Building blocks for a strong brand
A strong brand identity is more than just an attractive design. A brand’s logo, tagline, colours, and characters – or distinctive assets – can work to help company and audience.
So says Professor Jenni Romaniuk, (pictured) Associate Director (International) at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, University of South Australia Business School. She was presenting a lecture this month on “Building brand identity, More than just a logo? The building blocks for a strong brand identity.”
Drawing on knowledge on how our brain and memory operate, and how people make choices, her lecture was designed to show how a strong brand identity can help companies make effective business decisions.
Anyone who has or is creating a brand can learn how to assess all parts of your brand identity; how colour, faces and sounds work as neurological triggers for attention; how celebrities can help or hinder a brand; and how to use a brand’s distinctive assets to improve effectiveness in today’s digital world.
The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute’s research into marketing is supported by industry partners across the world.
Professor Romanuik says:“Brand assets can be anything from a logo or jingle, right through to the colours used on a product or to represent an organisation, and even the people or characters that represent the brand.
And the more we learn about neuroscience and human psychology, the more we realise that brand building is a sophisticated business, and easily derailed by poor (even if well-intended) decisions.
Colours may be strongly associated with a certain kind of product but if all products in that category use the same kinds of colours, you have to decide how you will distinguish your brand so it is easily identified. However, there are many challenges.
For example, launching a new range of pasta sauce, should you choose green and red packaging because those are the most common colours for packaging pasta?
While this might make it easier to identify as a pasta sauce, it could also make it difficult to stand out from other, better established brands.”
Chances are, if I list a simple series of colours and ask you to think of something you can buy that matches each colour, you’ll probably have no problem at all – purple equals Cadbury’s chocolate; red equals Coca Cola; green and yellow equals Subway, and the list goes on.
Colour is one element in an important array of attributes that make up your brand assets – but the tactics for building a strong brand are more than just picking a colour.
And it is not just colour that can set a brand apart, Professor Romaniuk says, shapes, logos, jingles, characters all have a role to play – indeed one of the big challenges is selecting smartly from the vast array of possibilities.
Your brand assets should make your brand easier to find and buy than the competition.
One of the challenges for marketers is to get a clear perspective on the value of their brand assets.
You can be very close to the products or businesses you are marketing and not have the objective perspective you need to argue a case for change or the status quo.
Our research has defined a tool to deliver good metrics to measure brand identity.
She says measurement is essential for two critical areas: selection of distinctive brand assets and the execution of promotion around those assets.
“A successful brand identity is about 30 per cent smart and around 70 per cent smart execution,” Prof Romaniuk says.
We have learnt that building strong brands is both an art and a science – it is where creativity and science meet which is why marketing is such a challenging and rewarding career and a truly fascinating area of research.
Brand identity is often considered as one of two extremes:
• the solution to/cause of, all a brand’s problems; or
• a trivial part of marketing and delegated to inexperienced juniors to manage.
Professor Romaniuk told the audience that neither is the case – that brand identity can be an important tool to improve the brand’s capacity to build mental and physical availability.
Mental availability is the brand’s ability to be easily thought of, and a brand’s Distinctive assets helps the branding part of that equation.
Physical availability is about being easy to find and buy the brand, and Distinctive assets help the brand stand out in the competitive environment.
Professor Romaniuk has developed two metrics to assess the strength of any Distinctive asset - Fame and Uniqueness.
Fame is how many of the brand’s audience link the asset to the brand; while uniqueness is how much the brand owns the asset compared with competitors.
These two metrics can be combined into her Distinctive asset grid, which helps identify the strategic potential of any asset.
This approach to measurement and metrics can be applied to any brand assets.
To build strong Distinctive assets, brands need to:
• Reach out to their entire audience/stakeholders
• Make sure they anchor the asset with the brand to build strong memory links
• Be consistent - treat every opportunity as a ‘do or decay’ moment. If you are not continuously freshening your asset, it will decline over time.
Professor Romaniuk reminded her audience to take their Distinctive assets seriously and set a long term strategy to build assets that will stand the test of time.
• Unpacking what it takes to build and keep a strong brand identity, University of South Australia Professor Jenni Romaniuk presented the second in UniSA’s Enterprising Partnerships lecture series Building Brand Identity.