How to brand the world
Any design consultancy worth their salt will, or should be capable of creating a brand for your organisation, product or service. But what does it take to create a brilliant brand strategy that will differentiate you, find your true tone of voice and enable you to stand out in a crowded market?
At JUMP we ask our customers “How high?” they want us to elevate their brand. In this vein when we asked our Creative Director, Lucy Batley, to write a blog about Brand Strategy she asked us: “What is the biggest brand that I can use as an example to write about? How about planet earth?”.
This is how to successfully brand the world, including how each of our designers would undertake designing a travel poster to promote Earth…
Andy: My visit Earth is a tongue in cheek approach as Earth is actually packing his bags and leaving.
When creating and writing a Brand Strategy the first thing to methodically analyse is: “Who is your primary target audience?”. This is a tough one with the world because quite frankly we don’t really know! Aliens? God? Other planets? The point here is the process of studying each audience in depth to get a real flavour for who they are, what they are looking for and most importantly, what would persuade them to invest in your brand?
Adrian: Mine is for sale! (Backstory is that Earth is an abandoned landscape sold off by the Russians and now being sold to the highest bidder by cockroach-headed aliens.)
Then we look at your competition. This one is easy as earth has a plethora of competitors: the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, dwarf planets such as Pluto, dozens of moons and millions of asteroids, comets and meteoroids. This list is quite literally infinite. But all these competitors are circling Earth like sharks in the ocean wanting to be dominant within the context of their own marketplace: the solar system. How do we make Brand Earth stand out in a crowded market? Who is doing it well? The sun has a pretty evocative brand story to tell so I would mark that as a principle competitor. The ask yourself how can you differentiate the Earth from the sun?
Danielle: Intelligent life is possibly incredibly rare in our solar system and maybe the whole universe. Some of the things that our advanced civilisation have created however are less than impressive. Some are destructive to ourselves, some are just silly and pointless!
Outline the key qualities and benefits your brand offers
What have we got that no one else has got? An abundance of water? Carbon elements such as gold and silver? Coal? Not so much anymore unfortunately, especially in the North East of England. The trick is to work out what your target audiences want in the research phase of the project and align that to the brand offer. Once you know what it is that your audience wants, you can then ‘sell’ them the qualities and benefits that your brand offers. To really go the whole nine yards, at this point you need to find what is distinctly unique in terms of what your brand offers compared with your competitors. You can’t enforce this on your brand, you have to find something that is already there and then talk about it in the most engaging and evocative way possible. This is your Brand Story.
Rachel: The human race is a drop in the ocean to the 4.5 billion year old Earth, there’s plenty of time to change things.
At this point you need to work out the key things you want to tell your customers about your brand. This is a tricky one when branding the world as it could go one of three ways:
Blame: “It wasn’t our fault; the planet was messed up when we got here.” At this point I am reminiscent of Belinda Carlise on the cover of New York Time’s magazine having taken more cocaine than Keith Richards and Tony Montana put together. The key message being: “I f**ked up! But I will strive to be better”. A sincere apology to pull on the heart strings of America.
It’s a wonderful world: “Earth is the only place we know that has an abundance of fascinating nature and wildlife (fauna and flora to die for), and, of course, lest we forget… homo sapiens.”
A cry for help: “Earth has been infested by a deadly cancerous disease called Human Beings that are wrecking what we set out to establish in the first place.” This would be my preferred option. It is emotional, provocative and has a very clear call to action: “Save us!”
Create a brand logo and tagline
Once you have all the tools for your brand lined up, only then can you create a robust logo which in this case I think should be timeless. The key point here is that we have been through four stages in the research phase before even putting pen to paper. Our clients always query the costs of creating a “simple logo”, but they forget that there is a huge amount of work and effort to develop a back story before the design phase even begins. We call this 99% perspiration (the research) and 1% inspiration (the brilliant idea).We had a saying at art college: “Macintosh is my tool” meaning that it is the end to a means not the output itself. In simple terms a computer (or robot) can help you articulate your concept, but it won’t give you the idea in the first place.
Once you have a beautifully designed logo that represents your ‘world’ (- did you see what I did there?) you need to create a strapline or tagline that captures the essence of your brand. Whatever this is, make sure that it is simple and clear and straight to the point. For example:
Planet Earth – a unique place to experience life.
Hannah: I decided to brand planet Earth as a beautiful place and promote it as a place for tourism. Inspired by David Attenborough’s ‘7 Worlds, 1 Planet’, I have focussed on the seven continents and produced a postcard for each. Each continent has its own logo inspired by the Earth and the moon, the ‘moon’ highlighting the continent of that logo. I have also included a logo for planet Earth itself. Each postcard has its own colour palette too, inspired by the landscape of that continent. The strapline ‘There’s no place like home’, the logos and the shapes reflecting the Earth’s land, are all hand-drawn which give the postcards a softness and a human touch.
Form your tone of voice
Your voice is dependent on your company mission, audience, and industry. It’s how you communicate with your customers, and how they respond to you. Creating an effective tone of voice or capturing the personality of your brand and consistently using this in all your marketing collateral will create a powerful and compelling offer to your target audiences. Ultimately, you want to choose a brand voice that makes sense and resonates with your target customers. If you find the most appropriate tone of voice for your brand you will have the strongest chance of connecting with your customers.
This is particularly important when publishing blog articles or social media posts. Maintaining a consistent voice will help your brand image become recognised on multiple channels in the same way. A community of followers, readers or subscribers will come to expect a certain brand voice and brand personality when they consume your content. For Brand Earth this could be as simple as:
A conversational human voice in communication (using “I”, and “you”)
Sharing behind-the-scenes or historic content (dinosaurs and cavemen have always intrigued man in memoriam of our origins)
Telling stories about real experiences (Greta Thunberg would be an A list candidate for our “Cry for help” plea)
Describing your products/services in a quirky manner (for example: “experience vegetation on Earth that you won’t find on Mars”).
And finally… let your brand personality shine
This is going to be crucial in terms of competing with the sun! Whatever you do and whichever platforms you use the brand building process never stops.
Consumers, and we are all consumers, are now much more savvy. Gone are the days of bombarding people with adverts they didn’t chose to view. We are looking for an experience tailored to our own personal needs, backed by genuine personal (and in the case of branding the world, human) interaction.
Your brand should be visible and reflected in everything that your customer can see, read, and hear: the signage outside of your office, the way the receptionist answers the telephone, the uniforms your staff wear - your brand image should be on display both in the environment and with personal interactions. It is a visible and emotional representation of the personality of your organisation, service or product.
Anything tangible - from business cards to annual reports, to packaging and product literature - needs the stamp of your logo.
On any digital platform, ensure that your brand looks the same everywhere. Use your brand style guide to create consistency with visuals such as colour and logo use, fonts, photography, illustration etc.
Your website is the most important tool for marketing your brand; it is the virtual shop window for your company. When you design your website incorporate your tone of voice, key messages, and personality into the content.
Profile pages for social media networks should be branded visually, and with your chosen voice for engagement.
For those venturing into podcast audio and video, adhere to a theme that supports your brand message, value, and voice.
There you go. Brand Earth. Easy.
Next blog: “How to reach for the stars”.