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Four Steps to Brand Dominance

A powerful, authentic brand starts with a solid foundation.

From your early morning iPhone® fumble to that well-earned Johnny Walker Black® nightcap, you interact with – ready for this – around sixteen thousand brands each and every day. This interesting, almost unbelievable aspect of our 21st-century condition can be sobering news for those of you whose company’s brand identity is one of the multitudes vying for precious mindshare. Given this fact, the fundamental question on the lips of many business owners must be: how does one compete amidst that much competition? The answer is simpler than you may think.

Even in today’s brand-saturated marketplace, it’s possible to achieve traction, differentiation – and even entrenchment in your given market space by adhering to what we refer to at BLEED as the four pillars of brand dominance: a set of touchstones we use when managing brands both big and small on behalf of our clients.

A strong brand is a consistent brand. Your logo and supporting elements should look, feel and behave the same on a massive billboard as they do on an iPad Mini.

Sean Mellis President, Rdeca Group

Brand Strategy: The introspective act of developing a brand strategy is often overlooked by business owners eager to "see something," but it’s essential to acquiring a competitive edge in increasingly competitive markets. It means setting down on paper (or your iPad) your loftiest brand goals. What do you offer that’s different? What do you stand for? Most importantly, who do you aspire to be?

One useful brand strategy exercise I employ at BLEED is to have a client write down twenty words or phrases that best define their company's essence. I then ask them to write down the top ten most relevant ones. Then down to five. Then just one word. Et voilà: they have just discovered the essence of their brand promise.

Brand Identity: Your brand identity is comprised of your tangible, visible brand assets: your logo, tagline; typography, corporate colour palette and underlying design system. Depending upon your business, brand identity touchpoints will vary wildly. A software company may have a signature “stinger” sound that plays at the end of their commercials, for example.

Main brand identity takeaways? Invest in professional talent, and find a firm whose work you admire. A skilled, experienced designer will spin disparate graphic elements into pure gold on your behalf. Like most things in life, you will get what you pay for here.

Brand Management: A strong brand is a consistent brand. Your logo and supporting elements should look, feel and behave the same on a massive billboard as they do on an iPad Mini. A set of brand management tools will help steward your brand as it gets replicated across untold touchpoints by different handlers (each with varying degrees of skill).

At BLEED, most brand identities we design will be accompanied by management tools. For simple assignments, this entails reproducing the client’s logo in all industry-standard file types (EPS, PDF, JPEG, PNG) and colour spaces (RGB, CMYK, PMS) and advising the client against creating any others. Large-scale projects would warrant a “brand bible” that lays out ground rules for everything from minimum logo sizes and safe zones to written voice, photo usage and typography.

Brand Experience: When you steadfastly adhere to the first three tenets I’ve just mentioned (solid strategy, professional identity design and consistent management), a remarkable thing happens: your brand becomes a living, breathing entity. Feelings, cognitions and behavioural responses are evoked as the public sees your logo, reads your tagline, engages you on social media, chats with you over the phone and, ultimately, conducts business with you.

A positive brand experience is an excellent asset for any company to have on its books. If it’s an experience that's consistent, authentic and true to your core values, it will have staying power and will foster brand loyalty among your customers.

Regardless of the steps you take to design and manage your brand, it pays to remember one inescapable truth: it's important to tell the world about your company...but branding has far more to do with what the world says about you when you're not in the room.