The 10 Elements You Need to Establish Your Brand
The 10 Elements You Need to Establish Your Brand
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Microsoft. Apple. Google. Heinz. Pepsi. The list of globally recognized brands goes on and on. What makes these companies so profoundly memorable? Each brand benefits from a combination of brand elements working together to create an identity and an experience that consumers love.
From the logo to the letterhead, each element that makes up a brand plays a part in the overall brand perception – the way your customers perceive and interact with your company. Creating a brand from the ground up requires creativity, market research, and most importantly, consumer feedback.
These 10 elements make up the basis of a truly memorable brand. When each element is combined with the timely feedback of customers, your brand will be ready to hit the ground running and thoroughly impact your market.
With nearly 7 million (and counting) U.S. trademark applications filed since 1985, it should come as no surprise that picking a brand name can be challenging. While certain industries, like craft brewing, are becoming inundated with legal issues over a shortage of brand and product names, other industries and companies are getting creative with their names.
Spotify and Grammarly, for instance, use a type of naming called transmutation, adding a suffix -ify and -ly to a commonly used word. Another trick of the trade is to create a compound word, as in SnapChat or WordPress.
The portmanteau is a familiar play on words that uses the combination of two words to generate a new one, with twice the meaning. Think Instagram, Creamsicle, Netflix, or "podcast" (the combination of iPod and broadcast).
Regardless of which tool you use, the important thing is to find a name that falls into several categories: It is easy to spell, easy to remember, rolls nicely off the tongue, and can be trademarked. Not sure if your ideal brand name fits this list? It is never too early to get some consumer feedback. On Suzy, you can quickly and easily poll an audience (as big or as small as you would like) to determine if your brand or product name resonates with consumers.
In this day and age, choosing a brand name and a URL go hand-in-hand. Just a few years ago, in fact, some brands used their domain as their entire name. Match, the well known dating site, was previously referred to as Match.com in commercials, ads, and everyday use. Amazon, in many cases, is still referred to as Amazon.com to distinguish the e-store from other aspects of the company, although their logo and branding no longer reflect the .com.
Not every company starts with the perfect domain. The social media branding platform, Buffer, started out using bfffr.com, before upgrading to bufferapp.com, and eventually purchasing buffer.com in 2015. And they were not alone. Twitter started out at twttr.com, Instagram was instagr.am, and the online retailer Overstock could be found at O.co.
One thing these brands do all have in common, however, is original domain names that are related to the overall brand name. Stick to that basic principal and you will be well on your way.
Your logo is composed of an image, symbol, or text, or any combination of those three elements. More importantly, it tells the story of your brand, who you are, what you do, and how a customer should feel when interacting with your company.
The key to designing a top notch logo is to first establish your brand identity: What do you do? Who do you do it for? Why is it important? What do you want people to know about you?
Knowing your target audience also allows you to pull on that group to get consumer feedback prior to launching your new logo. Suzy's survey platform helps you ask different styles of questions so you can discover more about how your logo is perceived. For example, ask for consumers to rank several logos in order of favorite to least favorite. Next, ask them open-ended questions about their top pick. What does it convey? How does it make them feel?
There are many ways to go about capturing the identity of your company through logo design, but the key is to keep things simple and stick to what works. Two popular chocolate companies, for example, have different ways of communicating the same thing: quality. Toblerone uses bold font, the image of a mountain, and the use of red and gold. Cadbury chocolate, on the other hand, uses a simple script – in any combination of white, gold, or purple. Both work, and both brands are still going strong.
Consumer packaging expresses your brand identity just as much as your logo and domain name. Companies are finding all kinds of new ways to convey their message through the simple means of a box, bottle, or can.
Dollar Shave Club, for example, places their logo on the outside of their shipping boxes. When a customer opens the box, they are greeted with a succinct slogan printed on the underside of the flap. Every product in the box displays the company's brand through the use of their logo, typography, and color.
One thing brands like Dollar Shave Club get right is their consistency. Packaging is one of the first elements of your brand a customer sees, whether they are walking through a grocery store or receiving a box in the mail. Consistency in packaging could mean the difference between someone picking up your product, or it getting lost in the crowd (or in this case, on the shelf).
Now that you've mastered your brand name, domain, and logo, the packaging should be a fun, creative process of determining consistent ways to use your brand identity on your different products. It is an opportunity to experiment, explore, and find new ways to express your brand.
Taste and Scent
One unexpected question you may need to ask yourself in branding isn't what your company should look like, but what it should taste and smell like. Sensory branding is a popular way to attract consumers to your product, and it starts with an understanding of the smells and tastes that customers will come to attribute as uniquely yours.
Why are the senses such a significant part of branding? Our senses are powerful, triggering memories, impacting mood, and influencing our perception of a product. Companies have been using this knowledge for years, creating smells and tastes that are distinctly recognizable and that create certain emotional responses.
Hyatt Place, for example, created a scent, called "Seamless," that evokes calm and a sense of welcome as guests enter their hotels. The familiar scent of Cinnabon in the mall encourages a sense of home, nostalgia, and comfort.
The same tactic is true when it comes to taste, as well. Soda fans can detect the difference between the taste of Coke and Pepsi and become staunch supporters of their favored brand. Chick-fil-A customers return again and again not for the unique taste of their chicken sandwich, but for the signature sauce that goes with it.
