When Is It Time For A Name Change?

When Is It Time For A Name Change?

Dunkin’ Donuts recently announced that it was considering dropping ‘Donuts’ from its name in selected stores. A Pasadena, California location is to be the first with the Dunkin’ only branding. This new naming will highlight that there is more to the brand than the products it’s well-known for, according to a spokesperson.

“While we remain the number one retailer of donuts in the country, as part of our efforts to reinforce that Dunkin’ Donuts is a beverage-led brand and coffee leader, we will be testing signage in a few locations that refer to the brand simply as “Dunkin’,” according to a company statement. “We have been referring to ourselves simply as Dunkin’ in our advertising for more than a decade, ever since we introduced our ‘America Runs on Dunkin’ campaign.”

Is this a smart move?

Identity, meaning, and recognition are the most powerful elements of a brand name. A great name tags a brand’s character. You know what to expect from the way the brand identifies itself. Casual, credible, functional … great names capture the nature of what they describe. Powerful brand names also hint at hidden meaning. Sometimes, they carry within them the synopsis of a story. And of course, names provide us with cues as consumers. We recognize them. They give us something to ask for, and something to look for.

So if the Dunkin Donuts name already has a clear personality why would the company look at changing it? It means a lot to plenty of people and it’s very recognized. There are arguments for and against such a move. Coca Cola changed to Coke, and Starbucks dropped Coffee from its’ name. But when Pizza Hut tried to become “The Hut” it reverted under public pressure. Consumers dismissed the initiative as an unfashionable attempt to be fashionable.

So when should a brand look at changing its name? If you want to signal a change in strategic focus, and if the name change will serve greater meaning, resonance, and value for consumers and customers, then do it.

Let’s apply those three criteria to Dunkin’ Donuts proposed name change: Does “Dunkin’” as a name carry greater value than the original? Yeah, sure, it gets around the recognition issue in that half the original name is there. And since people want minimalism and simplicity, it could bring greater resonance to a market where it’s harder and harder to stand out.

As for the third criteria, only time will tell whether consumers see enhanced value in the abbreviated version. After all, the company is currently the undisputed leader in the donut industry with a greater than 60% market share and a presence that runs to 11,300 restaurants globally.

What’s the biggest risk here? Messing with the brand essence too much confuses customers. You put doubt in the consumer’s mind as you force them to ask if that new brand is still the same product they used to buy or a completely new product. This changes consumer expectations erodes the hard-earned reputation and can result in a drop in sales due to the confusion you as a brand owner create.

Here is the real question: what benefit will shoppers get from the Dunkin’ brand that they don’t get from Dunkin’ Donuts? In terms of association and experience, is anything going to be different? If not (the company has talked about rolling out a new image, with emphasis on beverages and leadership in coffee), then what exactly does the change signal?

Every change you make to your brand is a signal to the market that things will not be as they were. What Dunkin’ Donuts seems to be signaling though is a shift that could feel like a brand looking to keep up with the times. People may like that, and welcome it. Or they may not. Because they may see value in it happening, or they may perceive no important difference—in which case they might prefer that things stay as they are.

50 Ways to Differentiate Your brand

50 Ways to Differentiate Your brand

Everybody wants a brand that’s different. The irony of that statement is intentional. It belies the conservative manner in which most brands approach competitive difference.

They say they want to be distinctive to consumers but often, in their heart of hearts, they actually want to align (read conform) with the rest of the industry. One of the key issues for that is an uncertainty on the part of brand makers and decision makers to find a starting point.

In some ways that’s actually less difficult and daunting than it first appears. Begin with a premise that is truly one degree away from your rivals. By logically progressing that premise over time, and with strong discipline, you will build a brand that is consistently and markedly different.

Here’s 50 ways you can create a meaningful difference for your brand:

Go slow in a world of speed. Each Rolex takes a year to manufacture. The perception that a longer process is needed to build the world’s best timepiece also reinforces the value.

Use country of origin to your advantage. Brands from Switzerland are highly associated with precision and fine craftsmanship. Seek to build brand associations with countries that support your reputation for service, manufacturing, innovation etc.

Behave differently. Online shoe retailer Zappos has built its advantage on an iron clad return policy and customer service that goes above and beyond, breaking down the perceived barriers of selling and buying shoes online.

Look different. Apple always looks like Apple. Diesel always looks like Diesel. Absolut Vodka always looks like Absolut. They’re in a sector but they don’t look like part of the sector.

Be the underdog in a sector where everyone else wants to be top dog. Nantucket Nectars started “with only a blender and a dream,” and Clif Bar proclaims that its founder once lived in a garage. Underdogs win the compassionate consumer. Look for the underdog story you can tell.

Be truly and unapologetically shocking. Benetton’s “Unhate” campaign ruffled feathers on almost every front. But – and this is critical – the outrage you generate must link to a solution and that solution should be your front. Otherwise, you simply risk shouting into the wind.

Expand your appeal. “Discover” an untapped audience in your sector and, by drawing them in, intensify the sense of community around your brand and the interaction that people have with the brand. Enterprise Rent-A-Car did just that by offering leasing at a time when competitors did not. By serving this unmet need with attention to customer experience, Enterprise became the world’s number 1 car rental company. Apple too saw what others did not. No one was asking for an iPhone, but an untapped audience emerged when new value in the form of a cell phone was introduced.

(Re)Invent a category – and own it. UFC became the fastest growing sports organization in the world by redefining the reach and the audience for mixed martial arts. Today, UFC produces more than 30 live events annually and is the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world. Swatch differentiated from other watch brands by focusing on self-expression rather than precision.

Create a new category. The Toyota Prius, the Nintendo Wii, and Red Bull are all brands that created new categories, outside the established norms of their product category. By stepping outside the bounds of their categories, these brands created a space that they can call their own.

