What is Brand Positioning — And Why Every Company Needs It!

A brand positioning strategy will increase brand value by creating a positive impression of the company’s products in consumer’s minds.

Brand positioning refers to creating a good impression of your company in the minds of consumers. Done right, people should automatically associate your brand with the benefits you offer. A brand strategy agency will help their clients develop an effective brand marketing strategy to enable this positioning. In turn, this strategy will help keep your company relevant to customers and competitively distinct from competitors.

Why develop a brand marketing strategy?

Brand marketing strategy development will not just focus on creating a positive impression to attract new business; it should also maintain those distinctive qualities in the minds of current customers.

According to The Branding Journal, studies have found a direct link between willingness to buy and customer loyalty to effective brand positioning. With more customers and a higher lifetime value for each one, brand equity grows into one of the most valuable assets that the company has.

An example brand marketing strategy

An Australian wine brand called Yellow Tail offers a great example of developing a brand position statement and then supporting it with an effective strategy. When they decided to enter the American market, the company wanted to mediately distinguish themselves from their competitors.

Their marketing strategy development began with creating the position statement of establishing their brand as approachable, fun, and easy to choose.

Yellow Tail supported their position in five ways:

  1. Product: People find Yellow Tail wine sweet and mellow, so even people who aren’t wine experts usually like it.
  2. Labels and logos: The simple colors, images, and text on the label make the packaging appear approachable and fun.
  3. Name: Yellow Tail represents a kangaroo tail. Consumers almost always associate kangaroos with Australia, the origin of the wine.
  4. Messaging: Yellow Tail focused on in-store ambassadors who greeted customers and offered them details, samples, and of course, bottles to buy and take home.
  5. Price: They kept prices under $10, making it easy for new customers to make an impulse purchase and loyal customers to think of Yellow Tail as an all-occasion wine.

How a brand design agency approaches brand marketing strategy development

So, how would an experienced brand design agency begin to develop a brand position for a new client? Brand marketing strategy development should include these steps:

Analyze the market, the company, and competitors

This part of the plan consists of learning what a market wants, how the company can deliver, and which companies compete for the market’s attention. Yellow Tail wanted to appeal to people who did not describe themselves as wine connoisseurs and even who might have gravitated to beer or pre-mixed drinks before because they found them more approachable and affordable. 

Craft a position statement

Brands need to develop a branding position statement that will appeal to their market and differentiate them from competitors. In contrast to fine or expensive wine, Yellow Tail wanted to present a more fun and approachable image.

Implement the strategy

Implementing the brand marketing strategy may include product design, messaging, advertising channels, package design, and even pricing.  Yellow Tail executed this through their colorful logo, cute, evocative name, and modest price. They also hoped to compete with other beverages, so they used on-site ambassadors to introduce their product to people who were already passing the beverage aisle.

Key goals of brand positioning

The key goals of a branding strategy also provide a good way to test the strategy to ensure its effectiveness:

  • Consumers need to find it relevant or else they won’t engage enough to develop a positive impression.
  • Branding also needs to differentiate the company from its competitors to offer any real advantage.
  • Finally, the company must have the ability to deliver on their promise; otherwise, they’ll lose credibility and any chance of developing brand loyalty.

If the branding strategy can meet these three objectives, it will help create that good impression that will attract and retain customers.

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Sports Team Branding That Knocks Brand Development Out of the Park

See how the best branding agencies view some examples of both great and terrible brand development work for sports teams and athletics.

A good brand design agency understands the importance of brand development for sports teams. A team’s brand provides a quick reference point for what the team and even individual athletes represent. From the home field to merchandise, this consistent brand message helps build the excitement and loyalty that teams need to develop in their fans and sometimes, even to recruit new talent and partnerships. With that in mind, explore both good and less-good examples of brand development for sports teams.

An example of great branding agency work for a sports team

Forbes highlighted the work of the Philadelphia Union soccer team and its brand marketing agency to better position itself with fans in the city. At the time this effort began, the team had formed only about eight years previously. Still, management realized they needed to reenergize their image to grow in their market. Like any other organization, they needed to position their brand in order to establish relevance in the mind of their market.

And to accomplish this, the soccer team began by researching their target market to develop a brand position statement. While Philadelphia sports have a long and established history, the city also enjoys a growing youth movement. Also, Philadelphia has long associated itself as a bastion during the Revolutionary War period. Thus, they decided upon “youth, fearless, and challenger” as the three parts of their statement.

