10/8/2021

Elements Of Branding

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Developing a strong brand identity involves artistic direction, brand personality, and other branding elements.

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By January 25, 2016

  • The process of branding is complete only when you have carefully defined and considered these five key elements: promise, position, personality traits, story and associations.
  • The brand is represented by the various tangible elements that create and formulate a visual, auditory, and olfactory brand identity resulting in the innate and inherent Brand Elements.

A brand is a complex organism. This is part six in a series of articles in which we examine a successful brand’s component parts.

Ah, the poor, misunderstood logo. People put a lot of pressure on its narrow shoulders. Let’s begin by sweeping away a couple of common misconceptions. Your logo is not your brand. And it’s not a portrait in miniature of your business. So don’t expect it to communicate much, if anything, about what you do. Those disclaimers aside, a logo can be the anchor of a firm’s visual identity and a critical component of a successful brand.

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As part of an overall brand approach, firm logos serve three primary functions:

  1. Identification
  2. Differentiation
  3. Aiding recall

Let’s look at each of these attributes in turn.

1. Identification

A logo exists to represent and identify a company or product. The brand name tells us what it is called. The mark (if there is one) helps us recognize the brand the next time we encounter it.

2. Differentiation

An effective logo visual separates a firm from the rest of the field. Perceptions are built little by little over time, and a logo that takes a different tack from the competition will contribute to the distinctiveness of a firm’s brand image. In addition, a logo design sometimes can convey aspects of a company’s personality or attitude (for instance, fun, warmth, or energy).

3. Aiding Recall

A distinctive logo is a memorable logo. Being noticed and remembered is the first step a firm must take en route to eventual selection and brand preference. The logo’s mark, if any, provides a shortcut that helps us identify a company or product in a hurry. We are all in a rush these days, and a well-conceived mark makes recognition easier.

Logo Anatomy

Most firm logos can be broken into two parts: the name and the mark (sometime called its symbol or icon). The name is obvious enough: it’s the company or product name rendered in type. Skillful logo designers will spend a great deal of time choosing a typeface, often customizing its letter forms to make the name more personalized and proprietary.

The mark, usually separated slightly from the name, supports the brand name and offers a visual dimension to the brand identity experience. Some marks have become so well known that they’ve practically replaced the brand name itself (think Nike’s swoosh and Apple’s apple). The danger here is that eventually the connection to the brand name may become disengaged. Anybody remember a certain musician from Minneapolis formerly known as a symbol? Well, that didn’t last long — once Prince got his name back, we knew what to call him again. Whew!

Not all firm logos have marks. In fact, many successful businesses do just fine without one: Deloitte, IBM, and Oracle, for instance. This type of identifier, in which the name is the logo, is called a logotype. Logotypes do have a couple of drawbacks. Because they have to be read, legibility is critical, whether they appear on the web or in the distance on the side of a building. Logotypes also have a generic quality to them, so if a competitor were to adopt a similar-looking typeface it could create confusion in the marketplace. Nevertheless, many great brands have dispensed with marks and still gone on to do great things.

SEE ALSO: How to Choose a New Company Name, Logo and Tagline

The Redesign Dilemma

So is a logo redesign worth the effort? If you care about giving your business every advantage in the marketplace, you should consider your logo as a starting point. We live in a visual world, and every prospect that you contact is likely to see it. So pull up your website and ask yourself these questions about your current logo:

  • Does it reflect your firm’s personality?
  • Is it different from other logos in your industry?
  • Is anyone going to notice it and remember you because of it?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may want to think about revisiting your logo and taking your brand image in a new direction. A logo redesign is not a small undertaking — it will affect every piece of collateral and signage you have. But it takes an upfront investment to reap long-term rewards.
Download the NEW Rebranding Guide – Second Edition

Classifying Logos

Logos can be sorted into a few basic categories. The five categories below will give you a way to think about your current logo and what you might want your new logo to be.

