What is ‘brand’?
We’re surrounded by them: supermarkets competing to be more super than the rest; sporting apparel brands in a race to dominate their sector – even football has transcended the concept of team and is now a league of brands.
Even though our pockets might not be as deep as Manchester United’s, we can learn a lot about what a brand is (and isn’t) by deconstructing the brands we know and love.
But first, what exactly is a ‘brand’?
At its heart, we associate “brand” with the label given to a product or service – in other words, what we see on the label. The idea stems from the days of cattle ranching and brands were used to identify which ranch the beast came from. As makers put their mark on more and more goods, buyers saw brands like Coca-Cola emerge in 1886.
1886 - Atlanta pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton, led him to create a distinctive tasting soft drink that could be sold at soda fountains.
Step forward in time and we see brands begin to understand that brand was as much about perception as it was reality. To follow through our fizzy pop example,
The Pepsi Challenge was a blind taste test head-to head with Coca-Cola. And as 80’s aficionados will know, guess what, Pepsi won people preferred Pepsi!
Despite that, according to industry statistics compiled by Beverage Digest, Coke owns 17 percent of the American market for carbonated soft drinks. The next most popular choice is Diet Coke with 9.4 percent. Pepsi languishes in third place at 8.9 percent.
Because brand is about more than the physical attributes of the product – and it’s more than the logo on the bottle. Brand is what people associate with seeing that logo or hearing the brand name. In other words, brand is the emotional connection customers feel when they interact with your business. And it can be derived from many sources including:
- The physical product or quality of service
- The service, people and environment that supports the acquisition
- Logos, advertising and packaging
So, whilst this post focusses on creating a new identity for your business, what underpins that in terms of the quality of your offer as at least as important, if not more important than attaching a shiny new badge to what you do. When rebranding, it’s a great opportunity to capture the brand essence of what your business is about and try and convey that in the brief, and ultimately the execution of your new logo designs.
Which Partner to Select
Corporate brand refreshes cost a large fortune, take months and deliver a brand ‘Bible’ that covers every aspect of how and where the identity can and should be used. For most start-ups and small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), that’s a little out of reach and possibly overkill.
Those with more modest and reasonable aspirations can choose from several on and offline supply partners, each of whom will deliver work that represents value for money.
But before you embark on a branding project, ascertain what value – marketers call it equity – there is in your current logo and brand. As large elements of the concept of brand are intangible, it can be hard to measure and there are many methods of doing so. Try thinking about putting your brand in a matrix against your competitors and scoring yourself out of five:
|Attribute||Your brand||Competitor 1||Competitor 2||Competitor 3|
Market share – what proportion of sales does your brand capture in your target market?
Customer loyalty – do customers return again and again or is it a one-time purchase?
Awareness – is your brand known and recognised?
Esteem – do people think good things when they see your brand?
Once you’ve summed your scores, you might think twice about whether your brand needs a refresh at all or decide to up your budget!
So, who’s going to help rebrand your business? The task is important – after all, perception is reality as we’ve said and a quality ident is something you’ll have to live with for some time. Take a minute and weigh up the pros and cons.
Do It Yourself – even having some art training doesn’t guarantee great results. The DIY logo often looks just like what it is. Organisations will spend thousands on rolling out their new identity on vehicle livery, signage, letterheads, roll up banners and exhibition stands and yet shy away from allocating a reasonable budget for the brand itself. Best avoided in our view.
Stock logos – like clipart but perhaps a step up, simply Googling the term will bring up an array of professionally designed logos – simply take your pick. This route lacks finesse – the logos often have a generic feel and won’t pick up the nuances of your business and it’s unique selling points in the same way a custom design will. It’s quick and cheap and you get what you pay for.
Design agency – agencies come in all shapes and sizes – from London centric studios with account managers, art directors and smart offices to freelance teams collaborating in shared workspaces. Whilst budget will play its part, it’s as important to understand the process the agency will use to understand your business and respond in a creative and thoughtful way. Ask to be walked through their flow of work. Consider too whether you should pay a couple of agencies a small fixed sum to explore your brand rather than ask for a free pitch. Then pick the one that seems most capable. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with asking for a free hour of consultation, there’s not many industries that will work for free and design is no different.
Online marketplaces – submit your project to a marketplace like fiverr and in three easy steps you can place your ‘Gig’ in front of creatives from around the globe. Again, the process can suffer from a lack of rapport with no deep understanding of what your business is about. But it’s fast, economical and you can see the standard of work in each creatives portfolio before you buy.
Whatever route you take, follow our series of handy tips and you’ll get a better result.
- Spend time completing a decent design brief. Give background on the growth and future ambition of the business. Describe your customers. Research and provide competitor analysis.
- Set and share your budget. Make the money you have go further by asking how the agency feel the money should be spent. Perhaps they do some research or perhaps you split tasks between you.
- Talk in terms of deliverables, what do you get for your buck? Just a logo? Brand guidance? A version for the web that’s animated? Get a list.
- Understand the process. Good branding isn’t produced by magic. Designers train for years to understand the mechanics of fonts, colour and shape and the interplay between them. When they work to a consistent formula, the results are likely to be more consistent too.
- Meet the team. Find out who will be working on your project. It’s one thing to meet an account manager who can talk the talk, but if the project is being outsourced to a freelancer you’ve never met, you might as well save yourself some cash and go direct.
Deploying the brand
RollerbannersUK are experts at quickly and economically producing the larger format print you need to relaunch your brand. With an amazingly cheap artwork service starting at £15, an array of free templates for you to use to make professional artwork for banners, pop up stands, outdoor banners and signage, we’re friendly, helpful and we’ll stretch the budget to achieve more for less.
All printed and finished under one roof with free delivery direct to your door step.
Call us on 02380 700111