A company’s brand is one of its most important assets, influencing public perception, customer interaction, and revenue numbers. There is even anecdotal evidence that it can have a moderate impact on regulatory and legal proceedings. Most firms recognize the importance of branding, and want a strong brand. But how do you do it?
We are going to specifically be discussing printed brand presence. Brand presence online, in the community, on the radio waves and on the airwaves are all important, and considerations for future articles.
Ideally, your brand is everywhere – every piece of stationary, every package, every employee uniform, and on every company vehicle. Your presence would be felt on billboards, in newspapers, in magazines, in mailers, on promotional pens, on company calendars, etc. Of course, this is unrealistic for any firm without a nearly inexhaustible marketing budget. Decisions must be based on the core cost-effectiveness question: How much bang can you get for your advertising buck, and are some forms of exposure more beneficial than others? For instance, online videos and radio are often much more cost-effective and small-budget friendly than traditional TV and radio. A branded mouse pad or calendar will certainly cost more than a branded pen. However, the former will provide you with much more space to present your messaging, and are more likely to maintain a long-term presence, while the latter is likely to be quickly lost or discarded. We prefer promotional items likely to hang around for a while. Circulation of newspapers and magazines has fallen precipitously. On the one hand, that can mean you no longer get your money’s worth in advertising there, but in some instances it has led publishers to offer huge discounts. Mailers can be very effective if built around specific promotions, but as general branding tools, are largely ineffective. Perhaps our favorite branding device, especially from a cost standpoint, is custom roll label printing. This article has more than you ever wanted to know about custom roll label printing. The biggest advantage of branding decals is that they can turn virtually anything into a branding device – envelopes, letters, packages, give-away items, employee’s vehicles, company laptops, etc. Imagine everything that left your plant or office carried your brand presence. These don’t have to look like a cheap afterthought, either. Because branding decals come in so many shapes and size, and because they can be multi-colored or even have a foil label finish, they are extremely versatile. Branding decals can have a stylish professional look far beyond their cost. Another advantage is that the entry costs and per unit costs are extremely low. That makes branded roll labels a great place for smaller firms to start, and an indispensable tool for more established firms. A foil label or brightly colored decal can be eye-catching and add a touch of class to virtually anything going through your company’s doors.
While a brand is certainly more than a slogan, it is often a central feature in branding. There are three key points in developing a slogan:
1- Make it memorable. That usually means keeping it short. A slogan is certainly not a mission statement. Rather, it is a just a hook for potential clients to associate with your brand. Examples of some short, effective hooks include: “Just do it,” “No rules. Just right,” and “Stay thirsty, my friends.” None of these slogans actually convey much about the brand themselves, but they are short, catchy, and reflect positively on the brand. In spite of the fact that these slogans don’t actually give prospective clients any reason to do business with the company, they achieve a certain level of effectiveness. These slogans stick with us and create a positive affinity for the brand, primarily because they are associated with the positive commercials, and because they are so memorable.
2- Think like your target audience. What is it your clientele really cares about? Why would they consider your product or service, and what are they trying to get out of it? Let’s look at a few successful slogans and what they convey: “A diamond is forever,” was chosen by DeBeers. It subtly links the reputation of diamonds as the hardest, longest-lasting natural wonders with the permanence of the marital union. In a market filled with low cost providers, State Farm carved out their niche with the slogan “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” Their niche is to be the reliable firm clientele can look to in an emergency situation. Those who want a healthy lifestyle should drink more milk, because “It does a body good.” This is an ideal pitch to the target clientele, parents and other health conscious consumers. Harley-Davidson choose “American by birth. Rebel by choice,” because it both reaffirms the brands All-American roots in a market dominated by Asian imports, and because it reinforces the wild and free mystique its brand loyalists revere. There are really only three considerations when choosing a bandage—cost, that is it “ouchless,” and that it remains in place. That’s why Band-Aid used“I am stuck on Band-Aid brand, ‘cuz Band-Aid’s stuck on me.” Note that when reading that slogan, you probably heard their jingle in your head as well. Combining a slogan and jingle can be very powerful, indeed. That is a big step towards unifying your brand.
