Branding: Design 101

In some ways, the field of marketing is not all that different from the fashion industry. Both industries thrive on the age-old expression “what’s old is new again.” Coca Cola and Miller have both made “vintage” labeling chic again.

However, when it comes to branding strategies – ranging from the top consumer brands to the more targeted business-to-business companies – the “in” look is usually a mix of classic pieces and some edgier tactics.

At HCK2 Partners, we have always believed the core of everything we do across the integrated marketing spectrum – creative, interactive and PR – should begin and end with the overarching brand strategy. If placed in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, branding would be on the bottom – c’mon, you need the brand before you can eat, sleep and propel a business!

If you polled the masses, the majority would describe branding in terms of the visual aspects, but it really extends well beyond what you can see and successful brands transcend into how you feel. Enter Maslow and key messaging is on the first level.

Looking beyond basic key messaging, here’s a quick list of how to “dress up” your brand ensemble:

  • Strategy – the goal
  • Reputation management – let’s give them something to talk about
  • Communications – the voice you use to articulate your brand
  • Positioning – the story that defines you
  • Image – the journey you’re on
  • Freshness – fresh content will keep your image clean and relevant
  • Analysis – make sure your brand passes the sniff test with key audiences
  • Trust – think of brand attributes that are inviting
  • Reach – ensure your brand speaks to target audiences
  • Creativity – an artistic expression of your identity

Heading into 2014, consider a brand audit to determine what to keep and what to freshen up. At the very least, you want to avoid a branding faux pas!