20 things you should know about branding

Are you at a business dinner and you run out of topics to talk about? Do you want better arguments to support your project proposal? Are you interested in branding but feel like you don’t know enough? Don’t panic! Little Buddha has your back. In this article we will give you 20 (yes, you read it right: TWENTY) solutions to your problems. So, without further ado, here are 20 things you should know about branding.

  1. The logo of a brand is the tip of the iceberg

Think of a brand logo as the visible part of an iceberg. Along with the logo, we can see the brand name (e.g. Nike), the tagline (e.g. Just do it), and the visual and verbal system displayed on advertisements. However, most of the brand is below the surface: The value proposition, brand architecture, audience, competition, conceptual target, brand essence… All these elements are part of the strategy that is expressed in the tip of the iceberg.

  1. Not all visual identifiers are logos

To refer to the visual identifier of a brand we usually talk about the “logo”, but many times this is not the appropriate term. Here you have a table to help you remember the terminology:

  1. A good brand strategy needs a lot of research

To build a solid brand strategy, it is necessary to first understand the product in question, the competition, its potential audience, the market and its trends, and study cases of success and failure.

  1. The “brand essence” is the core of the strategy

Once the research phase is over, the brand strategy produces a concept that consolidates everything learned. This concept is usually summed up in a few words, on which the visual identifier, the tagline, the visual and verbal system, and all the advertising campaigns are based.

  1. Conceptual target and audience are 2 different things

An example that we all know: The audience of a brand like Coca-Cola is basically the whole planet, but when the brand produces a commercial, it speaks to its conceptual target, who could be described as “those who are happy together” (families, friends, partners… always happy).

  1. The audio logo is a powerful but rarely used tool

Intel, Netflix, McDonald’s, THX, MGM, Xbox… Impossible not to listen to their audio logos when reading their names.

  1. Brand = Reputation + Identity

The brand’s identity is an expression of the strategy communicated through the visual and verbal system. However, reputation, which is the result of the brand’s performance in relation to its promise, is as important as the brand’s identity.

  1. The brand positioning lives in the mind of our key audiences

If we want to communicate “convenience”, but our main clients or internal audience think “shabby”, then our real positioning is shabby.

  1. Simple visual identifiers promote recall…

Let’s compare the first Apple logo with the current one: Which one is easier to remember? And to reproduce? Simpler means less cognitive load for our brain. For this reason, today the big brands tend to minimalism.

  1. but they make differentiation more difficult

The simpler the visual identifier, the more brands will have a similar one. That is why market research is key. In addition, an ultra-minimalist identifier will require a lot of investment to prevail over the competition.

  1. The positioning can be of 6 types…

The brand’s positioning can leverage 6 categories: Infrastructure (what you have), Product (what you offer), Process (how you do it), Personality (how you express yourself), Purpose (why you exist) and Experience (how you make feel).

  1. …and must satisfy 4 requirements

From audience’s point of view, the positioning must be Credible (given brand’s current situation), Relevant (for the audience), Sustainable (over time) and Differential (compared to the competition).

  1. Everything has its own brand: Even people…

When we present ourselves on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook or Tinder, we are conveying a positioning with a verbal and visual identity. We may not have a brand strategy, but the brand is there.

  1. and countries!

Lately, country brands have gained popularity, not only for the purpose of attracting tourists, but also to appeal to potential investors and to have a strong presence at international events.

  1. Creating a brand is creating a story

Although they are not like movies that have a script, brands have a narrative structure: They have a protagonist (associated with the conceptual target) with a mission (derived from the company’s mission), who opposes a series of values and antagonists.

  1. The name of a brand can be of 5 types in relation to its origin…

A brand name can be an existing word (Telefonica), a word composition (Microsoft), an invented word (Google), an already existing proper noun (Louis Vuitton), or a set of initials (I.B.M.).

  1. and of 4 types in relation to their communication goal

The name can be descriptive (American Airlines), semi-descriptive (Instagram), associative (Jaguar), or abstract (Apple). What matters here is not the word itself, but its relationship to the product it represents.

  1. The verbal complement is key for many brands…

The verbal complement is that phrase that joins the brand’s name and can have two purposes: To describe the business or the value proposition.

  1. but it is different from a slogan

Unlike a slogan that changes according to the campaign or the product/service offered, a verbal complement must endure the pass of time.

  1. And if you have any doubts left about how complex and important branding is…

Companies invest between 8% (e.g. financial sector) and 24% (e.g. consumer goods sector) of their income in marketing to promote their brands. Google, for example, invests in sales and marketing 12% of its revenue, estimated at $162 billion in 2019.

About the author: Xavier Puche | Head of Strategy Iberia
• Ex Client Director of Summa, Coleman, CBA & Landor
• Ex Strategy Director of Columna
• Ex Marketing Manager Maxxium
September 5th, 2020 | Branding
Little Buddha Brand Design Agency

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