BY SAMANTHA KNAPP-ANGELO
In today’s competitive luxury ground transportation marketplace, branding is a powerful and essential tool in shaping the identity and success of an organization. Branding goes beyond logo design; it is the voice and overall look and feel of an entire company (if you want to read more about my suggestions for logos, you can check out my article Avoiding Common Logo Mistakes in the May 2023 issue). It is the tool that establishes credibility, builds trust, and differentiates a company from its competitors as long as it is consistent. Strong branding leaves a lasting impression on the consumer and in turn, can lead to higher sales and profits.
We know all too well that the ground transportation market is always evolving and so are consumers. It is important to reevaluate your brand and its target audience periodically to stay on top of all the current trends. Your company may not cater to the same demographics that it did in 2019 or 2009, or you’ve added service options since that aren’t reflected in your branding (for example, if you still have limousine in your name but don’t offer those types of vehicles any longer). These reevaluations sometimes reveal that it is time for a rebrand.
Many industries have branding that is similar from company to company, especially in terms of their brand colors. For example, financial institutions—and really many companies that want to convey trust and seriousness—are drawn to a medium blue that communicates stability and calm. Red is the predominant color for restaurants, especially quick-service ones that prioritize urgency and are playing with the color of their ingredients: tomatoes, hot sauce, salsa, ketchup (not to mention that reds and yellows are said to spark hunger). And high fashion brands favor black for its sophistication, luxury, and power—which is probably why so many brands in our industry also adopt it in their marketing, branding, and logo.
And while there is nothing wrong with using color as a familiar symbol, your branding is also an opportunity to help you stand out in a crowded field.
Branding creates a unique and compelling narrative around a company or its product. If you are just starting out (or if you are rebranding) your company should define the brand’s purpose, values, and personality:
❱ What problems does your company solve?
❱ What do you want to be known for?
❱ Who are your target customers?
Once these essential questions have been answered, it’s time to move forward with creating a visual component that extends across your marketing. A strong brand image is obtained by carefully and thoughtfully choosing colors, fonts, and imagery that align with the values established from the research into the company and its consumers. A successful visual component will aid in brand recognition, which is key to establishing trust amongst consumers. The more a consumer trusts your brand, the more loyal they will be to you, and being memorable is a big part of brand recognition.
Next, it’s time to come up with a voice. The voice will showcase the brand’s personality and values and can set them apart from others. A helpful way to establish a voice is to imagine the brand as a person. How would this person speak to the target audience? Are they in a full business suit or a stylish, business-casual type of person?
If you have already been in business for some time, think about your customer base and what will appeal to them. If you are new or trying to expand your market, think about the people you want to serve. Are you trying to get the attention of wedding planners, brides, and grooms? What about business travelers, leisure travelers, travel bookers, or event planners? Your research into your target audience will play a large role in choosing what kind of tone will be the most effective.
Rebranding doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul to the point you are unrecognizable; sometimes a subtle tweak is all you need to stay competitive and relevant. Think of it like a haircut: you’re cleaning up the growth, but the same style is still recognizable. The goal is to better align the brand with evolving trends, new service offerings, and customer preferences while staying true to your core values. Rebranding can revitalize your brand’s image, which can in turn attract new customers, re-engage existing ones, and open doors to untapped markets. If you haven’t made any tweaks, additions, or updates to your brand in the last five years, it’s probably time!
However, with rebranding you need to tread carefully. Change can often be met with resistance, alienating an already established client base or even your employees, which demonstrates the powerful emotional component it can have. This is yet another reason to do thorough research into consumer behavior, needs, and complaints and to take these findings into consideration before switching to something new. Perhaps survey your employees to see what they think and are hearing when behind the wheel or on the phone with your clients.
When done right, rebranding can revitalize a brand, attract new customers, and set a company up for long-term success. [CD0823]
Editor’s note: Branding can be demonstrated by how different companies within the same industry use images and colors to connect to their target audience. Consider gaylordhotels.com: The logo is emblematic of sun and family fun, while photos make it clear that it’s also an upscale resort. Compare that to choicehotels.com: The colors are brighter as well as family-friendly, but the site showcases a variety of brands to fit different budgets and types of travelers. The site is more direct and less fussy. Finally, w-hotels.com: The site showcases trendy, one-of-a-kind destinations and activities that would appeal to younger professionals who want to socialize with other hotel guests. Images scream that this place was made to be Instagram ready. In all three cases, it’s very clear who the specific chains appeal to and what you can expect at each.
Samantha Knapp-Angelo is a creative graphic design assistant with The LMC Groups. She can be reached at email@example.com.