What is Branding?
Identity or branding is the process by which your small business, large corporation, institution, club or organization carves out a slice of memory in the mind of your customer. Just as a new product fights for limited space on a supermarket shelf, your company’s personality must also be implanted in the consciousness of the consumer. It’s a challenging task to cut through the clutter, especially considering the thousands of logos, marks and identity systems viewed by individuals almost every day.
Your small business can level the field of competition among bigger firms with outdated or poorly implemented branding systems. Small companies can gain a foothold in competitive markets by leveraging their carefully crafted brands using strategic implementation. Branding is a valuable business tool.
Brands are a substitute for personal relationships. In the middle ages, when the building blocks for the structure of modern corporations were being developed, business relationships were mostly face-to-face. People who supplied your needs were a part of your local community. You actually knew your grain miller, cobler, weaver, scribe, blacksmith, or town crier. If you had a problem you knew where you could find them and you relied on them. The modern brand is—in large part—the substitute for that trusted relationship. It’s how your customers perceive you.
Your brand is usually the initial and sometimes the only opportunity for your company to communicate it’s personality. Efficient identity systems will squeeze the most out the brand identity budget.
The best marks communicate by combinining abstract verbal form and literal visual imagery. Ordinary logos use common and forgettable primary and secondary shapes. Extraordinary brands require unique, memorable shapes for the best communication value. Compare ordinary logos with elegant, expressive Lucent Graphics logos.
The branding process is divided into three major steps:
- Identity Survey
- Strategy Development
- Solution Application
Lucent Graphics will conduct a comprehensive analysis of your current identity. The answers may determine if a new corporate identity program is needed or just consistent logo application is all that is necessary.
An Identity Survey will help visualize your requirements and define special problems for a possible new identity. This process can allow your company take an introspective look, helping to determine just what is is all about and what it wants to be, and can be used as a springboard to help generate enthusiasm for the new identity. An identity survey will also clarify relationships between your company and its customers, clients and suppliers or vendors.
Small businesses should adopt a mark that is appropriate for their size. Visual identity systems must match the company budget. Time, money and constant repetition are necessary to fix an abstract design securely in the eye and mind of the public. However, the ability of an abstract design to attain recognition and acceptance increases in proportion to its associative capability. Large budgets can more easily support abstract marks. More money buys more exposures of the mark, which increases market recognition.
A higher level of abstraction requires more exposures and costs more to implement. When a budget is small fewer exposures can be purchased, requiring quick and obvious recognition. A company with a small communication budget should consider choosing a low-abstract design.
Literal brands are more effective visual tools for small companies. The Scale of Abstraction (below) helps identify which method of visual communication requires more exposures to be effective.
Color relationships are a key primary trigger for emotional reactions and memory fixation. The mark must work in black and white (one color) as well as multiple colors. If the company has a standardized color scheme, elements of it may carry over to the new identity. One or more mandatory colors plus suggested alternative colors may be necessary. Spot, process color or both may be utilized. The costs of printing color should be carefully considered. The final design may indicate how many colors will be required.
- Primary and secondary “nameable” colors are the most memorable
- Color culture and psychology should be incorporated
- Color scheme should support the branding theme
Several iterations of the mark should be developed to compensate for varying optical proportions of the mark at very large (or small) sizes. The mark may be displayed electronically and variously reproduced by everything from fax machines to offset presses and on any kind of substrate including vehicles and packaging with different kinds of inks and toners. The mark may even adopt three dimensional qualities, such as extrusions, molds, stamps or embossing. Unusual applications of the mark require special production processes.
The organization (especially if it’s a large one) may slip away from the original intent of the identity in time. The company is sure to change as employees come and go. It may grow, diversify, sell off a division, buy another company or change a product line. It’s goals and aspirations may be re-evaluated and adjusted accordingly. The identity system may creep into obsolescence as the company itself changes. Each group or division in the company may employ the logo in different ways, thus degrading the appearance and diluting the impact of the identity.
Corporate Identity Manual
Tools such as corporate identity manuals and design guides are recommended to ensure integrity and consistency of application. The manual helps to standardize usage of the new mark across the entire spectrum of reproduction. The manual provides rules and guidelines that will allow anyone in the company to employ the correct colors, positions and size relationships of the mark in any reproductive process.A unique, universally recognizable identity will stand out in a sea of media messages. The world will be viewing your mark—you never get a second chance to make a first impression.