How striking and memorable is your brand’s FACE?

Competition for market-share starts with competing for attention. Consumers don’t pay attention to everything they see and remember even less. As Seth Godionce said ‘Your’e either remarkable or you’re invisible’. We each interact with hundreds of brands each day, Yet how many do you remember? Even high visibility in the market and big media-budgets don’t guarantee effect. Many brands have no chance at all of being remembered, because they are simply not memorable in their expression.

What works with people’s faces is also true for brands. Some people’s faces stand out and stick to your mind more than others. We also assume we can ‘read’ of lot of information about somebody’s character from his expression and style. Is someone friendly, tough, sweet, humorous or quirky? You should’t judge a book by it’s cover…but people do it anyway. How your brand (product, organization, shop) looks, has an equally huge impact. Rightly or wrongly, consumers deduce ‘insights’ about your brand based on how it looks.

Therefore people make snap judgments. It takes them only 0.02 – 0.05 seconds to determine whether something (like your brand) is worth to keep looking at – or divert their attention to something else (like your competitors). If you don’t stand out you’ll blend in Investing in a smart strategy and remarkable, memorable form pays itself back!. 

Design impacts your return on branding                                                                                 Mediocre brand design can be a negative impact on your return on brand investments

  • If the brand doesn’t visually stand out in the crowded marketplace, consumers will divert their attention to another brand.
  • If ad may be striking, but the sender is unrecognizable (“I know that ad but I forgot which brand it came form”) your investment is down the drain

Express yourself, as long as it appeals to customers                                                                  The face of your brand has to express what it stands for as well as appeal to its target audience. If I want to be perceived as tough business consultant, a romantic floral dress won’t contribute to my desired image. Even if the flowery dress fits my taste and character like a glove, my style won’t help me win the attention, trust and preference of my target clients.

When developing an effective visual brand identity (and tone of voice), the question is not what we personally judge to be ‘pretty’ or ‘ugly. The most important questions are: does it help us to stand out? Does it express the right message about our brand, and does it feel appealing to our target audience?

Images communicate without words                                                                                                 If an image works for (or against) your brand, therefore, depends on the context. Effective design communicates without words what a brand stands for. It creates an expectation about the experience a product or service will give them.

Suppose these paintings would be logo’s two holiday parks. In which park you expect to have most fun?

Now what if the logos were for airline carriers? Which airline do you expect will be the most reliable and punctual?

Expressive design creates expectations                                                                                     Design can tell a story and create expectations about the experience a brand will give. With an expressive brand identity, every contact consumers have with the brand will reinforce the brand essence in their minds.

A brand style (visual as well as tone of voice) is more than a nice to have. An inalienable face helps you to stand out and be remembered. A brand’s style can be an important driver of customer preference (or distaste). The face of your brand has an impact on the choices they make and therefore sales and loyalty.

Bad design can be as memorable as good design. Brand have to decide HOW they want to be remembered – Ken Peters.

Good art inspires, good design motivates – Otl Aicher

It’s not about beautiful or ugly                                                                                                         The difference between a good and a bad brand style is not a question of ‘ beautiful’ or ‘ugly‘ or ‘like’ or ‘unlike’. You can perceive IKEA’s or Big Bazar’s visual brand identity as ‘loud’. But it’s very effective: it communicates exactly what the brand is about: value of money for everybody.

What kind style will help your brand stand out and attract customers in your market, depends on the question which customers you want to retain and what expectations you want to create. Does the face of your brand tell what you want to say? Does it rise expectations about your price-positioning? Does it express your personality?

Good design must be defined by appropriateness to audience and goals, and by it’s effectiveness, not by it’s adherence to Swiss design or the number of awards it wins – Drew Davies.

Some pictures can say more than others …Before you start designing the face of your brand, you need to have in mind what effect (knowledge, feeling) it should leave. If you do not know what feeling the style should communicate, the design process will become like a rudderless ship.

One picture can say more … but not every picture is equally significant. The face of a brand is only effective if it helps to stand out and contribute to the desired image.