With this in place, the team didn’t so much create their own brand as organically adopt it from the city itself. As Tim McDermott, the Chief Business Officer of the team said, they wanted their fans to define their team and not the other way around.

As the brand continues to evolve, the Philadelphia Union soccer club has even incorporated street and pop-culture art into their graphics. At the same time, they use the mantra “Join or Die,” a slogan from the Revolutionary War days. While their brand development efforts seek to embrace youth, they don’t neglect the history of their city.

Sports team brand development mistakes to avoid

Since the Union soccer team had only been around for a few years, perhaps they took less of a risk with rebranding than some other teams. Still, it’s fair to argue that they succeeded because they took the time to study their market before creating a brand position statement, graphics, and marketing messages.

Fast Company mentioned that a 120-year-old soccer club in Italy called Juventus did not enjoy such a warm reception when they replaced their old logo with a more minimalist, modern one. At the time, fans associated the old graphics with 12 decades of championships, and the soccer club did not even respond to indigent outcries to bring the old logo back. Some critics noted that Juventus has not done well financially because they haven’t managed to grow their market, and perhaps, they should consider a better approach to brand positioning to help with that effort.

Closer to home, the L.A. Chargers also faced derision when they rebranded with a new logo. They did respond by saying they only used a temporary design. Then, they changed the color scheme. When those steps failed to reduce criticism, they simply buried the new design.

Left: Before. Right: After.

How a brand design agency can help ensure positive brand development

Of course, every team will face different circumstances when they hope to brand or rebranding their image. Teams with a longer history may face more resistance when they work to change their image. After all, longtime fans will already have the logos in mind. They may have invested in merchandise and in more than a few cases, even have tattoos of their favorite team.

At the same time, rebranding can help onboard new fans and reenergize old ones. A brand marketing agency can take some obvious lessons away from the good and bad examples above. Just as with any kind of organization, it’s important to research the market and consider the legacy of the team and even the geographic area.

During the rebranding effort, collaboration and communication with supporters should also help defuse resistance to change. The brand represents and solidifies the team image in the mind of fans. Still, as McDermott of Philadelphia Union pointed out, fans really define the team.

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Environmental Branding: Brand Design Goes Beyond Colors and Fonts

An environmental branding agency turns physical space into a positive experience for customers and employees, thus enhancing experience and connections.

Discussions about branding tend to focus upon the graphics, colors, and fonts used in packaging and advertising. After all, these contact points might create that all-important first impression — or sometimes, even the only impression. At the same time, many companies still do serve people in person, either in their store, restaurant, office, or other physical space.

An environmental branding agency ensures their clients keep or maintain their branding in the spaces where they greet their customers, employees, and investors. In fact, in-person contact with a brand gives these organizations a chance to truly make an even strong, emotional connection. Yet, businesses often overlook this kind of branding.

With that in mind, explore the importance of environmental branding and how it may exceed the capabilities of some commercial interior design firms.

What is environmental branding?

Some interior design firms offer environmental design as a service. In general, environmental design refers to improving people’s experience by making spaces more comfortable, navigable, or even exciting. According to HubSpot, this discipline can incorporate principals from architectural, landscape, graphic, and industrial design, and of course, marketing.

Thus, environmental branding serves as an important aspect of environmental design. To incorporate branding into the design, environmental graphic design firms might employ some graphical brand elements; however, to ensure a positive, overall experience, they may also choose complimentary fixtures, paint, textures, furniture, and signs.

This all serves to make the spaces more usable and functional, both from the standpoint of visitors and employees who use the space and from the perspective of marketers who want to improve their brand image.

Examples to illustrate the impact of environmental branding

It’s easiest to parse out exactly how environmental branding works by offering examples. Buchanan Design, an environmental branding agency, worked with a healthcare company called Imaging Healthcare Specialists. They also helped develop graphics for an established law firm, Higgs Fletcher & Mack.

Environmental branding agency work for healthcare

Initially, this company’s offices looked very clinical and functional, as patients might expect in a medical imaging clinic. While the original space served a purpose, it did nothing to help the organization stand out from its competitors or offer any extra value to patients.