Tell a story that defines you and is unique to you. The story may be about your founder as in the case with Virgin and Richard Branson, your heritage like Hickory Farms or the value you bring to the world like Coca-Cola’s Open Happiness. It may also be based in imagination – like the thought that Keebler elves make Keebler cookies. Or perhaps it’s a story based on your highly guarded secret – only two people in the world know Coca-Cola’s formula. Your story may also be about the source of your product, service or inspiration.

Forge new ground in the spirit of your founder. Chanel continues to personify the philosophies, ideals and legend of Coco Chanel long after her death.

Leverage your history to define tomorrow. National Geographic have redefined what it means to experience the world we never see by expanding their channels and offerings while still holding their history close.

Own an eternal idea. Red Bull expresses in every action its belief in, and addiction to, excitement. Ingredients, spirit, sponsorships and the human desire to do things that make the heart race are inextricably linked. Dove owns and serves the idea of real beauty. lululemon finds its eternal idea in the mind state of yoga and has built a powerful athletic apparel brand on that concept.

Change the possibilities. This is about more than just product innovation. It’s about the introduction of technologies that completely change how people can live. Boeing redefined travel forever with the 747. Google may well redefine how we can see with Google Glass. Dyson changed the possibilities by reinventing old technologies like the vacuum, hand dryer and fan.

Make active plans to be where others aren’t (yet). This article looks at the fact that while Chinese consumers are now overwhelmed by Western brands and doing business in Greater China has become very expensive, other countries in Asia with booming economies like Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines remain largely overlooked.

Solve a global problem. “Big bang” solutions in areas like pharmaceuticals or biotechnology require huge investment and scary timeframes, but when they work, they deliver huge distinction, kudos and profits. A “Big Bang” solution can come from any brand — TOM’s (pictured) seeks to solve the problem of children without shoes. TOM’s matches every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes for a child in need. One for One.

Build groundswell. Do something startling to generate attention. Use attention to build a crowd. Use a crowd to gain credibility. Use credibility as the jumping off point for your next distinctive act. Red Bull, Virgin and Apple should come to mind.

Redefine how people buy. With millions of products, 24/7 access, superior search and browse technology, user reviews and many other sources of in-depth product information, Amazon.com offers a superior purchase experience.

Bring unprecedented optimism to a sector. Nike redefined what people believed they should be capable of.

Connect the previously unconnected. LinkedIn brought business people together so that they could network and share ideas in a way that was effortless, credible and global. In doing that, they resolved a problem that no-one realized they had until they saw the potential for what they would now be able to do.

Rewrite the experience. Southwest Airlines put the fun, the quirkiness and the savings back into the serious and process-packed world of travel. Starbucks differentiated not on coffee, but a ‘third place’ – a respite between home and work.

Make what you sell feel even more personal. This great infographic hints at how much further retailers could take personalization.

Link your brand to specific occasions. Habits are powerful, but occasions may be even more so. They engage us so effectively because they combine time and focus. And because of that, they provide permission – it’s OK to behave this way or that. It’s OK to do something you wouldn’t do on any ordinary day. De Beers, Hallmark, Mercedes, Hershey, Cadbury, MACY’s and others have tapped into occasions or created occasions and have made themselves synonymous with the celebration of those occasions.

License to brand. Brand licensing can bring valuable new meaning to a brand, further differentiating it from its competitors. Pillsbury licenses the Cinnabon brand to do just that for its cinnamon rolls. Colgate licenses Disney characters to increase its brand appeal.

Break away from conventional wisdom. Breakaway brands bring new meanings to the party and make the most of the stretch, holding on to enough of the old to avoid category defection. Breakaway brands stretch the boundaries and live as outliers. These brands are the opposite of the well-behaved brands in the category and consequently provide radical differentiation from the status quo. Cirque du Soleil is one such brand. It falls into the “circus” category, but this brand has skillfully crafted a highly valued and differentiated positioning as everything a circus is not. There are no tents, tigers and elephants. No ringmasters. Instead it borrows attributes from other entertainment categories like, dance, music, opera and theater. It becomes something all together different–far outside the bounds of a conventional circus.

Change the name. Sometimes your original name doesn’t sound like it would be something you would want to put in your mouth. Like a Chinese gooseberry. When the name was changed to kiwi fruit, the world suddenly had a new favorite fruit that it wanted to put in its mouth.

Personify. The Green Giant character became the difference in a family of vegetables in many forms. Frank Perdue became the tough man behind the tender chicken. The Gecko became the much-loved spokesperson for GEICO.

Create a new item. The cantaloupe people wanted to differentiate a special, big cantaloupe. But rather than call them just plain “big,” they introduced Crenshaw melons. Tyson wanted to sell miniature chickens, which doesn’t sound very appetizing. So it introduced Cornish game hens.

Reposition the category. Pork was just pig for many years. Then the industry jumped on the chicken bandwagon and became “the other white meat.” That was a very good move when red meat became a perceptual problem.

Identify, identify, identify. Ordinary bananas became better bananas when a small Chiquita label was added to the fruit. Dole did the same for pineapple with the Dole label, as did the lettuce people by putting each head into a clear Foxy lettuce package. Of course, you then have to communicate why people should look for these labels.

Be the expert or specialist. The specialist can focus on one product, one benefit, and one message. This focus enables the marketer to put a sharp point on the message that quickly drives it into the mind. Domino’s can focus on home delivery. Pizza Hut has to talk about its different pizzas, home delivery, and sit-down service.

Price with pride. Starbucks prices its coffee higher to raise perceptions of the quality of its coffee.  Singapore Airlines, the most profitable airline in the world, does the same thing and always sells at a premium. In each case, the price is a signal of supremacy – differentiation via perceived quality.

Use Ingredient Brands. The North Face uses Gore-Tex technology to differentiate. In the PC space the Intel brand adds to the product’s perceived performance. Each brings noticeable differences in their own right.

Highly target a market. Who you focus on can create a unique point of difference. Consider FOX News, an American news outlet designed to serve the Republican Party and its supporters. This laser focus has made it synonymous with conservative views and policies, creating by far the strongest commercial brand associated with those views. Wegmans Supermarkets believes that happy customers are generated by happy employees. They have built their powerful brand on the mantra that their employee’s are number one.

