Graphic Design, Web Design, Branding

Anatomy of a Business Identity (Pt. 2 of 3)

Making Your Mark: The Psychology of your Company’s Identity

In the previous installment of this series, (Part 1 of 3), I talked about the different individual parts of a business identity. When those parts are used effectively, they can form a strong basis of the visual part of your company’s branding.

Consider the inset diagram. (A) Represents the chosen name for your company. (B) Is the visual representation of your company, including the Logo-Type and the Logo-Mark. Identity-diagram.gif(C) Represents something we’re not going to go into much in this article: The overall perception of your products and/or services – which is the heart of your company’s brand. (In this article we’re specifically focusing on the Visual Identity of a company, so we’ll steer clear of the bigger subject that is your company’s comprehensive brand.)

The conjunctions of those parts equal distinct relationships. (AB) Is the automatic marriage of your company’s name, and the visual representation of it. This seems like an obvious and inherent connection. Mostly because one maintains the verbal language of a business name, while the other the written language. So yes, the natural connection of the verbal word “Target” and the word written out in bold Helvetica type, is not in itself anything special. We all know how to read right? Over time and repetition however, the relationship between these two parts can go beyond reading. Eventually, the goal is almost simultaneous recognition of identity. Upon seeing the mark(s) the company’s verbal name immediately and spontaneously internalizes in your mind, and subsequently: the products and/or services that the Identity stand for.

In fact, there’s studies that show even if you didn’t consciously know that the connection was made, you can be influenced by it:

lipton logoDr. Johan Karremans suggests that subliminal messages have an effect when the messages are goal-relevant (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2006). Karremans did a study assessing, whether subliminal priming of a brand name of a drink would affect a person’s choice of drink, and whether this effect is caused by the individual’s feelings of being thirsty. By subliminally priming or preparing the participant with text or an image without being aware of it, gave the partaker familiarity with the product. Half of his participants were subliminally primed with Lipton Ice (“Lipton Ice” was repeatedly flashed on a computer screen for 24 milliseconds), while the other half was primed with a control that didn’t consist of a brand. In his study he found that subliminally priming a brand name of a drink (Lipton Ice) made those who were thirsty want the Lipton Ice. Those who were not thirsty however, were not influenced by the subliminal message since their goal was not to quench their thirst.
- Via Wikipedia ‘Subliminal Massage’: Karremans, J. (2006). Beyond vicary’s fantasies: the impact of subliminal priming and brand choice [Electronic Version]. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 792-798

Of course, the verbal internalization of the name “Lipton Ice”, and the display of it in white letters atop a red label/seal, don’t directly translate to a solution for quenching thirst on their own. That’s where the relationships (AC) and (BC) in our diagram come into play. (AC) Is the relationship between the Perception of a company’s products and services, with the verbal representation of the company’s identity. (BC) Is the relationship between the Perception of a company’s products and services, with the visual representation of the company’s identity.

When these relationships are strong, you have a strong Business Identity. But it doesn’t just happen automatically. The top two parts of our diagram (A & B), and the resulting relationship are the “Fruits” of good design. (Hey, when was the last time you got to use your name as a relevant pun?) The bottom part (C) and the included relationships are up to you, your business offerings and the right marketing. I’m going to assume you offer products and/or services that have value in themselves, to build strong relationships for (AC) & (BC) in our diagram. (Or at least you think you do.) If not, you might want to rethink exactly what your business plan is. In the center, ‘The X Factor’ is the result of all these parts and inter-relationships working, and the holy grail of visual-branding.

In the final installment of this series, I’ll swing my focus back onto the actual parts of your visual identity and the decisions you face, when trying to make one that is great.

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