Picking out a symbol to represent your brand is very important since it not only gives more identity to the brand but also creates a stronger presence.
Generally, setting up a brand is usually very hard especially if the one making the brand is starting from the bottom.
Starting the idea and building on it can be a tiresome process without a solid step-to-step guide to follow.
With the massive competition of today’s time, standing out is very important especially for a brand in a saturated industry.
The more unique the niche the brand is trying to cater to, the easier it might be to create a brand.
However, when entering an industry that has already been dominated by massive brands that have already made their presence known, having a symbol to represent the brand gives the business a nudge into the competition.
The benefits of having a brand symbol
There are a number of reasons to have a brand symbol aside from the obvious addition to brand identity.
- Easily recognizable
Symbols catch attention and thus are more recognizable.
The default branding is usually text but in a world of words, the text is often overlooked.
Symbols, on the other hand, usually contain a hint of the abstract that stands out when being used to represent a brand or company.
A symbol is easily identifiable as well so when people become familiar enough with the brand’s symbol, they will be able to recognize it when they see it.
Retention is the key to keep customers enticed in the brand.
- Adds life
Text can (let’s face it) sometimes be boring.
The use of symbols, however, adds life to the brand as they give another identity or basically a representation of the company that looks more lively. A brand, without an identity, is still a basic organization or business.
With the use of a symbol to represent the brand, the audience will be able to identify the brand through the specific symbol.
Although text can be given life, it is still easier to use a symbol to give the brand more life.
Attracting new customers is one thing, but making them stay is more important.
The more the symbol stands out without having to be too complicated, the more the brand embeds in the minds of the consumers.
Once consumers are thinking of the brand more often, this is where their thoughts would translate into sales later on. Of course, the product is very important but actually, it is not every. A gift is 50% the gift wrapper and 50% what is inside.
- Give deeper meaning
It’s always good to have meaning attached to anything that represents a company.
Aside from a meaning of being healthy for consumers, it is also healthy for those working for the brand themselves.
Having something that represents an idea, principle, or maybe a core business virtue not only boosts morale but also helps those working within the brand to be inspired as well.
There can also be other meanings for certain symbols and it is totally up to the people behind the brand to translate that meaning into a symbol or symbols.
Having a uniform is very healthy for a business since it shows how well organized it is, how everyone should function for the better of the company, and how the company should appear.
Taking care of the literal brand image is very important since it is the visual representation of the brand in the market.
Consistency is also very effective in getting the brand’s message to the market.
With a clear and precise brand representation, the consumers will be able to not only see but also understand what the brand is about.
Types of brand symbols
While the options are actually endless, brands can use different types of symbols to perfectly represent what they want to show to the market.
Brands can also mix and match different types of symbols to create something completely unique.
Having a unique symbol to represent the brand is very important since it allows the brand to stand out even more.
When picking out a symbol for the brand, it is important to make sure that it remains a symbol and not overly complicated.
Like any piece of representational art, the message is the most important thing to relay to the audience.
Some symbols can be too complicated or too “over” that the message is no longer received.
Make sure to keep it clean, simple, and easy to remember and recognize.
Animals can be quite common but depending on how they are represented, animals do have an advantage of being very memorable to customers.
There are, however, options of animals that aren’t too common but are still very memorable, say a giraffe.
For example, the giraffe’s long neck can symbolize the company’s goal to strive for growth and it’s long but firm form can symbolize the company’s strong foundation.
Of course, the giraffe is not the only animal out there with a unique personality that can represent a brand.
Mascots are usually fun when they are used correctly.
While some mascots might not really work, others, like the Michelin Man, are great representations of the business.
The problem with today, however, is that mascots have sometimes been overused and thus lose their touch.
For example, when was the last time you might have seen the actual McDonalds? Nowadays, McDonalds has chosen to put more focus on the classic “M” symbol instead of their clown.
Be careful when making a mascot, it is important for mascots to be appropriate to the business.
Icons are quite similar to emojis and they are easy digitalized versions of otherwise real life or at least popular items.
A pen, quilt, book, or other icons can be used to represent the company easily. When it comes to websites and other digital platforms of the brand, an icon can be put on strategic parts of the website.
Icons, however, do have their own giveaway and that they can be quite generic.