Change the reach. How your product or service reaches a customer can set you apart. Redbox specializes in the rental of DVD’s and video games. Through an easy to use kiosk it differentiates from its competitor Netflix and helped seal the fate of Blockbuster. Amazon has a futuristic plan to deliver some orders via drone.

Give unprecedented access. The reason people flew Concorde was the opportunities that could come from who you would sit next to. You weren’t paying for a faster flight, you were paying for the company. Country clubs in Asia are the same. It’s not about the game of golf; it’s about the networking. For Citibank’s Citi Private Pass card holders the unique value is in the preferred access at entertainment events.

Share values. When a brand is built on shared values it can differentiate on those values and enjoy perhaps the strongest bond in the marketing world. Think of any brand that really matters and you’ll discover the type of people buying the stuff are the same type of people who design, make and sell the stuff. This is the awesome sauce of brand values and brand identity alignment. Apparel brands like Patagonia, L.L. Bean, and The North Face understand the importance of shared values. The bond that binds is a deep inter-personal connection between the users and the makers.

Stand for something your customers want to stand for. In the same manner as the enthusiast apparel brands mentioned in #37, Kashi cereal customers see themselves, their values, and their identities in complete harmony with the Kashi brand. They’re one and the same. Likewise, the Kashi people care about the same stuff as their consumer– greater health and well-being for themselves and the planet. For Kashi, making food that enhances life is sacred business. For Kashi customers, living well is sacred business. More people are waking up to caring more about others and our planet, and buying Kashi products too. Your brand can differentiate as being the do-good brand in your space.

Give them something to unwrap. Package design offers one of the biggest opportunities for brand differentiation. Color, shape, size, functionality, texture and materials can influence purchase decisions. There’s no mistaking a Tiffany & Co. box and its distinctive blue. Innovative packaging proves another signature differentiator for Apple as well as Tropicana which learned the value of this difference when it attempted to redesign its packaging.

Engage the senses. Every marketer should explore the senses when ideating brand differentiation strategies. Each of the five senses offer a channel to connect with your target customer and flex a point of difference. The more each of these are engaged at any one time during customer contact the more your brand and what it stands for will be remembered. Scent branding in the hotel world is one example. Sofitel, Le Meridién, The Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Sheraton and Marriott are some of the hotel brands employing a signature scent strategy to further move away from their competitors.

Put a famous face to your famous brand. The age-old strategy of pairing products and services with a well known celebrity continues to be a viable option for brand differentiation. However, the rules have changed. There must be an authentic alignment between the brand and the celebrity. Case in point: Tiger Woods and Nike Golf: Yes. Tiger Woods and Buick: No. The association between brand and celebrity must be clear and obvious.

Redefine usage. How your product is used can serve as a key differentiator. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda became much more when customers discovered it also made for a powerful air freshener. This helped Arm & Hammer not only extend into new categories but also create a multi-use brand that is more meaningful to its target customers.

Introduce simplicity and purity into people’s cluttered lives. Stand for good things. Market highly valued values. With deep customer insight you will know what your target customers value most. That insight can help create highly valued brands. Honest Tea was born from the insight that simple and pure refreshment was missing from the market. The Method brand came to life through a quest to create household cleaning products that were not harmful.

Tap into the power of emotions. Linking your brand with customer emotions can prove an effective differentiator. It was humor that helped GEICO pull away in the me-too world of insurance brands. While their competition focused on fear, GEICO used witty and funny campaigns to differentiate itself and gain an advantage. Brands like Hallmark found brand differentiation based on human emotions could lead to a 92% mind share.

Control the accessibility. Brands can differentiate on when they make their products and services available and who they make that accessibility for. Elite luxury brands will limit how many of its signature products are manufactured. The most influential customers will have access to those products first. This all builds into the frenzy that drives desire and purchase of the brand. It also helps command a premium price. Brands like Coca-Cola use accessibility on the other end of the spectrum. They desire to be the most accessible brand and have distribution channels into the deepest regions of the world.

Focus on design and aesthetics. Consider Hermès scarves, Vilebrequin men’s swimwear, Robert Graham shirts and Alexander McQueen fashion wear. Or how about the Michael Graves Design’s collection at Target? This helps college and university brands too. Beautiful campuses tend to attract students. For municipality brands, “attractive neighborhoods” rates as one of the top things people consider when deciding where to live. Camden, ME, Niagara-on-the-Lake (ON, Canada), Quebec City (QC, Canada) and Bruges, Belgium are very popular as tourist destinations, in large part due to their superior aesthetics. Never underestimate the power of superior aesthetics to differentiate.

Convey status. If you knew I went to Philips Academy, Andover, Harvard and Stanford, lived in Atherton, CA, summered in Nantucket, drove a Mercedes-Benz model S-class, and sailed a Nautor’s Swan53, would these brands effectively communicate my social status?

Create a unique product purchase experience. How different is purchasing a teddy bear with a child in a Build-A-Bear Workshop versus buying one off the shelf in a typical toy or department store? Very different. And very differentiating.

Create an unusual theme or twist to your brand. Consider the following unusual restaurant brands – Opaque (dining in the dark), Ice Restaurant (in Dubai), Underwater restaurant in Maldives, Magic Restroom (toilet-themed) Café in CA or Dinner in the Sky (suspended 50 meters above the ground). For more creative restaurant themes, see here.

Treat people differently than your competitors do. We love Ritz-Carlton’s “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” mantra. This alludes to a level of gentility, civility and respect not often experienced in product purchase or usage experiences. If an opportunity to serve your customer better does not exist — create one.

To be different is to be not the same. To be unique is to be one of a kind.

Be different and be unique with a meaningful difference for those most important to your future.

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What Being An Admired Brand Does For Your Business

What Being An Admired Brand Does For Your Business

The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a name, term, symbol, and/or design that’s intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competition.

