This begs the question, “what is a brand?” Admittedly, this is a really tough question to answer that we’ve come across on several occasions. For a start, it's clearly not just a Photoshop deliverable; it's something with heart and personality that lives in the mind of the customer, while continuing to develop over time. Brands are defined by the consumer touch-points such as (but certainly not limited to) packaging, public relations, press, product, quality, consistency, customer service and company ethos. We, as a creative studio, like to approach these challenges with a flexible vehicle for the brand that helps to uniquely identify the company and all of the aforementioned touchpoints.
Nike, while sometimes over-emphasized, has evolved over decades and become arguably one of the most mature brands in market.
So, then, how does one go about “building” a brand. Ultimately, this is closer to a long-term evolution that involves a lot of investment in the form of time and resources. This brings up a more important question—“should we build a brand?” Private label companies have been around for decades and are easier to develop from a marketing perspective. However, brand-building is believed to be well worth the risk - a fact that has been documented time and again. Let’s take for example a Paris-based company named Coty. To be sure, most people have never heard the name before, therefore this example isn’t about Coty’s brand. Rather, this company, with a 6.7 billion dollar market valuation, takes advantage of the capacity of leveraging brand thinking and strategy. Coty is in the business of making beauty products such as fragrances, skin-care, and color cosmetics (i.e. nail polish). However, none of the products that they make are under the Coty name. Instead, they make all of their products under licensed brands. This enables them to cheaply make products en masse, and use the power of brands to mark up their products with a significant premium.
Needless to say, the 100 dollar bottle of Balenciaga fragrance that many consumers purchase likely cost only a fraction of that to manufacture. Coty has aggressively taken full advantage of the investment in branding that these companies have made over the years. They’ve profited handsomely in the process, to the tune of 4.6 billion USD in revenue and 323 million USD in net profit in 2013.
This brings us back to how a brand is “built”, and the various ethical and moral avenues one should pursue when doing so. There is a term in marketing called “mindshare” that aptly demonstrates the relevant framework for building a brand. The strength of a brand is theoretically measured by the collective opinions of all of their customers. There are metrics that provide directional measurements on the success or failure of a brand, one of the most important being repeat business or “loyalty”. There are also a variety of touchpoints that will inform and inevitably determine if a company was successful in building an effective brand. These touchpoints vary by industry and even by company. At its core, a touchpoint is any interaction a consumer has with a brand, whether positive or negative.
We believe running a great business is a big part of building a great brand. And a great brand is much more than a clean logo and a clever name. Designing a great brand is something that takes a high-level of intellectual focus, time and patience in bringing it toward maturity. A brand should aspire to represent company values in every way your audience interacts with your company. Lastly, the graphic identity should serve as recognizable reminder of your values and ultimately be a vessel through which those values are communicated and evolve.