The mark of a successful brand.

Defining your identity.

Certain considerations need to be made, particularly when creating an icon or image to sit along side a company name. A suitable identity may reflect a brands heritage, express operational ethics, communicate value or exude luxury.

Know your business first.

In order to successfully create such an icon you first need to identify what your business means to you, what it’s objectives are and what you want it to mean to your customers. Along with, and this far easier, what it isn’t. An example being, if you retail designer jewellery, using Comic Sans and a clip art engagement ring to create your logo, no matter how easy it is to put together on your PC, will not realise your ambition of being the next Cartier.Working with creative partners talk openly about your objectives. Face to face meetings are a great way to let anyone in on what your business really means to you. If you put across your ideas passionately a good design team will fully buy into them and your enthusiasm will rub off. Their ability to interpret and realise your vision will be greatly increased and working closely together they’ll translate all this into an identity that truly makes it’s mark.

Do your research and be critical.

Ask yourself. Does it stand out in the marketplace? Will it be remembered? Does it represent me? Is it understood?This last question is harder to define as much imagery has subtle meaning, often absorbed subconsciously as we engage with the brand. We may not be aware of the ideas but they do affect our relationship with them and that’s no accident. Done well they genuinely resonate with their audience.

Take these examples.

Were you aware that the origin of the lions carcass with honey bess flooding from it on Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup tins comes from the Biblical story of Samson? A rather macabre image on the face of it but when put with the strapline ‘Out of strength came sweetness’, it perfectly defines the brand and has adorned the tin for 130 years.A brand many of us will no doubt have experienced is Amazon. They created a clever communication with the use of an arrow under their name, if you look closely you’ll see it is positioned under the first ‘a’ and points to the ‘z’. A to Z. Despite starting life as a book shop, this projected the bigger ambition to become a retailer of everything, from ‘armchairs’ to ‘zips’. An example where a visual approach represented a brands’ roots but has subsequently grown beyond that initial reach is Starbucks. Often mistaken for a mermaid the image within the company logo is in fact that of a siren. The idea was to reflect the seafaring history of Seattle, from where Starbucks was founded. Not only this though the siren was a mythical creature who is said to have lured sailors to shore in the search of irresistible pleasure, with grave results. Now this seems misleading but Howard Shultz’s vision was more about the lure of the place rather than the coffee. Maybe the coffee in those early days was the ‘grave results’.As these examples demonstrate great brand identities are built on ideas rooted deep in the psyche of the business and characterise it perfectly.

Identity happiness.

So to void identity crisis, establish a clear definition of your business from day one and build on it. Your identity will be the foundations of your visual communication from here on in. Remember though this is just one block that makes up the entire structure of a successful brand. As for the others, well that’s another story.

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