Many of the small business owners I met came to our first meeting equipped with incomplete or incorrect information regarding what is “important” and “not important” in branding their business. They sometimes received the information in marketing/sales/business management courses or workshops, sometimes from business consultants or business coaches who worked with them, and sometimes even from friends, colleagues, or neighbors who “get it”. Let me try and end the four most common myths I’ve heard over the years and also treat you to the most important lesson you’ll learn about branding.
Myth #1: Every Brand Must Have a Slogan
A “Slogan” reflects the brand’s vision or its main message to the world. A slogan can reveal the main purpose of the brand or its outstanding advantages in just a few words. The use of a slogan as an integral part of the marketing strategy is indeed extremely common, but it is not necessary for the success of the brand. Even in many cases where a brand does use a slogan, there is no guarantee that it is the slogan that will penetrate the consciousness of your potential consumers.
Here are some examples: Many of you have an iPhone. Does anyone of you know what is the slogan of “Apple? Many of you have a Toshiba or Panasonic TV in your living room, or some electrical appliance from Bosch, and some of you also have a Subaru car in your garage. Does anyone of you know what the slogans of these brands are?
I am not implying that a slogan is not important. But what’s REALLY important is your brand’s message. For those of you who will still choose to use a slogan, it is recommended to follow the following rules:
- The slogan must be short and catchy. A slogan of five words or more simply misses the mark.
- The function of the slogan is to strengthen the brand by refining its message, its vision, and/or its clear advantages. A slogan along the lines of “The best _____ for ____” is generic, uninteresting and unoriginal. On the other hand, a slogan like “Finger lickin’ good” by “Kentucky Fried Chicken” is a short and catchy slogan, which appropriates positive values to the brand and strengthens the brand’s differentiation from its competitors. Another slogan that I have nothing but good words to say about it is “Connecting People” by “Nokia”. These are just two words that manage to convey a positive, sharp, and above all accurate message that reflects the company’s vision. Think about it. They are literally connecting people.
- It is highly recommended not to use a slogan that tries to “put down” your competitors, insult them or belittle them. Your slogan should “raise” your brand – not “lower” others. I previously came across the slogan “because everyone else is just bad”, and I thought to myself – what a shame they try to differentiate themselves by belittling their colleagues.
Myth #2: The Colors You Choose are Critical to Your Brand’s Success
There is no doubt that color has a certain importance. According to many studies done in the field, colors have a proven psychological and behavioral effect, and sometimes using a certain color may cause the consumer to act in one way or another. Colors may also create higher recall among your target audience. Here are some examples: the first thought that will come to most of us when we see white text on a red background will surely be linked to the “Coca-Cola” brand. And when we see yellow writing on a red background? Most of us will think of “Mcdonalds”. In addition, different colors can generate different feelings, emphasize certain messages, and create differentiation between you and your competitors.
It is important to remember that colors are an integral part of the Look & Feel of any brand, and choosing the right colors for your brand is indeed important. For that matter, a children’s toy store would never be designed in red, black, and white color combinations, just as a luxury jewelry store would never be designed in orange, off-white, and brown color combinations. Why is it happening? Because different areas of the retail world have certain colors that are identified with them.
Here’s one more example: a place that sells sushi would never brand itself in the colors of the rainbow. Why? Because sushi is Japanese food and Japanese food is historically branded using black, red and white, or something in that area. And despite all this, the colors you choose to use are important – but not critical to the success of the brand. After all, it is impossible to argue with the success of brands like “Ferrari” or “Nikon” or even “Nestle”. Can any of you tell me what their brand colors are?
To conclude, colors help to generate feelings and in some cases to differentiate your brand from its competitors, but it is important to remember that using a unique and prominent color as the leading color of your brand – is not necessarily what will make your brand fail or succeed.
Myth #3: A Logo Must Have a Simple and Memorable Icon
Almost every client I have met has told asked me about it. When you think of logos that everyone knows – many think of the apple in Apple’s logo or the Swoosh of the “Nike” brand. One can only assume that such examples are the ones that make many of you believe that a simple, smart and memorable icon in your logo is necessary. Some of you even believe that the unique shape is the most important thing in creating your brand.
Using an icon in your brand’s logo can certainly help convey the main message in some cases. If we go back to Apple’s apple, for example, the story behind it tells the story of the brand wonderfully, so it fits the brand like a glove. But if this myth was true – then maybe brands like “Coca-Cola”, “Facebook“, “Google“, “Instagram” and “Microsoft” (whose logos do not include any icon) would probably not be the biggest brands on planet earth.
The Most Important Lesson You Will Learn About Branding
As we already understood there are quite a few examples of how a brand can survive and succeed without a slogan, a memorable color or even if the brand’s logo does not include a smart & simple icon.
So what makes a brand successful? The benefits we derive from our relationship with it. A brand that fails to create a lasting relationship with its customers or fails to generate real benefits for its customers – will not survive for long.
A brand is not just the logo, colors, slogan, or marketing ads of a company. A brand is everything we know about a certain company, believe about it, and feel about it. A good brand is a bit like the most popular kid in class. it’s the one everyone talks about, it’s the one everyone wants to be like and it’s one everyone knows. The more a brand manages to get people to know it and fall in love with it – the more significant its commercial success will be.
When a consumer buys a new “iPhone” for example, he is not just buying a cell phone. He buys the meaning that this particular mobile device has – in his eyes and the eyes of others. He buys what people will say or think about him when they know he has an “iPhone”, and the first impression he will have in the eyes of strangers when they know he has an “iPhone”. He buys luxury, technological superiority, design excellence, ease of use and innovation, but he doesn’t just buy a mobile device.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of “Amazon” and one of the world’s leading branding experts, said in the past that “A brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.” I don’t think there is a more accurate way to put it.
It’s important to remember
When you’re building a brand, start from the beginning to the end. There is no point in designing a great logo, choosing the right colors or writing a clever slogan, and there is also no point in building an amazing website – before you have taken care of the main things:
- Try to create meaning.
- Try to understand who and what you are for your target audience.
- Try to understand what your contribution is to the customer, to the community in which you operate, and to the world.
- Try to understand where you make a difference, and what your meaning is in the eyes of everyone who comes in contact with your brand.
- Try to understand what you are ACTUALLY selling when you sell your products or services.
- Try to give your brand a character that you can easily fall in love with.
- Try to tell your brand story in an original, interesting, funny, and witty way.
In my professional opinion, that is the only way to build a winning brand.