How to Make Your Brand a Star

brandingSo the Oscars circus has rolled into town in LA, and rolled out again, in a blur of fancy frocks, after show parties and dreams come true (or dashed for another year). The whole fanfare – the build up, the pundits, the red carpet chats, the speeches and the occasional tears – is part of a global brand, symbolised by the little gold statuettes that grace the mantelpieces of the film industry’s finest.  In effect, the familiar golden ‘Oscar’ that makes an Academy Award trophy so familiar is the logo that symbolises the Oscars brand.  However, a brand is much more than a logo.

The Oscar trophy is the visual representation of the brand, it’s an image that is instantly recognisable across the world.  But ask yourself, how did it become so recognisable? Certainly, it’s distinctive and unusual and is eminently clutchable in the hands of some glamorous young startlet. But that’s not it. The Oscar is a global brand that so many Hollywood stars aspire to because it is intrinsically linked with all the stars that have held it over the years: it has become aspirational by association.

The same is true of any brand.  The logo itself only becomes valuable when it becomes the symbol of the brand’s values, which are often less tangible than the visual image that adorns a letterhead or a website. For the Oscars, those brand values might be said to include glamour, artistry, star quality and high drama. For your business it may be a more commercially oriented list of values such as excellent service, product quality, innovation and reliable supply chain.

The point is, when you’re considering your brand, you need to do more than create a logo and make sure you slap it onto everything.  Consistency across all marketing materials is important but a consistent brand proposition is more important. Your brand values need to be identified, articulated and consistently applied across everything you do; from the way in which the receptionist answers the phone to the language you use to describe your company in brochures, press releases and sales presentations.

Brands are powerful, valuable and delicate, taking time to build up and capable of being shattered in an instant. In the business to business world there is often a tendency to view branding as a consumer activity, particularly in sectors where products or services are price-led commodity items, but that is simply not the case. Any company can benefit from placing a coherent brand strategy at the heart of its business; customer familiarity with the logo is the prize, not the goal.