It's All in the Brand
The Importance of Nurturing a Strong Company Brand
A change of identity is on the way for a British national television channel. Channel 4 is set to replace the current set of station idents with giant chrome blocks walking amongst shots of the British landscape. Developed by 4Creative, the in-house design is a nod to the original ‘flying blocks’ ident which formed the first iconic on-screen idents back in 1982 when the channel first aired. It also heralds a revamped version of the original channel theme tune ‘Fourscore’ (composed by Lord David Dundas) although it’s unclear as to whether this will be used in the final idents which reach the screen.
The current idents were said to represent Channel 4’s remit; “to be irreverent, innovative, alternative and challenging.” The fact is, that nobody really understood them and the iconic 4 was never actually seen in full or in part, only a curious view of the component blocks. The idents included a waterfall scene, showing the shards crystal blocks hidden in pink rock, while another shows a bed bug under a microscope eating shards of detritus. Then there was the dancing… well, we were never quite sure what it was dancing amongst gold shards hidden in the ground. Challenging and irreverent they most definitely were but in the process, they lost the most important concept of what was and is a very strong brand.
The new Channel 4 idents could be considered to provide more of a warm, comforting feeling like being back with an old familiar friend but fresh and current, with the emphasis on diversity and community spirit. There’s more than a passing nod to ethnicity with the ‘boat’ landing a group of travellers on to the white cliffs of Dover and providing a welcoming wave to them as they forge a new life on Britain’s shores. There’s the acknowledgement to diversity as the chrome giant races with Paralympians only to run out of breath as they speed off into the distance.
The key point here is that if your company has a good strong brand that represents your core business and if, from that brand, your customers or clients can identify the company from its competitors then you should protect the brand, nurture it, and use it whenever possible.
Clipart type images should never, ever, be used as a brand mark as these can look cheap and nasty and will devalue your product or business. Photographs should not be used as these are difficult to replicate when used in different media. The design should be bold, recognisable and clearly represent what your company is about. You should limit the range of colours used and check that your logo works as well if reproduced in black and white. Another point to consider is the background on to which it may be reproduced. The image and colours may work well on white but what if the background is a dark colour or black, is it still recognisable? A good logo will stand the test of time and may go through several evolutions but should always remain recognisable as your company’s brand so it’s worth spending some money on having a professional design artist develop your brand for you.
But why should I bother building a brand?
Branding improves recognition – Think of golden arches and you’ll be visualising the MacDonald’s logo, think of a bite out of a piece of fruit and you’ll be thinking about Apple and if I asked you, “What company would you associate with the colour red” you’d probably say Virgin. As the recognisable face of a company, logo design and choice of colour is critical because that graphic should be emblazoned on every piece of correspondence and advertising. A professionally designed logo should be memorable and powerful enough to give the desired impression of your company.
Branding creates trust – A professional appearance builds credibility and trust in you and your product. People are more likely to purchase from a business that appears polished and legitimate. Emotional reactions are hardwired into our brains, and those reactions are very real influencers in business.
Branding generates new customers and referrals – You may have said to a friend, “I saw this brilliant ad on telly last night and I thought it’s just what you need…but I can’t remember the name of the product!” That’s because the brand was not clear enough for your brain to register. A large reason why we refer to the word ‘brand’ is that this concept should leave an indelible impression in your mind, such that when you think of having a burger you immediately sub-consciously think of MacDonalds.
The most profitable companies, small, medium and large, have a single thing in common. They have established themselves as a clear leader in their particular industry by building on a strong brand.
Your brand sets you apart from your competition – Your company, no matter what size, will be competing in a national, if not, global market place so it’s even more important to be able to stand out above the crowd.
But surely, it’s just a logo?
Branding is not merely a logo or graphic element, it represents your customer’s experience when dealing with your company. Branding encompasses everything from your logo, your website, your social media experiences, the way you answer the phone, to the customer’s experience when they meet your staff. In short, your brand is the way your customer perceives you. A strong brand provides your business with value. Consider the Virgin brand, it has made its owner a multi-billionaire and the brand is known world-wide.
Along with the logo, and as a part of the overall brand there is value in considering a catch phrase (also know as ‘strapline’ or ‘tag line’ or slogan). This should summarise your product or company in just a few simple words. For example if I said “It’s the real thing” what comes to mind? Coca-cola has a strong brand and is the market leader in selling fizzy cola however there are many similar colas on sale. Similarly, “Just do it” says everything about Nike and it’s sports products such that it’s logo is just a simple stylised tick.
“You either love it or hate it”, is a curious tag line which could have had serious negative connotations however Unilever has capitalised on the catch phrase such that people use it in general conversation, for example, “it’s a Marmite moment!”
Mastercard managed to sum up it’s business with a one-word slogan ‘Priceless’.
So keep your slogan short, memorable and indicative of your company ethos, after all it’s ‘because you’re worth it!’