Defining what a brand should be in 2019

The dictionary defines a brand as…

A brand as a noun is…

  1. a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.
    "a new brand of detergent"
    synonyms: make, line, label, marque; type, kind, sort, variety; trade name, trademark, proprietary name, logo; archaic chop
    "a new brand of margarine"

  2. an identifying mark burned on livestock or (especially formerly) criminals or slaves with a branding iron.
    synonyms: identifying mark, identification, marker, earmark
    "the brand on a sheep"

A brand as a verb is…

  1. mark with a branding iron.

    "the seller had branded the animal with his grandfather's name"

    synonyms: mark, stamp, burn, sear; identify"the letter M was branded on each animal"

  2. assign a brand name to.

From my experience…

The concept of “a business needing branding” is a foreign concept. They are aware of many brands (as we’re inundated with them on tv and everywhere we go really) and the word “logo” tends to resonate with them more. They may have heard the term “branding” before as it is of course a known word but I think most people would find that it tends to be associated with the branding of animals. Not as and overarching descriptor of a company’s logo with consistent messaging, cohesive colors and a digital and print presence to match.

I really dislike going to this specific grocery store because it takes me 30 minutes to get out of there and the customer service is horrible.
— Annoyed customer

I’ve done a ton of thinking on this topic and I think a good synopsis of this is that a "brand" is what people say when asked about you or your business. So we can help you create a great logo, one liner, website and even a great marketing campaign to go with it. But unless you offer great customer service to go along with a great cohesive brand and message. The customer experience won’t match the great branding and it will fall flat. Similar to the “tree falling in the forest” concept…

You should have seen this burger I got from this place the other day! It was to die for! I can’t wait to go back and try other ones.
— Satisfied restaurant customer

As I type this, I’m listening to a rapper that had to change his name and logo because of copyright issues. His whole brand was taken out from under him because of other companies forcing his hand. He’s a great rapper, writer and artist…(iamkrum.com) but his experience is a great example of how…

  1. Your brand name has to be researched and thought out.

    • The name you use is very important.

      • You want your name to fit and represent “what you do" and why”

      • To accomplish this you need to do a good amount of research and strategy. The more you look into who your competitors are and what has worked in your market up until that point, this leads to more clarity as to what has worked and why.

      • This research should also show you what hasn’t worked…

    • You want the message to be as clear as possible with very little thought needed on the customer’s end.

      • When a client sees it on the side of a vehicle or on a billboard, they know what you are and what you can do for them in a split second.

      • If your logo and mark doesn’t do this, why should they care what your phone number is? (clarity, clarity, clarity)

  2. If your brand is personality driven, how can you design a logo and brand to still fit what you do and why.

    • Even though it doesn’t seem like it, design is actually super important in this process.

    • Your mark should just make sense as someone who does “what you do or sell”.

      • Your name becomes your mark

      • Your secondary descriptors come into play, as well as one-liners

      • What’s beautiful about this process, is if you design the mark well, you won’t need to rely on descriptors and one-liners, the mark just says it all.

    • Your name doesn’t actually say what you do, except to the people you know already but you’re not advertising to them.

  3. Finally and most importantly! Jumping off the first 2 points, your brand visual and message needs a concept.

  • Without a concept, you will leave potential customers and clients wondering what you do, why you do it and in the end, they won’t know why they should hire you in the first place.

  • On a subconscious level, if you can’t clarify what you do with your brand look and feel or your customer service doesn’t match your brand, they won’t trust you.

  • I know when I land on a website that doesn’t work the same way their brand looks or things aren’t organized well as they should be, there’s an immediate bad taste in my mouth about moving forward.

I want to show a quick comparison as an example of how some businesses get it right and others put out a mixed message. My goal is to get you thinking about how great your brand could be and we would love to help you get there!

An example- Which logo of these two do you think hits the mark of being an inviting and friendly supermarket?

Aldi’s Grocery Logo

Needler’s Fresh Market Logo

Needler’s Fresh Market Logo

After you’ve thought on this for a minute, my thoughts.

aldis logo comp.jpg

I believe there’s some irony here. First off, before this redesign by Aldi’s, I would have pinpointed their last iteration of their logo as one that loved. It was retro in feeling but iconic in simplicity, in my opinion. This new version manages to lose most of it’s “character”, for what they claim is an attempt to be more contemporary. That said and we really enjoy and benefit from shopping at Aldi’s. It has been a lifesaver over the years for cheaper food that is still of higher quality. We still shop there regularly (which speaks to retention of customers despite a redesign, a whole different conversation on sales and marketing).

In contrast, I feel like Needler’s Fresh Market looks and feels like a fresh market worth visiting. It feels warm and inviting without being pretentious. We have this store in our home town and it is a little higher price than is ideal (probably because it IS a small town and competitors are few) but the brand, I believe does a better job of inviting the customer into experiencing their brand. The prices might end up scaring you away and in some ways that has caused them to try and do more sales, which isn’t a bad thing.

Summing it all up

This of course is a much bigger topic than this as I feel like we’re just hitting home some ideas as to what branding is and can be for your company. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Please don’t hesitate to chime in and I will look to do more branding conversations in the very near future.