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A strong brand communicates what a business does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust.

A brand is not just what a business does or what it looks like, it is who it is.

A great deal of research has been done on the science behind why branding does or doesn’t work. There are studies that show how specific visuals and sounds lead to effective branding, but beyond that, what great brands have in common is consistency – for these businesses the brand is their DNA, carried through in everything the business does, and in doing so, answering a few simple questions:

  1. Who do we think we are?
  2. Who do our customers think we are?
  3. Who do we want to become?

We’ll take a deep dive into these questions to see how a brand lives through every part of a business and why effective branding is essential to success.

1. Who do we think we are?

“We knew very little about marketing or branding when we started Virgin Records, back in 1972. We simply formed the business around our personal values, and went from there. Virgin’s success can be attributed to a lot of different things, however this was the best decision we ever made. The defining factor that has kept us in business, and growing, for more than 40 years has been the strength and reputation of the brand.” – Richard Branson

While many businesses start off by focusing on the consumer-facing side of the brand, iconic businesses start from the inside, by thoughtfully articulating their values and purpose. A well-defined brand acts as a roadmap, guiding a business toward what it should and shouldn’t do. Thus, good branding doesn’t just differentiate a business in the marketplace, it informs the choices of the business owner on a strategic and day-to-day operational level.

Modelling the brand values is also one of the key ways that successful brands create employee evangelists. When people see those behind the brand behaving in a way that is consistent with the brand messaging, they feel more connected to what the brand stands for.

2. Who do our customers think we are?

All brands operate within a cultural context, and the best brands define a part of the culture they exist within. The success of a brand can be measured by the number of people who choose to define themselves as “the type of person” who buys a certain product or makes use of a particular service. This means that the brand values and narrative have resonated so powerfully, that they have become part of the culture’s images, values, beliefs, ideas and history.

“When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable.” – Meg Whitman

As a developing nation still carving its identity, South Africa has a particularly colourful connection to some of its most iconic brands. It’s nearly impossible to visit a corner café without spotting a jar of Wilson’s Toffees or Chappies with their famous “did you knows” printed on the back of the wrapper; or to overhear a suburban conversation in which the word “Woolies” doesn’t feature. We have even adopted certain brand names into our shared national vocabulary. Emerging South African fashion brands, such as Maxhosa and Pichulik, have created an instantly recognisable aesthetic and they are pioneering a new identity for South African design, one that speaks of modernity and luxury by drawing inspiration from heritage and tradition.

3. Who do we want to become?

Brands have to adapt to changing times in order to remain relevant. Younger generations are emerging as influential buyers and they are spurring on a movement towards a more conscious consumerism. Today’s leading brands realise that their future reputation and success will be built on what they stand for.

According to the Nielsen 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report, “across regions, income levels, and categories, people are willing to pay more to remain true to their values.” Not only do people avoid brands that don’t speak to their values, 88 percent of consumers also want brands to make the world a better place.

One of the companies that has paved the way towards values-based production is Starbucks. The global coffee giant no longer wanted to just be known for serving great coffee, so instead, it shifted its focus towards striving for 100% ethically sourced coffee, being environmentally sustainable and making a positive impact in the communities it operates within. Locally, Vida e Caffè, which has long been known and loved for its upbeat vibe and creating an energetic South African coffee culture, is also focusing on sustainability. Vida’s fully recycle coffee capsules allow consumers to take a part of the Vida experience home with them and to enjoy their coffee guilt-free – the empty capsules can be returned to the store where they are recycled and turned into plastic timber used in furniture manufacturing.

People are putting their money where their hearts are and if a brand is not managed proactively, it can take years for a stale reputation to catch up with new realities.

Condensing a brand into a momentary glance

Branding is mostly intangible, primarily existing within the philosophical orientation of a company, and within the minds of consumers. A logo is the primary tangible way in which a brand can visually depict its overall principles.

Iconic brands take a thoughtful aesthetic approach to developing their brand identity. They take care to create a visual language that conveys what the brand does, where it is going and what it stands for. Their logos are instantly recognisable and synonymous with the brand itself.

67 Logos Designathon

A logo creates the first impression of a brand, if a logo does not convey the right message to a prospective customer, the business is at an immediate disadvantage.

Through the power of design, CWDi will be helping our country’s hard-working entrepreneurs not only stand up but stand out. This Mandela Day, in 67 minutes, we’ll be making a difference that lasts a last a lifetime. We’ll be identifying 67 high impact South African small businesses and start-ups who need a logo. On 18 July 2018, 67 designers will come together to pledge 67 minutes of service in which 67 logos will be created for 67 high impact businesses.

A great logo has the potential to give a small business the confidence to not only become a strong brand, but also a thriving business.

We hope to help small businesses brand for success by creating logos that will be at the heart of these businesses and that will inspire who they are, how they are seen and where they are going.

Click here to join the 67 Logos Designathon