Scoring beyond the scoreboard with an impressive and cohesive brand identity.

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Date : November 7, 2017
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The most important asset of several successful brands is their brand identity. Being impressive and cohesive is what makes an identity impactful. An impressive and cohesive identity helps in appealing and connecting well with the target audience and in furthering good business.

How does an impressive brand identity add mileage to your business?

The identity of a brand serves a purpose which is much beyond just establishing a distinctive mark for identification. The first perception that your target audience will form about you is largely dependent on the identity that your brand bears. Having an impressive brand identity is the first step towards changing your brand’s perception for good. The advantages of having a good brand identity can be extended to the following points.

  1. Differentiation and Recognition
    A brand identity is a mark of distinction that differentiates your brand from its competitors and gives a distinct personality to your business. An impressive and easy to remember identity helps the audience to recognise a brand easily – technically termed as brand recall.

     
  2. Resonating with the target group
    The major purpose of creating a brand identity is to form a strong bond with the target audience by resonating well with them. A business stays in business as long as the audience is able to connect with the brand. Many parent brands that cater to diverse groups establish several sub-brands that are specifically dedicated to serve a particular segment. The high end fashion brand Armani has several umbrella brands under its name that cater to distinct target groups based on the psychographics of the audience. One common identity would not have been enough to appeal everyone. The need to establish different sub-brands came with the need to appeal specific target groups.

    The brand Armani Exchange is aimed at teenagers and street fashion lovers, whereas Emporio Armani is targeted at young adults between the ages of 20 and 30. Emporio Armani is the brand that teens are supposed to graduate to, when they become adults.
    The Giorgio Armani is yet another signature label from the group. It is the most expensive Armani label and is available only in 75 boutiques worldwide. Emporio Armani and Armani Exchange are cheaper, diffusion line, aimed at a younger demo, at a lower price.

    Here’s an article that gives a deeper understanding by comparing the above mentioned brands of Armani.
     

  3. Improving brand retention
    An impressive identity works as an essential force that elevates your brand in creating a deeper emotional tie with the customer. Forming a connection increases the possibility of remembering the brand which also enhances the retention value.
     
  4. Establishing clarity and focus
    Since, the identity of a brand is intentionally designed to cater to a particular segment, it brings in convenience for the business owners to exercise clarity and focus towards their objectives, which in turn affect other important business decisions.
     
  5. Driving customer expectations
    The kind of persona that an identity portrays enables the customers to keep and maintain a certain level of expectations from a brand. This reduces the chances of the brand being misinterpreted by the customers.

    Brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma are all associated with sports, but Puma is more of an Athlete brand unlike Adidas and Nike which are more linked with soccer or football. Looking at what the brand identity portrays, customers purely expect Athlete shoes from Puma rather than expecting it from Nike which is more of a footballers fit.
     

  6. Establishing value and trust
    A good representation of your brand identity often makes your business look serious, sincere and organised. This perception developed in the minds of the audience allows them to trust you more, thus increasing the value of your offerings.

 

The measure of impressiveness

An impressive brand identity does not mean exaggerating, overly depicting or complicating your message which drifts the focus away from the brand’s core values and ethos. The message conveyed by a brand should come out crystal clear and transparent. The following set of parameters can be considered to come up with an effective brand identity.

  1. Simplicity
    Being simple is often misinterpreted with the thought that it restricts from being innovative. Simple and minimal identities are easy to grasp as compared to complex visual elements that either convey to much or do not convey anything specific and create confusion.
    The fast food joint McDonalds could have used a burger in their logo but they created their initial ‘m’ inspired by the two golden arches that Mc Donald’s used as a part of it’s identity for long. Despite, the logo being a simple yellow form on a red background, McDonalds has one of the most appealing logos in the world.
     
  2. Originality
    Imitation might seem to be a safe game but it will not make you distinctive. To stand out in the market, it is necessary to push creativity but remain as original as possible. Originality will make you look unique among your competitors.
     
  3. Relevance
    The relevance of a brand identity lies in communicating the brand’s goals and values in a right and desired format to the audience. Sometimes, even the most appealing brand identities are unsuccessful because they do not communicate well with the intended target segment.
     