  • Logotypes A company name rendered in distinctive typography is the primary graphic element in these logos. Successful logotypes are bold and easy to read. Accenture, Deloitte and Exxon are good examples.
  • Monograms A monogram is a mark made up of a company’s initials (think IBM, McDonalds, and GE).
  • Abstract Marks Nonrepresentational marks that accompany a business’s name. (Sometimes, however, these marks can reflect a company’s name or other non-service-related attribute: Apple, Cisco, Dewberry.) Examples of abstract marks include Chase, BP, PWC, and Symantec.
  • Descriptive Marks Iconic representations of a company’s products, services or defining character. Because these marks can be limiting and generic looking, they are becoming rare in the corporate world. The National Cotton Council of America logo is a well-executed example.
  • Seals Type and an icon are contained inside a shape, usually a circle, oval, shield, or rectangle. Because of their limited legibility and dated appearance, seals are becoming less common. Many state and federal agencies still use seals, but they are rare in the business world.

Read Earlier Posts in This Series:

Additional Resources

  • Our Rebranding Kit gives you the tools and knowledge you need to lead your firm through a rebranding.
  • Get strategies, tips, and tools for developing your firm’s brand with Hinge’s Brand Building Guide for Professional Services Firms.
  • Download a free copy of the book Inside the Buyer’s Brain to learn how to build a powerful brand to help your firm close more sales.

How Hinge Can Help

Branding

Develop rebranding strategies that better connect with existing clients and prospects. Hinge’s Branding Program can help your firm stand out from the competition and build a brand that drives sustained growth.

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In 2010, Old Spice rebranded, giving their 75-year-old brand a light, quirky and funny new personality.

This helped Old Spice become more than just a deodorant company, all without changing their product.

They had an ‘aha’ moment, evolving their brand by adapting to the changing market and audience. They did all this despite already having a fairly successful brand.

When it comes to our own brand, seeing the light isn’t always so obvious. As a result, we sometimes stick (no pun intended) to what works until it doesn’t.

If you’ve built a successful brand, that’s great! But now comes another important part of the process – brand management.

Are you prepared to make necessary brand adjustments when the time comes?

In this article, I’ll go over the essential brand management components everyone needs to know in 2020.

Don’t be left with a formerly successful brand, while other revamped brands are connecting to your target audience.

What Is Brand Management?

Brand management is a branding component that involves maintaining and bettering products, services and brand perception. Brand management, when practiced correctly, gives cost leverage, increases customer loyalty and establishes meaningful brand awareness. It also embodies the customer purchasing process relationship.

Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual reinvention” – Richard Branson

It goes without saying that creating a brand is just the beginning of a longer process. Brand management is this longer process.

In order for a brand to have continued success, there needs to be a concerted effort to deliver dynamic branding.

Think of your business like a tree seed you’ve planted in the ground. Your brand is the leaves and branches that bloom as the business grows.

As the tree (business) grows (scales), the leaves/branches (brand) need to be trimmed and cut to adapt to this growth. This is why it’s so important to understand the basic principles of brand management.

Let’s begin with an overview of the basic benefits that come along with effective brand management.

Main Brand Management Benefits

  • Grows sales through increased customer advocacy
  • Powers overall brand awareness
  • Enhances pricing leverages
  • Produces lifelong customer loyalty
  • Helps brands scale

When looking at these benefits, remember that they’re only a reality for businesses that practice effective brand management. There are right and wrong ways to handle and maintain a brand.

In order to make sure you handle yours correctly, I’ll break down a few important principles.

Basic Brand Management Principles You Absolutely Need to Know

The necessary elements that make up these principles are straightforward. You need to involve these different elements to evaluate your branding endeavors and ultimately succeed.

When it comes to specific strategies, it’s possible to break free from the norm and manage your brand in a unique way. I’ll go over some of these unique strategies in the next section.

The following elements require constant assessment – the key to overall successful brand management. Here are the most relevant principles, as well as a breakdown of why each is important.

Brand Equity

Brand equity creates value through reputation, impression and perception. It’s important because it changes the dynamic of a product or service that companies offer, since customers trust the brand over their perception of the product or service.

This in turn gives businesses the opportunity to increase their prices.

Here’s an example to help you remember brand equity. Imagine you’re going for a jog in the park and you come across two concession stands.

