The National Museum in Warsaw (Polish: Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie), Poland, is a national institution of culture, one of the largest museums in Poland and the largest in Warsaw. It comprise a rich collection of ancientart (Egyptian, Greek, Roman), counting about 11.000 pieces, an extensive gallery of Polish painting since the 16th century and a collection of foreign painting (Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, German and Russian) including some paintings from Adolf Hitler’s private collection, ceded to the Museum by the American authorities in post-war Germany. The museum is also home to numismatic collections and a gallery of applied. You can also try to go for a 48 hour print project to see some masterpieces come to life.
I know this sounds pretty cut and dry, but creative branding and strategies become convoluted more often that you think. In the previous paragraphs I have mentioned the mistakes a major department store has been making. Here comes another example. Psychologically, people are used to common ways of doing things, but this department store decided to change the way that they handle pricing. Instead of creating prices based on regular price and having a dot, or symbol for clearance items, they chose a color scheme. Normally, you would think of clearance as being red, or a red tag meaning that prices have been slashed. Not at this store. At this store, red is the regular price, and blue is means that the item is on clearance. Talk about confusing!
If you are going to do something different, new, or innovative with your brand, make sure that it makes sense! The best rule of thumb is to keep it simple. People don’t want to have to think long and hard about what something means or how to interact with your company or its products. It has to be simple and intuitive.
Multi million dollar corporations pay big money to gain insight into consumer trends. Think about the experience you’ve had when visiting a nation-wide department store. Most stores are consistently built, so when you see it, you recognize it. Using the Apple Store as an example, it is the only store in the mall with an illuminated apple, and silver trim. You can spot the Apple Store from across the mall, because it is well branded. it fits into their overall branding objective. I doubt you’ll ever see an Apple Store built with a rustic theme, with deer heads, animal furs, and flannel spread throughout the store. Everything is carefully chosen to accentuate the products.
Apple Stores are minimal, which coincides with their products. They believe in simple design with great functionality. You see that when you visit their stores. They aren’t filled with clutter or overly complicated. The tables where products are displayed are clean, and the products are readily accessible for visitors to try out. Getting to touch, hold, and experience their products, and getting your questions answered is what any consumer would want. In every aspect of their branding, they have kept it simple.
If you visit their website, the front page is usually dedicated to their newest, hottest product or service. The rest of Apple’s website is simple. You have simple images and simple text. The site structure isn’t overly complicated, and it is easy to find what you are looking for. Their site is broken down into easy categories, such as Store, Mac, iphone, ipod, ipad, itunes, support and a search bar. Those are the main topics that the majority of visitors will be looking for, and they are right there, in the navigation, making it easy to find what you are looking for. Any extraneous links are kept in the footer to keep the main navigation clean.
An example inside page, Mac, is broken down into products and services at the top. The main links are broken down into different product categories, such as laptops, desktops, mac minis, and the Mountain Lion OSX. Everything is categorized and broken down into easy chunks for visitors to process easily. With their growing sales, it shows that simplicity is king.
Branding is a huge topic that companies have spent million of dollars trying to figure out. While you may not have millions of dollars, if you keep things simple and make intuitive and easy for the consumer, you can build a strong brand. Combined with consistency and good PR, great branding can make any company excel.
Branding is in the world around us. Branding can make or break any business. Branding does a lot of things, but what does it matter to you if you don’t even know what branding is? That is where I come in.
What is a Brand?
A brand is the long term relationship and reputation that a company has built with the general consumer. Whether someone loves you are hates you, they know who you are. Your brand says everything about your company- who you are, what you do, your principles, what you stand for, who you associate with, your quality assurance, your connection with customers, as well as the general public, your goals, and the list goes on and on.
Branding is a lot of things rolled into one. The biggest thing that branding does is establish an emotional connection with people, while building recognition and trust at the same time. This is where most brands fail. Most brands create a logo and website and that’s it. They expect customers to flock to them based on their products, but no matter how great your products are, they won’t promote your company by themselves.
Branding is more than just products and an identity. Your company has to determine what they do best and leverage that service or skill to establish importance or dominance that market. Let’s take an example company, Target and look at their brand. Just by mentioning their name, what comes to your mind? Most will say “the bullseye” which is their logo. When I think of target, I think of every Target I have ever been in. Everything is laid out in a simplistic manner. The aisles are clean and free of clutter. I think of the dominant “Target Red” throughout the store. It is painted on the floor, it accents the walls, and adorns the signage. The buggies are their signature red, and you can spot a Target employee a mile away.
You might also think of what you will find at Target. You’ll find good quality, uniquely designed home goods. You can find nice, minimal furniture that is a decent quality, and many different products adorned with designer patterns. The entire store speaks quality, as if each product were hand-picked. It is obvious that Target thinks a lot about design. Whether you prefer Target or another large company, it is tough to deny how Target has established themselves. You can buy quality home goods at an affordable price. During College years, many college students prefer Target for their well designed products and space savers for dorm attendees.
Think about their competitor, Walmart. They aren’t know for quality, as much as they are known for quantity and rollback prices. They used to use the positive smiley face, but they rebranded a few years ago to the abstract solar symbol. Think about the last time you were at Walmart. The aisle are packed with stand alone racks and shelves with the latest deals. The stores aren’t as crisp and clean as Target’s typically are, and there aren’t wide expanses of open aisles. Walmart seems to utilize each and every square foot to market something to their visitors. They have leverages themselves as the ones with the best deals and prices. By including a grocery store, Walmart is a one-stop-shop packed with low price deals.
How do You Establish a Brand?
This is a deep discussion topic for the ages. The answer is that you have to combine strategy with proper execution and do this consistently over time. The main factor is consistency. Your stores, your uniforms, your core values, your actions, and everything else must be consistent and be executed in a consistent manner. Have you ever been to one business and had a great experience, and then visited another store owned by that company and had a completely different experience? That is inconsistency. Branding is about the customer experience as much as it is the look, the layout and the products that you display.
The truth is that establishing a brand can take years. Everything you or your company does is being watched. How you handle customers, the effect you have on the environment, how you treat you employees, etc., all reflects on your brand. Here is a perfect example of how you treat your employees affects your branding and the consumer’s perception of your brand. There was a company that is a billion dollar department store, who just recently decided to toss out everything that they’d done for the last 20 years. They had established themselves as a solid brand where you could buy clothing, home goods, shoes, etc., and pay a decent price. They had been known for sending coupons out to their customers frequently, which was a huge driving point for their sales. They did away with those, and decided to remove most of the registers from their store, except for in a few main areas. On top of all of these major changes, they decided to make one fatal mistake. They decided to mistreat their employees.
They started eliminating positions, which is a part of the corporate way of doing things. However, the one thing that they did that will definitely hurt their business is take away commission from its employees. This is a no-no. You could literally see the malice on each employees’ faces as you peruse through the store. They also had no problem letting every customer know about it as well. Your employees are your strongest brand advocates. If they hate you, your customers will too. The other aspect to removing commission is that it takes the incentive away from providing good service. Why should they care if you find the right size shoe? Why should they care if you can’t find something? They aren’t getting paid that well, and they don’t get anything extra for helping you. Consistency means that if you market yourself as a company that cares about people, but you treat your employees like gutter trash, consumers will lose trust in your brand.
Have you lost faith in a brand? What made you switch brands from one of your favorite products? Was it poor quality? Were you mistreated? Did the brand break your trust?