What is brand essence and how does it relate to brand personality? What's the difference between brand values and brand attributes?
If you have ever asked these questions you are not alone. It can be confusing to work out how all the different aspects of your brand fit together and where you should be focusing your energy, particularly when there is conflicting literature explaining their interrelationships and many a different brand onion.
I find the best way to understand a brand is to think about the brand as a person, this then allows you to make sense of each of the elements and logically work through how they fit together. Over the next couple of blog posts let's look at brands by thinking about a person from the outside in, starting in this post with the outer most layer: dress sense.
Dress like you want to be addressed - Anon
Just like a person, brands express themselves through how they dress. We tend to build a picture in our minds about a person depending on what they wear - as clothes are often a way in which people reflect their personality. Key things which help build that picture are the colours a person regularly chooses to wear, how she or she combines them, which ones are dominant as well as the kinds of shoes, jewellery and accessories selected.
For example, if someone wears flat and comfortable shoes all the time, it is likely we will perceive them as a practical person. Someone wearing flamboyant or vibrant colours and cutting edge fashion all the time is someone we are likely to assume is outgoing, or a risk taker. Whereas, someone who always wears the expected suit and tie to work, without much or any deviation from the expected corporate tones, we may perceive as conservative in their outlook in life and their behaviour. Rightly or wrongly we tend to apply stereotypes - a universal association between personality types and certain ways of dressing.
It is the same for brands. Clothes for a brand are its colours, logo, fonts and imagery (photography or illustration style).
Most conservative brands use safe fonts and colours in their logo and supporting visual material. Blues and serif fonts are often prominent. Blue because the psychology of this colour represents trust and control. The serif fonts reflect heritage and, therefore, experience. Trust, control and experience are key words these brands want to be associated with.
Of course, blues and serif fonts can be used in ways to present an edgy brand. But they will be used very differently to a brand wanting to get across the message that they are a safe and reliable choice.
Prestige brands (or brands aspiring to be seen as prestigious) often have a sense of elegance about them and frequently use metallics alongside visuals aspects, tones and imagery to signify luxury. Edgy brands, or those that want to give a sense of fun, will often have logos with individually created fonts, coupled with bold colours and visual elements.
So how you dress your brand (the colours, fonts, and visual elements you use - sometimes referred to as a brand's 'look and feel') influences the assumptions people will make about your brand personality and behaviour. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind some of those universal associations when dressing your brand. Equally as important is making sure the way your brand dresses accurately reflects your brands personality.
Stay tuned for the next post looking at what lies just underneath a brand's 'look and feel': attributes a.k.a key characteristics.