Your ongoing branding efforts are your first line of defense against perceptual genericide. The primary legal definition of genericide is the abandonment of a mark with intent not to resume use. When a brand does not pursue a strategy of distinction and clear differentiation, that brand is drifting into a zone of generic perception of services or products.
For the purpose of this discussion, and in order to provide suggestions on avoiding genericide, our focus is on the word perceptual. If the perception develops that your brand is non-distinctive, you are doomed to becoming a commodity.
Here are six design tactics to avoid that perception.
Position / Approach
Design a narrative. What is your brand story? You may think you know who you are. But the reality is, you are who your customers or potential buyers think you are. If you feel there is a disconnect, or you are frustrated by the buyer-seller gap, that is your bridge to build. Your marketing decisions should support a brand story that will include the customer. They must see themselves in the story, which must be relevant, distinctive and supportable. The customer is the prototypical seeker of knowledge, searching for the key, the answer, meaning, and purpose. Get emotional. Make them a hero.
Solving a client’s problem isn’t the end of a story, it is the first chapter of an interactive adventure. You are managing a broad funnel that begins with developing online content that appeals to the type of customer you are looking for. The funnel narrows until a call-to-action (CTA) allows the user to give you permission to close the gap.
Use technology to enhance the story. Creating an online experience is the embodiment of design. Keep interaction simple and convenient. Anyone that says white space is a waste of space doesn’t truly understand communication. A content dense presentation is discouraging and uninviting. White space also provides the flexibility needed to allow your online content to be responsive. Filling white space with more information stiffens the flexibility required for the content to adjust to the variety of formats of tablets, phones, operating systems and browsers that are out there. Buttons and links should share style consistency without interfering with the flow of content. Keep transitions and animations subtle.
Following these simple suggestions allows the user, or potential customer, to control the experience of absorbing content.
Design your messaging by following your photography, illustration and video guidelines from your brand standards. Close monitoring of photographic style, artwork usage, and film production are valuable assets in a strong visual identity. Humor, drama, conflict and transformation are potential elements to use in the story of your brand. Innovate, but don’t fall victim to design trends. Trends may be leveraged, but need sensitive handling in order to avoid going “off brand.” It is less risky to stay off trend. Trends fade, are not foundational and risk comparison to other brands.
Manage an approach of continuous innovation by choosing images that support the message, expand the story and connect to market relevance. Maintaining an engaging visual identity means understanding the sub-texts of imagery, such as cultural sensitivities and competitive awareness dialogues. World events, economic shifts and popular culture impact B2B branding as much as B2C. More brands are supporting social issues these days. On the surface these issues can appear divisive, even controversial. In reality, brand positioning can expose cultural divides and can present opportunities to bridge divides by closing gaps in knowledge and information.
The best design is invisible. The user must immerse themselves intuitively in the discovery of relevant content, so tricks are unnecessary. Don’t bait and switch, inform and deliver. Color should be used to flag emphasis of information, especially in giving the user an opportunity to control interaction and feel in control. Transparency is the new black. A clear user experience creates mindshare that no corporate color will ever own. Consistent use of color will serve as guideposts in your customer’s journey.
Calls-to-Action must be crafted with an attractive aesthetic that employs high contrast, actionable language and a big button. The design should be simple enough that the basic elements adjust easily to responsive demands. Top to bottom works best. Your download should be well-designed, robustly informative, and most of all, have a “I gotta get that now!” impulse to own. Make your downloads look valuable and appear to be something a prospect would be willing to pay for, thereby finding an emotional triumph in the free offer.
You’ve got a new customer. Your efforts have achieved success. Good branding and well-designed content have provided a mutually rewarding connection. You are delivering on your brand promise, and now you must strengthen the bond with your new customer through personalization and convenience. Continue to distance yourself from your competitors with design distinction. Consider programs or tiered discounts through subscriptions and additional purchases.
Practicing these recommended tactics will help you build a consistent brand experience that supports your mission, values and story. Your prospects are looking for relevant information from a trusted source. Consistency in design execution is important because it helps build trust. Consistency is easier to maintain if your marketing relies on strong brand guidelines. Standardizing your brand doesn’t rule out innovation, but it can make compliance too casual.
The best approach to an innovative brand is to constantly monitor your prospects’ stories. Ask these questions:
- What are the problems they are facing?
- How complex is the decision making process?
- Where can you simplify the complexities they face?
Continuously ask questions like these, follow the tactics above and you will design a successful campaign.
Clearly a Brand Identity System is an important tool for managing your Brand Identity with consistency. For more information, download our eBook, “9-Step Checklist for Creating Your Brand Identity.”
Download our helpful and simple-to-follow branding planner: 9 Step Checklist for Creating Your Brand Identity, and get:
- A proven step-by-step process to create a blueprint for your brand identity
- All the questions you should be considering when refreshing your brand