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What to expect in a full branding
When talking about a company’s brand, whether they have 1 or 100, it’s important to know what makes up this powerful and important asset.
Creating a brand is all about associating certain visual(sights), olfactory(smells), auditory(sounds), gustatory(tastes) and tactile(touch) aspects to a product.
By the way, I looked up these words after starting that sentence with visual and thinking… “there must be words for the other senses like this.” My curiosity overwhelmed me, but it’s kinda cool right? Or is that just me…
Though a brand might be most easily recognised by its logo, there are so many other parts involved too. I’m going to list all I can think of and explain them a little so you can know what to expect from a ‘full branding’. It might also help you if you haven’t got a full branding yet and want to fill in the gaps.
Every brand has a name; it’s the part which is actually communicated or thought of. It would be a lot more difficult for a brand to grow without a name. How would people tell each other about the brand?
Maybe a bar without a name would grab some attention and people refer to it by what street it’s on. But it’s still difficult…
We have all heard of Apple… their brand has a logo with no text on it, but it is definitely associated to the name ‘Apple’. Their advantage is that their logo is an apple, they are called apple… they are already associated.
In good logos you will tend to only see one or two different fonts. And you can bet that if there are two, they have been so carefully chosen to complement each other.
Fonts also have to match the brand they are for.
Is your brand traditional? Modern? Sophisticated? Friendly? Professional?
You won’t be able to choose all of them and have a good looking font or pair of fonts. So you will have to choose some words which define your brand and make it unique and different.
The one and only… well actually, in the majority of brands you’ll see some variation in the logo they use.
This is down to where it is used; if you use a long logo in a square space, or a square logo in a long space you’ll find it doesn’t look so great. There is also using a white logo on a white background… or other clashing colours.
So you will often find that there are multiple accepted logos for a brand and each has a situation where it is used.
Included with a logo is a minimum spacing guide. This tells you how much space, in mm and pixels, to leave between the logo and anything else on the page.
Essentially helping you to place your logo in a way which gives it room to breathe and perform as it was designed to.
Tagline or catchphrase
This is less of a necessity than a name and logo, but there is no doubt it will add to your brand image and help associate your brand with what makes it unique.
The best taglines have to stick in people’s minds but catchphrases and taglines don’t have to be super cheesy. In fact, many companies pull off an elegant and respectful tagline, from the inspiring yet vague ‘Make Believe’ by Sony to the clear message of FedEx’s ‘When there is no tomorrow’.
It can be difficult to write a tagline which is both iconic and portrays your brand’s key selling point(s). But pull it off and that’s something else that will increase your brand’s power.
This is similar to a logo, though a graphic is often an addition or a sidepiece to the main logo. The most famous example is probably the coke wave/dynamic ribbon. The coke logo doesn’t have to appear with the ribbon… but it’s almost like they have designed a visual brand for different distances.
Believe it or not but certain shapes can actually become part of a brand. Look at the Coca Cola example above… their bottle would be recognisable on its own.
The shape of a product becomes an important part of the brand when you can recognise the brand from far away by the shape, even without the logo involved.
Though getting this registered as an actual trademark may be quite difficult, shapes still play a role in forming an identity for your brand.
Here are some more examples of brands with unique and recognisable shapes. See if you can guess what they are.
It is a...
It is an...
It is a...
It is a...
It is a...
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The colours in a logo aren’t the only colours used in a brand. There is usually a Brand colour pallet provided which includes rules of when and where to use each colour.
Is your logo on this colour background? Use this coloured logo instead.
Colour theory isn’t the same for everyone, personal experiences and preferences change how people view colours.
You can’t accurately influence every visitor, but you might be able to use colour to reinforce your brand associations.
Taking a stand with one side is always hard because you miss out on whatever the other option has to offer. But you have to take a stand with colours. Pick two or three colours which define your brand.
Some people might see your colour and think of something bad. The damage that might do is overpowered by the positive impact from sticking to few colours. Which reinforces associations and helps create a strong brand identity.
Yep, even movements can be part of a brand. For example, car doors aren’t always designed to open one way. Sometimes the doors are designed to open butterfly style, or canopy style, or gullwing style, or sliding sty… you get it.
Seeing a car with an unusual door-opening-mechanism would stick in my mind and I would definitely think of that brand when I saw the doors opening. You have to admit that seeing a flashy sports car in a showroom with doors like this…
…makes it look even more flashy. And next time you play family fortunes/feud and the question ‘name something you would see on a sports car’ comes up, you could say ‘scissor doors’ for massive points… or not.
For most brands, movements aren’t going to be their most memorable or well-known brand association, but clearly the brands that lead the world are the ones who include everything they can.
Tone of voice
I have separated tone of voice into two, written tone of voice and verbal tone of voice. The only reason for this is to reinforce the message that branding is all about sensory aspects.
This tone of voice is the written one which is seen and read by customers.
Styles of your tone of voice can determine how customers see your brand. It’s not just about which tone of voice you personally like the most, it’s also which tone of voice your customers expect your brand to have.
When a tone of voice is being picked for text the focus is on what you say and how you say it.
The ‘what you say’ has to match what kind of brand you want to be. So if you want to be a budget brand you should be talking about low prices and discounts. Luxury brands should talk about the quality of the product in whatever level of detail you decide on.
The ‘how you say it’ is more loosely linked to what brand you want to be and more tightly linked to what customers expect your brand to sound like. Your customers’ expectations for what you sound like narrow down your choice of ‘how you say it’ but then the choice of what is left is mostly yours.
