Few things are more exciting than building a new identity or refreshing an existing one. It becomes a part of all advertising and communications—a visual representation of the brand. Excellence in this area is not measured by how cool the logo looks or how clever the tagline reads. None of this matters if the target audience gets a wrong impression. This is particularly bad if it’s a first impression. A successful identity helps audience members form perceptions that are expected and favorable, leading to trust and advocacy for the brand.
“You can turn a page and, before you really comprehend it, there’s a feeling. There’s a vibration. If it’s the wrong vibration for what you want to convey, what follows is going to fight it—an uphill battle against the original impression you made.”
Bernbach knew, consciously or subconsciously, people continually form perceptions about brands. He was referring to a print ad, but this is true about any advertising or corporate communication. If the wrong perception results from branded communications, it can be difficult or impossible to change that perception and build a trusting relationship. The goal is to influence perceptions that are true about the organization (or product) as well as important to the target audience. Otherwise, audience members will not become users, fans, or advocates of the brand.
Taking the time to understand authentic characteristics of the brand as well as needs, beliefs, and preferences of the target audience is the best way to ensure that identity pieces reflect that understanding. Avoid the temptation to copy trends or simply choose a design that appears stylish. Be original, and more importantly, be relevant to the target audience. Take the time to create a compelling visual identity, then use it consistently to ensure positive first impressions and reinforce them with future visual communications.