Historically, a brand was a 'a mark made by a hot iron'
, but thankfully our definition of the branding process is a lot less dangerous and much more enjoyable! Modern branding generally involves a design process that is backed up by a combination of market research, creative inspiration and an awareness of human psychology in order to produce unique, memorable and powerful symbolism as part of an overall marketing strategy
. Branding can be used to both differentiate products from their competition and to simultaneously communicate carefully chosen ideals and messages to a project's audience.
Branding provides an identity and tangible form that organisations can use to both structure their relationship to their audience and also inform audiences of their intentions and nature without needing to spell out all of the details. Appropriate branding can also help consumers to more quickly identify the products or services they wish to use too. While most of us understand that an 'expensive' looking logo doesn't guarantee quality in the product that it identifies, we will still tend to look for quality in the design aspects of a product as a guide to the potential quality of the product or service itself.
The evolution of branding in advertising and product promotion provides a fascinating insight into the thought process of humanity and how our values and beliefs have changed over time. When society generally agrees to associate specific qualities to certain styles of text or graphic artistry, for example, such as the idea that certain types of font represent sophistication, wealth or fun
, marketers often adopt these design styles in order to create the impression that such qualities are present in their products too.
Sometimes these associations between visual styles and value systems occur organically and sometimes they are deliberately engineered for specific purposes. In some cases a great logo can actually create a fresh association between a design style and a certain value system and in other cases designers simply tap in to associations that already exist.
The highly developed techniques used by marketers to imprint their symbols into the unconscious and sub conscious of their audience can sometimes be so effective at altering thought process without being noticed, that we are right to question the ethics of the situation. The solution to this is to create ethical brands and we do our best to only work with clients who intend their brands to be as ethical as possible.
There are two main sides to creating an ethical brand. Firstly, the activities of the company or project need to be carefully checked to ensure that all of their details are transparent, honest and do not overpower or harm the people, animals and environment that they come into contact with. We are happy to consult
with clients to achieve this, however, the responsibility for this part of the process ultimately rests with our clients.
Secondly, the actual branding process itself needs to be carried out in an ethical way too. This means that any branding activities, such as design work and advertising do not use any of the more questionable 'black hat' techniques that get exposed from time to time by researchers and which may even be illegal in some regions. Examples of unethical marketing practices include subliminal advertising
, some uses of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)
and especially when used with an intent to seriously misrepresent a product or service in a covert way.
We know that by ensuring that branding is ethically carried out, the resulting perception of our client's projects will truly feel good to their audience and will not present a risk to the long term sustainability of both their project and their reputation. We see a gradual shift towards more ethical ways of living in general, as both science and common sense show us that doing so is the only guaranteed way for humanity to thrive into the future. A founding goal of Crucial Web is to play a part in leading the way towards a more ethical world that future generations will be able to be proud of and glad to inherit.