One is nameless, the other is ‘Gatorade’. The nameless stand is selling sports drinks for half the price of the Gatorade stand. It stands to reason that most people will still select the Gatorade stand based on the brand equity it holds.

Brand Recognition

Recognition is not a scarce resource. You can’t use it up or run out of it.” – Susan M. Heathfield

Brand recognition indicates how easy it is for audiences to identify your brand without hearing or seeing the brand name.

This is typically a visual element, as usually things like a slogan, color scheme, logo or packaging lead customers to recognize the brand. However, it does extend to things like audio, with brand advertisement jingles.

Brand recognition is crucial because it signals to customers whenever they see one of your products. This results in a higher chance for them to make a purchase.

If you’ve ever seen the start of an advertisement and knew exactly which brand was behind it without seeing their name, that was brand recognition in action.

We don’t often think about it, but it’s a powerful thing for a brand to be able to create that connection with customers.

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Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is when a customer is devoted to a particular brand over their competitors. Note that brand loyalty isn’t customer loyalty, which involves customer’s buying a product or service because of its specific quality.

Brand loyalty involves a customer buying a product or service based solely on their loyalty to the brand.

It is important because it leads to other important benefits, such as word-of-mouth advertising.

Here’s an example demonstrating brand loyalty in action. Someone needs to buy four new tires for their car and chooses Goodyear because of their dedication to customers over the years.

Note that their decision to purchase had nothing to do with the product quality. This is how powerful brand loyalty can be, and why it must be evaluated constantly.

Knowing which principles to consider is only half the battle. Now it’s time to implement some unique brand management strategies that will help you succeed in 2020.

Brand Management Strategies You Can’t Ignore in 2020

It’s not enough to implement a basic brand management strategy. You need groundbreaking ideas that constantly challenge and revamp your ideas.

The following strategies were crafted with the concept in mind that a brand cannot possibly succeed without dynamic, unique ideas.

1. Do More Than Simply Create a Unique Selling Proposition – Use It to Your Advantage

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Your unique selling proposition (USP) sets you apart from competitors. A timeless example is M&M’s “melts in your mouth, not in your hand”. This USP-turned slogan distinguishes M&M’s from other candies. Furthermore, this brand contrast has been key to the success of M&M’s.

To create a unique selling proposition, understand where your product fits into the market. What makes it different from its competition? Is it more durable or cost-effective? How is your company different? Is it more innovative or stable?

Whatever it is, define it and write it down. For example: “Our company is the most creative and the product is the most stylish”.

Once you’ve defined your USP, use it to your advantage by turning it into a sexy key message. Use this as the backbone of your marketing activities – you’ll be surprised at how often it pops up.

2. Evaluation Is an Incomplete, Inadequate Piece of the Puzzle. Follow This Comprehensive Model Instead.

As I’ve pointed out in the principles section, evaluation of certain brand elements is essential. However, the mistake a lot of brands make is believing brand management is a process that begins and ends with evaluation. This just isn’t the case.

Elements Of Branding Strategy

A better strategy to follow would entail a basic plan for evaluation, followed by a sustained plan for future re-evaluation. All of this would then be laid out in a detailed schedule, to ensure none of these measurements stagnate.

It’s best to follow a three-pronged process:

  1. Organize and list brand elements and assets: There are many different elements and assets you need to manage. Build a list to keep them organized. Also, keep in mind this will continually grow.
  2. Come up with a plan for all teams: Whatever type of plan you create, make sure it’s accessible to the necessary team members. This will help keep everything evaluated on time, which ensures goals are met.
  3. Re-evaluate the overall process: The key word here is re-evaluate. Make sure your processes get some extra attention, even after they’re created. Also, ensure this includes reviewing the manner in which it’s currently set up.

3. Brand Assets Require Attention (And Plenty of It!)

There are a lot of different assets that are a part of your specific brand. In order to truly create a successful brand management strategy, brand assets need some special attention.

In case you’re unsure what types of elements qualify as brand assets, I’ve created a list of a few of them.

Keep in mind that there are more brand assets, but these are the most important and/or the most overlooked.

