Branding speaks louder than words

Does branding speak louder than words?


This month, a chocolate giant launched a new brand campaign in association with Age UK, with the slogan: “We’ve donated the words from these [chocolate] bars to help the 225,000 older people who regularly go a whole week without speaking to anyone”. And yet, despite the brand name being removed from the packaging, you can tell who is behind the campaign in an instant.

It’s natural to think that branding focuses solely on a company name, which is graphically designed in the form of, or alongside, a unique logo. In reality, whether your instant recognition of the chocolate bar is sparked by memories of a previous advertisement; an experience of sharing one with friend; or the taste, look or smell; you’ve already answered the question: what is branding? In essence, it’s all of the above. So what other ways are there of making your product memorable, other than a name?

Visual branding is key

One of our customers runs an exclusive restaurant in the heart of London, which boasts a “press for champagne” button at each table. The restaurant style is elegant and opulent, although our latest creative brief, for the branding of their personalised sugar sachets, was very simple indeed: iconic blue stripes on a white background. No company name; no company logo.

Upon closer investigation, we became vividly aware of the subtle branding unfolding before our eyes. The bespoke dining tables, for which the sachets were being designed, were plain white with blue stripes around the edges; while  conversely, the iconic blue dining chairs featured a simple white trim. This additional branding – in the form of sugar sachets – was simply an extension of, and complementary to, the existing interior furnishings. This made us think about other types of branding out there in the commercial world that currently exist without a name.

 An assault on (all) the senses

Aside from the visual impact, there are a number of other factors that make a brand memorable – and none of these ideas are actually new.

A sense of value and zero waste: A Canadian food retailer initially launched a range of “no name” products in a time of rapid inflation that have been enjoyed by their customers for over 40 years. The range includes everything from groceries to household products, where each item is carefully developed to bring the customer quality and value they can count on, without the retailer spending millions on flashy branding.

Ironically, the iconic yellow-and-black range with no name soon became a leading supermarket brand. While UK retailers have traditionally adopted a highly wasteful marketing strategy focussed on the notion that fruit and vegetables have to look perfect in size, shape and colour; one of the leading advertising claims by the Canadian retailer is that fresh produce – for example their wonky carrots – doesn’t have to look perfect to taste great. Meanwhile, UK retailers are gradually beginning to follow suit as they realise the huge branding opportunity afforded by offering imperfect produce.

A sense of smell: Our very own Barry O’Dwyer recalls sitting next to a lady at a recent dinner party, who leaned over and instinctively enquired: “is your aftershave Dunhill?”, which, of course, it was. In this way, smell is also a good example of brand association. Anything positive which is deep-seated in a customer’s mind and ignites brand recognition should be considered as part of the overall branding strategy. In this case, it’s a distinct fragrance that sets the brand apart from its competitors.

A sense of style: In the fashion world, product patterns can also precipitate brand recall. Take Burberry, for example. Their current logo and website in no way resemble the iconic beige ‘nova check’ fabric which has been used to create so many of their garments and accessories in recent decades. And yet, if someone walks down the street in a Burberry coat, you wouldn’t mistake it for any other brand. The accessibility of the brand to the mainstream may have resulted in a rollercoaster ride of popularity for the once-exclusive London-based dressmaker, but there is no questioning the world-wide recognition of the brand today. Imagine how powerful a nova check sugar sachet could be for the brand – something that could be conceptualised and produced by Personalised Product Consultants in a matter of weeks, but without the need for a huge marketing budget.

An animal instinct: Let’s not forget the role of animals in some of the world’s most iconic brands, such as the rearing black horse of the prestigious Italian automotive manufacturer, or the embossed profile of the crocodile on sportswear. You certainly don’t need to be a Ferrari-driving, Lacoste tennis shirt-wearing individual to recognise either of these brands.

So there you have it; if you’re searching for inspiration to create an original brand strategy, it may take nothing more than a simple yet iconic personalised sugar sachet to get your brand noticed. As the adage on our office pinboard reminds us daily: “products are made in the factory, but brands are made in the mind.” We know Cadbury will agree with this sentiment.