by Quantal Langford
In Part 2 of the Inside Out series, we begin to go a little deeper into the branding process. In specific we are talking about the “character” of your brand.
When you think of a company like Apple. What do you think of? What do they represent? Disruption of Status Quo? Innovation? Minimalist? When you walk into a Apple Store, how does the customer service approach you? How is the layout of the store? The communication of their marketing materials stays on brand with the character of their brand. When a company knows, from an inner knowing of their brand, who they are and what they represent and how they work; they build the brand loyalty and self-awareness with company and their audience.
I see many that are effectively working the opposite way of this. Redesigning marketing material, logos, colors, website, etc., effectively rearranging chairs on a ship; it’s still the same ship. If the inner character of the company is still the same and hasn’t been refocused for your audience. You may get far worse backlash from your audience. Some of the examples I think of is a redesign of the Gap logo. Feeling the need to change leadership, due to lowering sales. The logo was supposed to change the mental perception of their audience, but the opposite happened.
According the company NeuroFocus, their research concluded that Gap’s specific logo redesign didn’t sit well in the brain chemistry of outraged consumers. Their redesigned logo changed the font and shrunk their iconic blue square towards the corner of the p in Gap.
“With our brains hard-wired to avoid sharp edges, people reacted negatively to the blue cube cutting into the round curve of the letter “p” in the new logo.” -NeuroFocus
What maybe needed to be revised, wasn’t the logo, but a correction in character. To revisit what made Gap great with consumers in the first place.
I find myself, being a student of branding, revisiting what the true character of my business is. What’s “off-brand” or “on-brand” with marketing and communication. It gets even more complex when you start adding employees and absorbing other companies under one umbrella. Being congruent with the integrity and purpose of a company’s vision is essential in brand development.
If you haven’t defined what the character is of a company, start researching traits that you feel defines your company. I would knock it down to 3 precise character traits and use that to define the inner workings of your brand. Give yourself or a panel group time to write down various traits that represent the brand from the beginning to what you envision the brand becoming in the future.
Think of your brand as something organic and alive. How would you nurture it from the very beginning? Sit down and write various aspects on post-it notes and place them on a wall. For start-ups it will be different, considering they are just developing. So they could start with a present and future section. For others it may be slightly different.
When brain-storming your traits, use traits that are singular aspects. For example words like “inexpensive” is a product attribute. While the word “cheap” is a more precise trait to use. -Scott Lerman, Building Better Brands
While there are more things we can discuss in the trait building process for a later time or in one of my brand workshops I’m developing; for this article, getting it down to 3 traits that clearly defines your brand is good. There, one can develop strategic communications and marketing that represents your inner traits.
Defining brand character dictates the organization of your brand from the inside out and creates part of your foundation for years.
In part 3 I will talk about the arena where your brand competes for consumers, awareness and attention.
About the writer: Quantal Langford runs Langfordesign, a purpose driven, creative studio based in Oceanside, Ca. Focusing on graphic design and brand development for B2C businesses, non-profit organizations, and athletic departments and helping create their own unique voice. He also runs an inspirational/fitness lifestyle brand called Just Heart Apparel.
Read Part 1 of the Series... http://www.oceansidechamber.com/occ-blog/inside-out-your-logo-is-not-your-brand