This is part of a series on color, branding and reflecting it not just throughout collateral but within the total company culture, written by NCD’s Marketing Consultant Rochelle Joseph.
When a client comes to NCD for branding, they are initially interested in what we create visually. But we approach it holistically knowing that brand building is not only about logos, website and collateral. Those are very important elements of marketing the brand, but the brand itself is all about the mission, vision and values, and how the company — its employees and the culture within it, as well as its services or products — reflects it. Let’s look at a few examples.
How Company Culture Strengthens a brand
McDonalds is one of the world’s most recognized brands, and just about the biggest fast food chain in the US. And what’s the first thing that comes to mind at its mention? The golden arches (if not their golden fries)! Their mission is to make their restaurant people’s favorite place to eat, and McDonalds accomplishes this in several ways.
It’s a cheery place with employees dressed in red, yellow and white uniforms — including the smiley character Ronald McDonald. Those colors, carried throughout their dining and play areas, communicate that McDonalds is bright and friendly — and that’s backed by employee-client interactions. Customers are greeted with enthusiasm when taking orders — even if it’s late, even if they bring in lots of kids, antsy from car travel. It’s also affordable, and the addition of their play areas, 24-hour locations, and easy accessibility makes it a welcome place for the hungry looking to quickly refuel and the weary needing coffee or a place to sit. It’s all there when you see the golden arches. The continuity McDonalds offers is dependent upon the employees not just maintaining their quality standards across the globe, but sharing their value system to bring a certain experience to their customers.
When you visit an Apple store, it’s often so crowded you’d think you were at a night club. But employees are easily identified by their bright solid tee shirt, and headsets — if they don’t immediately approach you first, asking how they can help. They wear headsets and have the latest and coolest tablet in their hands to aid in you quickly being directed to a person or a part of the store that you need. So you feel like there is little wait — and if there is, you have multiples of their latest products to try (which creates a desire to own them).
It’s as if you have been projected to a very efficient future world, and the message is that you too can be as current and cool and efficient if you equip yourself with everything they sell. It clearly makes you feel that by using their tools, your busy life can be streamlined like their clean logo and their sleek stuff — all in signature silver or white.
Steve Jobs led that culture by living his own minimalist image in a black turtle neck, wire rimmed glasses and neat jeans. On a blank stage with a huge screen he paced back and forth once a year to unveil his newest product that would change the way the world works. People would wait breathlessly for it. And if you were an Apple employee, you felt belonging being in on the secret before the public. And every day at work in the Apple culture, there is the pride in know they equip their customer with products on the cutting edge of technology.
Airlines are a strong case of company culture reflecting the branding, which trickles down through everything from the tail on the plane, to the tickets and cocktail napkins. It’s so comprehensive, you can usually identify which airline an employee works for simply by what they are wearing. And, their uniforms convey authority while their attitude makes them approachable. And because they are dealing with the public first hand, whether selling tickets or seeing to your safety on the plane, they must collaborate based on the company values… because in this model, they are actually the ones in charge! Because they deal with the public in a contained environment fraught with potential complications and emergency situations, they are highly trained in codes of ethics and conduct set forth by their company and the industry.
As customers, we each have been on the receiving end of these three companies, and are so used to our response to their brand that, perhaps without even realizing it, we too are on board! And that is effective branding, it’s totally triggered by the graphics and marketing you see.