For example, brands who are modern could be friendly and use a lot of slang or use new sophisticated language to talk about their brand; this depends on their preference.
Often, a brand will have a list of words they love to say and a list of words they hate to say. They relate to the companies vision and personality. Skype are a very good example, take a look at their lists.
That tiny one is ‘supercalifragalisticexpealadocious’ I think that’s their tone of voice coming out in their branding guidelines. Good idea really, it demonstrates what you teach.
In a shop… of the food… drink… soap… perfume… candle…
The scent of a product can be one of the most important things about it… but you wouldn’t be that fussed if you bought a TV with a ‘factory fresh’ smell or a ‘fresh winter’s day’ smell.
Obviously a bad smell would be something you care about. You just won’t hold it that high on the list of features unless it is something like food, drinks, soaps, perfumes, candles, cleaning products and many more.
This may change with time, maybe one day we will all be buying our holo-3D-4K-VR-LED-TVs because they have a little high tech air freshener that senses movement and decides to spray you in the face as you go past (grr). But that day is not today and we don’t really mind the smell of plastic… it’s not that strong of a smell anyway.
So, that being said, even if your products aren’t smell based you could still incorporate a smell association.
For example, if the same scent is used at all of a brand’s retail shops it will make the brand more distinctive, so that when you visit you will have more to remember that store by and more reason to talk about that store. Word of mouth is powerful publicity; we want all we can get!
Just making your shop smell nice is a good thing but having a consistent smell will help you remember what happened last time you smelt the same smell… ‘oh yes! That’s right I wanted to buy those special pillows but had spent too much that month… I haven’t spent much this month, I think I’ll treat myself.’ That’s just one very specific situation it could help in.
Have you ever taken a breath and thought ‘Ooo that smell reminds me of [Insert nice memory here]’ well that’s the whole idea behind smells in brands.
Verbal tone of voice
This is often described as your brand’s personality. It’s harder to keep consistent, harder to track and each interaction is probably more important than text tone of voice.
For most brands, people will see your text tone of voice more than they hear your verbal tone of voice. But you have much longer to write your text than you do to respond to a customer in real time.
If only you could hire an omnipotent CEO who could just whisper the correct response in the customer services rep's ear… maybe add it to your job requirements next time you recruit? Omnipotent beings need jobs too.
Back in the real world, you obviously can’t train your staff to all speak exactly the same in all situations. What you can do is teach them what your brand’s personality is.
Is your brand quirky? Smart? Calm? Mysterious? Loud?
You would probably come up with some better words to describe your brand.
And then all your staff needs to do is play the role. Just try and be that personality when talking to customers.
Sort of like an actor, a stand-up comedian and a reality show all blended together.
The words you choose should indicate how you want your salespeople to sell. If you want to focus on technical specs for customers who are more tech savvy, let them know.
That’s the ‘give them the building blocks but leave the imagination to the customer’ approach.
Or do you want to focus on benefits to the customer? Which can appeal to a larger audience. But there is no way you’ll be able to keep a customer’s focus long enough to list all the uses and benefits.
That’s more of a ‘this is what this was made for’ approach.
I can’t think of any distinct verbal tones of voice from any brands I know. I suppose certain brands teach a ‘the customer is always right’ view. To me, that seems like more of a general rule, rather than one that will become iconic.
What do you think?
Sounds and jingles
Not all brands will opt for a full jingle; they don’t exactly suit everyone. But if you want to know what a brands jingle is then McDonalds’ ‘I’m lovin’ it’ is at one end of the spectrum and something like the chord played at the end of Sony adverts is at the other.
But sounds can expand further than just a jingle. Your brand can even have a certain taste in music. Sounds can range from the music you play in your store and adverts, to the sounds on your app or videos or… it will all depend on the specific brand.
Just remember that using common or generic sounds won’t help you stand out from the rest.
The taste of your food can be part of your brand. The taste of your drink can be part of your brand.
That’s where it stops though. I can’t imagine the taste of a computer mouse being good, let alone recognisable. And so, it doesn’t quite make it into the brand.
Need any examples? KFC chicken has a taste which is part of their brand. Just hearing ‘11 herbs and spices’ can make mouths water. Granted that it can also make people shudder at the thought.
The consistency means that if you hear that your friend just ate a KFC half way across the world in some city you’ve never even heard of. You can still imagine the taste.
It’s the same for Coca-cola. Most people in the world will have tasted Coca-cola by now. It’s always good to know that if you visit a very different place, coke will still taste the same.
Probably the most important thing about tastes in brands is the consistency. That means consistency throughout the world, and through time.
As markets get more competitive, brands have to compete on more and more levels. That’s when textures can become part of a brand.
Textures in brands can be anything about the product you touch.
So even soaps can have a texture they are known for. There are those scrubby soaps, and the one that foams up with more and thicker suds or bubbles. I think it’s called Imperial Leather foamburst.
Then there are the more well-known textures.
Apple has brought their aluminium bodied phones, tablets and laptops to the table. Microsoft has responded with their VaporMg case for their Surface tablet. These are attempts to make the link between the materials they use and the brand they are used on.
Branding is all about being unique and iconic. Though, sometimes brands will ride on the creations of others, making neither unique. If your brand wants the credit and renown, you need to make your features iconic first.
Basically, if you have something the competition doesn’t. Point it out and make it an iconic part of your brand. You might also get lucky. Some things might just become well known without any intention on your part.
So that is what you would expect if you asked for the more complete branding that exists. And I’m not sure this level of branding does exist for new brands. It takes time to discover what you brand really is.
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