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Go Logo! A Handbook to the Art of Global Branding94
A
number of years ago, I was on a plane to Europe. I began to talk with the
woman next to me, and we talked about our professions. Because there’s no
business harder to describe than corporate identity consulting, I began my ex-
planation by asking her what company or product she is most loyal to. Before I
even finished the question, she smiled and said—with real conviction—“AT&T. I asked why
she was so sure.
Her story was unforgettable. When she was a girl in Europe in the 1940s, her family was
persecuted. They had to leave their home, but before doing so, her father showed her
where he had sewn valuables into the lining of a coat, just in case. This woman did ultimately
lose her entire family but somehow retained possession of that coat.
While she was making her way alone to the United States, she opened up the coat lining.
There, she found money, which was now worthless, and AT&T stock certificates. It was the
proceeds from the certificates that allowed this woman to start a new life, and her grati-
tude to this previously foreign company had never faded. She swore she’d never switch to
an AT&T competitor—ever.
Clearly, this is a case of brand loyalty in the extreme. That woman would forgive AT&T for a
multitude of sins because they had proven benefit to her, immensely personal benefit. The
emotional component of branding surely existed in this example. But to compete in today’s
increasingly cluttered media world, the connection needs to be on both emotional and
intellectual levels.
Brand Identity: Creativity with a Purpose
LORI KAPNER, Principal of Kapner Consulting in Scarsdale, New York
Lori Kapner began her career in journalism, where she honed a commitment
to accuracy in language and message. Eventually, she moved into marketing and
sales for graphic design firms in the mid-1980s, where she could inject more
personality and creativity into her writing on a daily basis. This is when she
began to recognize the critical connection between words and design in com-
munications, and between emotional and intellectual perceptions. She is now a
corporate identity consultant.
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95
These graphic executions represent the evolution
of the Ma Bell and AT&T logo over time
Traditionally, the corporate identity “industry” involved name and logo development for
new or merging companies. Over time, though, complexities in the marketplace, globaliza-
tion, and increased competition put pressure on corporations to stand for, and communi-
cate, a sustainable point of difference from their competitors.
Getting to the Core Message
Our goal as corporate identity developers was not merely to help companies create a
more exciting name or logo or store design but to help them position themselves better
against existing and anticipated competitors—precisely the issue of concern in a complex
business environment.
Corporate CEOs were receptive to what I call “brand therapy”: studying all the messages
they convey to uncover the true essence of their brand, the core aspect of their business
on which all communications should be based. Perhaps this is where my journalism training
came in handy; getting to the core message is akin to searching for the truth amid a clutter
of information. And, although the output of each assignment varies, our disciplined process
does not. The beauty of a rational, step-by-step approach to creative development is that it
yields unanticipated yet spot-on results.
Perhaps specific positioning or messaging was not necessary decades ago, when ten brands
of chewing gum were displayed on the store shelf, rather than the 1,000-plus varieties now
sold in the United States alone, or when two banks competed in a given locale, as op-
posed to today’s numerous general and specialized financial institutions vying for business.
Compounding the challenge of brand proliferation is the expansion of purchasing channels
from physical branches and stores to telephone and online “locations.
Disciplining the Creative Process
Once the very essence of a brand is captured and articulated, every identity element (vo-
cabulary, organization and product nomenclature, the look and feel of all communications)
must support and reflect it, varying the message as appropriate for each audience—within
boundaries.
Brand Identity: Creativity with a Purpose
Twelve Key Determinants to Creating Successful Brands
(continued on page 96)
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