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Corporate Identity and Brand Development

What is it? How is it created?

A brand is defined by the American Marketing Association as a name, term, sign, symbol, or combination thereof that is intended to identify and differentiate the goods or services of a seller or group of sellers. A well developed brand should introduce personality and evoke an emotional connection and trust to the product or service. Consumers should easily identify the brand visually and in many cases via tagline, tune, song and color combination.

As a branding professional, I often ask company owners and corporate executives to explain the relationship that exists between their company brand and the product(s) and service(s) that fall under that brand identity, then further explain how their target consumer perceives their brand. If they were part of the brand development process, most can explain both relationships to some degree, or even quite adequately. However, many business owners, especially new ones, seem to take their brand identity very lightly, and hire a graphic designer or friend for very little money to come up with some icon they can use to represent their company on letterhead and marketing material. Some get lucky, and end up with a logo and corporate identity that looks good and is actually meaningful.

The key to good branding is to develop a symbol, mark, and/or tagline that quickly and accurately represents the value proposition of the product or service to the primary target consumer at a glance, and should be easily remembered. A good brand might also take on the feel of the company environment. Is it a loose and free spirited type of company or service? Is it strong, secure and serious? Does it deal with money, finances, or medical procedures? Your brand should be simple enough to be used in a variety of circumstances, such as the mark of a sponsor couple with other brands on an event brochure, or as a black and white stamp.

These are all considerations when developing a corporate identity. A personal favorite is Bank of America, whose most recent logo launched, January 1st 2002, as a strongly typed "Bank of America", followed by a woven looking American flag that, to me, represents American Strength. This is a logo that can be used as a stamp effectively anywhere, either in black and white, or in color.

Several other examples of great world renowned brands are Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola, each of whom have generated huge worldwide followings due to the quality and reach of their products, and their community involvement.

The Nike swoosh, as it's affectionately referred to. Originally designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971 for a whopping $35 paycheck, it has become one of the most recognized marks throughout the world. The Nike "swoosh" reinforces the reasons that a logo should be easily recognized and easy to remember. Along with Apple and Coca-Cola, Nike maintains one of the most equitable brands in the world. Brand equity refers to the increased value of a product compared to a competitor's products based solely on the brand recognition and trust. I will write more about brand equity in another post, so stay tuned.

As a side note, in 1983, according to Wikipedia, Davidson received a gold Nike Swoosh ring with a diamond and an undisclosed amount of Nike stock from Phil Knight.

The elements of your brand consist of:

  • Name Development
  • Corporate Id and Logo Design
  • Brand Style Guide
  • Text and Tagline
  • Corporate and Placement Environment

As you begin to develop your brand, there are several questions you should answer for yourself and the designer.

  • Do our existing brands support or compete with our corporate position, or with each other?
  • Could a negative connotation to a key consumer group be derived from any existing brands? (such as a brand stamp on cattle that causes animal rights activism)
  • Are there conflicts between our corporate position and the products and services we are attempting to brand? What are they, and how do we resolve them?
  • Can the company effectively and efficiently manage the marketplace, products and technologies within its portfolio?
  • What will enable individual brand components to be managed in a way that creates a complete and compelling corporate identity?

These are questions I answer with each brand I consult on, or create. Because your brand is one or your company's most important and prominent assets, each aspect of a brand needs to be protected as intellectual property via the U.S. Department of Trademarks and Copyrights. The copyright protection of a brand establishes a clear line for others not to cross when seeking to develop their consumer facing identification. What many do not realize is that the copyright protection itself was implemented as the government's way to identify a product or service for the purpose of assigning blame in the case of mishaps.

I take great care to develop brand imagery, copy and other corporate identification to ensure that your reputation is enhanced in the marketplace, and that you have a versatile brand that will work well in a variety of settings, such as joint venture and partnered marketing applications.

About Us

A strategic business development and e-commerce consultant, I have successfully implemented hundreds of web based solutions for $1 - $1 billion plus organizations. read more




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