The brand reflects the message you want to convey to your customer base. It could be an original name, logo or slogan.
A brand is a series of values which the customer spontaneously associates with a company. Care should be taken that the brand matches the image you want to convey. The questions to ask yourself are as follows:
- What is my main skill which sets me apart from my competitors and makes me unique? You should avoid highlighting a feature which your competitors can easily copy (for example, offering “the lowest prices”).
- What is the main advantage I provide to my customers, the reason they come and buy from me? In the case of a brand like Volvo, this is “the safest car”.
- What are the words, images and ambiances I would like to see associated with my name? Conseco, an American insurance company aimed at the middle class, decided to associate its name with a Labrador. Rolex chose a golden crown as its logo and named one of its collections “Oyster”, because this was the first waterproof watch.
- Is my brand credible? Do the values it conveys match my offering? It is not possible to establish a luxury image by only offering low-cost products.
The advantages of a strong brand
A good reputation is interpreted by the customer as the promise that they will be entitled to a certain level of service and quality. They may, therefore, purchase more easily, because they trust the brand. They will also come back, because consumers are fond of the companies they know and like. This aspect is even more important for online companies, which do not have a physical presence to reassure consumers.
A strong image also makes it possible to distinguish a company from its competitors. It makes it more visible, and makes it stand out from the crowd. It also means it can fix its prices at a higher level, because people are prepared to spend more for the products they trust.
A name, a logo and a slogan
Once the brand content and message are defined, you need to embody them through:
- A name. This must be unique, memorable, easy to spell and pronounce and not generate associations with unpleasant or negative ideas (even in other languages). You should also check that the domain name is available and that there are no competitors with the same name. There are several types of name:
- The owner’s name: Audemars Piguet or Bobst. The risk is that the company is too strongly associated with its founder and is difficult to transfer in the future.
- A name connected to the company’s origin or place of business: Helvetia Assurances or Henniez. You must ensure that you do not get lost in the plethora of similar names in the region (see all the company names that contain the word “Swiss”).
- A descriptive name, connected to the company’s business: Publicitas, Cremo or Swissmetal. The risk is that this lacks originality. And if you decide to extend or change your area of business, it loses its relevance.
- A name that reflects the values of the company, like Smart (card) which means “intelligent”. This type of name requires a significant marketing effort so that the customers make the connection with the company’s business.
- An invented name which sometimes still manages to convey the company’s soul, such as Migros, which (in French) denotes the intention to offer some products at wholesale prices and others at retail prices. These names share the same problem as names reflecting the company values.
- A logo. The colors and typography chosen should reflect the personality of the brand. If you want to convey a traditional or retro image, you can choose a serif typeface. To look modern and simple, use a sans-serif typeface. If you are targeting an older market, it is better not to use a font size of less than 10 points.
- A slogan. A slogan should instantly capture the consumer’s attention, surprise (generate shock, laughter, etc.) and inform. It should also be positive, succinct and credible. When Volkswagen launched its slogan “Think small” to promote its new Beetle in 1959, the group bucked the trend at the time, which favored large, powerful family cars. The car was hugely successful.
Present your brand in a number of ways
A brand is presented via a series of media:
- The trademark
- The website
- Advertising posters, radio or TV adverts, promotional emails
- Social networks
- Business cards and letterhead
- Employee uniforms
- The annual report
It is crucial that the communication (logo, promotional material, slogan etc.) reflects the brand. The tonality, colors and message of this material should also be consistent. If you want to convey a luxury image, you cannot sell your products in cheap plastic bags. Similarly, if you want to convey a budget brand impression, you will not usually choose a stylized gold typeface.
It is also better to favor traditional formats. A business card which is too small or too big does not fit in standard card holders. Paper which is too thin gives the impression of being easily crumpled and pre-cut business cards with untidy edges should also be avoided.
Source: Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies, Barbara Findlay Schenck, John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2012.