Get noticed and be memorable by doing these 2 simple things with your branding
If you’ve been here before and read my about page, you might know that I am the proud mother of two adorable little mess-makers*. (And if you haven’t read it yet, why don’t you pop on over and have a look - it’s ok, I’ll wait). The youngest of the two is my 9 month old girl – which, for the uninitiated, makes her an eating, sleeping and pooing machine - and as such, we are a ‘thankyou’ branded nappy family.
In today's blog, I will deconstruct their brand (or at least the visual side of things) so you can learn a lesson or two from their sweet design wins and apply them in your own business.
Before we get too far though, I am going to shortcut to one of the key learnings for this blog. Here it is.
Is your business recognisable without your logo?
(Now if you're facebook notifications go off and you get distracted, at least you caught that one). That’s the challenge you have – to make everything that you create, share or package look so much like your business that if the logo wasn’t there, I’d still know it was you. I like to call it, having a visual identity.
“Well Sarah,” I hear you say, “being recognisable without a logo sounds like a good idea, but I really wish you had an example to look at so I can visualise what you’re telling me.”
As luck would have it, my dear Genevieve, I do. Let’s take a closer look at 'thankyou'.
De-constructing the thankyou brand (in easy to understand language)
'Thankyou' is an Aussie, social enterprise company who sell us stuff so they can give the profits away to fund a related social project somewhere in the world. (what a mouthfull). That is, they sell bottled water and use the profits to dig wells; they sell fancy soaps and fund sanitation projects; they make chocolate and provide food aid and fund sustainable farming projects. You get the gist.
I've chosen the 'Thankyou' to deconstruct because they have diversified across many different product ranges to service a variety of different projects. What that means for you is that you get to see a relatively small company who has had to brand lots and lots of things. As you can see, they have managed to keep their branding consistent and recognisable, despite having items in five totally unrelated aisles of the supermarket. And they did it all by establishing a clear – here's that phrase again – visual identity.
Now admittedly, you probably won’t be launching into a variety of different product families just yet, but if you can imagine the different product types as different designed elements in your business, ie. your price list, your Instagram feed, your invoice, your roadshow banner etc, you’ll see where this can be relevant to you. So, here we go;
The entire thankyou brand in 5 achievable bullet pointS:
- A logo (naturally). White lowercase type on a black box and an alternate logo with the colours inverted (white on black becomes black on white).
- Two, count them, two fonts across all their packaging, (with one exception that I will mention later).
Clusters of a very few, complementary colours for each product type.
A handful of appropriate icons to highlight and simplify their message.
The inclusion of some illustrated elements and textures on appropriate product families. (The 'multi-pack' boxes of muesli bars have their own logo - which is the exception to the font rule - and the nappies have a strip of black and white pattern at the bottom instead of a solid colour).
And there you have it, the anatomy of an entirely recognisable and memorable brand in half a dozen bullet points. I can spot a thankyou product a mile away, long before I can read their logo – and that's your aim.
Now that 'thankyou' have helped us understand what we’re aiming for, lets look at how to get it done.
Creating ONE. CONSISTENT. THEME. (a visual identity)
I’m going to give you a (totally made-up) transcript of ‘thankyou’s “one consistent branding theme” staff meeting’ so you can see how straightforward it can be to create a cohesive brand. For now we are going to conveniently ignore the fact that there was no doubt some relevant market research and at least one but probably more design savvy people at the helm when they made these decisions. But that’s not the point right now – the point right now is to hone in the actual decisions they made. Let the fictitious dialogue begin (please don't tweet any quotes from this meeting).
CEO: Hi everyone, so we are only selling stuff to get money to fix problems right? So all our products need to be designed in a way that lets us emphasise that key message. Let’s start with the bottled water. Ideas?
Design savvy ‘thankyou’ staff member: Let’s just make it black. The logo’s already black. Let’s just make the whole label black. We’ll put the funding model on the back in white icons.
CEO: Fine. And the muesli bars?
Staffer: Black. But we’ll put a horizontal strip of fruity colours on the bottom third. If we need some coloured text, we’ll use that same colour. One colour per packet.
CEO: Black, one colour, bottom third, got it. And our hygiene products range?
Staffer: Still black. Still bottom third, but we’ll use pastels instead of fruity colours for the whole range.
CEO: Ok, and if we get into baby products?
Staffer: Black. Bottom Third. Maybe a texture instead of a colour and maybe a squiggly line instead of a horizontal line.
CEO: Is that breaking from our theme too much?
Staffer: Nah it’s ok, our customers will still know it’s us. I mean honestly, all that black…
CEO: Should we do anything different to that theme - Like the buy-in-bulk box packs and what not?
Staffer: Once we have established our brand, we can afford to swap the product theme around a little bit – that is, we could make the box that the individual treats come in a coloured box, and put a black strip at the top instead of the old coloured strip at the bottom. Plus we can stamp a product name on it, in a bubbly logo style, to make it a bit fun.
CEO: So let me get this straight. We sell black stuff with a strip of colour or texture only, and within any given product range, the colours all compliment each other. 1 logo, 2 fonts and 1 colour per box. We’ll mix it up a little for the boxes these things come in.
Staffer: Yep - And that will make us an instantly recognisable and memorable company, and our message won’t get lost in the details.
Think you'd like to implement this type of branding for your own business? Here's how.
The two things you can do to get your brand noticed and be memorable.
You’re actually gonna stop doing one and replace it with the other.
1. Ditch the ‘get a logo’ mentality
Your logo, as beautiful as it is, is not your brand.
I’m gonna say it again.
Your logo, which tells the world what you are called and gives an indication of the type of business you are, is NOT. YOUR. BRAND.
Yes, you need a logo. And yes, you need a really good one that represents you properly. But if that is as far into your brand strategy as you have got, you’ve only got half way.
Here’s what to do instead.
2. Replace the 'I need a logo' mentality with an ‘I need a visual identity’ mentality.
Remember all the stuff from Part 1 about giving people a (memorable) experience? A visual identity paves the way for you to do just that.
Paul Rand, the eminent design thinker of his time insightfully said “design is the silent ambassador of your brand” ...but that only works if you actually have one.
Just like ‘thankyou’ have made themselves totally recognisable - even if they removed their logo - you need to do the same by defining what your stuff is gonna look like. Get some cohesive colours, choose some well-paired fonts, determine an aesthetic and most importantly stick with it.
That is an actual visual identity, and once you get it sorted, it’s gonna start paying off for you big time. [BTW, If you're loving the visual identity strategy, make sure you read the rest of this series here]
*Can I just say that these little people take up literally every usable hour of the day. To all the mum-and-dad-prenuers out there who have gone before me and created something (anything) meaningful, I don’t know how you did it. Me... I’m starting this blog at 8:13pm and will likely be up at least 5 times tonight because Mr. 3's stuffed turtle needs to be re-tucked in. RESPECT to you all #fistpump