So I've just popped out this lunch to top-up on the beer supply for the weekend! As I was wandering around the isles in Sainsbury's I began to think about branding and what it means. For most people, branding starts and mostly ends at the logo. This however is a misconception that could mean you are not getting the most from your brand and your communications. Here are five things to think about to improve your brand without needing a logo.
Product or Service Offering
The first, and I would say most important part of your brand is the core: what exactly you offer. People will identify a brand based on the products unique quality or features, presentation, or the experience they had when obtaining it. This means they are not only buying your product or service but buying into your brand.
For example, people expect quality and uniqueness when shopping for food in M&S, over say Sainsbury's, and they will pay a premium for it. This comes through in many parts of their branding and advertising but at the core the food is very nice!
On a smaller level, branding can be conveyed through the tactile feel of a product or unique item. A distinctive bottle, for example means that people can identify the product even without the label. (think of the Coke bottle or the Frijj milkshake bottle shown right.
This can apply to all aspects of the appearance of products. Apple (who can talk about branding without mentioning them?) have fantastic products that all look and feel a much higher quality than many other similar products.
Flying the colours
Colours are an obvious part of branding that go with the logo, but using colours in the right way can really make your brand stand out. Having colour in the design which echoes your logo is a good visual starting point, but you can use a whole palette of colours for functional purposes too. This could be to indicate flavour or other consistencies, or inform the audience of specific information or tie it in with existing psychological preconceptions (because my thing is green means it's: environmentally friendly / healthy / vegetarian).
Your brand has to come through in the presentation, but an important part of the presentation is how it sounds / communicates. Having a distinctive tone of voice throughout the branding will make people enjoy engaging with you and buy into any and all new products, advertising or communication you do.
A great example of this is the 'chatty' tone that Innocent Smoothies have on their packaging and all the other materials. It portrays a very honest brand that comes across as friendly and sincere. This is the same across all their branding, including their website.
It's who you know
Another part of branding I touched on previously is association. This could be from using specific colours that are associated with certain things (green: environment, blue: trust) to association with characters, people, events or activities. Making sure your brand associates with the right thing depends on the message you want to portray, but it can really help engage with your audience.
This could be quite an obvious association, like getting a sports personality to represent your sports clothing brand. But it could be more emotional / less tangible than that. For example, Red Bull are involved with a lot of fast paced extreme sports, as they want people to think of demanding performance and high energy when engaging with their brand.
This all sounds very big budget and expensive, but it could be as simple as getting some people down to a local fun-run to raise some money on behalf of your organisation! Or supplying some services or products to a school sports day. Anything that sends the right message about what your brand values are.
Bonus round: Imagery
Just before I put the shopping away, here is one more aspect to consider. The imagery used by your brand can also be a part of the look without needing the logo. Having images shot in a certain style or illustrations in a specific style that are associated with your brand are also a strong way to communicate visually with your audience. iD magazine for example, always have the model on the cover winking as it reflects their brands logo. You can and should use imagery on everything from packaging to websites as it visually communicates with your audience and should be an integral part of your brand.
Thanks for reading! For more blog posts about my thoughts on many design related subjects check out: www.blackwolfcreative.com/blog/
If you are interested in any of the issues discussed or work shown, and would like to speak to me, please feel free to get in touch. You can comment below, email firstname.lastname@example.org or even give me a call on 07742 990524.