Branding has come a long way in the business world, writes designer Steve Harrington, but how do you select the right identity for your company?
Branding has become a serious business for Australian companies. Major companies now realise the importance of their brand, which serves as a calling card for their business. It wasn’t always this way. In the past it was a case of the CEO saying “leave it with me” and then taking the logo home to show the wife.
The CEO’s of old didn’t really ‘get’ branding. To them it was all about logos, colours, shapes and it was all a bit too ‘touchy-feely-artsy’ for them. It was their wife who knew how to decorate and buy a nice coloured vase for the living room, who was tasked with giving the thumbs-up to a logo. Thankfully things have changed.
Now CEOs arrive with a proper business plan about what it is they want to achieve with their branding and design. They know what the business needs to do to achieve success and brand is a huge part of that vision.
On any given week you can see new identities popping up all over the place. But given the amount of investment – both money and time – that goes into a rebrand or new identity, it is not a decision that any company enters into lightly. It can be a risky business for brands, particularly because of the necessary return on investments required to justify the rebrand, and because these returns can take time.
Bedding in a new identity can take time to gain traction. It can take years for people to accept the new look and embrace it. So how do you choose the right visual identity for your brand?
Choosing an identity is a highly emotional process. I’ve always believed that great design chooses you, much like the way a great pair of shoes jumps out at you when you enter a store. A great logo should connect with you on a deep, sub-conscious level.
Using design elements such as colour, line and shapes can be powerful tools for brands because these devices speak to our subconscious minds and help us decode and make meaning out of what we see. We all associate colours with human emotions, for example we might say someone is feeling blue or is red with anger. Similarly, our association with shapes is so strong and yet so subtle that it does not take a lot of imagination to assign it a specific meaning. When we are confronted with rounded shapes we tend to feel warm and fuzzy, yet we react very differently when we encounter angular and sharp forms.
Using logos and symbols is more powerful than ever before as the world becomes one economic, global entity. We are bombarded with visual images so only the most powerful, emotive logos will achieve cut-through and really connect with consumers. Most importantly your client’s logo needs to stand for something, and consumers need to know what that is. The last thing anyone wants is a logo or an identity that no one understands. There are too many of those already in the market.