For as much public controversy as Wal-Mart draws, you cannot challenge that they have successfully established their visual, corner of the eye, brand identity. What do I mean by that? A great way to identify whether a company has a recognizable visual representation of their brand is the corner of the eye effect. Most people would recognize the Wal-Mart brand elements, such as the distinct blue, logo, or the shape of the actual store itself, if they passed the store and only got a glimpse from the corner of their eye. Although this test can be applied to almost any organization business, I’ll focus my examples on retail because it's the most apparent and visible application of brand identity in this form.
For many consumers, just a glimpse of a recognizable retail store like Target, Nordstrom, Walmart or Home Depot allows them to easily identify the brand. I think retail stores especially do an excellent job of implementing visual branding, down to the architecture. If one of these brands is building a store, it’s not uncommon for residents to be able to guess which store is going in their neighborhood without any signage or verbal confirmation, but simply from the colors, size, shape and style of their signs and building as well as the surrounding environment. This is intentional, and very well-executed; each component of that visual reinforcement stems from a deep understanding of the brand’s target audience.
These brands have been so successful that often, even the mere mention of the company’s name will likely spark an immediate feeling or impression in your mind, including price point, product quality and environment. Stores like Nordstrom, famous for their high quality customer service and products, elicit images of high-end products, and have an emotional association of elegance and sophistication. Of course, for some, there is also often an immediate association of the high price tag that accompanies the store's high-end designer offerings, but this again is intentionally appealing to their target audience -- consumers who pride themselves on possessing high-end products.
On the other end of the spectrum, the name Wal-Mart is associated with savings, deals, and low prices. Again, a targeted value proposition for consumers who seek bargains. There may be positive and negative associations for each brand, but these companies have intentionally designed their brand image to ensure this kind of recognition and reinforce it through consistency.
Though all of the above brands have a national presence, the principals remain the same for most businesses. Consider these questions: What impression does your company or organization have on your market? Do you have an established brand awareness and identity? Does your brand elicit negative or positive from your target audience? Are people confused about what it is you do or offer?
All of these brands have one thing in common — they all have a strong brand identity program in place, and reinforce their brand’s reputation with consistency. One last question: What kind of impact would this level of brand identity have on your company or organization?
If you're ready to start answering these questions, but unsure what action to take, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to experience our half day brand audit to get you started.