However, we argue that a brand is more than a mere name that helps with identification and differentiation. Identifying a brand and differentiating it from competing brands only makes sense when the brand offers value. We define a brand as a value-generating entity (name) relevant to both customers and the brand owner. If no one wants to buy the brand, the name doesn’t have much market relevance. Such a brand fails to provide value to either the company or customers. But what does it mean to say that a brand offers value to customers and companies? Let’s first consider what we mean by brand value to companies.

Surprisingly, we have paid so much attention to brands as identifiers and marketplace differentiators that we have not paid much attention to the substantial, real, and strategic benefits that brands can provide to companies. But these benefits are numerous and significant.

What An Admired Brand Does

  1. Revenue Generator: An admired brand increases customer loyalty and attracts new customers.
  2. Cost-Efficiency Enhancer: An admired brand is in demand, which allows the company to take advantage of economies of scale and allows the company to enjoy cost-saving customer brand loyalty and brand advocacy behaviors.
  3. Growth Facilitator: An admired brand facilitates the introduction and success of its extensions to other markets and other products.
  4. Human-Capital Builder: An admired brand helps recruit and retain talented people who will ultimately determine the company’s success in the market place.
  5. Employee-Morale Booster: An admired brand motivates employees to protect and strengthen the brand.
  6. Second-Chance Provider: An admired brand enhances customers’ willingness to forgive mistakes made by a company.
  7. Market Protector: An admired brand serves as a barrier to entry to future competitors.
  8. Alliance Facilitator: An admired brand facilitates alliances with desirable and powerful external partners.
  9. Asset Builder: An admired brand enhances the company’s marketplace value, and also allows it to demand a premium price in a brand-selling situation.

Revenue Generator: An admired brand increases customer loyalty and attracts new customers. These twin outcomes enhance a brand’s revenue. Although producing a soft drink is not rocket science, new entrants find it incredibly hard to compete in this market, since most customers have a strong and long-standing preference for a particular soft drink brand. And this holds true worldwide. A strong brand also increases revenue by making customers less price sensitive, allowing companies to charge a higher per-unit price. Think about the price premium brands such as McKinsey and Goldman Sachs can charge in the marketplace.

Cost-Efficiency Enhancer : An admired brand is in demand, which allows the company to take advantage of economies of scale. Strong brands also create favorable word of mouth (WOM) and customer evangelists who further contribute to marketing efficiency by lowering marketing costs. In fact, some brands became marketplace successes purely through WOM. Trader Joe’s is an example. Think about the stories customers relate about the unique products they can get only at Trader Joe’s. China’s Xiaomi, a tech company, relies entirely on brand communities and WOM from its fans for publicity and brand-promoting activities. Or consider the pride customers take in their durable Patagonia jackets and the stories they share about them. Since advertising and promotion costs often eat up a substantial portion of companies’ budgets, enormous cost efficiencies are realized by fan-based WOM.

Growth Facilitator : An admired brand can be leveraged and extended, creating growth (and revenue) from new product or market categories. An admired brand makes it easier for companies to grow and grow efficiently, through product and brand extensions that use the brand name. Such extensions help the company’s overall growth. Oracle grew by extending its brand to a portfolio of cloud and mobile solutions. Apple’s extensions have allowed it to grow from $19.3 billion in 2006 to $234 billion in December of 2015.

Human-Capital Builder: An admired brand helps recruit and retain talented people who will ultimately determine the company’s marketplace success. Talent is the most difficult core competency for competitors to copy. Think about Google and Tesla’s abilities to attract top talent. Admired brands attract top talent at all levels of the organization.

Employee-Morale Booster: An admired brand also motivates employees to protect and strengthen the brand. Employees of admired brands are more committed to nurturing customers than are employees working for brands with no discernable equity. Why? Because they believe in the brand and are proud of what they do to help it flourish. Costco, which can be called an admired brand, has higher employee morale than competitor companies in the same industry. Employees who work for companies ranked as most admired in their industries take pride in the company’s success, and they work harder to protect and strengthen the company’s reputation. Executives who manage admired brands are even willing to accept lower pay for the opportunity to work for the brand.

Second-Chance Provider: An admired brand also enhances customers’ willingness to forgive unfortunate mistakes made by a company, giving it another chance to redeem itself. Martha Stewart, Paula Deen, Toyota, Nike, and Harley-Davidson, to name just a few, have all fallen victim to brand gaffes and disasters. Yet the strength of their brands, the loyalty of their customer bases, and their customers’ willingness to see brand mistakes as rare and unusual events have helped them to recover.

Market Protector: An admired brand protects companies by serving as a barrier to competitive brand entry. Customers are reluctant to switch from an admired brand to a new one unless the benefits of the new brand are sufficiently compelling to motivate switching. Customers’ familiarity with admired brands provides comfort via what they know and have experienced. Their affection for a brand they know and admire makes them unwilling to invest in a new and untried brand. History shows that while many companies can produce athletic clothing, toys, and databases, they can’t simply compete with the likes of Nike, Lego, and IBM.

Alliance Facilitator: An admired brand can facilitate alliances with desirable and powerful external partners. Such alliances can both leverage brand admiration and enhance it further. Alliances allow companies to build additional revenue and markets without making costly investments in areas in which they lack expertise. The ability of Apple and Samsung to attract partners serves as a testament to how much other companies admire these brands. Recent alliances between BMW and Louis Vuitton, Apple Pay and MasterCard, and Spotify and Uber also illustrate this point.

Asset Builder: Finally, an admired brand generates greater shareholder return because investors take notice of admired brands when making their investment decisions. This in turn makes a company’s marketplace value substantially higher than its book value. That explains why Wanda Group paid $650 million to acquire the Ironman brand, which organizes, promotes, and licenses triathlons around the world, including the signature Ironman event that consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2-mile (a full marathon) run. As a sign of “having made it”, some participants tattoo the Ironman logo on their bodies upon completing this hellish and grueling event.

