Brand designs: David Clarke takes a look at the role of branding
Successful branding builds trust and an emotional attachment. It communicates a strong, consistent message about the values of the organisation and provides the foundation for user and stakeholder loyalty.
Strong brands are able to liberate organisations from the tyranny of comparing features and functions. They capitalise on the power of emotion. So often, user decisions are instinctively emotional, only becoming rationalised after the event. An organisation’s brand is the projection of its personality and values so that it is no longer a commodity but the sum of all the added values that will differentiate that organisation from its competitors.
The brand represents the perceptions that people have about the organisation. It is the sum total of experiences, whether that is how the phone is answered or in the handling of a complaint. The whole brand experience therefore has to be coherent.
So the brand promise must be upheld across all points of contact, otherwise the brand risks being damaged, and it can ‘touch’ your audiences in a number of ways:
- Identity – the design of logos, letterheads, uniforms, stationery etc.
- Communication – press release, websites, brochures, social media… anything that communicates with stakeholders
- Behaviour – the internal and external values and characteristics of the organisation’s culture and how those translate into how it behaves.
Experience also shows that there are three key principles of effective branding:
- Successful brands are built on real values – that’s what makes then credible and that’s why internal behaviours need to be consistent with the brand message
- Powerful brands come from having a clear, inspiring vision
- The process is strategic, not a quick fix solution.
The process for achieving successful brand development involves:
- Extensive and comprehensive stakeholder consultation
- Articulation of the analysis of findings in the form of a positioning statement.
The positioning statement describes the characteristics of the organisation, rather than what it does – it brings out the points of competitive difference and might use technical competences, customer testimonials, case studies or research findings as evidence.
Its primary value is in acting as a template for all brand communications activity, ensuring completeness and consistency of key messages.
My thanks to my former colleague, David Beech (now retired) for all his help and guidance on how to implement effective branding.
David Clarke is managing director and Head of Strategic Communications at Clarke Associates UK Ltd.
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