Cattle and indeed slaves were branded as a means of identification but not really marketing per se. The first market orientated branding was probably the stylised markings and initials on pottery or the watermarks on paper. But these are not really brands as we know them today.
A Table of Brand Associations in Our Heads
We all have a table of categories in our heads that allow us to make a connection or an association with a particular brand. It is the task of the marketing and branding people that you hire to get your brand into one of these slots.
These brand associations are deep rooted and once made are very difficult to displace. They are buried deep within our subconscious minds. Let us quickly test these associations. Think of the following list of product categories and then the brands that you immediately associate with them:
- Brown bread
- Alkaline battery
- Football Club
- Sports equipment
I am not going to tell you what the answers are, there is no right answer, but the point is I bet you didn’t hesitate to make the brand associations as you went through this list. The question is how did the marketing and branding people for that company make that association? It’s your head after all and you didn’t even give them permission!
What makes a particular brand successful? Well the quality of the product or service surely matters doesn’t it? Well yes, assuming that’s the association you want, but remember people have subconscious categories for poor service in the same way as good and this is why reputation is so very important. People quickly remember the associations that they want to avoid and worse still they will be happy to tell other people, in fact about 10 times more people than if your product or service was good.
What is the essence of a brand and logo. There are 3 major elements:
- Colour: The predominant colour has a role. Red logos tend to be associated with bullish market leadership. Blue is associated with trust and credibility. Orange with novel approaches to market and Green with natural and environmental products and services.
- Name: One, two or three word names tend to work well because people can say them, as do abbreviations provided again that you can say them out loud.
- Logo: This is the visual key, the thing that people remember, the element that gets locked into the association. Think of the list of 6 categories again, did you visualise the logo for each?
Since the brand associations are buried in your subconscious in the 50’s and 60’s there was a lot of work done on subliminal advertising. There were contemporary reports of research into images flashed momentarily on TV during regular programmes making people buy things that they didn’t really need or want. Sounds like science fiction? In fact a lot of advertising today uses subliminal techniques to create a desire within you for a particular product which builds over time its just become much more sophisticated.
We are all drawn to really cool advertising, think of your favourite TV advert at the moment. How many times have you said to yourself, that’s a great advert but I don’t know what its advertising? By the second or third time you see it you will be making the brand association without really even knowing or wanting to.
One of my favourites is this one from the word of Formula 1 when cigarette advertising was banned. Later even the ‘no logo’ was said to make the brand association so they removed it which in fact strengthened the association. http://www.graphicology.com/blog/2010/4/28/292-the-sneakiest-design-ever.html
5 Key Things
- If you want to use your brand to its maximum potential then please don’t leave things to chance, get some professional advice from a brand/design agency
- Think about the associations you want for your brand, in the current economic climate you may want to avoid your brand being pigeon holed into a particular market or segment. You may want people to associate your brand with reliable, quality services at realistic prices. Not too expensive as to be exclusive and not too low cost as to be associated with low quality even if it is not. Write down your brand values.
- The simpler the better, don’t overcomplicate your branding with sub-brands and associations, think about the successful brands they are all simple.
- Don’t change your branding too often, this destroys the subliminal links and makes the subconscious association that you are not stable
- Make your advertising copy unique and thought provoking, the eye will land on it and it will become memorable and so will the association with your product or service