by Christine Leuthold
So, what do words, fonts, furniture, color, symbols, pace and music have in common? Each of these is a system of communication that has the potential to contribute in BIG ways to the identity of an organization.
When aligned correctly with vision and core identity, details like these and many, many others can turn a yawn into an icon, a wall-flower into flower power, and a company into a phenomenon. We discovered that an array of unrelated and irrelevant elements actually have the potential to become conduits for increased growth. By aligning these elements, they can become change agents that shape and enrich messaging to key stakeholders. Or, left in isolation, they just go by the wayside — a lost opportunity.
Examples of Branding Excellence Abound – Here are some of my favorites:
- Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, Save Our Swirled and Boom Chocolatta… who would have thought that wacky word combinations in playful fonts would contribute to the Ben & Jerry empire?
- When it comes to the essentials of modern life, Apple reigns supreme in connecting product to environment and messaging.
- And what about the familiar bright yellow side tables, not to mention the bar-inspired treatments and products that connect each Dry Bar customer with the brand wherever they may be.
- Visuals aside, consider the impact of specific notes played in a particular ways? Like the ones that backdropped the quirky humor of Seinfeld , named by TV Guide in
2002 as the most successful TV sitcom ever.
- And then there’s the 5-note sequence from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the opening sequence from the Netflix series House of Cards.
- … and on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the religious cross. Whether worn as a necklace or mounted on a wall, the cross is an expression of spirituality that is virtually universal – and the enduring example of branding excellence.
These are just some of the systems of communication, that can be pulled in to support a brand. By linking details with a brand, an organization can grow from idea to icon. Strategically conceived, inconsequentials like these can very intentionally and effectively accelerate messaging. These are messages that can be seen, heard, felt and above all experienced by clients, employees, board members, volunteers, donors, the media, consumers, and the public at large. And with aligned messaging, the results reach deeper and have a more lasting impression… And in the long run, that can make a BIG difference.
Though he certainly wasn’t the Martha Stewart of his day, with these few words, Churchill created a bridge between life at home and in the larger ‘dwellings’ of government, commerce and more.
As a mother of younger children, Christine Leuthold decided to expand her focus on brand development for organizations to also include self-messaging for individuals on the home front. “After all, that’s where we all begin and end each day, whether we are working outside of the home, on the road or studying in school.” Her goal was to offer an approach and set of tools for orchestrating every-day systems and details to reinforce what is now commonly known as one’s personal brand.
Adding to the principles she developed through her work with organizations including Ralph Lauren, Sotheby’s International Realty, the Special Olympics, the African National Congress and others, she coined the phrase Comfort Living, which became the title of her critically-acclaimed book. In it, she introduced a whole new way of talking about and creating quality of life and aligning with oneself, both internally and externally. She gave new meanings to words like campfires, which she sees as being centers of energy that promote growth and well-being. While these terms may not be in the norm for branding giants like Coca-Cola, Nike and Disney, the underlying principles make sense in either of these interrelated worlds.
Briefly stated: Details count… So why not make them count for you and your brand?