The critical question is this: If an admired brand offers value to companies on so many dimensions, how can companies develop an admired brand? The answer to this question is both simple and deceptively complex. The simple answer is that companies can’t reap the benefits of these myriad and significant sources of value unless they also provide value to customers. The deceptively complex answer is that the field of marketing has yet to develop a compelling perspective on what customers actually do value.

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A Guide To Responsive Logos

A Guide To Responsive Logos

The Essence of Responsive Logos

To provide a comprehensive user experience across multiple mediums, a true responsive design isn’t limited to context or shrinking content on a page. Subtle design considerations, such as the icons and logos should also be flexible enough to follow similar contextual responsive principles.

A few years ago, this crazed, demented talk of altering a logo would have been dubbed as a design taboo, earning you the wrath of the holier-than-thou branding moguls. But today, with a probability that a company will use its logo on anything from a mammoth billboard to a tiny smart watch, the initial shock at the scandalous “responsive logo” idea is wearing off.

Adapting Logos in a Responsive World

With the proliferation of mobile-friendliness taking the web by storm, logo designers are finding it more and more vital to make their vectors adapt to any and every user’s screen size, so that the company logo isn’t stripped of its inherent meaning or essence when rendered on myriad resolutions. Since logos are the cornerstone of branding, it’s only natural to hardwire them to cater to the responsive web space.

For this concept to take root, a brilliant logo is a prerequisite; something that can perfectly embody a brand’s values in a simple image. This challenge of creating something that continues to speak volumes about a brand, regardless of the device used for accessing a website, is a tough nut to crack.

Let’s take a look at how you can have scalable logos without losing the very personality of your brand:

1. Design for Simplicity

The biggest dilemma of non-responsive logos is that they are overcomplicated; downright ridden with detail and intricate subtleties.

Many people abhor to see logos as just a visual hook. They want their logos to be the bearer of organizational tradition and brand values. However, having too many elements only makes it harder to let go of a particular one, and any attempt to fit it into a smaller space ends up in a design nightmare.

The logo of Olive Garden, despite being attractive on its own, offers the perfect design conundrum. Who would have the heart to strip the beautiful and large word mark of its whimsical leaves without wreaking havoc on the design?

On the other hand, there is no way to render the entire logo on a smaller screen, without it ending up in a big, messy, colorful blob of indecipherable hocus-pocus!

Lasting graphic design ideals of simplicity and clarity have become the new norm as logo designers hustle to create logos that remain clear at different sizes, load quickly, scale elegantly, and have the maximum impact.

This means that the trends of glows, complex illustrations, color gradients, drop-shadows, and other graphical tropes have been shunned for a cleaner aesthetic, replacing superfluous decoration with more focused forms.

Cutting down the level of detail in a logo leads to greater legibility at small sizes. Outlined elements could be filled in and inverted, gradients can be flattened, illustrations redrawn into tract graphical shapes, thin strokes can be made thicker, and detailed shapes can be smoothed out. Hence why flat design has become so popular.

A great example is the recent logo redesign of MasterCard. Simplified and modernized, the new brand identity of MasterCard is optimized to be adaptable across an increasingly digital world.

The new logo says goodbye to the flat drop shadow on the overlapping circles and the ill-fitting condensed sans serif wordmark. The logomark can be used on its own on smaller resolutions without losing its recognizability.

Here are some logo redesigns that are a testament that less is more!

2. Design for Versatility

All astute logo designers know the prudence of creating versatile designs that stand the test of time.

When we talk about responsiveness, we are thinking about quality, legibility, and adjustments of the design. The example of Disney in designer Joe Harrison’s project “responsive logos”, shows how a logo can be simplified to confirm to various screen sizes without losing its identity.

Although it is bared of the castle element, the “Walt Disney” name is enough to incite emotions attached to the brand name in the audience. Narrowing down the browser size, “Disney” is an even simpler rendition of the brand name. Since the “D” of Disney is a distinct mark, the logo is further narrowed down to its bare essentials needed to recognize the brand.

Google also chose to jump on the bandwagon and transformed its logo, converting the simple, blue “G” into a letter that attributed to all the colors of the original logo, leaving no doubt as to what the logo represents.

3. Declutter, Minimize, Reduce Detail

Despite what people believe, brand identity and recognition are not affected when minor or small adjustments are made to a logo due to physical constraints. Here are a few ideas to scale logos effectively:

Incremental Reduction

As obvious from the examples of Joe Harrison’s experiment, you don’t have to make a drastic change to your logo at the smallest alteration in screen size.

As the browser window narrows down, make the logo lose an element of detail and become more abstract than before.

For logos with small type features especially, incrementally eliminating the small type can work wonders.

Ditch The Wordmark

When displayed in a narrower browser, Hubspot readily parts with its wordmark. They understand that a simple icon lets users concentrate more fully on the experience and content, and is less distracting. Domino’s is also quick to shed its wordmark on smaller resolutions since its logomark is distinguishable enough on its own.

Simplify The Logo

If the logomark of a company is intricate enough to pose the threat of turning into a blurry blotting mess at smaller resolutions, or if the company would be better identifiable with its wordmark, it’s better to let go of the logomark to simplify the logo; just as Pizza Express has done perfectly.

Abstract On Point

If your company has a detail-oriental logomark or ornate lettering, yet you want to retain the logo without shedding any element, a great way is to make the imagery more abstract.

This ensures that the logo is clealry visible on smaller screens, just like Jaguar has done! Since the chrome effect in the original logo is hard to scale down, the alternate version retains the necessary details needed to recognize the logo.

Vertical Stacking

Vertically stacking the logomark and the wordmark is a simple way of adapting a logo to design constraints. While the side-by-side logo works best for bigger devices, the vertically stacked logo takes up much less space at smaller resolutions without taking away any element from the logo.

Future Proofing Logos

One of the greatest benefits of responsive logos is that they maintain their legibility at all screen sizes, without having to contend with an ultra-minimal style, even when displayed at larger sizes.