Finding or maybe even designing the perfect icon to represent the company can be quite difficult.
Once accomplished, however, an icon can have a massive impact on the brand’s identity.
The good thing about shapes is that they are flexible enough to be mixed with other symbols or other ways to represent the brand.
Shapes can be used strategically to emphasize texts or other parts of the brand.
For example, the Epic Games logo has a shape around it that although quite common, is also very recognizable.
Shapes also have a corporate feel to them and if they are used correctly, they can provide a firm and professional aesthetic.
A misconception of shapes is that they give off a strict image and although this can be true, with the right curves, shapes can also have a fun appearance as well.
How to pick out a brand symbol
There are a few steps to follow when picking out a brand symbol in order to come up with the perfect representation of the brand.
Picking out the wrong symbol, however, would have a negative effect on the brand.
In fact, there are a number of brands that have lost their touch with the audience due to choosing the wrong symbol.
There are brands that did not stick due to the wrong choice in symbol.
Make sure to sort through a selection before settling on the final symbol for the brand.
Try making a few symbols and test them out to see if they are effective. It is important that they aren’t confusing for the consumer.
- What is the brand’s goal?
What does the brand want to achieve? Be as specific as possible and try narrowing it down to specifics.
Once you’ve noted out the specifics of the brand’s goal, try to visualize it and see what could be a good symbolic representation.
- What is the brand about?
Knowing the target is equally important as knowing the brand.
Jot down the people working for the brand, what the brand is like, and even how the brand can help cater to the consumers.
Once again, once you’ve specified what the brand is about, try to visualize any key elements and see which ones could help you come up with a better brand representation.
- What is the brand’s personality?
The brand’s personality does not really refer to what the people inside the brand are like but rather how the brand should represent itself.
Embodying a certain personality like “jolly,” or maybe even just serious or mysterious would give the brand a closer visual representation.
- What is the brand trying to tell the customer?
What is the message the brand is trying to tell the customer?
Is it to trust the brand?
Give in to their cravings?
Avoid the hard work?
There are a lot of things the brand could be telling the customer and it is important for the brand to make things clear with the right symbol.
What to avoid when picking out a brand symbol
There are a few things that could be done right but there could also be things that could be done wrong.
The danger of bad branding is that it could directly affect the company as a whole.
Before ever choosing a symbol to represent the brand, it is important to know what NOT to do.
- Being dull
Do not put a symbol just because.
Make sure that the symbol fits the logo or whatever promotional material the brand has.
If there is no need for a symbol, there is no use forcing it onto the brand.
Conservative symbols are different from dull symbols.
Make sure to keep things interesting on whatever front the brand is working in. Dull means the symbol does not have any positive effect on the business whatsoever.
- Being offensive
When it comes to picking out a symbol, it is important to never include any offensive imagery.
This can badly hurt the brand and even limit the market that the brand can cater to.
There might be a symbol that works well for one group but not for the others, it is okay to be bold and daring but never offensive.
Make sure the logo does not contain anything that would potentially affect the brand’s reputation.
A brand’s reputation is very important but it might be better to minimize unnecessary risks when choosing out a symbol.
- Being personal
Sometimes being personal works while other times, it is actually a hindrance.
Depending on whether or not the brand owner has good taste, the brand might not come out as good as the owner would expect.
It is always better to treat the brand as its own entity and build up from there.
Making a business that is a direct representation of the business owner is not always a good thing.
There are certain things that work for business and there are certain things that don’t.
- Being misleading
It is important to never mislead the consumers.
Being one thing and pretending to be another elicits frustration which is not a good thing for a business.
Make sure to keep the symbol clear and understandable.
Misleading consumers might even lead to something worse than them forgetting the brand.
Misleading consumers could lead to them having a negative perception of the brand.
Word spreads like wildfire and when negative things are being said about the brand, it could create a situation that would be hard to recover from.
Using symbols for your brand does have good effects but only if they are used correctly.
Use symbols only if they fit and if they can have a positive effect on the brand.
It is not a good thing to clutter the brand identity with a symbol that might be both ineffective and does not perfectly fit.
Of course, picking out the perfect symbol might take time.
Take a few symbols that could work well and slowly eliminate the choices until you end up with the right one.