Why are we jarred at times when we see someone on the street we initially think we know? What about a familiar song that plays on the radio? Is it déjà vu? I believe the reason we recollect a particular work or think of a specific person is that these things are memorable. For instance, you may not remember the name of a song or an actor, but you might have some idea or inkling. I bring this up because if you or your company appears in customers’ minds in this type of vague sense, it’s likely that you’re wondering how your brand can become memorable.
From now on, I suggest you look at some of the images and, in many cases, sounds we are bombarded with daily to better understand the connection between branding and imaging. Think of NBC’s brand tone. You know the network’s familiar three chiming notes; add in the iconic peacock brand image, and there it is: brand identity. Now we’ll look at this from the perspective of why images are integral to brand success.
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Why We Need Images
We need images for our brands in order to integrate our unique logo and communicate expectations for the consumer. You need to look closely at what you produce. Since our world is digital, what you put out into the world will live on whether you want it to or not. Take some time in the selection and production of images — even stock images. Choose images for purpose-driven marketing and brand continuity. We as humans are moved by many things. What moves you? What moves your customers? Choose from there.
Think of this: Countries typically have their own flags. Why? That’s their “brand.” It’s a physical expression representing the country and its people. It’s no different for you or your business. When I see the U.S. flag anywhere else in the world outside, I know what I feel, even though it’s a very simple “image.”
Your brand image represents more than just design elements; it “is the customer’s perception of who you are based on their interactions. It can evolve and doesn’t necessarily involve a customer making a purchase or using your products and/or services at the moment of the encounter.”
Your brand can be very much alive or very much dead in the minds of clients — maybe even zombied. All the slickest of tricks and cool gimmicks are no substitute for true customer interaction and engagement. Art, images, prizes — whatever you’re bringing to the table had better be lasting. Customer acquisition costs are not cheap.
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Brand and Marketing
Branding is not the same as the marketing of the brand. There’s a unique distinction between these elements that should be understood. Branding is the essence of the company, “something to be felt and experienced even if it becomes concrete with style guides, logo colors, and employee handbooks. Whereas marketing is ultimately concrete in that while the brand is a what, marketing is how people will hear about this particular brand and see it in action.”
So, how do we make sure that our brand images and meaning are in place before we start to market our brand?
First, come to terms with who you are and what direction you are going. Conveying this to the customer is of the utmost importance. To do this, ask your staff as sort of an informal focus group what they think the brand is about in their own words. Then have them review the images currently in use to see if they line up with your staff’s understanding. Don’t stop there — if possible, do the same thing with existing customers and see what they have to say. Upon reviewing the input, start to assemble images that fit or better align with these expectations or understandings. Keep your staff involved, particularly marketing, to get everyone on the same page.
The purpose of marketing is to generate excitement and desire around your products or services with the intent of selling. First, however, you have to sell yourself. You need to find out who and what you are before you put the images out because you will be judged by what those images say. Make sure that the marketing department knows that it’s selling products and services, as well as the brand.
With that, we have an end purpose. I believe in the opening of the mind to create nuance and texture within your brand identity and imaging to realize the very greatest potential of your brand. Implement change that’s enjoyable and profitable. Do the work that’s concrete. Your brand images don’t have to be elaborate, as we know minimalist images do work extremely well. Remember the yellow, grinning, smiley face? It comes across as familiar. Memorable, you could say.
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