What is Effective Branding?


[clear]The Olympic rings. The Nike swoosh. The NBC peacock. What do all of these have in common? To begin with, they are some of the most recognizable logos in the world. As visual representations of multi-national companies, these images exemplify extremely effective branding. At its foundation, branding is the visual representation through which a company can establish an identity of a certain product or service.

Over time, some companies have chosen to change their brand in attempt to update their identity, while others’ brand has remained almost untouched, such as Coca Cola and Macy’s department store. Recent history has shown that it is those that do not drastically change any aspect of their brand that establish not only a faithful consumer base, but also a strong identity among competitors that reflects the company’s values.

So why exactly do some brands feel the need to revamp their image? Most often, it results as either the release of a very new and different product or the recovery from a steep downturn in revenue, like JCPenny department store in recent years. Other times, companies believe that if they want to participate in the online or mobile advertising conversations, a complete overhaul is needed to fit with the new technology. However, the majority of these instances have not benefitted the consumer, the maker, or the brand.

Several major companies have recently tried to rebrand by simply featuring a new logo and releasing some new commercials, with little response from the buyers. In an embarrassing attempt to rebrand, the SciFi channel changed the spelling of the brand to SyFy, supposedly because they could not trademark the original spelling. Little did they know, SyFy is a street name for syphilis. As you can imagine, this rebranding was not the boost corporate trekkies were looking for.

Probably the most well-known example at a failed attempt to rebrand is the Gap clothing store in 2010. The simple navy blue square and thin white lettering transformed into black block lettering with a small navy square in the corner of the logo. Gap’s loyal customer base was so outraged, many threatened to stop shopping at the store all together, and even created the website www.craplogo.me to see how your name would look in the new logo.

Some might ask, “Why does it matter what the tag looks like on the inside of my clothes?”, and that’s a perfectly reasonable question. While a new brand image may not seem like a terrible idea after 40-plus years, many consumers believe that a change in branding implies a change in product quality, and when people like Gap’s dark wash jeans and crisp white shirts, they really like their dark wash jeans and crisp white shirts. Having a consistent image is an indicator that the company’s values and products have remained relatively unchanged, which attracts and maintains very loyal customers.

Think of the big MTV ‘M’ and the cursive script of Coca Cola. These are iconic brands because they are simple and adaptable, but mostly because of what they represent. Sure, you may think that after 85 seasons, The Real World still hasn’t lived up to its potential, or that cherry lime coconut-flavored Coke is a little ridiculous, but these brands have created long-lasting visual aids exemplary of their identities. In effect, the key to getting the most satisfaction out of any business venture can be summed up in a simple, easily recognizable brand that people will not just respond to, but to which they will remain extremely loyal.