Visual Elements

Good design…is intelligence made visible” – Zena O’Connor

Visual elements are the brand asset most people know best. There are quite a few things to consider when it comes to managing different visual elements.

First, it’s important to take note of the different visual elements you have control over. These are usually things such as logos, layouts and color schemes.

Sometimes a rebranding takes place and the visual elements get adjusted or changed, but this entails subtle changes that nudge visuals in a new direction. It’s important that whatever changes you make adhere to brand consistency.

Similarly, don’t think of your visual elements as tasks that require constant updates or changes. Instead, think of them as assets that need to be used correctly. This involves creating guidelines and rules that ensure they stay relevant across different mediums throughout new challenges.

Brand Messaging

Brand messaging is a combination of your content language and the description of innovative features and services provided. It’s how a brand influences and inspires customers, giving them good reason to purchase a product or service.

Your brand messaging should be specific, expressing the brand’s ideals and values. There are a lot of different things that make brand messaging valuable.

It may tell a story of sorts, charging customer excitement and getting them on your side, as it were. Part of this task involves learning to understand your audience.

Once your messaging is established, continually evaluate new projects and campaigns to ensure the messaging is on-point. Check the overall tone and make sure it’s in-line with your brand.

Social Media Accounts

Some of your most important (and sometimes underestimated) brand assets are social media accounts. A common mistake companies make is creating an account that doesn’t fit with their brand. This happens more and more as brands expand their outreach to new platforms.

If, for example, they have a Twitter account where most of their tweets are friendly, funny and laidback, they cannot make a YouTube account and post serious, dramatic videos. Stay true to your brand throughout each social media account you make.

Keep in mind that each social media profile needs to have the same personality of your brand. They should behave in a manner that reflects brand ideals and values.

Website

A website is a window through which your business says hello to the world.” – Amit Kalantri

Companies often ignore the potential power of their website or app. What they sometimes don’t realize is that it has the power to both entice a customer or turn them away.

Part of brand management includes caring for the well-being of a company website. This should consist of detailed analysis and continual evaluations, which will give further insight into how well the website adheres to the brand.

An easy example to get this point across is a website design agency’s homepage. No matter how good they might be in designing websites for their clients, if their own website fails to appear professional and modern tech-wise, no one will buy their services.

Some Further Options to Give You the Extra Boost Needed

With these strategies and principles in hand, you’ll be able to better navigate your brand. It’s important now to decide the direction you’d like to take your involvement in the brand management process.

This leaves us with a couple different choices: outsourcing some of our duties, or managing our brand internally with software systems.

Elements Of Branding Strategy

Remember that there’s no right or wrong selection here. Some will prefer using a third-party, while others will like the features a software system gives them. Here’s a rundown of each option to help guide you to one or the other.

Outsourcing Brand Tasks to a Brand Management Agency

Brand management can be a bit overwhelming, especially as a company expands. Luckily, with these growing demands came a multitude of different options to help your situation. One such option is outsourcing your tasks to an agency that specializes in such procedures.

There are plenty of different agencies around the world willing to meet your needs and give you more time to handle other issues. Definitely consider hiring a third party if branding has been a struggle for your teams.

Elements Of Branding Pdf

Enhancing Brand Management Internally With a Software System

If outsourcing your tasks to a third party doesn’t fit your needs, consider a brand management software system. These powerful tools give extra help organizing and maintaining different brand assets.

Elements Of Branding By Seth

Some of these software tools, such as digital asset management (DAM), help teams better manage their brand assets, such as logos, by providing a central repository.

One of the more powerful features of DAM is the accessible style guide, which gives an overview of brand assets to use. This includes the ability to see which font, logo and pictures to use.

DAM is also great at handling different copyright and security tasks, a must for companies in need of brand management. If you want to supplement your current process, a tool such as DAM is a perfect fit.

Implement These Ideas to See How Far a Better Brand Can Take You

The better you manage your brand, the better it will become. The more you review and analyze it, the higher its future efficacy will be.

Use the above principles, strategies and guidelines to ensure your brand stays strong in 2020 and beyond.

Check out our complete branding guide to learn more.