In today’s world, we are surrounded by logos and brands. You see a red bullseye in an ad and know immediately it is Target and not Walmart. These national businesses have clearly defined values allowing for an effective expression of their differentiated brand. Your organization can have this, too.
Before delving into what a brand is, it is important to point out what it isn’t — it is not a logo, tagline or fancy website. Brands are so much more. They are the overall perceptions a person has about an organization after experiencing it, whether directly or indirectly. It is a blend of tangible and intangible elements, both product and process, infused with a mix of thoughts and emotions that make it easy to relate to.
Brands are important since it is how an organization is recognized and differentiated from others. For example, you have one thought when you see a Taco Bell ad but have another when seeing a Culver’s sign.
So what characteristics are needed to create a brand that differentiates itself from competitors and what is needed to express that brand?
First, let’s cover the fundamentals of where a brand begins:
- Customer Experience
- Employee Experience
Now, here are ways (elements) that help you express your brand:
- Key Messaging
- Writing Style and Tone
These elements make the brand recognizable to its audience. Think about Brown County Library or Discover Green Bay — just two of the many brands we’ve helped refine, reposition and refresh. Not only do they each have strong fundamentals (Culture, Values), but the expression is distinctive and multi-layered.
For example, with Discover Green Bay’s logo, the wave (recognizing the area’s strong connection to the water) is shaped like a football (recognizing the area’s strong connection to football.) When people see Discover Green Bay’s logo — and its tagline — they immediately know it represents tourism in the Green Bay area.
When you see the Brown County Library logo, the branches of a tree represent the integration of the library branches throughout the community. The tagline “It’s yours” reflects the free access every person has to utilize the library and its assets.
A brand is everything visual, and visceral, and is formed by consistent repetition. The brand’s objective is to function as a lens through which every marketing effort, public relations activity and customer interaction embodies a unified perspective that is consistent with the organization. Having a brand style guide — which demonstrates how a brand should be used and not used — in place can help you consistently deliver the right message.
If your brand is not achieving the results you desire, it may be time to reassess the fundamental aspects of your brand and how they are being creatively expressed. Perhaps your values, mission or key messages need improvement or maybe you need to ensure a more consistent representation of your brand through the use of a style guide, which can help all employees effectively express your brand.
✍️ MaryBeth Matzek, O’Connor Connective.