“It all boils down to a squiggle in the end, a dab of colours inked to look beautiful.”
Why does this symbol matter so much? Why invest more than the annual salary of my senior-most staff members (as one client put it)? Won’t any logo work at the end of the day if we do the work well?
It is logical for clients to feel a sense of extortion when a 7-figure price is demanded for this exercise of ‘Identity Development.’
Having encountered this question multiple times, here is an attempt at looking at it from the other side. To understand in what ways a Brand Identity justifies its value and why the “right approach” is possibly worth paying more for even if it looks like a relatively minor output in the overall operations of an organisation.
Brand Identity as a Long-Term Asset
When you invest in Brand Identity, you invest in one of the longest lasting units of your entire organisational apparatus. It is likely to outlast your people, your products and, in most cases, your buildings too. The name certainly will, even if not the design. If done well, the brand identity is an asset that will continue to deliver value for years to come.
Your Brand Identity is not simply a creative piece of art. It is an asset that is embedded in every part of your operations. This is particularly true in the case of service brands or B2B brands, where your brand identity is the most ubiquitous aspect of your presence.
For brands in advertising-driven categories like FMCG, there are many opportunities to communicate with the audience through topical messaging and visuals that go beyond the logo.
But for service brands and B2B brands, this is mostly it. The Brand Identity singularly manifests itself in the most mundane aspects, such as your visiting cards and stationery, to the increasingly important ones, like your website, signages on buildings, conference collaterals, backdrops.
It works as a highly potent and concentrated reminder for the experience your organisation stands for.
Your identity, therefore, needs to be a hardworking one.
Being your primary recall, it is important that this ‘little squiggle and dab of colour’ is functionally capable of adapting to various formats – both physical and digital, and that it stands out in all the clutter (particularly on small screens).
Clearly, it requires some expertise to make all this happen.
Value Extraction from the Identity
The black Swoosh of Nike, the monochrome bitten apple of Apple, the two-tailed mermaid of Starbucks.
The most iconic brands use their logo as a charismatic reminder of the experience they stand for. And they constantly work on enriching this experience. For both internal and external stakeholders, the logo becomes a standard to live up to on a daily basis.
The identity thus acquires a sense of consistent dynamism. It helps put a proprietary aura around your output.
In these times, when customers value experiences over pure aesthetics, the logo becomes a reinforcer of the brand experience.
But first, how do you define the experience? How do you become an experience that infuses the identity with meaning and actually represents something valuable? Defining the experience definitely requires deeper involvement than simply bolting the identity across all touch-points.
Defining the Experience
Every management is concerned with two questions –
1. How good am I?
2. How do I get better?
The role of the identity is also to bridge these two states and that’s where the process becomes critical.
The process leading up to an iconic identity has to be transformational. It must be a journey that a thorough consulting engagement takes the client organisation through. It requires systematically drawing inputs and co-creating the final output with multiple stakeholders.
It involves identifying strengths, but equally, the changes that need to be brought in to justify the new identity. A successful process is one by the end of which your employees think and feel differently about the organisation and the work they do. It is about articulating the brand as a unifying experience that everyone is aligned to. The identity then becomes a representation of this journey and serves as a reminder of the values and practices that are agreed upon.
The process is ultimately the preparation of the team to become the organisation for which the logo is emblematic. It is a reminder of the transformation, day by day, to grow into the identity.
Brand as Behaviour
For the customer, the brand experience is a result of several orchestrated behaviours. Behaviours that are not only aligned to customer expectations but exceed them in many ways. A new identity becomes a symbol of this behaviour change. The process of experience creation ensures that the identity truly represents your brand.
The identity may look silent, but its job is to keep the underlying change stimulated. It is the most charismatic way to present change so that both internal and external stakeholders are not overwhelmed, but excited by it.
And therefore, the value of an identity is directly proportional to the quality of the talent that was invested in it.