While there are a number of challenges that business owners and entrepreneurs must face if they are to lead a successful venture, branding their enterprise effectively is arguably the most difficult. There are two key issues, with the first being the need to consistently align branding across all online, offline and social media channels.
The second issue revolves around perception and your ability to interpret real-time branding trends, and translate these for the good of your venture. This is particularly challenging, given the evolutionary nature of branding and the way in which innovation creates a constantly shifting landscape.
3 Things That Your Brand Can Learn
One of the dominant trends in contemporary branding is communication design, which is a mixed discipline that has two core elements. The first is the need for all products and services to reflect the fundamental values of your brand, so that these entities can form the basis of any subsequent digital or print marketing campaigns. The second element refers to the development of new marketing channels through which the product and its message can be effectively shared.
It is important for your business to get this right, as otherwise it may lose ground to more proactive rivals. Here are three things that you need to know about communication design and some examples of best practice.
1. Understand brand values and communicate these through your product
Interestingly, the automotive market is home to some of the best examples of communication design. This stands to reason, especially when you consider that the product sits at the heart of this market and naturally dominates the marketing strategy around it.
This was reflected during the 2014 Automotive Brand Contest, which was initially established to reward excellence in product and design communication. During the ceremony, luxury motorhome brand Niesmann and Bischoff was awarded a special mention for its stylish Arto vehicle, which clearly embodied the core values of the company and effectively communicated these within a minutely coordinated setting. More specifically, the attractive and aesthetically superior interior underlined the premium nature of the brand, while communicating this further through high-end fixtures and focal points.
This represents the best practice for product-orientated communication design and provides a template for similar brands to learn from. Simply by bullet-pointing three or four values that are integral to your brand (relating to factors such as cost, ease of use or accessibility), you look to integrate these into each individual project through single design elements. If you are looking to market an affordable and easy-to-use product, for example, you will need to focus on creating a relatively simple design with an uncomplicated colour palette.
This immediately highlights a simplistic and uncluttered nature, while also drawing attention to any actionable feature buttons that reinforce the product’s ease of use.
2. Factor in Category Specific Emotional Values
While it is hardly ground-breaking to suggest that emotional branding is commonplace in the modern age, the way in which emotive values are applied to engage consumers is changing. We are now seeing a rise in category specific emotional values, which can be attributed to a particular market, product-type and consumer base. This must be factored in to your communication design strategy, as it will impact your core pillars as a brand and how you choose to communicate them.
One brand that achieves this well is Samsung, who use fundamental values and subtle emotional hooks to engage customers and meet their expectations surrounding a specific product. Take Samsung’s commercial for the Galaxy S4, for example, which not only reinforced the brands’ identity but also managed to engage a targeted audience with emotive imagery and soundtracks.
Samsung is renowned for developing visually stylish and relatively easy to use products, and the advert adequately reflects this by using clean imagery and functional messaging in place of subjective, sales-driven copy. There is also an underlying emotional pull that runs throughout the advert, however, which is represented by emotive background music and the subtle placement of joyous, family pictures. These tap into category specific emotional values that delve beyond the functional reasons for buying technology, by leveraging the fact that we now use smartphones and tablets to capture those special moments with friends and loved ones.
As a result, the best brands operate a double-pronged approach to communication design that enables them to target customers on a logical and emotional level. So while your product can include individual features that reflect all integral brand values, your marketing campaign should also use emotional visuals and audio to showcase the direct benefits that they deliver to customers.
3. The importance of consistency in communication design
We have already touched on how brand and specific emotional values drive effective communication design, and it is also important to extend this beyond products and advertising. After all, the spectrum of marketing is comprised of numerous individual elements, each of which contributes to a narrative that should share an authentic and believable story about your brand. This includes everything from packaging to the delivery of customer service, and it is imperative that each aspect serves as an extension of your product and contributes towards a consistent communication design execution.
One brand that achieves this successfully is automotive giant Ford, which to this day retains one of the most consistent and instantly recognisable brands in the world. It also offers an example of how consistent communication design and branding can be sustained even as products evolve against a backdrop of increasing innovation. Renowned for its simplicity and the value for money that it delivers, Ford uses its iconic logo and classic colour palette to reinforce its positioning in an ever-changing market.
This success is based on a strong communication design strategy, in which individual elements such as product, marketing and advertising are closely aligned according to brand values. So, while technology changes the boundaries of product design and marketing, Ford uses its strong brand proposition and an in-depth knowledge of customers to maintain consistency.
Ford’s example is an impressive one, not least because the brand has maintained its identity over a prolonged period of time. The brand’s success also underlines the importance of understanding its core values and those of its customers, as this knowledge is central to a successful communication design strategy. Another key takeaway is the need for consistency across all online, offline and social channels, as this creates an instantly recognisable brand that has the potential to cultivate loyalty.
While communication design may not play a central role in your marketing efforts, it can help you to develop an engaging brand that reflects your philosophy as a business. It can also enable you to drive consistent branding across all social and virtual channels, as you look to share a story that begins with a single product and extends throughout packaging, marketing and the delivery of customer service.