The most visited framework on this website is the branding bullseye – the framework that is used to determine the essence of a brand. This should not be a surprise. A company’s brand and the brands that a company owns are some of its most valuable assets. A strong brand speaks for the company. It tells people what the company stands for. It improves awareness and engenders loyalty. It more than pays for itself because it generates sales and encourages customers to happily pay premium prices. The surprise is not that the framework is the most popular on the site, rather that thousands of companies fail to leverage this massive opportunity.
In addition to the bullseye, it is worth thinking about how brand values are created and built up. We should think of a company brand as an asset. The asset is made up of physical and non-physical attributes.
The physical attributes are obvious. The name of a company speaks volumes. A company name could be descriptive and say what it does. Names also go in fashions with famous examples being Apple, BlackBerry, Apricot, and Mango. Some names are entirely invented, others have been reduced to initials or an acronym. There are companies named after the founder and some indicate that they remain a family business by using the suffix & Son or & Daughter. With no other insights, the names begin to tell a story about a company.
The logo and logo style is also physical. It shape and its colours confer a message. The colour red is frequently used in logos because it stands out and subliminally implies a go-getting company. The colour blue is corporate, especially suggesting safety for a large company. Green logos promote environmental friendliness, purple suggests mystery and creativity, pink may be perceived as glamorous, young and feminine. Colour affects our feelings.
Behind the physical attributes of a brand are softer, amorphous, non-physical characteristics. A company brand cannot ignore its location. The effect of geography is especially evident in wine brands. French wines sit high on a pedestal, especially those in regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire Valley and Champagne. Australian wines are much loved because they are seen to be New World, fresh, bold, green, premium, and well crafted. If you run a winery, the country in which you are based will almost certainly influence the brand names you chose for your products, the design of your labels, your pricing, and whether the bottles have a screw top or a cork.
In the same way, without words, an engineering company that is German will carry a halo of quality. It is why Audi capitalised on Vorsprung durch Technik. A French company may have connotations of luxury, an American company hi-tech, a British company solid and reliable. Companies operating in just one geography will possess these geographical heritages though this may be lost if it becomes truly international.
These perceptions arising from the physical and nonphysical aspects of a brand are its DNA. They are not 100% of the brand because, just as DNA is influenced by upbringing and behaviour, so too there will be many additions to the complicated brand mix. This will be the result of promotions, reputation, and customer experiences. These many layers will build a special and unique personality that becomes one of a company’s most valuable assets.