While some companies will use simple scents in their retail locations in order to sell more, creating a scent or taste that is distinctly part of your brand will not only encourage sales, but it will help establish a sense of familiarity and trust with your customers.
Not all companies have a slogan or tagline, but the catchy phrases can go a long way in letting consumers know who you are. Some of our favorites have been around for years. The Quicker Picker Upper (Bounty). Taste the rainbow (Skittles). Every kiss begins with Kay (Kay Jewelers).
Like anything else in branding, slogans should be tested against marketing keys such as memorability, meaningfulness, transferability, and adaptability. Just like domain names – and in many cases, logos – change over time, slogans, too, should carry a level of adaptability. Not all slogans last forever. FedEx has used at least twelve different slogans since 1978. Maxwell House, however, has had the same slogan – Good to the last drop—for over a hundred years.
In choosing a slogan or tagline for your brand, know that it can, and likely will, adapt as your brand grows and new products or services are added. Ultimately, the slogan should follow the same principles as your other elements and capture the purpose and meaning behind your brand.
One element of branding that's changed dramatically over the past ten years is the use and purpose of visual content. Prior to the internet and the advent of social media, photos were used for print and television, or as a way for companies to share their brand on billboards, magazines, business cards, or commercials.
Today, however, visual content in branding takes on a whole new purpose. As of 2019, Statista indicates that 91% of businesses are using social media for marketing. And when it comes to marketing on these platforms, photos are the number one element used.
Capturing your brand through photography means also capturing your brand's "voice." Each photo used, whether in print or online, communicates the emotion behind your brand. If your voice is playful, the photos can use bright colors and light. The clothing company, Madewell, for example, uses movement and shadow in their photos – as well as a consistent color palette – to convey their fun, and somewhat avant garde style.
Color and Graphics
Much like the element of photography, color and graphics also play a role in your brand's perception across social media. Of course, social media isn't the only place you will use either element to express your brand identity. Color, for instance, impacts everything from your brand name (picture Google's colorful font) to your packaging (it's hard to miss the bold colors of Kettle's bags in the chip aisle).
What makes color and social media important in branding today, however, is the use of filters and color to convey a consistent feeling about your brand. One thing the top brands on instagram have in common is their use of color and theme to evoke the same feeling each time a follower encounters their images.
Graphics and symbols – even lines and shapes – can also help convey the message of your brand. Coach handbags, for example, use the iconic "C" graphic to distinguish some of the bag designs. The second-hand clothing e-store, ThredUp, uses teal polka dots on their packaging to distinguish their brand.
Like the other branding elements, the use of graphics and color should be memorable, even if used in a simple way, like ThredUp's polka dots. The use of dots on a tissue paper is not a new concept, but the consistent use of the teal graphic creates a recognizable branding element that customers have come to expect and love.
Not sure how your color scheme or graphics impact your audience? Consumer feedback throughout your branding process helps keep you on track and build a brand that will thrive – and on Suzy, you can directly upload visual content to the platform to make sure you’re getting your target audience’s opinion on the right assets.
We often equate sound in branding with jingles or songs; local mattress stores are famous for getting their jingles stuck in your head. Sonic branding, however, goes beyond the creation of a catchy song.
Earlier this year, Mastercard introduced a branded sound that customers could equate with using their credit cards. We experience sonic branding every time we watch HBO or ABC, those few notes create an emotional response and heightened brand recognition. Even turning on your Apple computer or Xbox introduces you to the power of sound in branding.
While using sound may not be your top priority in creating your new brand, it is certainly an element to consider as you grow and advance your brand in today's competitive market.
While some branding experts refer to movement or shape as key elements, not every product or brand uses movement, and shapes can sometimes be predetermined by the product itself. One thing all brands can communicate, however, is aesthetics.
Aesthetics, like color and logos, impacts every other element of your brand. This includes the shape and texture of your typography, the overall appearance of your packaging, and the look and feel of your product in a consumer's hand.
How do you know if your brand aesthetic is memorable and recognizable? One way to test this is to remove your logo from every element of your branding – visual content, letterheads, ads, social media images, and packaging – and ask your consumer audience if they can identify each item as yours. Let's consider Dollar Shave Club as an example. They offer great packaging, but remove their logo from their boxes, website, and product...are they still recognizable? Absolutely. The brand aesthetic ensures cohesiveness throughout, logo or no logo.
Determining the effectiveness of your aesthetics can be as simple as polling consumers. Do they recognize your brand with some of the key elements missing? Suzy can survey your audience in minutes, providing you with real-time feedback and help you maximize your brand elements.
The Advantage of Consumer Feedback
Creating a new brand can be a fun – and often exhausting – undertaking. Most brands aren't created overnight, and require an investment of time and creative energy to ensure every element works to emphasize the purpose and goal of the brand.
Brand creation can be improved, and even expedited, when companies choose to involve their consumers from early on in the process. Understanding how customers will receive your name, logo, or imagery can help you avoid some of the biggest branding mistakes.
Suzy ensures companies like yours get the quickest, most effective feedback from consumers. Create a survey or simply ask one question, and Suzy members will respond in minutes. If you want to focus on a specific audience, retarget your questions to gain the insight you need. When it comes to building a new company, on-demand consumer feedback helps you launch a brand that you know will succeed.
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