45royale November 11, 2005

Thoughts on branding

I’ve been thinking about branding quite a bit lately and have been looking around the web for some insipiration. While searching I’ve come across a relatively new line called NKE6.0. It’s Nike’s latest brand offshoot that attempts to capture some of the youthful (and profitable) action sports market. The artwork is very well-done and the logo/characters are visually appealing. But as I mentioned in a previous post, a logo is not a brand and it certainly isn’t enough to ensure a solid marketing platform. Let’s take a closer look at NKE6.0 and branding as a whole.

Underwhelmed

When I look at the NKE6.0 web site or logo, I am not drawn to it. There is no knee-jerk reaction. Just a bunch of pretty pictures that I enjoy looking at but have absolutely no connection with. I realize that I might not be their precise demographic, but I am young with expendable income and I have an interest in action sports. And still, this site doesn’t say anything to me that all of its competitors haven’t already tried to shove down my throat. There is no differentiation, nothing that sets their name apart from the competition and nothing that speaks to me of their value. This is why branding is so important.

The business of YOU

In order for customers to buy into YOU, you must establish brand equity. This is a trust built over time that can only come from a strong brand image and a reputation that is earned through experience and relationship building. In order to initiate that relationship, your audience needs to have a reaction to your product that congures up a feeling. The longest lasting relationships come from an emotional association between you and your audience. If there is an underlying and unspoken bond that keeps your customers coming back to you, then you have done a great job of branding your product.

What? Lil’ old me?

Nike is a huge company with many competitors. Maybe not as many as there are freelance designers, hot-shot agencies, and Web 2.0 start-ups, but needless to say they’re being challenged everyday. If a multi-billion dollar company has a hard time distinguishing itself from its competition and garnering a reaction from its target audience, then what chance do I stand?

Even though my competition is fierce and becoming bigger everyday, I still feel like I have a pretty good chance. I think that it will be easier for me to hone my thoughts into a simple and meaningful result because my objectives are more precise. The product and service that I’m offering consists of me and my skill set. My services aren’t as detailed or consumer oriented as NKE6.0’s are. I don’t have point of purchase displays, supply chains or multi-million dollar ad campaigns. So what do I have? What do my services really consist of? Let’s think about this for a second:

  • I build web sites.
  • I build clean web sites.
  • I build clean and functional web sites.
  • I build clean and functional web sites using web standards.

There you have it. That’s all it takes. By being honest with yourself and getting to the core of your intentions, you are able to convey your message in a precise and obtainable way. When you eliminate the buzz words and start trimming away the fat, you get down to the meat of your identity. Knowing where you stand and what you stand for will help you develop every other outward sign of your brand.

So why not give it a try? What feelings do you want to convey with your company? When someone brings up your company’s name at a dinner party, what emotions do you want people to feel as they talk about you and your services? It’s as easy as starting with a simple statement and then peeling away the useless and confusing bits that get in the way. You’ll be surprised what happens when you have a clear and concise message to build your brand on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some work to do.

I’ve been thinking about branding quite a bit lately and have been looking around the web for some insipiration. While searching I’ve come accross a relatively new line called NKE6.0. It’s Nike’s latest brand offshoot that attempts to capture some of the youthful (and profitable) action sports market.

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