Brands can forge intense relationships between companies and customers. We all see this in our day-to-day lives: the Apple or McDonalds logo, Coca Cola red or NHS blue, all have an almost subconscious impact on us. We know what these brands mean, and we connect them perhaps not just with the products that company sells, but with every product in their entire market segment.
At Squibble, we take a lot of care when helping our clients with branding – and we’re always available for a chat about how to go about a branding exercise.
But let’s do a deep dive on branding here, and try to get to bottom of the hows and whys.
How Branding Affects Human Psychology
The goal of branding is to attract the right customers to an organisation – to connect with individuals in a target group in some way. In order to achieve this reliably, some understanding of human psychological is critical, since ultimately branding has psychological goals: it aims to inspire an emotional reaction.
Take colour. People have intense psychological reactions to different shades and hues. What branding enables companies to do is harness those innate reactions to their advantage. Red can be exciting, blue can be calming; purple can seem luxurious, black can seem stable. Understanding colour helps companies evoke their values and selling points visually – and that’s the key to all good branding.
How Branding Affects Consumer Behaviour
Once a business understands Psychology 101, it can move on to understanding how the cues it can send through colour and copy will affect its customers’ behaviour. Critically, a brand’s aim is often to associate a particular product with a specific company in the mind of customers. Many companies will sell a version of that product – be it toothpaste, fencing posts or automobiles – but a good brand will link a customer with a company rather than a product.
How many times have you been asked “Is Pepsi OK?” in a bar? It’ll be because you asked for a Coke when really what you wanted was a cola. Likewise, that domestic appliance that sucks dust up from the floor is a vacuum cleaner not a Hoover, and there are other choices for your morning cereal than Kellogg’s.
But those brands have been so successful that they have taken over our reactions to the generic products they sell – not just our behaviour but our vocabulary has been affected by them.
How Branding Works
The best brands achieve that by aligning very closely a company’s values and offer with a visual identity that is bold, clear and consistent. Branding creates an impression in customers, and over time those impressions become a company’s identity.
That’s why brands work best when they’re simple. A single word often describes a company: Apple is innovative, Royal Mail is reliable. That clarity gives each brand its core value – the impression it ones to present. Every element of the brand then aligns to achieve that look. The more successful the brand, the more dominant its company’s products and services will become in the minds of its customers.
Does Branding Last Forever?
A good brand is dictated by brand guidelines – a set of agreed rules to which all communications a company undertakes conform. Marketing is how a comnpany reaches clients, and through advertising you can reach an awful lot of them; but the brand itself is is the umbrella under which all of that sits. The consistency with which a company presents itself is critical in ensuring the impact and longevity of a brand.
In that sense, brands can last a very long time: where a company’s brand and values are well aligned, the two can proceed hand-in-hand for many years. How consistently they do so will dictate how successful it lodges its company’s products and services in the minds of customers … and build a long-term association and relationship with them.
Of course, external changes can occur that make a rebranding unavoidable – but the best rebrands build on the existing identity of an organisation precisely because customers develop a connection with a company over time.
Indeed, it’s that power to forge robust and long-lasting connections that gives branding its power. And ultimately, that’s why branding matters.