3- Differentiate yourself from the competition. Now that you have tried to put yourself in the perspective of your target clientele, and address their needs and desires, why should they choose you over your competitors? What makes you special or different enough to deserve brand loyalty? This final element of a good slogan is perhaps the most important, but is only truly effective if combined with the other two elements. Let’s consider some of the better examples: In the days when fast food restaurants served every cheeseburger the same way. Burger King found big success with “Have it your way.” Faced with lower cost, big box home improvement stores, Ace reinforced their niche as being service driven with the slogan “The place with the helpful hardware man.” The common perception that Ace Hardware is the place to go for help and answers addresses a core concern for their target clientele, and sets them apart from the big boxes. BMW carved out its market niche for high performance luxury automobiles with the famous tagline “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” They implicitly end all debate on the quality of the vehicle with that claim, appealing to the clientele who simply want the best. There are countless theme parks, arcades, and entertainment venues all designed to create happiness. Disney did a fantastic job of claiming their place at the pinnacle with the well-known slogan “The happiest place on Earth.” Finally, we come to one of the longest running slogans, “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” The Marines are trying to appeal to a certain code of honor and attract people who wish to be elite military personnel. This simple slogan speaks perfectly to their target clientele, and has remained intact as the other military branches have changed their slogans over and over.
Special Note: Check your slogan. There have been several occasions where companies have begun to embrace a slogan only to discover that another firm had already adopted the slogan, or something remarkably similar. Part of differentiating yourself from the competition is making sure your slogan is truly unique.
Finally, let’s consider some of the principles of a good logo. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then your logo is at least as important as your slogan. Most firms hire a graphic designer to create or revamp their logo, but there is no easy way to vet that person and their ideas. There are five important considerations when developing a logo, and to make sure your designer embraces before signing on:
Be unique. It is vital that your logo be unique, and not too similar to any other logos. In shape, color, font and design, be sure to differentiate yourself from the herd.
Unify your brand. This is not a universally accepted principle, but we are strong advocates of it. Your company name, and slogan should be part of your brand. If you have a jingle, your slogan should be in the jingle, as well. It is actually quite difficult to find a logo with both the company name and the company slogan incorporated, but it is extraordinarily common to find the slogan in small print under the logo on virtually every piece of marketing collateral many of these big firms produce. That is essentially the same thing. All of these things work together to embed your brand deep in the memory of your audience.
Use color wisely. Color is a powerful tool. It can impact a primitive part of the brain and link your brand subconsciously with certain characteristics. Here is a great article on the role of color in marketing. In short, here are the most common associations different colors create with a brand:
- White- purity, cleanness, safety
- Grey- balance, sophistication, practicality
- Yellow and orange- happiness, energy, alarm, caution
- Red- urgency, youthfulness, physicality, stop
- Green- nature, health, harmony
- Purple- wise, imaginative, royal, respected
- Blue- dependability, peace, strength
- Black- luxury, authority, power
Imbed meaning in your logo. The best logos often have hidden meanings. Having these different layers to your logo helps to make them more engaging. Also, there is a bit of a psychological trick at work. Once someone uncovers the secret hidden in your logo, they feel part of the “in crowd” and may be more likely to develop a positive affinity towards your brand. Here are a few examples of logos with hidden meanings.
- Milwaukee Brewers – On the surface, this famous logo is a 4 fingered baseball glove in the Brewers’ iconic colors. However, a closer examination reveal a letter “M” hidden in the fingers of the glove and a “B” in the palm and thumb of the glove, for the Milwaukee Brewers.While the Brewers decided to update their logo, the public outcry for the original logo was so strong that they were unable to retire it, and still sell a great deal of merchandise with the iconic glove and ball.
- Amazon – The amazon logo wisely is centered on the company name. Many people pick up on the yellow arrow resembling a smile with a dimple on one side. Even if you are not aware of this, sub-consciously, this smile may trigger positive affinity towards the brand. What is perhaps least recognized about this logo is that the arrow goes from “A” to “Z” because Amazon can get you anything you want, from A to Z.
- Baskin Robbins – Basking Robbins combined their name with a playful color scheme in their logo. In the “BR” initials on the left, the pink creates a “31,” which is the number of ice cream flavors served by this food chain.
- The Presbyterian Church (USA) – We have saved the most elaborate example for last. The Presbyterian Church has a rather ornate blue and red cross as their denominational seal. Hidden within the cross is an open Bible, a dove descending from the heavens, a pulpit, a fish, a communion chalice, and tongues of flame.
Be memorable.Your logo should have a lasting impact on your audience and be memorable. The whole point of branding is to leave a positive, lasting presence with your audience.
With some creativity and a small marketing budget, you can use these principles to help you in your branding campaign. Best of luck in building a brand with remembering.
Brad Butterstein is President of Data Graphics Inc. Brad joined Data Graphics 19 years ago and has been instrumental in its growth and development into one of the most award-winning, highly certified firms in America. He has worked with a number of Fortune 500 manufacturers, and has extensive experience in helping to develop branding and labeling campaigns. Brad lives in Apopka, FL with his wife and two children. He enjoys the rooting for the Buffalo Bills, participating in his sons’ soccer tournaments, and making the nation’s best nameplates, overlays and labels.