When a business communicates in any visual medium it is also consciously, or unconsciously, expressing itself as a brand. At Cuckooo Design Studio we understand the complexities of branding and know how to develop the values and ethos of your business into a visual language that will accurately and consistently express your personality in order to better appeal to your customers, to add financial value to your company and maximise your opportunities for repeat business.
Contrary to popular belief a brand is NOT a logo – branding is not about communicating ownership to your customers, but about building a valuable, long-term relationship with them. We like to describe a brand as a ‘unique and recognisable personality’. Branding then, is the act of defining and consistently communicating this ‘unique and recognisable personality’.
In a heavily populated market with multiple businesses all offering something very similar, customers have to decide both what to buy and who to buy from. Having a unique and recognisable personality helps you stand out from your competitors and makes you recognisable in your market. Furthermore, when someone expresses their personality, it is easier to feel that we know them – and, as we are well aware, people like to buy from people they know!
The brand (or personality) of a business is determined by its values and ethos. The business will be attractive to people who share the same or similar values. Such people can align and strengthen their own values with those communicated by the business through the purchase of products and services. Furthermore, through these purchases, customers can communicate their aligned values to other people – i.e. they want to be seen to be associated with the brand. It is this relationship that allows certain companies (successful brands) to charge triple the going rate for an equivalent product, just because it displays their logo. To be clear... it is NOT the logo that is the brand, the brand is the personality that the logo represents. It is the values that the business stands for that people want a connection with and are prepared to pay a premium for.
It is in the customer’s interest to be loyal and support their chosen brand, promoting it to others and helping it to grow – the more successful the brand becomes, the more rewarded they will feel about their aligned values and their purchases. This alliance creates true brand loyalty and much repeat business – it is the reason why getting your branding right can prove very lucrative.
Well considered graphic design can be used to express a brand in most visual mediums – and is one of the most powerful means of communicating. Through the use and combination of many visual elements (colour, images, words, typography, space, shape, pattern, texture and scale) it is possible to create a visual language and identity that, through repetitive communication, can become synonymous with the brand. It is this visual identity that plays a hugely significant role in making the brand recognisable and therefore ‘known’ (think of any brand – what does it look like? What colour is it?).
Branding is very powerful and can be used to generate huge profits and achieve unprecedented business success. The illustration below demonstrates how many businesses utilise branding to achieve huge financial reward – customers feed the brand, they want it to do well, they are loyal to it – the bigger it grows the prouder they are – there is reward in being part of something successful!
At Cuckooo Design Studio, through visual communication (and with an appropriate budget) we can make your business express any personality you choose to help make you more desirable to a specific market. However, this approach and our somewhat tongue-in-cheek cuckoo analogy raises an important ethical discussion.
Many shrewd business people try to literally play the cuckoo’s game. They pretend to be something they are not, creating fictitious brand values and using design to express these to their market. This approach is doomed in the long-term, as inevitably, the company fails to deliver on its promise and will prove, through its actions, to have a schizophrenic personality. This inconsistency confuses customers, creating distrust and will lead to poor customer loyalty.
You see, even a cuckoo has to work pretty hard to deliver the expected and necessary personality if it is to get fed. Not only does its egg have to be the right size and colour and be delivered at an exact and critical time, but the baby bird also has to hatch first and mimic a whole brood of baby birds, replicating all the right sounds and visual attributes.
So, whether or not you truly believe in the values you use to build your brand, you must live up to them through your actions if your business is to have long-term success. In the digital age, with instant global communication, businesses can no longer get away with saying one thing and doing another. They get found out very quickly, to their detriment.
This makes branding a force-for-good for business, the consumer and the wider population. As designers, we love the fact that the process of branding and the power of the consumer can encourage positive values in business and due to competitive markets, the consumer has the power to vote, and therefore influence business practice, with their feet.