 

5, Does your logo have any symbolic meaning?
·      64% Yes
·      32% No
·      4% Maybe
The logo is not the brand but it does have an important role to play. When a potential Customer or Employee knows little or nothing about the brand, they will be looking for clues about its authenticity, personality and culture through the quality of its branded communication. The logo is the big signpost guiding the audience to the brand experience and confirming that they are in the right place. A logo with meaning forms part of the narrative and helps to tell the story behind the brand. It has the potential to become a valuable asset. 

6, Do you have a brand mascot?
·      91% No
·      9% Yes
In a nation like the United Kingdom famous for its love of animals and pet ownership, it’s no wonder that brands with mascots find passionate and loyal customers. Brands as diverse as PG Tips (Tea), Compare the Market (Insurance Comparison) and EDF (Energy) use Monkeys, Meerkats and endearing orange blobs to add emotion and personality to their communication. It’s nothing new and Michelin’s Bibendum is now a Centenarian. A mascot will cost less than a celebrity endorsement and can be better behaved, so perhaps its time to consider employing a character in your marketing mix?

7, What colour is your brand?
·      32% Blue
·      15% Red
·      15% Green
·      12% Purple
·      10% Orange
·      6% Pink
·      5% Yellow
·      4% Black/White
·      1% Gold/Silver
·      0% Brown
In this survey, respondents expressed an overwhelming preference for blue. Blue is conservative, professional and can convey trust but it may also be criticised as corporate camouflage in a tidal wave of blue. Colour is a valuable and powerful brand asset and its choice can be both symbolic and personal. Colour can express feelings, emotions, political allegiance, social status and personal taste, so consider colours that complement your values and help support the brand idea. Choosing a different colour from your competitors can pay dividends in market differentiation, but be careful of fashionable colours that may appear dated over time. Colours can have varying interpretations in different cultures and it is wise to check if you intend to market overseas.

8, What style of typeface do you use?
·      64% Sans Serif
·      24% Serif
·      6% Display
·      6% Script

Typography is the art of the letterform and its discipline covers type
design and type layout or composition. A corporate typeface becomes the
handwriting of the brand and its style can convey both personality and tone. Since Guttenberg and the invention of moveable type there has been an exponential growth in the choice of typefaces and styles available to designers. The survey revealed a trend towards Sans Serif typefaces. These clean and elegant typefaces are often described as contemporary but can trace their print origins to the 19th century. Akzidenz-Grotesk was first released in 1896 and has since influenced Helvetica, Frutiger and Univers amongst many.

9, Do you have a designated team or colleague responsible for protecting the brand?
·      61% Yes
·      31% No
·      8% Maybe
It is very important to appoint an individual or a team with the responsibility to manage and protect the brand and its expression in every dimension; both online and offline. They will require the backing of top management and have the power to remove and replace materials and communications that do not exemplify best practice. It is important to monitor the consistent communication of the brand or risk projecting the message that your standards are low and by inference the quality of your products and services. A set of comprehensive guidelines and digital templates are essential and prove invaluable when working with external agencies.

10, Have you ever undertaken a brand audit?
·      53% No
·      47% Yes
Undertake a health check of your brand. Touchpoints are the chain of interactions that collectively form the customer experience. Analyse how you communicate internally and externally and how your colleagues and external audiences perceive you. Review every communication from external marketing to internal communications for continuity. Check for consistency in branding; logo, type, colour, tone of voice and look and feel. Score each communication according to its ability to fulfill the brand according to the Key Brand Criteria; Purpose, Vision, Values, Mission Statement, Proposition, Positioning, Personality and Audience.

Further resources and reading:

1, Book: ‘Successful Brand Management - In a Week’. Authors: Paul Hitchens & Julia Hitchens. Publisher: Hodder Education.
A Teach Yourself guidebook that quickly teaches you the insider secrets you need to know in order to successfully manage your brand. The motivational structure of the book provides seven straightforward chapters explaining the key points; ‘Determine your brand focus’, ‘Define your brand strategy’, ‘Express your brand identity’, ‘Evolve your brand culture’, ‘Build your employer brand’, ‘The importance of design’ and’ Sustaining the brand’.

2, Book: ‘Create the Perfect Brand – Teach Yourself’. Authors: Paul Hitchens & Julia Hitchens. Publisher: Hodder Education.
This book will help you to maximise your brand, even in a downturn. All aspects of branding are covered including brand creation and protection. Fascinating case studies of famous brands, including the disaster stories, nail the advice in the real world. Lots of instant help with common problems and quick tips for success, based on the author's many years of experience.
Thank you

Paul Hitchens
Brand Consultant and Course Director

 Copyright © Verve Interactive Ltd 2014

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