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Branding does not equal logo design

Author: Andy Oakey, Creative, Azzure IT
Yes, logos are a key part and are often the spearhead element (lose the comma here please) to get your brand into the world. But, a brand offers so much more. How often have you seen ‘branding’ shoved into the list of services offered by creative agencies? It’s a bit like Starbucks offering cakes, or builders offering plastering – related services that bulk the portfolio – it sounds good and probably means something. Clients may sometimes not understand how it can help position and differentiate their company.

I have the opposite approach, focusing on the company’s core values. A brand should be an all-encompassing ‘promise’ that wraps around the business, permeating every aspect of it. Brand is a creative way of expressing what the company stands for, short-hand. As a full-service agency, even if we are not working on your brand development, but your brand should (should needs to be bold to impact) inform and shape every creative decision we make. Everything a business sends out, be it products, communications or presentations, should go through the filter that is your brand. It touches everything, adding emotion and personality, whilst projecting your values.

The visual part which people often focus on the identity rather than the brand. A successful identity can’t be created without a brand being established behind it. It gets more complicated: a company can have many brands under its umbrella. Let’s take Mars as an example. Mars is a global manufacturer of confectionary, pet food and other food products. The (new sentence) corporate identity is unassuming, yet each brand, that sits under the Mars umbrella, has its own personality, feel and invokes emotion within its audience based around the values the product stands for.

We work on two kinds of branding – development and rebranding. Both (new sentence) offer opportunities and challenges. A new brand is an opportunity to form a company’s personality from scratch, whilst a rebrand, has something to build upon – with the added advantage of being able to reflect on the past.

Branding for us starts with the basics. Talking. We need to get a feel for the personality of a business. The people and, importantly, the customers. A lot of the time we must remind companies to put their own tastes aside and question what the values are, of the customers whom they wish to attract. We even go as far as to explore what motivates a set demographic of customer. From colour preferences, values, music tastes, beliefs, attitudes and even smells, we cover all factors.

At our brand meetings, we are truly of the belief that the opening of the imagination stimulates the minds capacity for creativity, where ideas freely come to the fore and enable us to build clear picture of who are you selling to and why they should buy your product – your brand. You’d be surprised at some of the questions we ask; “If your company was a car, what car would it be?” or; “If your typical customer was a film star, what film star would he or she be?”

The result of a branding exercise isn’t just about the appearance of a logo, but a clear way of thinking about how the company presents itself as a complete entity. We complete the final signature of brand exercise with a bespoke set of documented brand guidelines that act as a guide for anybody in an organisation. Yes, it will have the all-important logo, but the rule-book must go much further than that:

Our promise and what we value
Logo, colours and fonts
Our language: words
Our visual identity: image, graphics
Examples: signage, collateral, uniforms, voicemails etc

Once the rules are written down anything new the company does can follow the principle of the brand guidelines. A good set of brand guidelines ensures that all new marketing material and communications are consistent with the brand promise.
Next time you look at a logo, ask yourself, does the company and its customers value the same thing?


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