22
May

The Importance of Product Branding

by Christian Cuevas, Operations Assistant

What is product branding? Why is it important?

Branding refers to the way people perceive your business; these perceptions are a reflection of what your company means to them.  Company branding is often seen as something that may develop naturally throughout the life of the business; however, it is a very critical aspect to a companies success which requires going beyond getting the job done. Establishing an emotional connection between a person and the business he/she is dealing with is not an easy thing, especially in highly competitive markets. In competitive markets, businesses must find ways to differentiate themselves in order for consumers to easily determine where they are going to buy their good or service. Business owners often try achieving this differentiation through lowering the cost of their good or service. But they can also do so through well executed product branding.

Apple logo branding on iphoneThough consumers will generally respond positively towards a cheaper alternative, there is a reason people are willing to pay $1,000 for a smartphone that has the same functions as a phone that costs half of that price. As you read that last sentence,  your brain may have already automatically made a connection between a product and a company. Regardless if you are a fan of Apple or not, their immense popularity in the marketplace is undeniable. When Apple released their first iPhone, they took an existing product (the smartphone) and made it different.  Along with a new design, they created an operating system that provided people with a unique user interface and on the back of this product was the iconic Apple logo. Apple features their logo on every product making it easy for consumers to associate the bitten apple logo with all of the positive experiences and connotations that come with it. Apple is consistent with both the quality of their products and the unique experience they offer to each individual consumer. To many Apple users, the experience they have with products is so unique that they become extremely loyal to the company. Alternatives are not an option to these loyal customers, which gives the company an edge in their industry. Although much of the branding for Apple has come from their differentiation in the experience a consumer has with their products, the consistency in the use of their logo acts as a flag for their consumers to proudly wave.

Product Branding

Not all companies can brand the same way that Apple has branded themselves. There are some companies that have products that largely vary in target audiences. Apple’s products appeal to a very large group of people, making the user experience very uniform among most product users. The buyer of an iPhone may also want an iPad. In other cases user experiences are purposely made to vary because the audience is very different. For example, a car company is not going to brand a minivan the way they brand their high performance sports car. This is simple because the feelings that consumers expect and want from the vehicles are completely different. A person looking for a new family van may desire most the feeling of safety and comfort, while the person looking for that high performance sports car is most interested in the feeling of adrenaline and excitement. Perhaps the company is dedicated to mostly make family oriented vehicles, but they also produce that one sports car; in that case it would be wise to brand the sports car differently from how the car company as a whole has been branded. Show below, you can see the front ends of two sports cars from different competitors. Although both cars are respectively very beautiful, well-designed performance vehicles, one has an element of branding that may have already allowed you to picture the entire car.

Mustang branding on a grille

The emblem on top comes from the front end of a Ford Mustang, while the bottom one comes from the front end of a Chevrolet Camaro.  Can you guess which has been branded better? In 1965 when the first year of Mustangs were produced, rather than being badged with the standard company badges the Mustang was badged with a symbol representing power, endurance, and speed. This symbol is still placed all over modern day Mustangs. Both consistency and repetition are crucial when creating a connection between a symbol and a customer. The Chevrolet Camaro has had various redesigns in their logo since the first year it was created, which made its brand a bit unclear over the years. Today, we will see Camaros badged with the same logos that you can find on any of Chevrolet’s vehicles, reducing the vehicles unique qualities. In comparison, Ford has taken a different approach in how they uniquely tailored their Mustang product branding. The logo is not only seen on the front and rear of the car, but it is also placed on the middle of the steering wheel to greet the driver as they enter the vehicle. Though it is a small difference, it is the small branding details that can make a difference when a person is looking to make a purchase. In this case, since both vehicles are similar in performance, it may just be the brand that may persuade a consumer to buy a particular car.  Building unique experiences that allow consumers to develop an emotional connection to your product or service is essential to establishing customer loyalty.

9
Apr

The Value of Promotional Items and Custom Apparel

If you can put something in their hand, it makes the job of remembering you a lot easier. Most people (60%) who receive a promo item will keep it for two years and use it regularly. (Relevant Insights, 2013). Are you looking to make an impact with great promotional items and custom apparel?

Promotional items and apparel can help you greatly improve the presentation of your company. Your image becomes more professional and memorable. So let’s explore how your logo on a product or apparel item can help your marketing.

First Impressions

You never have a second chance to make a first impression. When your prospect is first introduced to your brand, make use of every tool at your disposal. Enable your employees to be brand ambassadors with each meeting or introduction by giving them branded apparel with the company logo. Can they hand out a custom pen to a prospective client or a balloon with your restaurant logo to every child who visits?

Show customers you care by making an investment in their relationship with you. Promotional items and customized apparel are excellent examples of how to make a great first impression.

Lasting Impressions

You know a first impression is important and you want it to be a good one. Now how do you make that good first impression last longer? A survey from LJ Market Research showed that people recalled the name of a company on a promotional item (76%) more than a company they saw previously in a print ad (53%). Like an app for a smartphone, promotional items can stay with your customer even after they’ve left. It is something they can carry around with them forever and keep your brand in their daily lives. For example, a tow truck company should give out key chains so their customers don’t have to wonder about who to call in an emergency. Or a law firm can send employees to a national conference wearing custom polo shirts with the firm logo and give them custom golf balls to distribute.

This makes remembering your company a lot easier. It also shows the inherent value in a well thought out promotional product gift and professional apparel for giveaway or employees.

According to a recent study, the industries with the best (not the only, just the best) recall rates were: financial services, retailers, apparel brands and electronics manufacturers.

