Building better brands
What are the brands that you admire? Think of a few off the top of your head…why do you identify with them? Is it because they stand for something bigger than the service or product that they sell? Do they live and breathe their brand values and personality? Lucy & Yak, Innocent, Brew Dog…are some that spring to my mind.
Brands that simply set out generic values for the sake of the exercise are beige and blend into the background. Do you want your brand to be noticed by the right people? I’d encourage you to be ambitious when you set your values, personality and goals. You’ll use these to inform everything that you do — what you say, how you say it and visually how you convey it.
How do we represent our brand values visually?
At Design and Code we work with our clients to develop a graphic language that represents them.
I like to call it a graphic language because it communicates something that both communicator and recipient understand as having the same meaning. Like a language, your toolkit will expand to be more contemporary and fitting for your evolving message making the language richer over time. This is done slowly and carefully so there’s always understanding between the communicator (you) and receiver (your audience).
When you’re expanding your brand look and feel, always ask yourself if it is reflecting your values — and if not, why? If it feels right but it doesn’t represent your values – are your values correct or out of date? A brand is ever evolving so keep reviewing it.
Consider how the structure of your brand suits the structure of your audiences.
Do you need lots of internal communication? Do you need employees to understand when a message is for them or for your customers or clients? If so, consider a variation of the brand.
Alternatively, you might have two very different types of customer or client, at odds with each other in priorities and values? Consider whether you need two separate brands or if the overall values and objectives are aligned.
Develop your kit of parts
If your look and feel is your graphic language then your kit of parts is like your dictionary. It’s made up of all the visual components that that come together to create your look and feel. Using these assets consistently across material is key but not at the expense of functionality. For instance, the web has different and more complex functionality than print and may therefore require different or more assets. Even so, all your assets will evolve with the same design principles.
Why do I need guidelines?
Consistency of your message and values is key. If your brand assets are used in different ways in different instances it undoes all the good work that your brand has been doing…unless your brands values are unprofessionalism, amateur and shoddy. Who would do that – well famously the Hans Brinker hostel in Amsterdam had real success doing just that. Why did it work for them? They kept it consistent and really stuck to their values and personality, setting them apart from competition worldwide!
Consider what formats best suit your brand
Many brands have a digital focus to their business model, those that sell products or services online for instance. Even small businesses are moving in this direction, sped up by global pandemics of course. So why are more brands not commissioning moving identities? Motion and sound can communicate so much about your brand and these assets can be used over and over so it’s a great investment.
In the analogue world, we can be making better use of all the senses. Smell, touch, taste, texture and light are all amazing assets at our fingertips that can help communicate more about your brand.
Don’t limit your brand to 2D or digital only when the values of your brand could have a far greater reach if you seduce using all the other senses.
But non-digital doesn’t have the same reach I hear you say? Are you kidding – some of the best campaigns in the world have been physical – in turn creating viral tidal waves of digital activity. Yes, we’re definitely more digital than ever but we’re also craving the tactile and physical more than ever – we crave sharable experiences. Staycations are all about Instagram-able locations. Keeping plants is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the UK right now. There’s nothing more appealing than a 3D experience that epitomises your brand and gets shared across the world to a captive audience. Look at what Hendrix Gin are doing with their events and private functions. Look at how Nike and Adidas work with relatively unknown talent. Look at how apple puts importance into the zen-like nature of a single switch on a product. All of these brands are embodying their values and making a proactive effort to do and be so.
What happens to your brand in the future?
Keep evolving your assets and stay up to date and ready to utilise new technology. Don’t let your look and feel get static and stop evolving along with the world around it.
Keep learning and adapting with your audience — their values change so keep on top of your own.