In this section we explore the similarities and differences between branding in different market sectors.
If you’re launching a new business, you’re in a unique position to operate as what is often called a ‘challenger brand’. This means that you can take a look at a market sector from the outside, assess all the players, opportunities or gaps in the market and then launch your product with a brand that challenges and shakes up the conventions of the sector. It’s hard to do this once you’re established as there’s more to lose, so think carefully about how brave and ‘rule’-breaking’ your product or service can be if you’re about to launch to market.
Another benefit you may have as a start-up is that the business is likely to be small and therefore responsive and adaptable, with no existing processes that have to be changed to create a new brand. In short: you’ve got one shot to do something exciting, relatively cheaply, so go for it.
Gü: start-up brand
Gü was launched into the chilled desserts market as a premium product whose name (an invented word) simultaneously hints at a European origin and evokes thoughts of gooey chocolate or treacle.
The name and graphic black and white packaging all broke the ‘rules’ of design and branding in the desserts sector and the product consequently stands out strongly in supermarkets.
The brand has subsequently been extended with the launch of Frü, a range of fruit desserts.
Although all branding is about communicating a clear offer to your customers or users, branding in the public sector is not necessarily as concerned with maximum market stand-out, as it typically is in the commercial/private sector. For public sector organisations, such as the police force and health services, the focus may be on clarity and access to important information. So branding and design may focus on signposting this information or communicating issues clearly in order to change people’s behaviour – a Department of Health quit smoking campaign, for example.
Clarity can sometimes fall foul of the complex nature of public sector services, which are often run by a network of stakeholder organisations or partners. In branding terms, putting the logos of all such partners on ‘customer’-facing communications can lead to visual clutter, a lack of clarity and confusion. It’s important, therefore, to be clear when a brand or branded campaign is needed and to ensure that its identity is distinct and clear for users.
National Health Service: greater clarity
The NHS visual identity had become fragmented, with around 1,000 organisations using different identities. An NHS identity programme was set up to address this and create a national unified brand. This ensures clarity and consistency and permits costs savings across the organisation because implementing one brand is more cost effective than supporting many.
Whilst most companies and organisations are providing a service of one type or another, for some businesses customer service is the dominant part of the offer. For these companies particular attention needs to be paid to how the brand (the big idea and all its components) are reflected in the way the service is provided and the way staff interact with customers.
In essence, service brands are built on the people who deliver them. This means that staff needed to be trained to get an understanding of the company’s culture, its ‘promise’ to customers and how they will be put into practice on a day to day basis. In this scenario, the human resources department is closely linked to brand management.
First Direct: service
First Direct was the first company to bring a 24-hour banking service to the market and its level of service was a key message in promoting the bank to potential customers.
To ensure the delivery of high quality service, First Direct recruits people with customer service skills rather than those who are already in the banking industry. This ensures that the company’s service delivery matches is brand ‘promise’.
Business to business
A lot of the brands discussed in this guide are consumer-facing brands, but many businesses market their products and services directly to other businesses, not the public. But the principles of effective branding apply in just the same way in the B2B sector as elsewhere. As in consumer products, B2B companies need to use branding to differentiate, stand-out and create a distinct personality, even if that personality is more corporate and business-like in its tone.
Mechan: B2B branding
Mechan designs and manufactures mechanical handling equipment for the rail industry, but by 2005 its image was starting to look dated. At the same time the company was faced with a static UK market and growing competition from abroad, so it needed stronger communications to create impact with potential business customers.
Working with a designer the company researched what the brand actually stood for (the big idea) and then a branding consultancy created a visual identity that is strong, clean and simple and works across all the company’s communications, including products, website, trade stands and literature.
Read the full story in our case study.