Brand design should be foremost not an afterthought…
First off, let’s define The Brand. According to the American Marketing Association it is “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. This definition is fine, but what it does not include is the rest of the characteristics of the brand. In order to have a successful brand your “brand” must symbolize your company and the ideals your company holds most dear. In as such, your company must conduct itself in a manner to reflect these companies ideals in everything it does. This holds true for every aspect of your interior design, customer service, signage, marketing efforts, advertising, website design and public relations.
That’s absurd! A Brand is just a symbol…
Is it? So, based on that, Starbucks is as big as it is because people like mermaids and green? or Nike because they relate with a checkmark on a personal level? WRONG. These companies are successful because everything they do(and I mean everything!) revolves around their brand and their companies goals and ideals. Sure, these ideas evolve and were designed over time, but today they reflect what that evolution has turned into.
Starbucks – Its the Brand… Not the Coffee
How having a brand can the defy odds!
A quick story. I’m from a small town, who’s struggling to find an identity for their downtown. A downtown that hasn’t seen economic promise in many many years. Recently, I saw paper go up in a downtown space on the windows of a former shabby dollar store (good riddance!) and in place was being built a coffee shop. I thought, ‘what a great location’ and even their name and signage gave me hope for something inspired. However, when the paper came down I was appalled. A big open space, painted black t-bar ceiling, fluorescent lights, cheap linoleum, and tacky furnishings. But at least they put in brick below the rub rail… oh wait. That was just brick patterned wall paper… a true shame! Needless to say, within a few months a Starbucks opened way, way, way, down and out of the way of the main business area(which is where the aforementioned shop had opened) and in fact, possibly pretty close to the worst corner in the entire downtown. What happened? Coffee Shop = out of business in 6 months. Starbucks = business people going WAY out of their way for a cup of joe… and why?
Here’s a hint, its not the coffee… It’s the Brand Stupid! Starbucks created a beautiful (but certainly not original) little coffee shop in the worst area, and people flocked to it. The “coffee shop” had a hideous and uninspired design plan, no brand, no concept, in the best area, and went bust. People think that because they picked the colors for their kitchen, they can design a store. People think that because they’re pretty good with Microsoft Word, they can create a brochure. People think that because they don’t have a product, they don’t have a brand. Your business is THE BRAND! Whether you are a daycare service, real estate agent, diner, clothing store, or bar, its all about the brand, and that means, its your signs, customer service, logo, business card, charitable policies, public relations, bags or packaging, website design and even down to the pen you ink your Visa slip with!
Imagine treating your finest clients to a pricey four course meal, fine wine and cocktails, the bill comes to your hand… with a ten cent Bic pen laying next to it. You’d like to think that this doesn’t phase the customer, but it does!
Imagine you are selling a fantastic head to toe, elegant spa service and you’ve been invited to a high end charity auction, and in front of your spa package lays a neon yellow, Microsoft Word designed brochure and self designed business cards. This is your Brand!
New and old businesses have a tendency to think business, product, location, paint, lights, point of sale, signs… then… down the line… somewhere… a brand. Regardless, of your area of business, whether its a service or product base business… Remember the BRAND comes first, not last!
Check back soon for Branding 101: Why Your Brand Needs to be Brilliant! Part 2!