  4. Versatility
    The brand identity has to be put to several uses and incorporated into various marketing touch-points without being compromised on its relevance and impact. Therefore, an identity should be versatile enough so that it can be applied to various mediums of communication.
     
  5. Emphasis
    Acquiring the right target group as the potential customers is important to make business. The visual identity could be diverse and experimental around a particular concept or theme but should not drift away from the intended target group.
     
  6. Memorability
    A memorable brand identity is not easy to execute but ranks highest amongst the various qualities that an identity should have. A person who has witnessed a brand element even once should be able to recognise and recall it when he/she comes across it the next time. Take the example of MasterCard with two circles intersecting in its logo. Both the red and yellow colours used for the identity have a unique tone and weight that makes it simple, remarkable and rememberable by the audience no matter how many times it has changed in the past.
     Brand Identity of MasterCard
  7. Timelessness
    It is important to ensure that the effectiveness of the brand identity remains long lasting. Instead of being trendy, a lot of brands prefer to be classy in order to achieve longevity so that the identity remains timeless. Consider the logo of Google which has remained constant since the beginning. To refresh the logo from time to time, a few minor tweaks or changes in the font style have always worked for Google.
     Brand Identity of Google
  8. Consistency
    Consistency of the brand elements enables to attain uniformity across all mediums of communication. It avoids confusion. The recurring use of the same elements becomes a strong factor to remember and recognise a brand easily.


Key elements of a brand identity


A brand relies on two major components to render an image of its personality to the audience – the visual identity and the verbal identity.

Key elements of the visual identity

The visual identity of a brand creates a unique persona of the brand which cannot be conveyed through words alone. The visual identity of a brand is eithercomprised of some of the below mentioned elements or a combination of it. 

  1. Logo
  2. Typography
  3. Colour Palette
  4. Photography or Image style
  5. Illustration and Icon style
  6. Environmental Design

The visual identity of Cafe Coffee day shows the remarkable use of the single inverted comma replicated everywhere in its identity from the menu and packaging to banners and in-store design.

Brand Identity of Cafe Coffee Day


Key elements of the verbal identity

Visuals alone cannot communicate everything. It is mostly supported with words to enable verbal communication. The verbal identity of a brand includes the following basic elements to describe it verbally.

  1. Brand name
  2. Slogan
  3. Tagline
  4. Tone of voice

Here’s an example of Airbnb to understand how its verbal language communicates values and internal work culture. It has been designed to be conversational with its audience and express a sense of unity and belongingness.

 

Why successful brands stress on maintaining a cohesive brand identity?

A cohesive brand identity is one of the practices that converts a brand into a super brand.

The system of branding works to extend the identity of a brand to multiple touch points. To create a desired impact on the audience, it is important to maintain consistency in the brand language. A uniform brand identity throughout all the communication channels leverages the impact with the following advantages.

  1. Accurate first impressions
    First impressions are important in business to engage the audience which further result in making or breaking a buying decision. A streamlined representation of a brand helps in forming memorable first impression with high recall and retention.
     
  2. Professionalism
    As mentioned earlier, a cohesive brand shows your seriousness towards your business. This allows the customers to respect and value you more for the professional ethics that your brand displays about you.
     
  3. Trust
    Outlining the same concept into every facet of your business, all marketing touch-points help in building customers’ trust and credibility into your business. With this thought, the audience  assume that the quality of your brand’s offerings will remain consistent too.
     
  4. Recognisability
    A strong brand is recognisable even without the use of its logo. This is achieved by the repeated use of same brand components. Therefore, extensive use of the consistent brand language further develops recognition.The telecommunication network giant, Vodafone used a consistent layout divided in white and signature red colours for all its previous print and commercial advertisements which were recognisable at one glance. Also, the commercial ads were weaved around the iconic pug and the zoozoos that strongly added to Vodafone’s identity in the past. Vodafone’s new identity launched in October, 2017 follows the same level of consistency in brand language despite the zoozoos characters being withdrawn.
     Brand Identity of Vodafone
  5. Memorability
    The recurring and uniform use of the same brand language will increase the possibility that your customers recognise your brand. The use of some unique elements sets a brand apart from its competitors in the industry and hence, makes it memorable.
     
  6. Efficiency
    A set guidelines of your brand language increases your work efficiency by saving your time that you would otherwise put into thinking about what your new print advertisement or billboard should look like.
     
