Values-First Branding: A Cohesive Approach
BY CONNOR TRIPP
In today’s marketplace, branding can be a tall order for companies or even industries that operate from a grounded, physical space. For the chauffeured car industry, there isn’t a vast digital market that produces sales. This doesn’t mean these businesses are out of luck, though. A strong branding campaign and company identity can break media boundaries and provide a recognizable tie for consumers anywhere they are.
What is branding and why is it important?
Branding is tricky to define because the term itself means so many different things. It is most often an umbrella term that constitutes every piece of a company’s identity. Usually when people think of branding, they think about logos. A logo is like the tip of the iceberg that sticks out of the water. It is what most people who come across your company will see; however, there is so much more under the surface.
A well-made brand consists of these elements in addition to logos:
• The company’s color scheme
• The website
• The tone and cadence in communications from emails, blog posts, interviews, and other outlets
• Fonts used in documents and advertisements
• The company’s mission statement
So what’s the big deal? Why do these things matter so much if customers usually don’t consciously notice them?
Here’s the simple answer: cohesion. By creating a tight-knit system that visuals and vocabulary operate under, your company builds up a strong identity that begins to solidify with people. With good consistency over time, customers begin to understand not only what your company looks like, but who and what your company is.
Let’s look at a well-known example: People know Coca-Cola as the “kick back and relax, cuddle up with a friend, sharing good times soda.” People know Pepsi as the “party hard, let yourself loose soda.” These identities come from all aspects of the branding over time. Coca-Cola ads and messaging often reflect two or more people together. For instance, they ran a campaign where bottles were printed with people’s names you could share the drink with. They use a polar bear as a classic mascot, relaxing in the arctic with a drink. Pepsi, on the other hand, often features ads with partying, like the famous Haddaway ad from the late 2000s. Pepsi’s logo was also updated several years ago to be representative of a person smiling.
While ground transportation is worlds apart from soda, the same concepts apply. A strong identity will lead people to an understanding of what it is your company represents, without even thinking about it on a surface level.
Start with your values
Knowing where to begin when creating a brand can be challenging. A great place to start is to look at your company’s mission statement and attempt to boil down the values of the company to a small collection of keywords. Does your company aim to be trusted? Compassionate? Reliable? Intelligent? If you are hoping to rebrand or change directions, what values have changed about the company’s identity since the current brand was created?
This step is perhaps the most difficult of the process. Figuring out the direction your company wants to go in from a conceptual level will provide a framework that everything can be slotted into. This is the point where a graphic designer or design team comes into play. While the internet offers some sites where you can quickly whip up a free logo, you are unlikely to land on something that works toward creating the strong identity I talked about earlier. There are professionals for this very purpose, so don’t be afraid to use them! A good designer or design team will be able to provide you with multiple options and come to a good understanding of how to express the values you set out with.
Let’s take a look at Limo Command, an office outsourcing company in the chauffeured car space (full disclosure: Limo Command was co-founded by new LMC CEO Joey Allen). Limo Command aims to convey reliability, and its goal is to be present any time you need something. It aims to act as a background leader, a company that meets your needs. From a branding perspective, this is represented directly in its logo. Through the use of an image that resembles a play button on a television remote, clients and business partners alike can get the message that Limo Command has everything they’re looking for at the push of a button, or that they can “press play” using the company’s tools to simplify running their businesses.
Looking at their website, the brand identity is reinforced. Almost all the imagery on the site contains people who are happy and working. Its verbiage emphasizes call to action statements like “Take Command of Your Business” while consistently keeping the focus on the customer by asking rhetorical questions. A lot is packed into a branding message.
While it may be a challenging time for the world right now, having a strong belief in your company’s identity can help it be expressed on and offline. No matter where you are in your company’s lifespan, remember to place value on your branding, and consider the steps you can take to elevate your image to a level that will wow people—even if they don’t know it. [CD0521]
Connor Tripp is the Graphic Design Assistant for LMC Spotlight, a division of The LMC Groups. He can be reached at email@example.com.