If I were to say to you, “It’s the real thing,” you’d probably think of Coca-Cola. “Finger-lickin’ good” should invoke the Kentucky Fried Chicken brand. And we all know that the solid, angular, gold bowtie logo means Chevrolet.
Your company’s name, logo and slogan are typically the first thoughts in your corporate branding strategy. Corporate branding is the system of promoting the brand name of a corporate entity, apart from, but often side-by-side with the promotion of products and services. It begins to “tell the story” of your business and answers questions like, “What’s your corporate identity and values?” Corporate branding ties together your company’s vision, culture and public image.
But corporate branding goes beyond shapes, colors, images and catch phrases. It’s about how you conduct business at every step, what makes you unique, and more importantly, provides structure for how you tell your story in everyday business interactions.
Invoking a Feeling with Brand Recognition
Most of us realize the value and power of brand recognition. Many remember “Quality is Job 1,” the heavily-advertised slogan from the 80’s to help Ford compete with giants like Toyota and Honda. Today Ford’s slogan is “Go Further.” Global director of marketing, Elena Ford, said it’s an internal reminder to set the bar high after recent years of profits. Her way of explaining that could be a slogan as well. She said, “We go further so you can.” (Woodall, Bernie. “Ford’s New Ad Slogan: Go Further.” Autonews.com. Crain Communications, Inc., 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. http://www.autonews.com/article/20120124/RETAIL03/120129953/1018)
Brand recognition begins with the company name, logos, slogans or tag lines – these are the short, visually impactful, sometimes almost subliminal messages the public gets used to seeing and hearing. The cool thing about branding is that its very purpose is to invoke recognition and “feeling”.
“Go Further,” is a call for the company’s workers to excel at their jobs and create products that sell and keeps the profits rolling. But what feelings does it invoke in the car-buying consumer? For me, it produces an image of form and function in a car that I not only enjoy driving every day, but that I’m confident will take me anywhere I want to venture for 200,000 miles or more. These messages, or feelings, convey culture, identity and vision to both internal and external audiences.
Get the Creative Juices Flowing
In December’s blog we talked about Mission and Vision Statements. Your name, logo and slogan are all descriptions of your mission and vision. Remember, your branding must convey the vision of your company or business, the culture, mindset or your way of doing business, and lastly the image you want the public to associate to your business.
When tying your branding to your mission and vision, here are some questions to help you produce something creative and memorable that builds that brand awareness:
Naming your Company
- Does your name describe what you do and who you are? Example: ‘Auto Shop’ may describe your business, but ‘Dirk’s European Auto’ adds identity and describes a specialty.
- Is your name catchy? Example: ‘Salon’ ‘Cultured Curls’
- Alliterations: Bob’s Big Boy (restaurant), or Chrissy’s Cultured Curls
- Is the domain name available? Many companies are purchasing the domain name now before filing for the trademark. To learn more about choosing a domain name, please see our post at http://www.1402webpage.com/website-basics-an-introduction-to-important-terms-and-concepts-7.
- Choose the right adjective. Example: Epic Records and Epic Sports are well-known companies, not Awesome Records or Awesome Sports.
- Make sure to do an exhaustive copyright search. (One place to include in that search is http://www.uspto.gov.)
Developing a Logo
- Is it graphically attractive? In other words, is the image sharp? Is it neither too simple nor too complex? Are the colors, lines and shapes complimentary and flowing?
- Depending on your geography, some business adopt colors, shapes and images of the local high school or college.
- Is it unique? Think use of fonts. Think of artistic impression.
- Does it represent something through imagery? Example: A landscaper’s logo could include a tree, retaining wall, or something as simple as a dewy leaf.
- Avoid “Substantial Similarity” by learning about copyright infringement guidelines.
Creating a Slogan
- Is it short? Two to six words can be both easy to remember and descriptive.
- Does it invoke an image? Think “Finger Lickin’ Good.” Those three short words paint a far better picture than “Great Tasting Chicken You’ll Love to Eat,” plus it’s much more creative.
- Is it tied directly to your mission and vision statement? Read them again, and again, and again. They’re the guiding principles for your slogan.
- Choose the two or three most impactful or meaningful words from your mission statement and build the slogan around them – play with the order or words.
Test Your Branding
Now that you’ve created what you think are the perfect name, logo and slogan, test the market. You can hire a professional facilitator to lead focus group testing, or you can do it on your own by inviting friends, family members, social or church groups, etc. to participate. One word of caution, your friends may be hesitant to give their honest opinions and risk hurting your feelings. Make sure to tell them that you need their honest input. Pay extra careful attention to replies from persons in your target demographic and psychographic audience. Remember that their input is important to help keep you on track, but that you are captain of your own ship. Ultimately, the choice is up to you as to what to do. If your formal or informal research goes contrary to expectations, be prepared to attempt it again with a different group and to learn from it. Some of the best business and scientific discoveries have been from looking at data that gave unexpected results. This could create opportunites unimagined before.
Corporate Branding and Marketing Strategies
Once you have decided on your corporate and branding strategies, look for every opportunity to showcase and reinforce them. One of the first places people do this is putting the logo and slogan on your website and business cards. Now break out your marketing plan . Think of how more and more people can see and hear your branding. Print, radio and television ads; brochures, flyers and press releases; promotional items like pens, refrigerator magnets, mugs, stress balls – the list is endless. Some of the best reminders or promotional items are those that are easily seen and used by the client or potential client. Take, for example, that little windshield decal reminding you when to get your next oil change, strategically placed at eye level, with the name and branding of their company.
Global to Local
While we’ve been talking mostly about mega-corporations who spend hundreds of millions in advertising, corporate branding can still be accomplished on the small, local or regional business scale. You may not have a world-wide ad agency at your disposal, but smaller, local resources are plentiful. We encourage you to ask us questions about finding resources that provide affordable solutions to work within your budget and let us know how we can help.
Whether you’re conceptualizing a new business, getting ready to launch, or have been in business for years, you can always create or revitalize your corporate branding strategy. Many long-existing businesses gain new customers and momentum simply by “re-launching” their brand with fresh new branding.
With a little more understanding into the long-term, positive effects of branding, and help from some expert resources, you can create new opportunities to increase and maximize the public and brand awareness of your business.
As always, we invite your feedback and questions.