There are some friends that are fun to party with, and others that inspire us to be better. Other friends are like trusted allies, dependable in helping us through whatever life throws at us. Each friend has their own unique qualities that make us fond of them. Not all friends are friends forever, but some leave a lasting impression on us that change us for the better.
The framework of a brand is parallel to a person. You know what a person looks like, what they sound like, even what they feel like. Otherwise, how might you identify the person amongst a crowded street of strangers? Imagine your friend and a few impersonators lined up on the sidewalk. The intrinsic personality of the friend and their unique physical qualities would help you recognize who is real and who are the impostors.
Brands have distinct personalities, using various elements to distinguish them from each other. Much like a person’s face, the logo provides the most recognizable part of the brand. Companies such as Nike and Apple have incomparable brand logo recognition as they’ve positioned themselves as household brands. This mark becomes the face of the brand, setting it apart from the rest.
While a mark is a critical part of a brand, a logo alone isn’t a brand. Building an entire visual language will help consumers pinpoint one brand over a myriad of noise. Colors play a large role in the psychology of the viewer and building certain perceptions about the type of brand represented. Fonts help communicate your tone, and gives ideas on how classic, modern, or elegant a brand may be. Adding textures or artistic elements will also prevent a bland look. A consistent design language achieves brand recognition, allowing consumers to easily identify your brand.
Messaging is the voice of your brand, and the words you choose dictate how consumers will respond. If a brand uses satire and sarcasm, and then next week chooses to spread joy and optimism, consumers will surely be tossed in a tizzy as to how to respond. A brand voice can’t be convoluted with mixed messages. Instead, one prominent voice and message will resonate with consumers above all. The words you say should be a reflection of your values, rooted in the attributes that your brand possesses.
Brands have utilized the senses to form a more holistic approach to brand recognition. Using audio branding, companies use sound and music to strengthen brand awareness. “I’m Lovin’ It” is synonymous with McDonald’s. The 20th Century Fox sequence features the famous orchestral score that lets you know the movie is starting. We recently helped sound identity leaders, Elias Music, redefine their visual language. The strategic use of sound can play an important role in positively differentiating a product, service or physical space – enhancing recall, and even creating preference. When you combine the visual language of a brand with sound, it elevates the entire brand, and allows consumers to easily identify their trusted friend.
Many consumer-facing spaces have also embraced the power of smell. Hotels and retail chains have signature scents that customers can recognize whether visiting a local store in Nashville or while visiting that same shop in Florida. Those scents linger on the products that you love, and welcome you every time you come back for more. The attention to detail allows consumers to have a seamless experience, with minimal disruption in the brand interaction. A great brand will use these elements in tandem, collaborating to create a strong perception. Just like your bestie’s peach lavender lotion lets you know they’re near, the familiarity of a smell will help form deeper connections with the brands you interact with.
Imagine if every time you spent time with your friend, they changed. Wouldn’t be friends much longer. You choose which friends to keep as you develop trust. You grow with them, tell ‘em what you like, and hopefully they keep their promises. When friends make mistakes (cue corporate PR crisis), they can communicate their thoughts and resolve their shortcomings. A strong brand overcomes – not by a single post or design choice, but by the connections and familiarity built over time.