THE BLOG
05/13/2014 11:38 am ET | Updated Jul 13, 2014

4 Ways to Architect an Iconic Brand

Coming up with a strong brand blends the practices of art and science. It combines both creative design and quantitative research. Nailing your brand as a company can mean great success or great failure for your business. Here are five ways to make your brand iconic:

1. Realize that Quantitative and Qualitative Research Are the Underpinning of A Successful Brand
Customers make your brand. To get deep insights into what consumers want, you need first to perform qualitative research, such as focus groups and observational research. Qualitative research is crucial in understanding the "how" and "why" of consumer buying behavior. As you do this, you can then start with understanding what you want your name to convey. Your organizational name conveys your brand image, positioning and personality.

With your target customer group and brand understanding in mind, it is important to layer your findings and insights with quantitative research. Quantitative research is gathered through more structured and scaled research instruments and showcases data in the form of numbers and statistics. It is crucial to have a large enough sample to make sure that your findings represent the population and various segments. In fact, at a recent content marketing conference, ConFab, a market research guru shared that when looking for survey responses, aim for 400. This number ensures that your data will be statistically significant.

2. Add Some Color, But Keep it Simple
Adam Lyons, CEO of The Zebra insurance company said:

We liked The Zebra because we wanted to emphasize simplicity, especially in the car insurance industry, which is marred by regulation and advertising noise. Hence, our slogan, 'Insurance in black and white.' Additionally, via color science, we know that black tends to make consumers feel protected, while white represents a business that is simple and easy. So in addition to the colors we chose for our brand and logo, the words themselves -- and the word "Zebra" -- had an added boost of evoking those feelings.

As you look at your brand, look what it represents and choose colors that send the message you want to convey and the objectives you want to achieve. Start by mapping your brand personality with color emotion guides. For example, yellow evokes very different emotions than a blue or brown would, so make sure that you align your brand personality with the right color "emotion."

Color Emotion Guide
Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

3. Find a Unique Position
There is an art to defining your sweet spot as an organization. Imitating competitors will not set you apart; it takes creativity backed by boldness to be different and get recognized. To find your position, Perry Clegg, founder of TrademarkAccess.com suggests:

Create a word map of your primary attributes. Find synergies. I like to start by listing out categories relevant to the business in different columns (materials, problem we solve, features, aesthetic, function, things outside of what we do that have a similar feature, values, etc.).

From there, leverage user data, audience analysis, and ethnographic research to get to the core of who you should target as a business. Then, marry that with research you find after conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of your top subset of competitors.

Making lists has been proven to help us think better. The brain is divided into two sides, left and right. The left side of the brain helps us understand things and figure things out, whereas the right side is more creative. The left side of the brain is analytical, and enjoys breaking things down into parts in order to get a better understanding. Because of this, making lists of creative items bridges the gap between left brain and right brain and will better help you position your brand. Now, how do we apply this to branding? Leverage lists in your countless branding meetings as you brainstorm. Create visual notes as you go, then re-convene to consolidate lists that you can then create into practice.

4. Unify Your Brand Message
Once your company gets some traction and your customers recognize your brand, it is important to stay away from inconsistent brand messages. Robert Chen, the Marketing Director of Black N Bianco says, "Once you have developed a reputation for one thing, you can't switch to another without damaging the relationship you already have with your customers." It's important to note that a consistent message delivered badly is often better than brilliant delivery of several inconsistent messages.

An example of this is Netflix's separation into two companies, Netflix and Qwikster. Netflix would be an Instant Play computer movie watching service, and Qwikster would handle the mail order DVDs. New logos were introduced, new log-in pages, and of course, increased prices. With a massive amount of subscriber cancellations, this rebrand didn't last long. Netflix wised up and went back to just being Netflix, one consistent brand under one umbrella.

So what is in a brand? A brand is a successful mix of art and science. As you balance qualitative and quantitative research, effectively use colors, position well, and deliver a consistent message, you will create a powerful and iconic brand that will drive profits for years to come.