THE AESTHETICS OF BRAND IMAGE DESIGN
Nick Birch 2014
Aesthetics are an integral part of marketing communications, influencing the design of logos, advertising, atmospherics and package design. The strategic management of brand image design is essential to developing and implementing a corporate or brand identity. According to Simonson & Schmitt (1997), aesthetics can create tangible value for an organization because:
- aesthetics creates consumer loyalty
- aesthetics allows for premium pricing
- aesthetics cuts through information clutter, increasing the memorability of the visual marks of the company, which in turn increases its chance of selection at the point of purchase
- aesthetics affords protection from competitive attacks
- aesthetics can save costs and increase productivity, as employees and outside suppliers need to spend less time in creating new layouts and messages
David Garvin’s (1987) book, theEight Dimensions of Product Quality, consists of performance, features, reliability, conformance, durability, serviceability, aesthetics and perceived quality. The concept defines aesthetics as ‘the subjective dimension indicating the kind of response a user has to a product. It represents the individual’s personal preference’ (Karch, 2008).
Aesthetics management should begin with a thorough status quo analysis of every aspect of a company or brand’s visual and sensory identity. The objective of this analysis is to get a clear understanding of the identity that the organisation wants to project for itself and its brands in its aesthetic output (its corporate expressions) and how customers perceive the organisation’s current aesthetic output (customer impressions).
(Simonson & Schmitt, 1997, p.45.)
Brand Identity focuses on the following attributes of aesthetics, outlined by Friedlander (2012):
THE IMPORTANCE OF AESTHETICS
Aesthetics are important because ‘[p]eople are affected by perception. [We] may not know it, but [we] are being “brainwashed” everyday. The reason [we] associate Coca Cola with a particular shade of red is because of brand manipulation’ (Friedlander, 2012). The longer a brand has existed, the more cemented it becomes in the mind and perception of consumers.
Pepsi’s logo can be seen here changing over time. To keep up with the times, some brands evolve and can spend inordinate amounts of time and money doing so. The latest Pepsi logo took approximately five months of research and around $100 million (Lefevers, N/A). Brands can also ‘provide long-term values through their names and through associations that add to or subtract from the utilitarian features of a product’ (Aaker, 1991, p.17), so it is not always a successful endeavour when brands decide to change.
In 2009, Tropicana eliminated their old straw-in-orange look for more modern-looking cartons. On the surface, Tropicana did everything right; they’d been using the same imagery for decades, and wanted a cleaner look while maintaining the same colours and theme. However, President Neil Campbell admitted that they “underestimated the deep emotional bond” that loyal customers had with that red-and-white straw protruding from a juicy orange. Many customers also complained that the new design looked too similar to other brands, and they confused Tropicana with other generic options when shopping. Tropicana quickly returned to using their original logo, and probably will do so for years to come. The lesson? Sometimes what you believe is holding your company back is actually what sets you apart from your competitors.
Colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions. - Pablo Picasso
(Adobe Systems Incorporated, 2010, p.18)
Like this example from Adobe, brand guidelines can consist of one single, all encompassing document covering all your branding, publishing and online needs, or several different style documents catering to different audiences and needs (Varga, 2013).