Buchanan added wayfinder signs and graphics throughout the clinic to make it more navigable and distinctive. Most important, every office now includes its own Info Center to help promote all of the company’s brands and community outreach efforts. During the process, the environmental branding team also worked with construction and architectural teams to ensure a cohesive effort.

Environmental graphic design work for a law firm

As another example, they included an image gallery in the lobby of a law firm. As one of the biggest and oldest law firms in San Diego, the partners wanted to communicate their company culture, values, and history to clients and employees. To accomplish this, design agency installed large, colorful graphics with the pictures, names, and functions of everybody who worked for them.

Except for showing the firm’s founders separately at the end, nobody else had any special position in the display. This effort helped show off the firm in its historical context. Just as important, it introduced people to their staff and emphasized that every employee served an important function that contributed to success.

Don’t miss the chance to use physical space for environmental branding

So many companies miss the opportunity to use their own physical space to improve connections with customers and reinforce their brand identity. Perhaps they overlooked the positive impact this effort can produce or even worse, simply worked with commercial interior design firms that neglected to suggest it. Done well, environmental branding will help improve brand positioning and even more, turn a company’s spaces into places that customers and employees look forward to entering.

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Branding Vs. Logos: Logos Matter, But There’s More to the Story

Branding includes logos, but a brand image is an emotional response to images, text, company decisions, and the overall customer experience.

Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. 
– Jeff Bezos

When average people consider brands, they might first visualize company logos. For some business logo examples, it’s hard to think about McDonald’s without picturing the golden arches or Coca-Cola without the red-and-white text graphic on every can.

Consumers do associate logos with businesses. In that way, graphics contribute to branding. Still, from the perspective of a brand design agency, the logo and other graphics make up a small but important component of the overall brand image and not a consumer’s entire impression of a company.

What is a brand image?

Consumers don’t just identify brands with logos. Instead, they associate companies with their experiences and even the emotions those experiences might have evoked. For instance, people might remember the golden arches, but they also might associate McDonald’s with fast service and consistent products.

In some cases, they may also consider things they’ve read about company practices. As highlighted on CNN a couple of years ago, McDonald’s has made an effort to use more sustainable packaging in order to help reduce waste and protect the environment. That improvement in packaging can help improve their brand image as much as or more than the logos they print upon their cartons or wrappers.

In any case, large and successful companies do spend quite a lot on branding — and that’s not just for logos. For some examples, Website Builder collated some recent statistics about brand spending from well-known companies:

  • In 2018, Netflix dedicated $1.8 billion for branding.
  • Coca-Cola typically spends almost $4 billion each year.
  • Amazon’s branding budget for 2018 topped $10 billion.

How much do logos and graphics matter for brand images?

Even though a brand image consists of much more than logos, color schemes, and other graphical elements, people certainly do associate these visual elements with companies and products. According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, good logos can help differentiate brands, pique interest, convey information, and of course, reinforce brand recognition.

While any marketer can think of exceptions, HBR found that the most effective logos tended to convey some information about the company. Their study included over 170 test logos for startups, and mostly, descriptive logos tended to make the survey subjects express more willingness to buy from that brand. Since these companies were still developing their businesses, the logo was the only experience that the subjects had with them.

Since most people aren’t familiar with the startups yet, HBR used these big-name business logo examples to illustrate the kinds of descriptive logos that worked very well:

  • The Burger King logo clearly has the restaurant’s name sandwiched between the bottom and top of the bun.
  • Animal Planet has a stylized elephant over the network’s name.

Some people can argue that McDonald’s non-descriptive logo represents a bigger chain than Burger King’s descriptive one. Still, HBR’s research found that descriptive logos tended to influence brand perception in a favorable way. Also, the golden arches reflect the same symbol seen outside of every McDonald’s, so it’s still fairly easy to associate the logo with physical restaurants and the company in general.

As a major exception to preferring descriptive logos, their research suggested companies should avoid anything with potentially negative connotations. As an example, descriptive logos for exterminators should consider leaving out images of the pests that the business might target. They believe these kinds of images tended to evoke negative responses because people tended to associate them with bad experiences.

How can a brand design agency help develop a brand image?

Beyond logos, brands also establish and reinforce their image with ads, press releases, and business decisions that make the news. Companies might also have signs, websites, advertisements, and plenty of other uses for text and graphical design elements. Multi-channel creative work should always complement the brand image the company hopes to convey by projecting a consistent tone and voice. While a logo design agency will help create the right graphics, a brand design agency will ensure that customers view the entire picture in a positive light.

