It’s time to bring everything you’ve learned in the What Is a Brand? series together and develop your tangible brand elements. For a refresher, be sure to follow the links to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of this series.
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Your brand is a promise that helps to create consumer perceptions and expectations through its own unique personality. Your brand is represented by tangible elements that create a visual, auditory, and olfactory brand identity. For example, your brand logo, color palette, marketing materials, letterhead, signage, messaging, and so on are all tangible representations of your brand that make up its sensory identity. If one element doesn’t fit into the brand identity, it can damage your entire brand.
As an example, consider Victoria’s Secret. This is a brand that chose a simple wordmark logo, but linked its brand identity directly with a specific color — pink. Everything about Victoria’s Secret is pink. There is no doubt that this is a brand for women. In fact, the Victoria’s Secret brand became so closely linked with the color pink in consumers’ minds that the company successfully launched an entire line of Pink branded clothing and merchandise.
Logos can also become powerful representations of a brand promise.
What do you think of when you see the Playboy logo? As a powerful symbol of your company, your logo is a valuable asset that must be protected. The Playboy logo is a perfect example of a tangible brand element that has become an important business asset. You need to protect your valuable assets, including your logo. Develop brand identity guidelines so your employees, ad agencies, business partners, and so on clearly understand how they can and cannot use your logo.
The key is consistency. Your brand elements must consistently represent your brand promise as well as consumers’ perceptions and expectations for your brand. If yours is a luxury brand and you produce homemade business cards using perforated paper and an ink-jet printer, you’ve damaged your brand perception in consumers’ minds immediately. Cheap business cards don’t match a luxury brand promise.
In other words, the tangible elements of your brand are nothing without a brand promise and consumer perceptions and expectations to give them value. What did the Twitter logo and Twitter bird mean five years ago? Nothing. It wasn’t until people experienced the brand, believed the brand promise, and their expectations were consistently met that the Twitter logo gained meaning.
What do you think the logo below meant to consumers before they had an opportunity to experience the brand and buy into the brand promise?
What about the next logo shown below? This is a brand that most people would probably think means something quite different than it actually does once they experience it and learn how the organization’s actions and branded experiences affect consumer perceptions and expectations for it.
Inconsistency is a brand killer.
Ensure that your tangible brand elements accurately reflect your brand promise and consumer perceptions of your brand as well as meet consumer expectations for your brand. If you can say yes, my brand elements achieve those things, then your brand is ready for success!
If you missed previous posts in this series, you can follow the links to read them:
- Part 1 – 5 Factors that Define a Brand
- Part 2 – The Brand Promise
- Part 3 – Brand Perceptions
- Part 4 – Brand Expectations
- Part 5 – The Brand Persona
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Images: Victoria’s Secret, The Rolling Stones, PETA