Recognizable design makes your brand inalienable                                                                    An effective visual brand identity (packaging, house style) is like the style of a famous painter. You don’t need to see the autograph to recognize a Van Gogh or a Rembrandt, right? A strong visual brand identity works in the same way. It helps the consumer to identify your brand in a glance, and from miles away – without having to search for the logo. A remarkable visual brand identity is inalienable and enables consumers to recognize you out of thousands

Recognisable design = catalyst to advertising effectiveness                                                         Confusion can cost you dearly. Campaign-tracking results of advertising campaigns often show that people recall an ad, but cannot remember the sender (“I know that ad but I forgot which brand it came from. The blue one…but was it HDFC, BOI or the State Bank of India?”). But whose site, app or office are they going to visit if the ad managed to inspire them? If people don’t remember the sender of a campaign, you’ve essentially advertised for your product category or industry. And your marketing investment is actually ‘down the drain’.

Each year millions and millions of advertising budget are wasted due to confusion about the sender. A recognizable visual identity can serve as catalyst to the impact of advertising investments. It increases like likelihood of correct ‘brand attribution’ and increased awareness.

Standard chartered is a great example of an inalienable visual brand identity.It’s not just the logo that makes it recognizable: if you’d cover-up the logo you’ll still recognize them out of thousands. The colour scheme and the striped pattern make it instantly and easily recognizable in any means, whether it’s a brochure, advertisement, retail interior or website.


Is your style still a magnet for customers – and therefore your business ?                       Every brand owner should ask himself once in a while: are we still remarkable within our (visual) competitive environment? Does our style help us to attract the target audience we are aiming at? Never forget it’s not about your personal preference or about ‘beauty’, but about the perception of your target audience!

Recognizable is more cost-efficient                                                                                          Mediocrity can negatively impact the return on all branding investments. The less marketingbudget you have to spend, the more important it is to be outstanding and memorable. People will remember a striking face or image more easily than a mediocre one.

Especially if you lack funds, recognisability is crucial. It will take you less (paid) media-visibility to stick to peoples minds. It will also increase the odd that your brand will be recognized as the sender of advertising.

Of course recognisability is not the only success factor for effective brand communication . The next chapter explains how to make sure that customers know what your brand stands for.

C’est le ton qui fait la musique                                                                                                 Language also determines the image that you leave behind. Do your address your customers is a formal or informal way? Do you use activating or descriptive language? Do you use high and mighty language or the slang of the common people? Do you talk about your own (brand) organisation in a distant and serious tone, or do you dare to be self-deprecating ? C’est le ton qui fait la musique …

View this two company profiles. What to the tone of voice and content of the text tell you about the brands? Who is the most human? And who is the most serious? Who is the most likeable?

  • “Royal Philips Electronics is a company with a diversified healthcare and wellbeing , which is aimed at improving the quality of people’s lives through timely innovations . As a world leader in healthcare , lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions .People have always been at the heart of Philips . Our mission is to improve the lives of people with meaningful innovations”
  • “OXO is dedicated to providing innovative consumer products that’ll make everyday living easier. OXO was founded in 1990 on the philosophy of Universal Design , All which Means the design of products usable by as many people as possible . For OXO , That Means designing products for young and old , male and female, lefties and righties and many with special needs” It was surprising to us to learn That nearly 50 % of Oxonians are the youngest in Their family . Maybe that rebelliousness so common among later -born children is at the heart of Oxonians trying to do things better and making a task easier ? We think so

Summary & checklist

Many companies seem to regard brand design as ‘nice to have’ instead of as influential brand booster, and manage it in a half-hearted way. A missed opportunity, since an outstanding visual identity can make brand building faster, cheaper and more successful. And be a catalyst to advertising effectiveness.

A striking style (design + tone of voice) helps you to catch eyes and stand out among competitors.

Not all styles are equally effective: the face of your brand can have a magnet as well a scarecrow effect on customers.

Design = communication without words. Before you enable a designer, it is important to know what you want to communicate (= the brand essence, see chapter 2). Otherwise the design process will become adrift.

Design is the quickest route to brand communication: customers process images 10,000 times faster than text.

How effective is the face of your brand? What might have been effective in the last 5 years might not be enough to stand out in the next decade. The market changes rapidly: new competitors show up, consumers change.

Checklist for brand design:

  • Does it visually stand out in a visually crowded marketplace?
  • Does the style contribute to the image?
  • Do the style and tone of voice reinforce the desired customer brand experience?Is it attractive / appealing to consumers?
  • Does your brands style make you inalienable from your competitors? And does it make you recognisable in any shape or medium?

If it turns out its time to invest, don’t forget: a remarkable, memorable visual brand identity pays itself back. It works every day, in every environment and in every contact consumers have with your brand.

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