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Logo Mistakes That Could Make Your Brand Look Amateurish

Advice from the best branding companies for startups to avoid giving the wrong impression about a company and having to fix it later.

Lots of new business owners try to save money by designing their own brand logo. Typically, a brand marketing agency would advise against that strategy because poorly designed logos can give customers a similarly poor impression of the entire business.

That’s a fair caution because even some large and well-financed companies have made mistakes with their logos that they have had to fix later. A lot of times, these were “amateur” mistakes that could have been avoided by relying upon an experienced designer.

Avoiding common logo mistakes to avoid perception problems

To understand the importance of branding, business owners should know that some companies spent a lot of money on their logos. While Finances Online said that average small businesses tend to spend an average of less than $500 for logo design, they found a small percentage spent over $1,000. That investment might seem large for a startup, but it pales when compared to the $1.2 million that British Petroleum spent for the design of their logo and marketing materials.

Of course, even the best branding companies for startups would caution that it’s not always necessary to spend even hundreds of dollars for a business logo. Nike’s initial logo design only cost $35, and Twitter paid $15. Their designs have evolved somewhat since then but kept their basic shapes.

In any case, businesses may not make a mistake investing a lot or a little for their graphics. To see the kind of mistakes that even large and successful companies have made, look at some examples.

Google’s First Logo

Anybody who is old enough to have used the internet for several years might remember Google’s early logo design from 1998. It had essentially the same color scheme as the one today, but it was rendered in 3D with deep shadows and had an exclamation point at the end.

The design looks very dated now, and the exclamation point made “Google!” look too much like Yahoo! Shortly afterwards, they made their design appear flatter and removed the offending punctuation.

Starbucks

It’s hard to think of Starbucks without picturing the green image they have had since 2011. In 2008, they used an earlier version that showed more of the mermaid, including bare breasts, on coffee cups. This was actually a retro image that the company had used before they grew so famous and pervasive.

The company got complaints from religious groups because these customers didn’t think it was appropriate for children to visit a Starbuck’s coffee shop and see that image in plain view. After that, Starbucks retired the retro logo and never tried that sort of marketing campaign again afterwards.

Other common logo mistakes that can make companies seem amateurish

People are visual creatures, and they do remember logos and other marketing graphics. Consider these common examples of what to avoid in order to use graphics as part of positive brand development:

  • The wrong fonts: Every brand will have its own personality. Still, some fonts may send the wrong message or simply look silly. For instance, lots of people make fun of the Comic Sans font today, though it was popular back in the internet’s earlier days. It’s a good idea to compare fonts used by similar companies to see how the shape of letters can provide a message about the brand’s personality.
  • Busy logos: It’s tempting to include as much as possible in a logo, but keeping the design simple can make logos easier to reproduce and easier to understand and remember. For example, a simpler logo will usually look better when it’s reproduced in different sizes. The logo might appear small on a website heading but larger on packaging.
  • Copycat logos: While it’s a good idea to understand why similar companies chose the kind of logo they did, it’s a bad idea to create an image that resembles another brand’s logo too closely. Again, remember the example of that early Google! logo. For one thing, the similarity may generate confusion. In the worst case, the other company might sue or use this mistake to generate negative buzz about the offender.
  • Poor use of colors: Brands like Google appear to have gotten away with using a simple palette of primary colors that might almost look like a child’s first paint set. Still, numerous studies have demonstrated that colors can convey messages, even apart from any words or brand names. It’s a good idea to research the psychology of color and study the tones and hues other companies in the same industry use.

Can a brand design agency help develop the perfect, professional logo?

Unless the new business happens to be a graphic design company, it’s probably a good idea to engage a branding agency to assist with logo design. Find one with experience researching, developing, and creating logos for successful companies and that will take the time to understand the founder’s vision for the company.

If nothing else, a brand marketing agency can provide an objective perspective and the benefit of their experiences with other companies. After all, nobody ever gets a second chance to make a good, first impression.

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Using Psychology to Choose Brand Colors

Successful companies pay attention to the psychology of new business logo colors to evoke responses and create expectations for services and products.