Responsive design allows logo designers to fine-tune icons to portray the “sweet spot” related to legibility across multiple resolutions. Since these logos are designed to display varieties of detail according to the device they are displayed on (and there are plenty of screen sizes available), the fluidity of responsive icons guarantees that they are already optimized for new devices.

Bring it on technology; our logos are all equipped for the battle!

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Identifying Your Brand Culture

Identifying Your Brand Culture

Brand culture is the culture that a company cultivates in order to powerfully, consistently and competitively deliver its brand to market. It’s how people work together to bring the brand alive for customers. But brand cultures are more than an expression of the brand itself; they are, by necessity, an expression of the people who work for that brand and the decisions and ways of working and behaving that they agree to work within.

The challenge for any brand is when what it stands for as a brand no longer aligns with what the people working for the brand do. It’s all very well to talk about building or changing a powerful brand culture, but first you need to understand the culture you’re changing. Each is different because each revolves around a different ethos. In this, the first of a two part series, I look at what defines, and what it takes to shift, a brand culture today.

It’s tempting to believe that culture is a formula. You derive a purpose, apply goals, set values, agree on behaviors and then inculcate these ideas (with varying degrees of success) over the next 12 – 18 months. While every brand culture should indeed be driven by these elements, the type of culture your brand functions within is its own human dynamic. Shifting that to something new is very difficult, essentially because you are going against the very nature of ‘how things get done around here’. Success is much more likely if you are able to recognize the predominant nature of the brand culture you are working with, and to leverage that to the brand’s advantage.

Here are the first four of eight different brand cultures I’ve encountered and some thoughts on what it takes to successfully achieve enduring change in each of these environments.

1. Performance Culturesales and achievement focused. An environment that is highly motivated by targets, competitiveness and individualism, complicated significantly by incentives and bonuses that often reward those who excel at the direct expense of those who aren’t at the top. These cultures are ambitious, hard-working and relentless. They can include professional firms (particularly those with an eat-what-you-kill rewards system) as well as businesses that are sales-based. How you change the culture depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to instill a greater sense of engagement, for example, lift and broaden the targets but at the same time shift the incentive system to one that is more team focused and change the bonuses to reflect what is achieved by everyone. Just as importantly, bring in strong mentorship and training programs to help those who are steady but not necessarily top performers to feel fulfilled, supported and included. It’s very important when changing these cultures to remind everyone involved of the quid pro quo – that they are stronger for being part of the brand, and the brand is stronger for having them, but equally no-one is indispensable.

2. Restless Culturealways moving and evolving. These brands are all about staying ahead of what’s happening in their sector(s). They’re highly market aware, innovative, very competitive and obsessed by the need to continue to meet customer expectations. Amazon’s Day 1 ethos is a perfect expression of this type of culture. Companies with these types of culture are often in fast-moving and/or converging sectors, such as tech, media or entertainment. Driven by the need to be relevant, they are market drivers. These cultures are impatient and have a powerful sense of momentum. It’s not unusual for them to also be highly competitive within their teams, looking to achieve the next breakthrough that will see one group stand out as the organizational lodestar. Critical to engaging these cultures and helping them work together (even co-operate) is a collective vision of the future of the brand to which all can contribute. Given their high propensity for change, change itself is not hard to implement. In fact, one of the key challenges is to remind the culture to value what customers value, and to retain the brand’s inherent goodness while at the same time pressing forward.

3. Freeform Culture – flexible, organic, undefined. As brands bring in more consultants and freelancers to help them deliver on demand, the very sense of a brand culture can become much more fluid. I sometimes refer to this as the gig economy culture. It’s characterized by project teams that are loyal to the deliverables they are responsible for, but don’t feel much sense of belonging beyond that. These cultures are common in sectors like IT where there is a deep casual workforce. Equally, it’s a risk of the collaborative economy – so, places like Uber and Airbnb – where thousands of people represent the brand but are not necessarily directly employed by the brand. At its worst, this can lead to a culture that is incoherent, myopic and inconsistent because it is resourced by people who feel no affinity for the brand. They’re just here to fulfill a contract or deliver a task. I think this is one of the hardest brand cultures to marshall because of the sheer variety and volatility of the brand population. The key challenge is to ensure everyone, at different levels of involvement, feels they are getting the right returns for what they are putting in. A great question to ask is: What will they get (that they wouldn’t get otherwise) from their time with us? How can involvement with your brand advance each person’s career or credentials for example? Can you provide them with access to a valuable network or offer them the chance to develop a needed skill? And how do you build a sense of loyalty and two-way gratitude into the arrangement that helps people rally around a brand they may only be part of for a short time?

4. Learn Fast Culture – demand driven, responsive, second mover. Just as not every brand can be a market leader, so some cultures choose to take their cues from what happens around them. At their best, these brands build on what others initiate, bringing in perspectives, features and improvements that add (exponentially) to the value of what was first proposed. Companies with these types of cultures include retailers, manufacturers and those in fast turnaround sectors such as telecommunications. These brands work best when they have a problem to solve and a defined window within which to forge an answer. At their best, they are agile, creative, analytical and highly synchronized. For people in these cultures, the thrill of the chase is what gets them up in the morning. These cultures need an antagonist to duel with, and goals built around a defined set of deliverables that take what’s available to the next level. Confidence and can-do are critical. They must always believe that they have the wherewithal to take things to the next level. They need to find ways to celebrate speed and the ability to counter-punch, while not burning out nor feeling like all they can do is react. Rather than referencing everything they do as an improvement, it can be more stimulating to frame these brands as next-generation: as change-makers that will move things on for the customer and lift the industry in the process. To do that effectively, people need to be encouraged to experiment, fail fast and continue to learn.

Coming soon: brand cultures driven by a need to change the world; start up brands evolving into grown up cultures; brands with powerful leaders; and brands that need to keep pushing down costs in order to thrive.

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The Difference Between Branding And Marketing

The Difference Between Branding And Marketing

Many companies, big and small, don’t understand the important differences between branding and marketing. The difference isn’t just misunderstood in business; it’s often misunderstood within marketing departments. So I want to give you an easy explanation that will help you navigate your way between the two and see their potential to improve your business.

