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Creating a Brand identity is critical to the planning process for any business or product line. It has been shown definitively that consumers often personally identify with brands. Even more importantly, the characteristics they associate with a brand greatly influence their buying decisions. Most businesses, however, fail in at least one of three areas when designing a brand identity.
Before identifying those three pitfalls, though, let’s first look at an example of how important branding can be to the success of the company.
The iconic energy drink company was created in 1984 and has enjoyed enormous success due to a well-planned branding strategy.
The Red Bull logo is a fiery red, yellow and blue mosaic of two bulls about to clash, horns to horns. The imminent collision screams energy, and so do the colours. Red creates subtle emotions of intensity, while yellow conveys happiness. Combined, all these factors made for an excellent and distinct logo that fit the target market for the company.
Of course, the logo design alone is insufficient to establish a brand identity and Red Bull recognized that. Instead of simply plastering its logo on billboards as many competitors do, Red Bull identified the events its target market enjoys and moved into major sponsorship positions in those niches. They sponsor extreme flying events, extreme sports competitions, New Year’s eve parachute jumps and many other activities adventurous people would enjoy or watch.
Their branding message? Red Bull is an energy drink for active and energetic young people who love extreme sports.
What tween, teenager or millennial does not want to be that person?
Red Bull is a brilliant example of how branding should focus on more than just the traditional areas of logos and trademarks. Those elements are important, but a holistic approach to creating brand identity will prove far more successful when combined with a well-researched and appropriate action plan. Let’s look at the most important tips for creating the perfect brand.
Tip 1 – Know Thy Brand
What does your brand stand for?
This is a simple question. It’s also one that many business owners find difficult to answer concisely. Can you answer this question in five words or fewer? If not, then it will be exceptionally difficult to build a brand identity – since your identity is not well-defined.
Any hope of successfully creating a brand first requires identifying the fundamental ideas or concepts for which the business stands. A good way to do this is to sit down with a pen and paper, take a deep breath and answer the following two questions:
1. What does your business or brand value most?
The right answer is not money. There is a key reason you decided to launch a business; the one reason you will stick with it even through lean times. For a company such as Khan Academies, their goal is to empower children and people around the world, by giving them access to free educational videos. That goal defines their values.
2. What is your business voice?
Voice refers to the tone used in your branding. A bank would use a formal, professional tone in its branding. Red Bull, on the other hand, uses an informal tone incorporating slang terms used by its target audience. Each company is making the correct choice. After all, would you be comfortable depositing your money with the bank where the teller greets you with “Dude!” Would a formal, professional tone work in Red Bull’s marketing as a hip energy drink? Probably not.
You must consider all of the potential platforms on which the voice of your business will be heard, when selecting the voice. To build a strong brand identity, consistency is the key. When media advertising uses one voice, but the tone on the company website uses a different one, the brand will suffer. It is crucial to take enough time to decide the best branding voice.
Tip 2 – Know Thy Colour
Do colours matter when it comes to building a brand? Absolutely.
Colours generate an emotional response in the subconscious. Choosing the wrong colours is one of the biggest mistakes most businesses make in their branding efforts.
Humans use visual perception as the primary means for evaluating their environment. Numerous studies have shown that the brain produces different chemical reactions to different colours – reactions that are experienced as subtle emotions.
When designing a brand, the goals are to identify emotions to be conveyed by the brand, and then to use colours that support that effort. Let’s return to Red Bull. The message is one of energy and happiness. The colours that commonly represent these two emotions are red and yellow.
The blue in the Red Bull logo would seem to be an odd choice. Blue is a calming colour, which would seem to make it a poor choice for the logo. However, it also has been found to amplify emotions when mixed with warmer colours in a logo. In this example, it amplifies the effect of red and yellow.
Colour matters greatly when building a brand. Take the time to identify the appropriate colour for your message, then be consistent with it throughout the process.
Tip 3 – Don’t Fear Simplicity
Is your business logo so complex that it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting? If so, you’ve made a mistake. Simplicity is very often the key to success when it comes to brand identity. That is one major reason McDonalds shortened its logo from the company name to a simple “M.”
Simplicity works because branding is all about conveying a highly focused message to the target audience. A classic example is Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign. Nike sells shoes and sporting goods to consumers, often charging far more (for similar products) than their competitors. Their “Swoosh” logo is a key element in this strategy.
To establish the Swoosh branding, the company associated the image and the three word phrase “Just Do It” with visuals of famous athletes performing dramatically. Quickly, the Swoosh and “Just Do It” became part of our social culture. That’s the brand identity any company would kill for.
Nike’s Swoosh and slogan have one thing in common: they are simple. Nike has even taken their concept so far that they’ve virtually eliminated the colour aspect of their branding. The company has identified its message and promoted it so successfully that a simple presentation conveys their desired message to consumers.
Don’t Cut Corners with your Brand identity
Whether launching a new company or just a new product line, it’s critical to take the necessary time to develop an effective brand identity. Businesses that quickly throw together “something that looks good” often wind up wondering where they went wrong. Considering all aspects of your company and target market, and using the tips detailed here, will put you on the path to developing attractive and effective branding for your products.