Your brand : how strict should you be?

Your brand : how strict should you be?

A rather topical issue of late has been branding and ensuring that you are staying on brand and communicating your brand properly. Rather predictably I have a view on this…

What is a brand?

A brand is a name, sign, symbol, slogan or anything that is used to identify and distinguish a specific product, service, or business. A legally protected brand name is called a proprietary name.

Loosely put that means the product, service or company name and the things that are associated with it in order to identify it. It’s the Nike swoosh; the Audi rings and the bite out of the Apple.

All of these things are very much part of those individual brands; when they stand alone they are immediately known to be part of the “mother brand”.

The question I’m hypothesizing this soliloquy around though is : “how far does the brand go?”.

The place of the brand guide.

Every brand has a brand guide (or at least should have) and this brand guide governs every aspect of the logo. How it gets used, where it gets used, when it gets used, etc. The brand guide also links in the particular colours that form part of the brands “colour palette” . (Now this is where it gets interesting).

Before I go any further, I just want to state that I do understand the importance of a solid brand and branding guidelines; that I recognise the place of a colour palette  and primary and secondary fonts. Before the brand custodians of the world tear this article to shreds – I appreciate your points of view and abide greatly to the rules that have been set in place.

But what about when your brand guide is not working for you. Let’s move this online and look at calls to action on a website as an example. The website has been beautifully designed  with the corporate identity and brand guide being used as a Bible and followed to the letter. The unfortunate thing is that the entire website uses the colour palette of 4 colour variations.

This use of colour and text size looks perfect and makes the site incredibly pleasing to the eye; unfortunately it does not convert for sweets. There is nothing to draw them in to a specific location.  There is nothing compelling to entice the user.

If there is nothing there to entice the user your website is not functioning properly as a business tool and you are doing your business material harm. This is a clear cut case where the brand is holding the business back! Now the obvious solution from a branding point of view is to say “let’s design a brand aligned call to action”. While this makes a lot of sense from a branding perspective; this will take a lot of time to implement and all the while the website is not converting optimally.

Ideally I think that these calls to action should be particularly off brand. They need to fly in to the users face as being different; not just for being different’s sake; but rather because it draws attention and attention is the first step to getting interest which means conversions and ROI at the end of the day!

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