While the branding and marketing are undoubtedly connected, there are minute differences between the two. As a business owner it is essential that you understand branding and marketing in detail, so that you can effectively utilize them together. Below is a closer look at the differences between branding and marketing.

Branding: your promise delivered (AKA your reputation)

You make a promise to customers and colleagues with everything you do. To be successful, you must deliver on that promise every single time. The idea that a brand is a logo, a name or a color is just a tiny fraction of what a brand actually is.

Your brand is “only everything” within your company. As a result, it’s imperative to define what it stands for. You have to identify your target audience and what they want, say why you are better than your competitors and come up with a short statement that describes your brand’s purpose.

In a nutshell, branding is who you are—and marketing is how you build awareness. Branding is your strategy, while marketing encompasses your tactical goals. In order to determine who your brand is, you need to ask yourself several questions. Questions that go beyond industry generalizations, and services or products offered and also questions to determine who you are as a company, and more importantly, who you are as a brand. The questions below are an excellent place to begin:

  • What are your core principles and values?
  • What is your mission statement?
  • What inspired you to build your business?
  • Why do you want to offer your products or services to your target audience?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What is your internal company culture?
  • What is your professional sense of style?
  • What are your communication characteristics?
  • What do you want to come to mind when someone hears your business name?
  • How do you want people to feel when they think of your business?
  • How do you want customers to describe you as a company?

Answering the questions above will help you to understand the difference between branding and marketing. Invest your time in providing elaborate answers, and bounce them off your colleagues and professional mentors. What you will notice, is that all of the questions are related to your internal operations and your internal culture. Therefore, what you build on the inside, is what will emanate externally.

Your branding will cultivate what your consumers can expect of you, and what they will experience when they utilize your products or services. By clearly defining who you are, your branding can then be utilized to precede and underlie your marketing efforts—both today and for years to come.

Some businesses know what they are from day one and as long as they stay small and keep the same employees, then they may not need to repeat this exercise. However, for most businesses, things change – sales drop, people leave or a competitor start to threaten your profit. Then what do you do? If you define what your brand stands for then it becomes easier to make decisions – who you should hire, what products to sell, how your communications should sound and even what your office environment should look like.

The key to unlocking the power of your brand is involving your employees. Take them with you through this process and have a brand expert on hand to help guide you. This does not need to be costly or take up too much time. However, once this is done, it could set up a brand strategy for your business that lasts for years.

Marketing: influencing buyers

Marketing is defined as “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”. It’s about influencing the “buy decision”.

Marketing, then, is an integral part of your brand. It helps you to communicate the promise that you want customers and prospects to know about. Your marketing should also be based on your brand positioning, personality, values and tone of voice that have all been defined and communicated among your staff.

In essence, marketing is what you do to get your message or promise to customers, while your brand is how you keep the promise made through delivery to customers and colleagues.

When speaking of marketing vs. branding, marketing refers to the tools you utilize to deliver the message of your brand. Marketing will continually change and evolve, just as the products and services you offer will continue to change and evolve. Marketing will be directly and specifically geared towards sectors of your target audience, all while supporting the core values of your brand.

Marketing is vast and wide. It can be heartfelt, funny, or serious. It can be any mix of text, keywords, photos, charts, graphs, and videos. Marketing will be performed by a variety of online and offline methods—some of the most common being:

  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Pay Per Click Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Print Campaigns

However, there are many other methods of both online and offline marketing for you to consider working into your marketing campaign. While marketing methods will come and go, and the methods you utilize may change drastically from year-to-year, or from season-to-season—your brand will always remain a constant.

Which comes first?

Branding is at the core of your marketing strategy, so branding must come first. Even if you are a start up, it is essential to clearly define who you are as a brand—before you begin to devise your specific marketing methods, tools, strategies, and tactics. Your brand is what will keep your clients coming back for more, it is the foundation upon which you will build consumer loyalty.

While marketing methods will evolve, and respond to current industry and cultural trends—branding remains the same. Even if you make adjustments to your brand, they will typically be in response to your growth or expanded services offered—but is rarely an overhaul of your core principals, mission, or values.

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From Cowboys To Corporations

From Cowboys To Corporations

In the late 1800s, cowboys drove huge herds of cattle across the central plains of the USA. During these cattle drives, the cowboys would often meet other groups of cowboys driving their cattle. As was often the case, the cattle would come together to form one enormous herd. To tell which cattle belonged to whom, each ranch had its own special symbol that would be branded with a hot iron on the hide of every calf belonging to that ranch.

Ranchers generally used three types of marks in branding – figures, numbers and letters, with the brands being read in one of three ways: from left to right, from top to bottom, and from outside in.

Each brand became almost a heraldic crest – a cattleman’s coat of arms, if you will. Brands not only identified an owner or a ranch, but also provided a set of traditions and a unique sense of identity for the cowboys. It was not uncommon for a cowboy of the times to ride for the brand, more than for the individual ranch owner.

Today, companies endeavor to create internal branding efforts that will inspire the same employee loyalty and sense of identity and purpose. Modern brand managers could learn much by the examples provided throughout the history of brands.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF BRANDS

Egyptian brands: Early signs of ownership. The use of brands as marks of identification dates back some 4,000 years. Inscriptions and picture writing on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs indicate that cattle were branded as early as 2,000 BC. Since the scar made with a brand could not be taken off or out­grown, it was a highly effective way to mark ownership of living animals.

Spanish brands: Extensions to family brands. A traditional Spanish family brand of letters and symbols amounted to a family crest. A new heir called for the addition of an initial or curlicue to the brand. In time, the brands became very elaborate. Could it be that these Spanish brands were the first example of brand extensions?

Brand of Cortez: Brands leveraging secondary associations. Branding as a formal cattleman’s process came to America with the Spaniards. In 16th-century Mexico, Cortez experimented with cattle breeding. His brand – three crosses – may have been the first brand used in the western hemisphere, and one of the first recorded brands to use the brand management principle of secondary association leverage to drive a branding message home. Potential cattle thieves would have to think twice about the eternal consequences of stealing cattle marked for God.

