Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Does your brand speak all the brand languages?

It used to be that visuals were enough. In the earliest days of corporate identity, individual designers were putting their personal visual stamp on a company's communications, giving that company a cohesive visual identity. That "look" alone was enough to be considered a corporate identity. After all, just having such an identity put a relative handful of companies above all others that had no such program to speak of.

The visual language of those brands consisted of consistent application of the mark, attention to proportions and position in layout, and attention to the details of typographic and color choices. And as the corporate and competitive landscapes evolved, so did the visual languages spoken by brands.
Strong verbal components followed suit—in the form of taglines, turns of phrase, etc. A brand's communications began to reflect its tone of voice.

Now we find ourselves here, a little over a century after Peter Behrens realized the first complex corporate identity for AEG, and just fifty or sixty years after the grandfathers of the discipline (Rand, Bass, Vignelli and the like) did their groundbreaking work in the field.

Today, we find ourselves fully engulfed by an age of media and technology. In addition to a visual language, brands must also speak in an audial language as well. From the earliest days of radio, through the golden era of the jingle, and continuing today, sound has been a vital component of advertising and marketing campaigns. But advertising and marketing campaigns are only temporary. (As a side note, the origin of the term "slogan" is from the Scottish-Gaelic word for "battle cry.")

As consumers interact with brands on a continuing basis, they are expecting sound, and those brands that provide it are at an advantage over those who don't. As new brand touchpoints are emerging, many are audio-enabled. Having a signature sound in addition to a signature color, typeface or phrase allows brands to reinforce their connections with consumers, creating more passionate brand advocates.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of touch and smell in the brand experience. During the Wilsons Leather re-branding, we understood the power of both the feel of quality leather and the smell of a retail interior infused with its smell. That smell alone was enough to get many shoppers in the door... so powerful, in fact, that there was talk of releasing it as a fragrance.

Being aware of these opportunities will aid you in seizing opportunities to exploit them when they become available to your brand.