What is a brand?
When we think of brands, the information is often confusing. It isn’t just a company logo, though that’s part of it. It is also the way a company is perceived by those who experience it. Not just a name, then, or a symbol or even a product, but the feeling a person gets when they’re engaging with your business. You’ll have a distinct logo and a distinct way of doing things, with positive interactions with your client base. So what are the five key elements of a good brand?
Brand personality is the unique spectrum of thoughts, emotions, and behavioral patterns that are intrinsic to a brand. Its personality includes a brand’s most individualistic traits.
So, this personality is what makes you identifiable to your customers. And it’s the basis for the personal relationships they form with you. There’s real science behind it: Jennifer Aaker of Stanford University has determined that there are five key facets of brand personality: ruggedness, sophistication, competence, excitement and sincerity.
The businesses that have nailed one or more of those key personality elements are amongst the big guns: Apple, Nike, McDonalds, Disney, to name but a few.
This is a bit more complicated. Architecture is “the organizational structure of a company’s portfolio of brands, products, and/or services” [Ignyte Brands]. Let’s look at some examples.
Hybrid brand architecture
Alphabet is the parent company of Google. You thought Google was just, well, Google, right? Wrong. You can see from the image the architectural structure of the company. They operate using hybrid brand architecture, meaning they’ve multiple tiers of distinct hierarchies. Some companies within Alphabet operate autonomously of each other, others are interconnected. But each has its own distinct logo, and distinct identity.
A branded house has a strong master brand that is taken on by any other divisions within it. A good international example of this is FedEx, who have loads of different companies all operating under the one identity. Another one you’ll know is Virgin. We know there’s the travel company, the airline, the channels, the credit card company – they’re all Virgin, but they do different things.
However, their identities aren’t particularly distinct. This can be great, as it helps with the ol’ marketing budget. But if something bad happens to one part, the whole house can take a hit.
I’m not going to get bogged down in describing the many different examples of brand architecture. If you’re a one man band, the architecture you’ve probably got is, well, you. And that’s great!
Your brand’s name is your face on the world. They should have meaning, to you and to your customers. The name can convey meaning in a straightforward way (it does exactly what it says on the tin, as it were). Or your meaning can be conveyed as part of your whole brand narrative. Digida is a good case in point of a brand name doing a lot of heavy lifting.
The Welsh word for “digital” is “digidol”, which coined “digi”, and “da” in Welsh means good. It might not make a lot of sense in English, but we loved the sound and impact of the word, as well as the way it can work in Welsh or English (“g” is pronounced differently in the two languages) [Who We Are].
So make sure your name has meaning, whether that’s up front or running below the name. People really do dig an in-joke. Or anything that makes them feel like they have insider knowledge. Appeal to that feeling.
Here’s the bit that most people associate with the idea of a brand – its logo. But it’s more than just a picture. Your logo should really capture who you are and what you do, in a visual nutshell.
A good brand logo will identify your business well before you write a single word.
The best way to explain this is, what’s your brand’s personality? Down to earth with room for emojis? Professional, with an emphasis on the technical language of your trade? How you speak to your customers online and in your advertising should be the same, and should be distinguishable from other businesses.
A great example of this is our client Redfern Property. They’re a letting agency with a large amount of students amongst their tenants. But they also deal with properties on behalf of landlords. Their voice is therefore a mix – professional advice on the lettings industry, and local information relevant to tenants. Together with a health dose of memes. Their audience on Facebook is 2,000 followers, and rising. In a small local area, that’s a powerful voice that’s immediately recognisable from the herd.
What core message are you trying to pass on with your voice? First and foremost, it should be about your competency in whatever you’re doing. If you’re struggling to find what that message is, here’s an article from Hooked On Marketing on why your business needs a core message, and how to find it.
At the heart of all this should be your business website. It’s the heart of everything you do with your advertising strategy. All roads should lead to it, especially if your website is also where you sell your services or products. A good website, suitable for phones and tablets as well as a desktop experience, should encapsulate every element of your brand.
Digida’s sister company Gwe Cambrian Web have known this for 10 years. They create bespoke websites with the customer firmly rooted into the process. What’s on the screen is the core message of every business they’ve worked with. And that’s integral to building a strong brand.
So that’s it! That’s the five key elements that make up a good brand. Let us know what you think in the comments. And remember, if you need any advice on identifying your brand, get in touch!