Friday, April 24, 2009

Brand identity is more than cosmetic surgery.

While brands speak to the hearts and mind, brand identity is the visual and verbal expression of a brand. But if it is treated as a cosmetic exercise only, and regarded merely as a new logo, stationery or strictly as an ad campaign, then it will have only a superficial effect at best.

Unless the external communication truly reflects the internal qualities and values of an organization, it is more likely to alienate your audience when the expectation doesn't match the experience.

Branding needs to start with a clear point of view on what an organization should be about and how it will deliver a sustainable competitive advantage. The visual and verbal elements should then symbolize that difference, and lodge it indelibly in people's minds.

It begins with a brand name and logo and builds exponentially into a matrix of tools and communications. From business cards to signage, ad campaigns to websites, brand identity increases awareness and builds business.

The need for effective brand identity cuts across public and private sectors. This includes established organizations, start-ups and notfor- profits alike. The best brand identity systems are memorable, authentic, differentiated and sustainable.

Brand identity is definitely a tool that is powerful and ubiquitous. However, it is an asset that needs to be managed, nourished and invested in. Done well, it is the consistent reminder of the meaning of the brand.