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Great Brands Are More Than A Logo

Eric Groves

By Eric Groves

Every great brand has a strong logo. Take a look around. You’ve seen the Nike swoosh, the iconic bite out of an apple, and that green mermaid on your Starbucks cup. But great brands are much more than a logo.

As hippos, we examine the brand safari landscape every day. We even write about them in our “Brands We Like” series! You can spot those branding greats from a mile away. Their majestic gait combined with great style, voice and attitude are clear indicators that they’re different beasts. Great brands are distinct, and living outside of the expected comfort zone is their natural habitat.

You’ve seen these brands before, but what does it take to become one?

We’ve talked about how having a nice logo, catchy tagline, pretty fonts and colors are all important parts of a brand. But the truth is, a brand is much more than these elements.

Great brands connect emotionally. They tell stories. They dive deeper than only describing what they do and who they are. They create an emotional experience for consumers who connect with that meaning, share the thoughts, and hold the same beliefs as the brand itself. We like to call this being a Spotted Zebra.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A SPOTTED ZEBRA?

It’s a branding philosophy which centers around one idea; when everyone else in your landscape has stripes, you should have spots. Put simply, your brand needs to stand out from the pack in a meaningful way. Imagine you’re looking out into the distance, and you see a pack of zebras. All of them are standing there, grazing and clopping around their hooves in the red dirt. You could identify them by their distinct black and white striped coat. But there’s one that stands out. There’s one that has spots. You want your brand to stand out like that weird Spotted Zebra.

MY WHAT BEAUTIFUL SPOTS YOU HAVE: BRAND STYLE

It’s time to break out of the pack, not blend in. Standing out in a herd of zebras is a lot easier when your spots have great style. So, what does your brand look like? Is it properly dressed for the occasion? Does it get noticed? Is it time for a style makeover? We like to define style as the unique personality of a company as expressed by the aesthetics of its various branding components, the visual dimension of a brand personality.

YOUR VOICE IS CAPTIVATING: BRAND VOICE

Have you ever seen a talking zebra? In order to be a Spotted Zebra in a land filled with stripes, it is important that your voice is infused with personality and moves beyond a literal, dry description of what you do and how you do it. Brand voices should have layers. Just like someone’s personality, there are appropriate times for your brand to be funny, serious, witty and knowledgeable. As you get to know a person or brand, you uncover more layers. If you’re creating content for the sake of filling up a page, don’t bother!

OH, BEHAVE: BRAND BEHAVIOR

Does the behavior of your brand match what it says it is? Beyond your voice and style, does your brand behavior say that you are authentic? How can you not just “say”, but actually “do”? If your brand’s behavior doesn’t match what its perception is, you could leave your customer feeling let down.

A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE

Take Duluth Trading Co. as an example of a brand that is effectively weaving in all three of these attributes to create a strong brand. They have a specific, hardworking, no-nonsense style. Not only is their brand story compelling, but they live and breathe it in everything they do. From their social media to their on-air advertisements, and even their product development research, they keep the brand at the forefront of all actions and communications. Basically, they’re able to talk the talk and walk the walk. Duluth Trading Co. is an effective brand because it has strong style, voice and behavior. Their brand always comes through, even in the smallest areas, like their microcopy and their “no bull guarantee.”

This is just a quick look at what it takes to stand out from the pack. To experience the full branding journey, download our Spotted Zebra Workbook below. And next time you see an iconic logo, remember that a brand is much more than a swoosh.

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