According to the Journal of Experimental Psychology, scientists have studied the impact of color on human emotions for over 100 years. Based on both scientific and commercial studies, a brand marketing agency may not just suggest certain hues but even various degrees of brightness and tone for new business logo colors. Just as important as the colors may be the way they get used in advertising, packaging, and even products. To help choose brand colors for a new business or product, learn some basics about the way various shades can evoke reactions.

Why a brand marketing agency cares about the psychology of color

Beyond scholarly studies, look at how some brands have grown so associated with their colors that people can name the brand just by looking at the distinct shade that the company uses. Some examples include: 

  • Tiffany’s: This jewelry company uses robin’s egg blue. People who are familiar with this famous company can spot a Tiffany’s shopping bag or jewelry box just from the color.
  • Post-It: The company famous for Post-It Notes distinguished itself with canary yellow. They even had a dispute with Microsoft because the software company used the same shade for the Notes software people can use to add “sticky” notes to their computer and mobile devices.
  • Christian Louboutin: In this case, the fashion designer even carried their company’s color over to the soles of their shoes. To keep their shoes recognizable, the company has won trademark cases that prevent other designers from copying them.

The reason these companies went to so much trouble to use and protect their distinctive uses of brand colors stems from consumer behavior. Colorcom, a color and brand design agency, published some interesting statistics to illustrate why color matters so much. For instance, they found that people have already made unconscious decisions about people, products, or environments within 90 seconds of first seeing them. Even more, they base between 62 to 90 percent of that quick, unconscious judgement from color.

How a brand design agency might suggest brand colors

A brand marketing agency may make suggestions for new business color logos based upon many unique factors, including the product, company, and the typical target market. Even though psychologists have found some common ways that most people react to various shades and hues, sometimes personality factors, gender, and age can also matter.

For instance, a financial company might make different choices when they’re trying to attract Baby Boomers than when they’re targeting younger adults. A fashion business could choose a different pallette when they want to appeal to men, women, or teens.

To understand how age and gender might impact color choices, look at one research study from Colour Assignment:

  • More men and women select blue as their favorite color than any choices. For women, the runner up for a favorite color is purple. At the same time, purple also ranked first as the least-favorite color for men.
  • The most people from all age groups also picked blue as their favorite color. Somewhat surprisingly, people between 50 and 69 tend to prefer green less and purple more. For people 70 and over, blue emerged as an even clearer favorite, but other color choices were mostly replaced with white.

Brands don’t necessarily try to attract customers by only selecting favorite colors. If they did, every company might have a blue logo. Mostly, they hope to evoke a certain response with brand colors.

For some examples:

  • Red: Almost every fast food logo incorporates at least some red, a color associated with stimulating appetite.
  • Green and yellow: In contrast, people may associate green with nature and relaxation, and yellow is usually considered a happy color.
  • Purple: Meanwhile, people might like or dislike purple. Still, they tend to associate deep shades of purple with luxury and royalty. While brighter purple tones might strike consumers as fun and vibrant, luxury brands tend to use dark-purple shades to communicate wealth and exclusiveness.
  • Blue: As with other colors, various shades of blue may convey different messages. Tech and manufacturing companies like Samsung and Ford use deep, rich blue to communicate intelligence and reliability. In contrast, many health and beauty companies use lighter blue to symbolize cleanliness. Perhaps they’re using light blue to reflect the color of water.

While people don’t tend to favor gray or brown first, some organizations use them effectively. For instance, people can pick out UPS delivery trucks by their distinctive brown color, especially in contrast with Amazon’s blue vans. These more neutral colors actually don’t evoke much of an emotional response and perhaps, that’s a way for some brands to communicate that they’re more analytical and cerebral. With gray or brown, it’s not about the box — or delivery truck — but what’s inside the box.

Which brand colors should represent your company?

It’s important to mention that Google selected four primary colors that might almost appear childish to somebody who had not seen them each day for the past several years. Microsoft and Apple incorporate similar color schemes, and just because of that, perhaps they’ve come to represent large tech companies. Businesses in similar industries may imitate each other somewhat, even if they don’t dare copy.

Before selecting brand logo colors, it’s a good idea to think about the ways people recognize their favorite companies and how various color schemes may encourage or discourage customers from buying a product. As Econsultancy pointed out, it’s not all about the specific colors but also the ways they’re reflected consistently in packaging or products.

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