How To Choose Promotional Items and Custom Apparel

According to our newest catalog, there are more than 300,000 promotional products and apparel for sale today. There are literally thousands of choices available and some of them are perfect for your business. You should keep the following in mind when making your promotional items and custom apparel selections:

Promotional Items

  1. Does the item fit my company brand? (A car dealership shouldn’t hand out custom flasks.)
  2. How many will I need?
  3. What is my budget for promotional products?
  4. Do they need a case/bag for distributing?
  5. What do I want to promote? (Logo? Website address? Famous quote? Slogan?)

Custom Apparel

  1. Are these for employees or customers?
  2. How many will I need?
  3. Do I know what sizes I will need?
  4. Imprint on front and back?
  5. What do I want to promote? (Logo? Website address? Famous quote? Slogan?)

To ensure you are getting the best product at the best price and the most creativity, speak to an Arkside representative today.

12
Jul

Preserving Your Brand Integrity

Few things are as important to your business as your brand identity. The branding of your company is about your logo, your appearance, your service, your products, and your reputation. It is how the world perceives you. Your ad agency should understand and appreciate the importance of brand development.

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” –Jeff Bezos

Your Logo Is Part of Your Brand

The development and protection of a brand is critical. A critical element of that brand representation is your logo. It is the most commonly seen visual representation of your company. Hundreds of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars go into the promotion of a logo.  When we come across instances like the ones below, we wonder if the agency truly understands the value of their client’s brand:

Chevy Equinox with a backward Chevy bowtie

Chevy Impala with a backward Chevy bowtie and Impala

Chevrolet Logo Backward - Malibu

Chevrolet Logo Backward - Traverse

These examples were taken from the home page rotator of a US regional Chevrolet dealer association website. They represent 57% of the images in that rotator. That makes such errors difficult to excuse as isolated incidents or something not reviewed by multiple employees (graphic designer, project manager, account executive) and the client.

Client and Agency Share Brand Integrity Responsibility

We are the first to admit that we aren’t perfect. No agency or person is perfect. But errors like this speak to a larger problem of disregarding the fundamentals of brand integrity. Imagine the IBM logo being printed backwards on a company brochure. Or Google having a typo and showing up “Gogle”. It wouldn’t make it off the printing press.

Protect your logo.
Protect your reputation.

Demand an agency that does the same.

Arkside Marketing is a full-service ad agency, specializing in regulated enterprises such as law firms, car dealerships, hospitals, and financial institutions. If you would like a complimentary analysis of your current marketing efforts or brand identity, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can come to your office or conduct the analysis online via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Join.me.

23
Oct

5 Tips for a Successful Business Card

Business cards are still an effective and convenient method for distributing your contact information. Ignore the small chorus of nay-sayers who ponder the question, “is the business card dead?” A business card is a valuable and inexpensive investment. Here are 5 tips to make your business card effective:

  1. Order Business Cards from Arkside

Its a good idea, but that’s not really number one. Here we go…

1. Make Your Business Card Easy to Read

Simple form over function. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your business card is if no one can read it. Even if you are an artist or graphic designer. Don’t let a creative flair overtake the reason you have a business card…so people can contact you! There are plenty of ways to incorporate beautiful, colorful, extravagant designs and still have easy-to-read information.

2. Use Both Sides of Your Business Card

2″ high by 3.5″ wide.
Two sides.
That gives you 14 square inches of space to work with. Don’t let it go to waste. When clients come to us for brand development, we often find a misuse of space in their business cards, letterhead, envelopes, and websites. Your business card can communicate a lot of information including:

 

Logo Name Title
Company Address Phone
Fax Email Social media
Company Slogan Specialties Awards
Images Certifications Degrees
License number(s) Special prices Discount offers
Famous quote Appointment form Portfolio piece

With all of those possibilities, why would you leave the back of your card blank? Put it to good use. Don’t just copy your logo again in a larger size. Use it as an appointment reminder (many dentists and doctors do this). You could also promote a particular product line, include social media icons/addresses, share your industry recognition award, or give a useful tip that is relevant to your customers.

Don’t forget – if you use a gloss coating on your card, you can’t write on it easily. If you want to write something, keep the back uncoated.

3. Design Business Cards With Your Customer In Mind

Your business card needs to meet and exceed the expectations of the person to whom you give it. If you own a law firm catering to high net worth clients, your business card needs to reflect that. The design should be professional and elegant. Including the colors of your favorite baseball team is not recommended.

Utilize your color palette, fonts, and other brand design elements. This information should be readily available in your branding guidelines.

4. Print Your Business Card on the Right Material

Many years ago, we came across a company that had plastic business cards. They had a custom cut shape, full color, and nearly as thick as a credit card. EACH card was about $1.00. Yes, they spent $500 on every set for employees. They were beautiful, unique, and effective.

They were not cost efficient.

The same unique beauty could have been achieved on a paper stock, even a rarely available stock, for less than $1.00 per card. Use a stock that is appropriate for your customers. A heavy-duty card stock for rough industries such as construction or landscaping. Elegant linen is appropriate for accountants or attorneys. Plastic for…well…no one.

5. Steal Ideas for Your Business Card

The layout and content options for your business card are limitless. But you aren’t going to reinvent the wheel. Someone already did what you want. Best of all, someone already did a part of what you want.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal!” –Pablo Picasso

Start collecting business cards with things you like and want on your own: a great font, a nice placement of a logo, the right size social media icons, whatever.

Now use this opportunity for marketing and networking. Compliment the person who’s card you admire and tell them what you like. They’ll appreciate your kind words and will be more receptive to your card once it is ready.

FREE TIP
6. Order your business cards from Arkside. (Just contact our office and we’ll schedule a free consultation.)

If you could change one thing about your current business card, what would it be? Leave a comment below and let’s see what others want to improve.