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What’s In A Name? – Top 10 Questions on Image

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With Roland Nicholas  26.MAY.06

“Righteous”. . . “Roots”… “Rhythms”.

What do these words have to do with Branding? Well, for anybody that has ever been to Little Tokyo in Kingstown, you may know what I am saying. These are possible nicknames on public (more private) transport vans that carry many of us to work, school, partying, and back. Each van is visually loud, with gleaming paint jobs, graffiti-style letters in the front and shiny rims. Some of the interiors are sporting plush seats, strobe lights, and even DVD movie players! Graphics printing companies and auto shops in St. Vincent must be raking in the dough.{{more}}

Why do these enterprising van owners do this? IMAGE. True, these colourful vehicles may be their personal “rides”, but these vans are also the drivers’ livelihood. They are vying for the attention of the potential passenger. Why? Here’s the deal.

These moving ad billboards are a part of branding. In their own entertaining way, these mobile entrepreneurs express their image, personality and style that allow them to be recognized by their customers.

To make your image stand out, be it logo, product, service, politician or beauty pageant contestant, here are the top ten questions to ask yourself in order to feel confident in your image:

1. Visibility – Will it stand out in its surroundings? Your logo should provide quick and memorable identification to your potential buyers. Seeing how your logo stands out among the clutter of a retail mall or crowd of competition is a good visual test for many trademarks.

2. Application – Will your logo look good on TV? On a T-shirt? From the resolution of a computer monitor to printing on a newspaper, it must withstand numerous technical applications.

3. Distinctiveness – Will the application of the logo distinguish itself from the competition? It is important to note that many legal decisions are made based on how similar a mark is to its competitor. The successful Carnival costume bands of Trinidad & Tobago are pretty versed on copyrighting rules and regulations.

4.Simplicity/Universality – Is the logo’s concept easy to identify? Is the visual message clear and understood? Also, do not forget cultural readability. Know your customer. What a Vincy may understand may go straight over a British tourist’s head.

5. Retention – Does it cause the eye to linger? Your image has to engage the customer mentally. If a symbol is too easy to read, the viewer will feel no sense of discovery and thus no personal connection with the image.

6. Colour – Is the logo clear both on an email and fax? A good symbol must work in a number of technologies that are unable to display the subtle diversity of some colour variations.

7. Descriptiveness – Does the symbol reveal the nature of the company or product? A good symbol is one that is able to do this without being an exact literal translation. Take a look at the logo of Cable & Wireless. It identifies a professional, international company that communicates with the world.

8. Timelessness – Will emerging market trends make your logo seem outdated? There was a time when logos were supposed to last 20 years or so. Now we are seeing identity redesigns within a five-year period. Not all logo changes are obvious. Did you notice that the world sports manufacturer, NIKE, has recently modified its original logo style?

9. Modularity – Whatever the application, does the logo’s message read the same? The font type, colour scheme, or other graphic elements are just as important as the symbol. All the elements must work together to form a single voice.

10. Equity – If the logo was changed, would your current customers still recognize you? Knowing when and what to redesign are important factors for a company that is considering a redesign. Say for example, if Coca-Cola tried to change its lettering graphics, it would be hard to replace the brand value, recognition and customer loyalty that the current lettering holds.

Let this article end with the van drivers. I could have said that the “bells and whistles” plastered on their vehicles is branding, but it’s not completely. What they do would be considered advertising, which attracts potential customers like moths to a flame. What many vans haven’t figured out is how to keep passengers loyal to them alone. Poor service, -irregular driving hours, cramped seating, loud music and reckless driving. does not a good brand make.

Roland Nicholas holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University and an MSc in Industrial Design from Georgia Institute of Technology.

He has over 10 years experience in corporate identity management and product development for diverse industries, including tourism and hospitality.

He is currently the founder and Brand Marketing Director of Brand Coral, LLC, a branding consultancy registered in Atlanta, Georgia U.S.An

– Inquiries are welcomed at rnicholas@brandcoral.com.

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