Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Visual Language of Your Brand: Does It Speak to Your Customers?

AUTHENTICITY - The bench mark for all brands: With markets flooded by the abundance of choices, consumers are being drawn towards brands they believe to be trustworthy and dependable. The word “Authentic” derives from the Greek authentik√≥s, which means “original.” As consumers renew their affection for brands that provide a sense of safety and reliability, authenticity has become the new brand value of choice. Attributes such as genuine and true are the proof points for these brands. Authenticity is all about practicing what you preach; being totally clear about who you are, what you stand for and how you must behave to demonstrate that. Over the past year we have seen a prevalence of authentic cues in advertising, packaging and brand identity of many brands. These authentic cues have come in the form of story-telling, product development and of course, visual language. Brands such as Levis and Harley Davidson have long been regarded as brands steeped in authenticity. The visual language of a brand image is rich with cues of their heritage. Many brands are seeking to re-tell their stories, digging back into their past to unearth their own authentic visual language.
AFFORDABLE LUXURY - Keeping the bank intact: Consumers are toning-down their major purchases due to the weakening economy while staying at-home to re-connect and enjoy the finer things in life is fueling the popularity of affordable luxury items. These luxuries are often seen as a pamper, or reward that won't break the bank. Fewer people are going out and buying a $3000 Plasma, preferring to "invest" in a tub of gourmet ice cream, a nice bottle of wine and a Saturday night out with the miss’ in a five-star hotel. As a result, many brands, especially in retail and hospitality, are seeking to repackage themselves.
PERSONALITY - Clear and defined: Clearly defined brand personalities are being leveraged as a powerful force to creating a distinctive brand experiences. Brand personality is usually associated with brands projecting a happy or zany persona, but within any market, relative to competitive brands, your persona can be anything - stylish elegant, technically nerdy, quirky, artistic, or obsessively driven – as long as it has relevance, appeal and authenticity to your market. Often when we think of brands with a distinctive personality we picture larger brands like Apple or Coke. But businesses of all sizes and in all markets can leverage the differentiating advantages and create brand charisma with a strategically considered brand personality.
URBAN ATTITUDE - The growth of the urban audience: Typically this group is made-up of people in the before kids and after kids (or the no kids at all) stages of life. These 20-50 year olds who chooses to live in inner urban areas are driven by different values and mind-sets. The brands that appeal to this market are typically closer to the edge, new, different and less traditional. The urban market is often where new ideas form and take hold before spreading to the mass market. As a result, there’s great motivation for many brands to claim a stake in the inner urban, but it's not easy. The visual language of ‘Urban Attitude’ will have the edge.
6 Questions you should ask about your brand's visual language...

  1. Have you consciously considered the messages your brand identity is communicating?
  2. Have you compared your brand identity to those of your competitors and the leaders in your market?
  3. Does your brand have a distinctive voice when it speaks?
  4. Where does the strongest authenticity reside for your brand and how is your visual language reflecting it?
  5. What unique story does your brand tell and what visual cues do you have which assist with that story telling?
  6. If your brand’s visual language needs enhancement, do you have a brand design specialist capable of helping you?

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