Dress for success
Everyone knows the adage “dress for success.” When you go for a job interview, make a pitch to investors, close a deal, or give a talk at a conference, you should heed that advice. And yet, online you will often come across websites and companies that are simply not “dressed for success.” That’s a failure of branding.
Developing a brand is about making the right connections with your company’s target audience — and the goal of all strategic marketing. A brand is an intangible, invisible concept. It’s the sum of all values, feelings, impressions, expectations, and experiences that customers associate with your company. But while a brand is intangible, it’s made from tangibles: name, logo, and tagline.
A name, by itself, can be a very valuable asset. It should be simple, memorable, protectable, appropriate, and most importantly, meaningful. Naming is an art in itself, and must communicate something about the nature of the company to its target audience.
A name, transformed into a visual representation — a logo — is the visual expression of the company’s brand. Moreover, the logo is the point of entry to the brand. A bad logo can turn off customers and become an object of ridicule.
Good names should be accompanied by an effective tagline — a short phrase that captures in whole or in part the company’s essence, personality, and which distinguishes it from competitors. A well-written, effective tagline is particularly important for a company with an invented name that may not clearly convey what the company is about. For example, PetSmart does not need a tagline to help explain who they are, but Agilent or Zagat do.
Here are five benefits that come directly from thoughtful branding. Keep them in mind while developing your brand.
1. Instant credibility
In business, first impressions are often the reality. As Malcolm Gladwell stated in his fascinating book Blink, people make split-second judgments based on what they observe, and those judgments are often accurate.
Coca-Cola, IBM, Nike, Apple, AT&T: it’s not a coincidence that all have extremely recognizable logos. You can see the power of a brand at any grocery store. The average supermarket contains about 47,000 items. If you had to read the label of every single item, a shopping trip would take hours. Recognizable brands help consumers shop more efficiently.
3. Differentiation and more value
Today’s marketing experts and CEOs know that in today’s competitive global business world, design is a strategic advantage. It differentiates a company from competitors and allow products to command a premium price: Apple iPhones, Rolex watches, Beats headphones, and Tesla cars. For companies like these, design becomes core to their businesses, and their logos all reflect that. How successful would Apple be if they had stuck with their very first logo?
4. Customer loyalty
A brand that’s differentiated from the competition, and seen as premium, will attract customers who tend to be loyal, and a loyal customer is one who keeps coming back.
5. Lower marketing expenses
Yes, an investment in your brand can actually lower marketing expenses! When a brand is admired, those loyal customers not only keep coming back, they will do marketing for you by promoting your brand to their friends and on social media. If your design is distinct, anyone using your product advertises it simply by being seen with it: think of Apple’s distinctive white earbuds, or the Nike logo that appears on every type of athletic apparel.
Taking responsibility for your company identity is a key step in building a successful business. Take some time to think about how your company is branded right now. It’s worth considering what steps you could take to make a bigger impact in your industry by making sure your company strategy and your marketing profile are aligned with your target audience. At RolloutSF, we have the experience and know-how to help you do all of this, and more. Give us a call!
Alexander Atkins is Design Director of RolloutSF.com.