Human beings take in 90% of the information they need visually. And very little of that is from reading. We assess the size, shape and color of things. We judge the spacial relationships between things. We observe how other sentient beings react to these things, to each other and to us. We read body language and facial expressions. We do all of it automatically, almost unconsciously. We make most of these observations without having to think about the process of making them, just like we breathe without thinking of breathing. We have sayings like “Clothes makes the man” and “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. People are judged, instantly, by the fashion choices they make. Markets use the visual identity of a company’s brand to form these same kinds of first impressions. They use it as a short cut to make snap decisions about the company’s values, professionalism, pricing, size, capabilities, and more. That’s without ever reading a business card, website or brochure. The mind makes these decisions by relying solely on design – shape, size, form, color and texture. So what happens when a new identity system is launched or an old one is rejuvenated? Let’s take a look at that.
All that follows assumes that:
1 – A new brand asset is either initiating the design of its visual identity or
2 – an existing brand asset is undergoing the updating of its current identity and
3 – the finished work is done competently, the correct visual signals are sent and received, and the brand dons a handsome design that all associated parties can regard with pride.
I wish I knew who said, “A logo redesign is not a change of symbol but a symbol of change.” There is so much truth in that observation, it deserves proper credit. (If anyone knows the author, please let me know.) In either one of our scenarios, change is afoot and it’s the new identity that gives to the market the visual cues it will use to discern the company’s values, attitude, and point of view. So it’s crucial that marketers develop strong brand strategies before launching any sort of design efforts. Sometimes you get lucky but, generally speaking, design without strategy is almost always a waste of money.
Because a market is composed of human beings, it will see a brand’s change of identity the same way humans do. Everybody has an instant, first impression of the new name, logo or package design. But people react to those impressions differently so, overall, the market will respond to a new identity over time.
Some will fall in love with the new identity – and, thus, the brand – right away. A percentage of the market will “get it” the moment they see it. They’ll have an intrinsic understanding of the brand’s role and they’ll see their own values and lifestyles reflected in it. They’ll want to join the brand’s “tribe”. Assuming they’re continually rewarded with satisfying brand experiences, these people will become brand champions, spreading the brand’s gospel far and wide.
The rest of the market will fall in love with the brand more slowly. One segment will appreciate that the brand’s new identity aligns it with market expectations. It meets the market where it is, matching up to its taste in design, attitude and point of view. This segment may not be brand champions (yet) but they now recognize the brand as fitting well into their lives in a way they hadn’t previously noticed. They now see the brand as one they would be willing to patronize should the right set of circumstances arise.
Another segment of the market may not consider itself a good match for the brand but still sees the new identity and appreciates the investment the brand is making in its future. B2B brands, especially, can benefit from this perception. The market sees a brand that invests in organized visual identity as one that is betting on its future. Businesses that are unviable rarely launch design or redesign initiatives. Brands that do are signaling some level of success and a commitment to further serve the market. The market appreciates that, even if unknowingly.
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Bear in mind, to this point, we’ve only stipulated that the new identity is of competent design. And the responses we’ve outlined are reactions – only – to the fact that there is a new identity on display. We’ve haven’t even begun to discuss what characteristics the new identity should embody. Those will be different for each brand. Obviously, the identity design should spotlight the brand’s competitive advantage somehow. In that way. the market will also be educated as to the benefits the brand will bestow. And, of course, shape, size, form, color and texture should all be harnessed to drive an emotional connection with the market. The market needs to “see itself” in the brand by responding well to the new identity.
Some segments of the market, of course, will react to a new identity in more than one of the described fashions. But the point is, all these responses accrue value to the brand. They all engender, at the very least, a positive disposition toward the brand. When you signal that your brand is growing, entering a new chapter or otherwise taking things to the next level, the market notices. And that’s a good thing.
Best Branding Reads – Week of February 5, 2018
Tide Wins the Super Clio for Best Ad Campaign of the Super Bowl
Tide is my top pick too. My runner up is the ad for The Voice. Both spots were parodies of common Super Bowl clichés, but Tide took it deeper.
Here Is Ram’s Super Bowl Ad, This Time With MLK Blasting the Evils of Advertising
It was in the same MLK speech! How could Dodge Ram have missed it? The market hates inauthenticity.
The Glaring Flaw In Super Bowl Advertising
Super Bowl ads are fun but extremely cost-inefficient.
Blockchain-Based KodakCoin Delay Brings Out the Skeptics
The Kodak brand bounces back in a very unexpected way.
8 Reasons Why Brands Dominate Commodities
If you don’t have a strong brand strategy, you’re a commodity. And that’s a huge disadvantage.
New Identity for Neighborhoods of Columbus, IN
Columbus, Indiana, USA launches a very ambitious and smart visual identity experiment in place making.
How Emotional Marketing in B2B Drives Customers (Even If You Think It Doesn’t)
Not strictly about branding but one can never do too much to drive this point home.
6 Dominant Branding Themes for a Savvy 2018
Can you name a 7th one?