8: Putting it all together

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So far, we’ve established what brands represent; the promises that companies or organisations make to their audiences, as well as how they fulfil them. Also, that there is a visual presentation, or ‘brand language’, used to distinguish individual brands when communicating with those audiences.

How can these ideas and elements be combined effectively to produce brand communications that demand attention? Put simply, they must all work together seamlessly to present a set of coherent and distinctive messages.

For starters, try answering the following questions about your business:

– what do you do?
– what does it stand for and represent?
– what makes it special?
– what do your potential customers expect from you and how you will meet those expectations?

This gives you the essential information needed to formulate almost any piece of brand communication, from business cards, to websites and brochures.

As every business will have different answers to most of the questions above, each situation will result in very different presentations of visual and textual information, often referred to as ‘brand identity’. Brand communications for Rice Krispies, Apple Computer and Zoo Safari show how different those outcomes can be.

Rice Krispies

Apple Computer

Zoo Safari

The series of Mitchell and Webb Apple ads for Apple Computer make a great case study. In terms of the quality of communication, here are a few things that stand out.

1) Humour: for me, the best thing about them is that they’re funny. People remember humour, it is infectious and therefore we like to share it with others
2) Simplicity: essentially the ads focus on the obvious differences between Macs and PCs. Macs are easier to use, are more fun and break down less often.
3) Most importantly, the whole series supports the brand and market positioning of Apple, which is to make technology more useful, more fun and more desirable than its competitors.

The challenge for Apple is to continue to deliver on this promise, through every new product development and brand communication.

Brand healthcheck

What can you do to check the health of your brand and its communications?

Try the ‘Table Test’…

Gather all of your branded collateral from the last year or two and spread them out across a table. Include printouts from your website pages too. Are the messages consistent? Do the visual and textual messages look and sound as if they come from the same place? Does the quality of the imagery do justice to the quality of your products or services? Is it interesting to look at and read? Most importantly, how does it stack up against your competitors?

If all of the answers are positive, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done (at least for another six months when you need to check it again). If not, you’ll need to get some professional help. We’ll look at what this means in the next post.