What is a ‘Brand’ and what is a ‘Branding Agency’?
A branding agency, if there was such a thing in the 19th Century, would probably have said that a brand is:
“an identifying mark burned on livestock or (especially in former times) criminals with a hot iron.”
It still can be this, maybe not with a hot iron. More likely permanent dye for livestock or an electronic tag for people these days.
To us at CHP it’s a strategic effort to influence the associations in peoples minds when they come into contact with a business. Contact can be on multiple levels, from first impressions through an entire lifetime of interaction. Some brands are more than a generation old. The aim of branding is to help the business perform better by optimising the impact of communications that go on during interaction. To encourage a buyer to be loyal and ‘go to’ a particular business as the natural choice for a product or service.
Any organisation can benefit enormously by creating a brand that presents the company as a distinctive business which has it’s own ethos and character. This is not only highly valuable to the business in terms of communicating these key messages to the primary target audience of potential customers, but also to other audiences e.g. the staff. A mildly successful entrepreneur once said ‘good PR starts with your staff’. An effective brand helps to unify and inspire staff to be proud of where they work.
Being clear about what you stand for and setting out key messages is vital. But to communicate these in a pin sharp first impression, which resonates with the same or increasing impact later, requires intelligent use of design. You’re probably thinking Levi Strauss, Coca Cola, Apple, which are all great, but the best way to explain the power of branding is with an example from CHP Design.
Simple yet powerful. An example by CHP Design, a branding agency in London
As a branding agency, CHP worked with GNI (Gerrard National Intercommodities) to create a new product to unify their four trading platforms, Forex, Metals, Futures and Equities. The product was to provide a single platform for trading at real exchange prices, i.e. without a broker margin, for a flat fixed fee. We undertook some in depth research of their target market – experienced traders from trading floors or exchanges, looking to trade their own book. Almost universally on a trading floor, we found that when a trader has an exceptional trade they use the term ‘touch’. CHP suggested ‘GNI touch’ as the brand name for the product and created a three dimensional button graphic for the corporate identity. The inference being press the button and trade the best exchange price.
Creative application of a brand and brand management to ensure consistency and clarity is also vital for maximum recognition. CHP applied the newly agreed ‘GNI touch’ brand across a range of collateral materials. The product had a 98% market share within six month of launch.
In different industry sectors the audiences, competitors, delivery and service aspects of branding may differ, but the basic principle of being clear about what you stand for always applies. Royal Dutch Shell also have a pretty good brand. They find and extract oil which, in it’s pure form, is a soup of empty old composted shells. A brand named ‘Shell’ – what a simple yet powerful idea for an oil company, which is probably why it’s stayed pretty much the same since 1907.