When organizations develop a brand, many often stop at the logo, and believe it is sufficient to portray what they would like to communicate. In reality, the process of creating a successful brand starts long before the public sees any of the visuals.
“I think that one of the biggest misconceptions is that brand and logo are synonymous, and that your brand doesn't extend beyond your logo or maybe beyond your corporate identity package – letterhead, business cards, etc. The reality is that a brand is much more than that,” said Heather Williamson, Graphic Designer with BKDI Architects.
So, what is a brand? A brand is the character or idea associated with a specific company, product or service – essentially its personality. It is identified not only by a name, logo, or tagline but also by fundamentals such as its core values, mission statement, and philosophy. Brands are visually communicated through design elements which would include imagery, typography, colour, iconography, and key messaging.
Charmaine Bradley, Graphic Designer with BKDI Architects, says that the branding process has to start with the primary advocates – the company's employees. “It's critical that members of the organization have a clear understanding of the brand,” she explains. “Clearly defining your brand and communicating that internally so it can subsequently be expressed externally is the first step towards creating a successful brand,” adds Heather.
A brand is evident from the moment someone encounters it, whether on a conscious or subconscious level. Brand encounters vary – whether it be by way of a business card, website, grocery store shelf, billboard, signage, or advertisement – but ultimately, elicit an immediate and intuitive response, not unlike meeting someone for the first time. Within the first few seconds of perceiving something new, we form an opinion that determines whether we like it. As we know, first impressions are lasting ones, thus the importance of ensuring that a first encounter with your brand is a positive and memorable one.
Creating memorability also goes a long way in developing a successful brand. Consistently communicating what your brand represents through graphic design reinforces your company's promise to clients and consumers. “Clients will come back if they feel like they can depend on your brand,” said Charmaine. Ultimately, providing reliability helps create consumer loyalty.
Whether you are developing a new brand or reworking your existing one, keep in mind that your brand extends beyond your logo and that clear and consistent communication, both within your company and externally to the public, are key in thoughtfully approaching this important aspect of your business.