When we see the apple byte, we know it’s Apple.
We recognize those neon Golden Arches from miles away on the interstate.
And that red scripted ‘Coca-Cola’ that is still easily recognizable, even in different languages.
These brands aren’t iconic because of their logo designs. It’s the voice, the experience, the personality, tone, and message that these companies have very carefully crafted over the years that makes them icons.
It’s the perception the consumer has of these brands based on the experiences and interactions with these products that is then assigned back to the visual identity of the companies.
The brand becomes iconic only when the company proves itself to its customers. An attentive server at a restaurant, an auto mechanic who goes the extra mile—we’ve all experienced outstanding service in one form or another that positively reinforces our perceptions of the brand—that’s the “proof” that ties back to what the brand is and means to us.
Take the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain. One story shares the experience of a family who stayed at a Ritz-Carlton, only to find that their son left Joshie, his favorite stuffed giraffe, behind at the hotel. To calm his distraught son over his lost giraffe pal, the father sold the idea that Joshie was fine and taking an extra long vacation. That evening, the Ritz-Carlton called to let the family know they had found Joshie in the laundry and would be happy to take a picture of Joshie on a lounge chair by the pool to substantiate the father’s vacation story. A few days later, the family received a package from the hotel with Joshie, a few Ritz-Carlton branded treats, and a binder that meticulously documented Joshie’s extended stay at the Ritz, including lounging by the pool, getting a spa massage, driving a golf cart on the beach, and even taking a shift in front of the security monitors.
The Ritz-Carlton created an experience so amazing that this family couldn’t help but tell others about it, creating (yet another group of) brand ambassadors and spreading the brand message, at the cost of some postage, a few photographs, and a bit of ingenuity.
A brand identity is not just a logo, and even a great logo cannot make up for bad content and inconsistent messaging.
Great logos, websites, videos, and campaigns are ultimately just great marketing tactics, but branding goes deeper than these. Branding is the practice of attaching a humanistic personality to a company so that it can connect with its audience. Your website, logo, videos, and campaigns are all expressions of your brand and chances for you and your audience to interact, opportunities to reinforce the story you are telling.
Make sure that story is defined, memorable, unique, distinct, and consistent. To build a strong brand, you need to have have a clear understanding of what your brand stands for. “Who are we?” … “What do we do?” … “What do we want our customers to know about us?” These are some great questions whose answers will be the building blocks of your brand.
Remember, a brand isn’t iconic the day a company opens its doors. Take the time to build a strong brand that your customers can connect with and trust and they’ll want to continue talking about you even after you’re done telling your story.