In the business world brand and branding have become very popular terms. Often, though, their meaning is misunderstood. Having a good grasp of what branding is all about will help anyone who wants to be successful in business.
A common definition of brand may be a trademark or distinctive name that identifies a product or manufacturer,” but the term has come to mean so much more. The trademark, or logo, is what I refer to as a visual brand.
THE BRAND, THE LOGO, AND VISUAL BRANDING
One way to describe a brand is first to identify what it is not. A brand is not a logo. Throughout history craftsmen, noblemen, and tradesmen used a form of branding with unique shapes and letterforms in order to identify their work, property or position.
These symbols have been used throughout history to not only identify “who owns this,” but also “who made this,” and for persons of significance, “who is this.”
Today, brand doesn’t merely describe the symbols or icons that label. In business, a brand is not the surface perception the seller presents to the buyer, but the internal perception the buyer has of that seller.
Surface perception: a symbol or wordmark with the intent to identify and distinguish-a logo.
Internal perception: the emotional and rational connection buyers have with a product or service-a brand.
A brand resides in the hearts and minds of those familiar with it. It’s the visceral reaction that occurs within people when they look at, hear of, or experience that company’s goods or services. A brand is formed through impressions that take place on these three levels. The impressions either positively or negatively impact the brand of a business.
To illustrate, what comes to mind when you see or hear reference to the “golden arches?” The fast-food chain, McDonald’s®, has an international brand presence. For some, this name makes them hungry for hot fries and burgers, and brings back wonderful memories. Others may have an entirely different perception.
McDonald’s has invested millions over the years to establish and build its brand. The success of its branding endeavors is evident in that the company has retained leader status of an enormous fast-food market. Why? Any business that wants to be successful must be concerned with the message of its brand and that it generates good feelings in the minds of its buyers. The McDonald’s brand is the perception people have of its restaurant chain. The perception people have is influenced on many levels. The company works to Influence its brand in many streams, including the company’s charity foundation, the Ronald McDonald House, its updated fresh alternative menu, and its sophisticated new architectural look. “‘McDonald’s promises to be a forever young brand,’ says John Miologos, vice-president of worldwide architecture, design, and construction at McDonald’s Corp. ‘We have to deliver on that promise.'” (Business Week 2006) To be “forever young” is one of McDonald’s brand objectives.
How the company is perceived is its brand. The visual brand is the alignment of the company’s visual graphic presence with its brand objectives. McDonald’s visual brand, its identity, consists of the iconic golden arches– its logo–which are strategically woven through everything the company does.
Today, even for the sole proprietor, having a professional visual brand can mean the difference between competing at the top of your game and just getting by. Does a logo appear out-dated or amateurish? Having an effective professionally created identity, or logo, gives a business a remarkable advantage over its competitors. It has the power to communicate credibility, leader status, and leave a positive impression that is remembered! Every startup business should budget a portion of its initial capital to building a visual brand, it is the foundation of their presence in the minds and hearts of their target market. A positive impression builds trust: trust leads to sales.
Business owners who make this investment realize how critical a dynamic visual brand presence is to positioning their company as a serious and competitive player in their industry.
Contact Identity Graphic Design and mention this article for a no cost consultation. Whether starting a new business, launching a new product, or needing to upgrade your company’s presence, Identity Graphic Design can give you the remarkable advantage of a dynamic visual brand.
The remarkable advantage is the perfect impression created without saying a word. It’s instant credibility, in the blink of an eye.
Make the investment into your business that will yield returns for years to come.
In 1993, Bill founded Identity Graphic Design, specializing in branding for business with company & product naming, slogan development, corporate identity design, creative campaigns and full-scope design implementation into print and web.
Bill also enjoys teaching the next creative generation as an adjunct professor of graphic design at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan.