Monday, April 11, 2011

Brand Identity: Be Distinctive, Be Consistent

Martin Lindstrom writes in Fast Company about the need to think beyond the logo when communicating brand identity. Every aspect of the product, packaging, Web site, ads, etc. must be distinctive and contribute to creating and reinforcing a unique brand identity. Lindstrom suggests a wonderful test: Cover up the logo on your ads, packages, Web site, and see whether your brand identity still shines through.

With Easter coming up, I used Lindstrom's test on the Web sites of several well-known candy brands. Try it for yourself. First, go to M&M's home page. Take off the m and is it distinctive? (When I visited, the colors had been changed to Easter pastels, a nice seasonal touch.) Then visit the Hershey site, the Ghiradelli site, Godiva, Whitman's, and See's Candies.

Now try the same test on a few computer Web sites: Dell, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Acer. Which are most distinctive and convey the brand identity most effectively?

It's difficult to look at any of these pages without thinking of the other marketing tactics used by these companies. The shape and design of an iPad2 (above) comes to mind, for example. That's a good thing, from a marketing perspective. But could you identify the Apple home page if the apple wasn't there?

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