As cattle raising grew, in 1537 the crown ordered the establishment of a stockmen’s organization called Mesta throughout New Spain. Each cattle owner had to have a different brand, and each brand had to be registered in what undoubtedly was the first brand book in the western hemisphere, kept in Mexico City.

XIT brand: Company name to acronym brand. One of the largest and most famous brands in the late 19th century was the XIT brand. In exchange for building the Texas Capitol building, the Capitol Freehold and Investment Company of Chicago, Illinois, acquired vast amounts of West Texas property on which to raise cattle. For obvious reasons, it was not possible to stamp the actual name of the company on the hides of the animals, so the shortened ‘XIT’ brand was used. This is an early example of how an acronym branding effort gave rise to the common name for a large corporation. Other examples of this type of branding outside the world of cattle include corporate giants such as ITT, ATT, BP and GE.

The maverick. Samuel Maverick ranched along the Gulf Coast of Texas in the mid 1800’s. Counter to common practice, Maverick failed to brand his cattle; so all unmarked cattle in the area were assumed to belong to Maverick. By 1860, any unbranded calf on the Texas prairie was called a ‘maverick’.

Today, corporate leaders and, in fact, corporate brands, position themselves in the modem interpretation of the word maverick, being ‘one who counters common practice’.

Examples of today’s corporate mavericks can be found all over. Herb Kelleher, of Southwest Airlines, and Richard Branson of Virgin offer two excellent examples of the 21st-century maverick. Additionally, corporations such as Apple Computer and Harley Davidson Motorcycles continue in the sprit of ‘countering common practice’.

The cowboy branding process. On the great plains of the American west, ‘ketch hands’ roped each calf and pulled it near the branding fire. Flankers then grabbed the calf by the ear and loose skin of the flank, lifted it up and laid it on its side. Others called out the brand of the calf’s mother and the appropriate branding iron was brought to the fire.

While one man held the calf, an ‘iron man’ branded the calf at the hips, ribs, or shoulder according to the practice of the owner. The owner’s wishes were documented in the ‘brand book’. Iron tenders heated the irons in the coals of a wood or cow chip fire until the iron turned the color of the ashes – not red hot. If the iron was too hot it caused a sore that could become infected; too cold, and the mark would ‘hair-over’ and leave no lasting brand.

Modern brand managers employ an analogous process. Today’s ketch hands are typical pre-purchase activities such as advertising, sales promotions, point­of-purchase (POP) displays, and trade show environments. Each element is designed to bring potential buyers ‘closer to the branding fire’.

Ropers of today often take the form of lead management and customer relationship management (CRM) processes. As prospects come into the company via electronic means they are often tagged via a cookie or other ad-serving technique to identify their origin.

Some companies have consistently done their branding job so well that their customers come willingly to the ‘branding fire’. Examples where customers actually brand themselves include: Harley Davidson Motorcycles – whose customers often tattoo the company’s logo on their bodies; Nike – with millions of customers, around the world, branding themselves with the Nike Swoosh. The same can be said for other popular clothing brands from Ralph Lauren’s Polo to Greg Norman’s Shark.

Where the ultimate aim is for customers to perceive a brand as unique, relevant, credible, and differentiated enough to seek it out, most brand managers must adopt the cow­boy’s ‘iron man’ process and apply the brand one interaction at a time. Rather than having one ‘iron man’, however, modern brand managers must look for ways to make each brand representative an ‘iron man’ in its own right. Today’s brand ‘iron men and women’ must look for ways to imprint their brand on their customers through behaviors, attitudes and delivery of brand promises made.

While it is entertaining to draw similarities between the branding processes of the cowboys of old and modern branding it is, admittedly, an over-simplification. Today’s brand managers do not have the luxury of taking one key opportunity to permanently brand their customers for life. In addition, unlike the rancher, the brand is not truly owned by the company, but by the customer.

MOMENTS OF TRUTH

An important goal of modem brand managers is to uncover each ‘moment of truth’ in the relationship between their brand and the customer. For it is within each moment of truth that brands are built or damaged. Being a frequent business traveller, I will use the airlines as an example; however, many other businesses provide abundant examples.

Competition within the airline industry is fierce. Consequently, significant investments are made in traditional mass branding activities such as advertising, brand architecture, look and feel, and other identity positioning. What is missing, is a true focus on ‘moments of truth’. Moments of truth are those times where the modem ‘iron man’ has the opportunity to create a positive branding experience for the customer. These moments include everything from the time spent purchasing a ticket, to the interaction with airport gate agents, customer service representatives and perhaps most important of all, the cabin staff.

On a recent flight in to and out of a major US airport, there were significant air traffic control delays. Flying into the airport, the cabin staff handled the situation extremely well, with empathy, humor and understanding. The net effect was that the passengers were informed, knew the bounds of what could and could not be done, and trusted that the brand representatives were doing everything possible.

Flying out of the same airport on the same airline, but in a different plane and with different staff, the situation was completely reversed. The cabin staff did not communicate, were not empathetic, and were not friendly in any way. At the brand/customer ‘moment of truth’, the net effect was a plane full of people who had a very bad experience with the brand. This was completely unnecessary.

The key for effective overall brand management is to ensure that each ‘iron man’ understands his or her role in the branding process. In the airline example, each person from customer service representative to cabin steward is the brand manager. They represent the brand to the customer.

Like the cowboys of the Wild West, today’s brand managers look for ways to differentiate their product or service from similar offerings. The modern brand is a sign of ownership, of heritage, of quality level, and of employee identification and affiliation. The trick is to apply the brand ‘stamp’ consistently so that it leaves a lasting mark on the mind, without being too hot as to cause a sore, as in the airline example above. On the other hand, the branding iron must be hot enough to prevent ‘hair over’ and thus no long-lasting branding effect.