Posts Tagged ‘Logo’

Branding – The mechanics of Branding

by Laura Lowell on November 6, 2009

mechanicsA well designed brand is like a well designed car – lovely to look at, lots of power, and can really take you places.  The power of a brand is based on how well it can convince people to buy your stuff.  There are countless definitions of what a brand is, and regardless of your definition, if the brand doesn’t help you sell more stuff, then, it isn’t doing its job.

All brands are built with three essential elements:  Personality, Message and Identity.

Brand Personality: Defining the underlying personality of a brand is sometimes difficult, but is always necessary if the rest of the brand elements are to come together.  The personality reflects what the organization wants its brand to be known for. Think about specific personality traits you want prospects, clients, employees, and partners to use to describe your brand. You should have 4-6 traits (5 is ideal), each being a single term, usually an adjective.

Authentic, Creative, Innovative, Approachable

Trustworthy, Trendy, Cool, Desirable, Reliable

Relevant, Honest, Flexible, Unique, Relevant

How you define the personality determines the tone and voice of your brand, and therefore all your communications.  A brand that is “hip, cool, trendy” sounds decidedly different from one that is “honest, trustworthy, reliable”.

Brand Message: What do you customers need from you?  Why should they choose your brand of product or service over another one?  What can your brand deliver that no one else can?  The answers to these questions form the foundation of your messages.    I have found it useful to create three core messages based on these customer needs.  Each of these messages needs to be supported by “proof points” which are specific, measurable and relevant to the audience.  For example, think of Brand X as a car.

Brand X is BETTER:  safety record, flexible seating arrangements, trade-in options

Brand X is CHEAPER:  gas mileage, insurance premiums, maintenance costs

Brand X is FASTER:  redesigned engine, chassis, performance measurements

Which of these messages best reflects the brand is based on the brand personality and the needs of our customers.  It is not based on what we think sounds good, what is easy for us to prove, or what our boss thinks.   At least it shouldn’t be anyway…

Brand Identity: Ask ten graphic designers their opinion of a company logo and you’ll get ten different answers.  Brand design is the aesthetic that communicates the underlying message and personality of the brand.  There are five core elements to any brand identity:






How these elements work together are explained in “Brand Guidelines”.  These help anyone working with the brand know what to do and not to do with the brand.  Combined with templates (Presentations, documents or web pages for example) and standardized collateral (business cards, signage and such) your brand begins to take form.  From here on, it is all about execution.

All businesses need to develop an “identity” in order to be strategic players in the marketplace. That identity (aka logo) is key in assisting the consumer in recognizing the brand in the marketplace. Businesses such as Nike, AT&T and FedEx have spent much effort researching and developing their successful identities.

What makes a strong corporate identity
? This is somewhat subjective but here are a few examples of logos that have strong identities in the marketplace.

AT&T is recognized globally as a leader in the communications industry. Recently, AT&T modified their logo from using capital letters to lowercase letters. This change can be perceived as one that was made in order to convey themselves as a more consumer friendly and approachable business. AT&T also modified the globe component of their logo from a 2 dimensional globe to a 3 dimensional one. This change can be interpreted as emphasizing the expanding depth of services as well as its global presence. In this case, the company believed it was important to highlight these attributes in a market that is ever changing and constantly growing.


FedEx, like AT&T, is a leader in its industry and have a globally recognized logo. Their logo is simple with just the letters juxtaposed in a way that creates a negative space in the shape of an arrow in between the e and the x. This arrow in the FedEx logo has been used as a form of subliminal advertising of the brand, symbolizing forward movement and thinking and stability. If you’ve never noticed it before you surely won’t miss it now!


The importance of identity does not apply just to large global corporations but to small, local and regional companies as well. For example, MicroJenisys, Inc., a web development company in business since the mid 1990s that provides solutions for clients as diverse as Verizon Federal to the City Theatre of Miami, is one of those companies. They assist their clients in creating an online identity in order to be competitive and successful in this competitive landscape. MicroJenisys followed their own advice and redesigned their own identity in 2006 after carving a healthy niche for themselves in the market place. This identity redevelopment not only allowed them to stay current in the marketplace but allowed them to reintroduce themselves to their customers as a company aware of the ever changing business world and the need for businesses to change along with it. Their new logo brands them as a concise, forward thinking team. The clever play on the letters m and j emphasizes creative fluidity which is necessary in building a successful brand identity.


When creating a logo it is also important to identify who you are targeting in the marketplace. AT&T is not targeting the same consumers as FedEx. FedEx is not targeting the same consumers as MicroJenisys. Their logos help them in creating their identities in the marketplace. Get the most out of your identity by creating a clear target audience.

This will help you separate your company from your competition and avoid an identity crisis!

Much of the supporting information was provided by Stacy Driscoll. Please click here to find out more about her work.