06 Jan Five Elements of a Brand (It’s More Than Just a Logo)
Quick! Think of your favorite brand. What visual popped into your head? Maybe it was a company logo. With ubiquitous brands like Apple and Under Armour, logos stick in the brain. Hence, when you branded (or re-branded) your own company you undoubtedly spent a lot of time creating just the right logo — and for excellent reason. But your logo is just one of the important elements of a brand.
One of the biggest challenges of branding is simply defining it. What is a brand? Jerry McLaughlin, writing for Forbes, said, “I think ‘brand’ is one of those words that is widely used but unevenly understood.” If you run a company, or work in marketing, you have your ideas. But, for branding to permeate your entire company, everyone has to play their role. You may struggle to articulate what a brand means and how they affect it. Some people will simply equate your brand with your logo. And you know there’s more to it. These five elements of a brand help spell it out.
Your visual identity is the most tangible part of your brand. You have probably worked with, or are working with, professional designers to develop it. Your logo might provide the impetus for other visual choices, or it may work the other way around. But, in addition to the logo, consider:
Find the right color palette that you’ll use across media. Your website, printed materials, packaging, advertising, and even the products themselves may reflect this palette. You may vary it for different product lines, but repeat certain colors enough that they become associated with your brand.
Your typography choices will go hand-in-hand with color choices. Select colors, fonts, and arrangement of text that appeals to your target audience. A web page written in all caps conveys a different mood that one written in a more traditional format. Fitting a lot of text onto a page creates a different experience than a minimalist approach. Once you decide on certain guidelines for how to use type, use it consistently across all media.
You’ll need images, whether photographs or some other type. They should complement your color palette and spark the appropriate emotions. Should your brand excite or calm the customer? Elicit memories or focus them on the future? Make them laugh or engage in serious discussion? If you use photographs of people, be sure your photos reflect your customer base. Choose appropriate age, gender, and type, but don’t stereotype. Rather, remember thatyou are part of a larger community that includes people that look a thousand different ways.
Tone of Voice
Your tone of voice tells the customer a lot about your company’s personality. Are you warm and inviting? Intellectual? Hip? Tone comes across in various media:
A good writer adjusts tone of voice to fit the brand. Set guidelines for anyone who writes on your behalf. Whether it’s the copywriter developing your new product brochure or your social media manager tweeting away, get them on the same page. The tone they use should work in harmony with the elements mentioned above — color, typography, etc.
Some people in your company engage in direct communication with your target audience. These may include salespeople and customer service representatives. Consider who a potential customer first speaks to. It might be a part-time front office person who you don’t normally include in discussions about marketing and branding. However, that person holds the responsibility for someone’s first impression of your company! Tone of voice also extends to email and voicemail. Ensure that everyone knows how to appropriately convey your brand in all communication.
Someone is the face of your organization — maybe it’s you. Perhaps the CEO or the head of public relations may give interviews to the media. Someone may provide their name and face to social media accounts. Other members of your company may be “rockstars” in their field and attract public attention. One person or multiple people could act as your public face. Whoever you choose to play this role, they are ambassadors for your brand and should act accordingly.
Your Front Line
Remember that front desk person whose tone of voice is so important? That person, along with anyone else on the “front lines” of your organization represents your brand. Make sure their attitude and demeanor say what you intend. And let them know you value their contribution.
How you interact with your community speaks volumes. More and more, consumers want to see that a company cares. Entrepreneur says, “Companies that encourage community involvement distinguish themselves from their competitors, and see many benefits, including loyal customers and happier employees.” They go on to cite a study saying that 82 percent of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding which products or services to buy.
Therefore, who and what you choose to support forms part of your brand identity. If you make outdoor clothing and camping gear, for example, maybe you support state or county parks. If you want to demonstrate your commitment to future generations, align yourself with children’s charities.
Ultimately, your brand is your products. Do you serve the best cup of coffee in the country? Or the most affordable? Do you make top-of-the-line, classically styled clothing that someone can keep in their wardrobe for life. Or super trendy fashion that the user will discard next year? Whatever you make, know your audience. Understand what the look, feel, taste, smell, and/or quality of your product says about your company.
As you can see, a brand doesn’t spring into existence over night. You will want to conduct extensive research and gather input from the right minds. Just remind everyone that your brand is… well it’s everything. In conclusion, it’s not just a logo.