  7. Identity
    Just as the way you do all the things describe your habits and personality, the incorporation of your brand language into multiple facets reveals the personality of your business. The identity is a bond and experience that keeps your customers loyal towards your business. Apple has been widely known for its design aesthetics. It strictly follows its brand guidelines to communicate with its customers. From the interface on iPhones to its product website, they have established a persona that is unique, recurring and powerful. Here’s an article that describes the success of Apple with the use of cohesive brand identity. Globally recognised brands like Nike, Skype, Google and Twitter besides several others have been cohesive in their communication and hence are easy to recognise by the audience. Take a look at this article to see how these brands exercise consistency in their brand language.
     

How to make your brand go grand?

In order to maintain cohesiveness in your brand language, the following can be replicated in all your communication mediums.

  1. Standard logo
  2. Standard typographic treatments
  3. Consistent key colours and colour palette
  4. Uniform photography or image style
  5. Consistent illustrations and icon style
  6. A standard tone of verbal communication through tagline, slogans and other verbal elements.

Read this article to get a better understanding of why retaining consistency in the above brand elements will impact your business.

Have a look at the Nike Football Brandbook to see how they maintain cohesiveness in their communication.

 


The necessity of continuous evolution through rebranding.

Coming up with an impressive identity which is cohesive is not a one time exercise. It is not enough to keep you in the business forever. Successful brands constantly keep refurbishing their identity to remain connected with the customers that keep moving ahead with time.

Why did Instagram, Apple and Uber had to rebrand?

The purpose of rebranding for different organisations could vary. Broadly, rebranding serves either one or combinations of the below mentioned benefits.

    1. Staying in pace with the target group
      The changing needs of the customers change their expectations. With time, the current identity might become outdated and might not connect well with the audience anymore. Hence, brands have to keep revamping their brand identity in order to align with the target group.
       
    2. To look new and fresh always
      With time, certain elements in the identity start looking obsolete or outdated. Therefore, to keep the customers satisfied with their experience, brands have to continuously improve upon their representation to look new. In 2016, Instagram came up with a new identity, to look new and acquire more users. Here’s a story of its rebranding which shows how it doubled its user base in just six months.
       Brand Identity of Instagram
    3. Align with new trends
      Although successful brands carry a timeless identity, but some minor tweaks are necessary to match with the current trends. Outdated design hampers the experience of the customer with the brand bringing down the brand’s effectiveness. Apple has rebranded itself several times, to align with new trends. It keeps improving the type face, UI and UX of its website and other touch-points to stay ahead of the competition. The story of Apple’s logo evolution and apple.com website is worth scrolling through.
       
    4. Business expansion
      Sometimes, a brand expands itself by establishing business into new industries. In such cases, the identity has to look versatile in all forms. Brands rebrand their identity to remain effective in all the industries and remain connected to the audience.
       
    5. Addressing a new target group
      Business grows with time and so do the customers. To acquire new customers or target groups, it is important for the brand to resonate with them. In 2017, Airbnb came up with its new brand identity with the intention of being more universal and unified in its brand language. Catering to a wide group globally with different personas, the brand wanted to connect well with them and communicate a sense of belongingness. Read this article to see how Airbnb has developed its unique visual language that is universal, unified and conversational.
       
    6. To reflect mission and values
      The evolution of the goals of a brand evokes a need to come up with an identity so that the values, mission and vision are clearly communicated to the audience. Rebranding of Uber narrates a story that is far beyond just communicating its values to its customers. Uber rebranded itself to follow and imbibe its own values in its internal work culture. Gradually, such steps taken in rebranding not just help the organisation but also enhance its value in the consumers’ perception.Read the full story behind Uber’s rebranding here.

Brand Identity of Uber

Takeaway – If invested properly, Brand Identity has the potential to leapfrog a business to the next level.

The return of investing in an impressive and cohesive brand identity may be difficult to measure but it surely leads into improved conversions by building an image that aligns with the brand’s values and aspirations and developing a strong bond with the customers.

Forming a great first impression is vital for any business to engage with its audience. Recurring and cohesive use of brand’s visual and verbal language increases the recall and retention value. Consequently, an impressive presentation of a brand can mark the success of a brand.

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