What is your company’s identity? I’m not asking what you sell. I’m asking what people think of when they think of your organization.
Whether intentionally constructed or as a result of customer interactions, your organization does have a brand identity. If overlooked, your brand is the accidental consequence of thousands of personal interactions, social media posts, and word-of-mouth conversations. It develops little by little until, for better or worse, your company’s identity is firmly entrenched in the minds of your customers. At this point, a brand identity can very difficult to change.
It should come as no surprise that reputable companies have excellent branding strategies. Branding is more than just the name of the company. It is also understanding the personality of your organization and clearly conveying, in all your marketing material, an affirming, consistent message. It’s about recognizing the connotations of your identity, and working to refine this in your interest. It’s about staying within the scope of what you do. In essence, a successful brand should reflect not only what you are, but what you want to be.
An Example From the Corporate World
Google is more than a search engine. Google is an identity. Technically, “Google” is an intentional misspelling of “googol,” which is a term coined in the 1920s for the number which, in decimal notation, is 1 followed by a hundred zeros. For children, “googol” was the trump card in friendly boasting contests with neighborhood buddies (as in, “Yeah? Well, I can count to a googol!”)
The choice of “Google” for a company name was a stroke of genius—the name taps into cultural understanding and subtly nods at the scope of the company. “Googol” is a very big number with significant mathematical properties and value when computing large quantities of things, such as atoms and subatomic particles. The term sounds scientific. “Google” is a very big, cutting-edge search engine that relies heavily on computer algorithms and other mathematical facets for its success. Everything Google does exists within the brand “Google.” The branding fits, and Google has prospered by consistently operating within its brand.
Recently, Google spun off a parent company called Alphabet. Technically, Alphabet is now the holding company for a number of divisions, including Google, Nest, Google Fiber, and others. Though the rationale for such a move was probably financially driven, the branding of the parent company was a very strategic decision.
The alphabet is the basis for all language. No substantial communicative functions can exist apart from what the alphabet allows. Any new invention, however groundbreaking, otherworldly, or technologically marvelous, must be designed, discussed, built, and named according to those same 26 letters. These simple letters are the foundation of a culture.
What then was the intention of naming the new company Alphabet? It seems clear that the leaders of the company have big plans. Perhaps they see themselves as foundational to the culture as well. Perhaps they realize that this parent company is everywhere and, with its subsidiaries, has become the go-to medium for much of our information-based economy and culture. In sum, the Alphabet brand is intentional. The scope of the company is embodied in the brand choices. Here too we recognize that “Google” wasn’t sufficient branding for all the projects facets in which the company was investing. Google recognized that when they modified their scope, they needed to proactively change the brand. Thus, Alphabet was born.
In addition to Google and Alphabet, countless other strategic brands exist: Tesla, Porsche, Universal Studios, Nike, Bose. Each has refined its image to the point where the name itself has become synonymous with the products they produce and the culture they sell. Each evokes an almost instant recognition of specific traits and brand expectations. On the other hand, it would not take much to list corporations whose brand is, shall we say, less than positive. A simple web search for “the most hated brands in America” will prove this point.
What Does Your Branding Say About Your Product or Service?
Are you the innovative one in the industry? Are you the reliable and experienced one? Are you the cutting-edge technological miracle worker? Are you the bold, outspoken brand? Are you the high-cost/high-quality option? These identities should be intentionally chosen and reflected in all aspects of your organization’s policies and marketing.
Successful companies do not stumble into a brand identity; competitive forces are too strong to let that happen. An excellent brand image is the product of hard work, research, rhetorical analysis, cultural understanding, audience adaptation, and strategic maneuvering. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to preemptively manage the growth of your brand than to be forced into a complete brand overhaul after you realize your brand is not what you want it to be. It pays to craft your brand identity before it crafts you.
Lest you feel overwhelmed by this task, know that 212 Media Studios is well equipped to walk you through the process. We can deliver anything from minor brand corrections to major overhauls. Our company has the resources necessary for successful brand construction as well as proven expertise in brand management, crisis communication, graphic representation, strategic rhetoric, consumer analysis, and many other tools essential to successful branding. We would be happy to discuss your current branding efforts and how you can fully understand and improve your public identity. Don’t be defined by accidental circumstances. Give us a call today. Let us help you forge your own successful brand identity.