By Kim Brooks
Every brand is different. The point of branding is to distinguish you from the competition. Just about every good brand meets the following criteria. Look at these criteria as you develop a brand from the ground up, or test your existing brand against them. 1. Targeted
Your brand must start by being appropriate to your market and product. Microsoft is a great brand, but if you were marketing to kids and mothers, you wouldn't want to emulate Microsoft. Every great brand you can think of clearly communicates who the audience is: Apple nonconformists; Nordstrom upper class, by wealth or tastes; Toys"R"Us annoying, but obviously kids, kids, kids. I recently worked with a company to develop a logo and brand strategy for an electronics engineering resource site. The company had started with an idea for fun and hip. But the more we worked from that angle, the farther we got from the audience. Engineering tools just are not fun or hip. We ended up doing an about-face, and defined a brand that was clean, efficient, simple, and bright. 2. Clear
What's the message? From the logo to the collateral, are you communicating an instantly comprehensible message? Look again at the example of Toys"R"Us. You can instantly recognize the message: kid-oriented and kids only, fun, everything a kid could want. Test your own messaging. Show several of your marketing pieces (ads, collateral, business cards) to a total stranger. Do they describe the company traits the same way you would? 3. Meaningful
The message about your company must be meaningful. If you base your image on excellent service, you must deliver on that promise. If the customer's experience doesn't match his or her expectations, the image will become negative. You will lose the customer's trust, which is a very serious problem that is difficult to fix. List the strengths of your company. Does this match your brand? List the weaknesses. Are you trying to use image and...