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Creating a brand that goes beyond a logo

5 min read

Back to Blog

5 min read

Creating a brand that goes beyond a logo

Author: Phil Birss
Posted in Branding on 2nd May 2017 8:30 am

A brand is much more than a slogan or an ad campaign – it is the sum total of how the public perceives your business.

And, much as you might want to control it, it has a life of its own.

The power that you have is to shape it: how do you present yourself; how do you talk about what you do; and how do you talk to customers?

If you don’t have an overarching vision of what your brand is then you may well be sending out confusing messages to your customers. The first step is to define what your business is about.

Core Idea

Ryanair’s cardinal virtue is that it is affordable. And, for much of its life, the business promoted this by deliberately courting negative publicity. For example, in 2009 its CEO Michael O’Leary pondered the idea to a journalist that the airline would charge passengers to use the onboard toilets with a coin slot mounted in the door.

Why would anyone put up with this?

Because the flights were so very cheap, of course. The suggestion captured the media’s imagination, and was met with a furious response, leading to it being endlessly repeated, at no cost to the business. Ryanair are awful… but their flights are very, very cheap. And they never did charge for the toilets.

Internal Culture

A strong brand isn’t just customer-facing, however. A company’s internal ethos and the way that it thinks about itself has an enormous impact on its place in the world.

Amazon, for example, has a publicly accessible set of corporate values which prize efficiency and a can-do attitude, and, above all else, the importance of providing the best, most affordable service possible for their customers. And, as the biggest of all discount retailers, they’re not kidding.

Aspirational Values

Other businesses aim at more lofty goals. Nike styled itself as not just being a manufacturer of sportswear but an advocate for the very spirit of athleticism; with its “Think Different” campaign, Apple identified itself as a stylish, rebellious underdog; while Coca-Cola aspires to be fun, youthful and energetic.

The key thing is that these brands apply consistency, not just in styling but in the way that they present themselves and communicate with their customers across the board.

Apple prides itself on good design; hence, one of its leading innovations was to apply stylishly designed internal product packaging – deploying its principles to a crucial step of the user journey that might all too easily be ignored.

To develop consistency a style guide can be a powerful tool here – defining how you talk to your audience and how you talk about your brand, whether on social media, in advertising or in internal communications.

Multiple Touchpoints

Every contact point (Touchpoint) that a customer makes with your business is an opportunity to communicate your brand values, whether that moment comes when they are watching an ad, opening a product or making an order. And if you fail in a single one of these areas then you may be dramatically undermining your overall brand message, as US telecoms co Comcast discovered following repeated reports of its terrible customer phone service performance.

Likewise, when United violently hauled a passenger off a plane – and fouled up the subsequent PR response – or when Gerald Ratner referred to the jewellery he sold as ‘total c**p’, they showed contempt for their customers, and communicated extremely negative messages about their brands.

You can’t be in all places at all times – but you can have a set of principles that you apply consistently across all your interactions with the public.

Customer Loyalty

Of course, the most critical touchpoint is the initial purchase. If the customer likes your product they will continue to buy it. Because of this, fostering engagement with your core following is extremely powerful, and, from a practical perspective, it is far cheaper to retain customers than to acquire new ones.

Therefore, work to recognise what they like about your brand and give them more of it – whether that might mean giving them discount offers, access to competitions or special sales.

Despite having considerable cachet, many media companies are faced with a hard limit on their ability to monetize their audiences, coupled with a general public unwillingness to pay for online content.

To overcome this, many have attached products and services to their offerings, to create multiple points of engagement for their audience, ranging from dating services to cruises to promoted events (from The Guardian, The Spectator and The Times, respectively), effectively placing their core business at the centre of a wider brand hub.

Brand Evolution

While it’s important to be consistent, it’s also important to keep growing and developing your brand.

Just as your ad campaigns will change and develop over time, you should consider how your brand will evolve. How do people relate to your messaging over time? If you adjust your tone in certain cases, do you drive better interactions? The message has to be to stay curious and keep experimenting to keep your customers satified.

If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at our ‘Are you ready to go live? The push towards live video in marketing‘ blog, or if you are looking for a brand agency to improve your branding, feel free to contact us here.

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