What comes to your mind when you think of brands such as Apple, McDonald’s and Instagram? If their logo automatically pops up in your head, then they’ve succeeded in embedding their “brand” in your head – but there’s so much more to a brand than a logo alone.
The most iconic brands stay with us in our minds in part due to memorable design and visuals, yet there are also intangible elements that make up a brand’s identity.
These elements include:
- • A company’s vision, mission and values
- • Corporate culture
- • Public perception
- • Value proposition
- • Voice and tone
Then there are core elements of a brand which people are more familiar with:
- • The logo
- • Branding colours
- • Font
- • Overall presence
Think about the brands that you’ve become faithful to and use in your everyday life. What keeps you from switching to other brands? Is it quality? Reliability? The latest trend? Odds are, the parts of a brand that makes people stick around were developed deliberately with precision.
Let’s look at a popular brand versus brand argument that has been going on for quite a while – the Apple vs Android debate.
Apple has a devoted fan base all over the world, and the introduction of the iPhone has taken the smartphone market by storm and redefined the way we use phones today. But it didn’t take very long for other brands to emerge and introduce their own version of the smartphone.
The introduction of a new smartphone model is always accompanied by new features, both in hardware and software. Things like 4k displays, HDR, gesture controls and camera improvements can be seen in most Android smartphones, with technology adoption from Android manufacturers rising at lightning pace. Apple, on the other hand, chooses to implement features at a much slower rate compared to its Android counterparts, yet they still find ways to introduce new features on the software level. Remember the headphone jack? It’s still mindblowing to know that most phones (and devices) have completely removed the headphone jack. And the one who lead that trend was Apple. Apple became such a large brand that they were able to make everyday tech that everyone was accustomed to, become obsolete within months.
Today, the smartphone market has become so saturated with hundreds of devices to choose from. With the introduction of Google’s Android OS, consumers are attracted to Android’s open-source operating system due to its price to value ratio and a wide selection of devices to choose from. However, the Android world is full of similar devices that don’t really stand out from one another.
On the other hand, the iPhone is known for its absurdly high price tag and slow integration of new technology compared to Android. Yet, even with these factors, Apple still finds a way to stand out from the competition which has helped them remain as one of the top-selling smartphone manufacturers in the world.
So how is Apple retaining its position as one of the top brands in the world?
Like Apple, having a strong and authentic brand identity needs to be built with a purpose – that is – you need to integrate both the core and the intangible elements while staying consistent with what your business originally was intended for. For Apple, that purpose is to provide the best user experience in combination with quality hardware, intuitive software, and complementing services.
Smart brands know who they are—and more importantly—who shouldn’t be. They stick with what they do best and what makes them stand out from the competition, rather than try to replicate other brands in a saturated sea of duplicates.
In the end, ensuring that your visual elements are all aligned with your organization’s values is an important step when building a strong brand identity.