September 25, 2012
Last week, Twitter rolled out its new header photo design feature for user profiles. Now, all Twitter profiles can include not just an avatar image, but also a large header image that appears at the top of their profile timelines, similar to the Facebook cover photo design.
The launch of Twitter header photos gives brands another way to visually connect with consumers, and already, brands are getting creative with header photos that enhance their Twitter profiles in a variety of ways. Following are four ways that brands have already found to wow audiences with Twitter header photo designs. Take a look at these great early examples and think about how you can turn your boring Twitter profile into a visualization of your brand promise with a great header photo.
1. Show Your Products
Imagine a bakery with a Twitter header photo filled with delicious treats or a high-end jeweler displaying its beautiful designs. Already, brands like Starbucks and Vanity Fair have rolled out Twitter header photos that show their products in very different ways.
2. Show Your Employees and Offices
What better way to make your brand more human than by showing your employees in your brand’s Twitter header photo? It’s a smart move for a brand like Ford. You can also give your audience a peek into life at the company and people behind the brand by displaying photos of your office or working environments. Take a look at the Twitter header image from The Huffington Post below for a great example.
3. Show What You Do
Service organizations and non-profits might not have tangible products to display in their Twitter header photos, but they can show photos of what they do. Check out the Twitter header photos for Charity: Water and Greenpeace to see what I mean. Also, take a closer look at the Greenpeace header image and you’ll see a clever design trick where the avatar image matches up exactly with the larger header image behind it. Instead of using the organization’s logo, like most companies and organizations do in their Twitter profiles, Greenpeace focuses more on the brand’s mission in its avatar and header photo.
4. Show Your Brand Promise
Brands like Nike and Red Bull use inspirational and motivational images in their Twitter header photos, which reflect the brands’ promises. These are brands that connect with consumers on an emotional level, and the decision to use visuals that represent the brand promise rather than products is a smart one for both brands.
Have you seen any brands with amazing or creative Twitter header photos? Leave a comment and share your favorites to date.
September 11, 2012
In 2000, a 3D modeling tool debuted called SketchUp, which was purchased by Google in 2006. Since then, SketchUp became part of the Google brand architecture, which meant the SketchUp identity was Google-ified. As Aidan Chopra explained on the SketchUp blog, “The Google years brought several logos as we responded to successive top-down branding directives. None were particularly inspired.”
You can see the evolution of the SketchUp logo as part of Google in the image to the left. The first logo is simply the original SketchUp logo with the Google name tacked on, and the logos on the bottom are later evolutions of the brand logo.
But the Google days are over for SketchUp, which was sold to Trimble in April 2012, and that means it was also time for a new brand identity. Rebranding SketchUp meant the brand could return to some of its core messages of simplicity, perspective, dynamism, friendliness, and professionalism rather than “stodginess or head-banging complexity,” as Aidan Chopra explained.
The new SketchUp logo is shown below. The new logo icon looks like a cube, which seems appropriate for a 3D modeling tool, but as Chopra points out, “It isn’t really a cube at all. The implied stairs or levels are an apt representation of our roots in architecture and other construction disciplines.” Furthermore, the chevrons in the logo icon create a series of hidden arrows pointing upwards — a nod to the “Up” part of SketchUp.
Ultimately, the SketchUp logo needed to be flexible to work in diverse media, as a screen icon, and more. Any brand that’s moving out from under a massive brand umbrella like Google has an opportunity to truly stand out with a phenomenal rebranding initiative. While marketers and customers might argue that the SketchUp logo isn’t perfect, the new identity is a significant departure from its Google identity. And returning to a red color palette that points to the history of the SketchUp brand before Google owned it, is a wise decision — not to mention the fact that SketchUp finally has a desktop icon!
What do you think of the SketchUp rebranding? Leave a comment and share your thoughts about branding after parting from a well-known brand like Google.
March 16, 2012
There was a time when the study of typography was a true science and art. Today, anyone can download fonts, make them bold, change the size of characters, and so on within seconds thanks to most software programs. With that comes a hodgepodge of type that doesn’t always accurately reflect a brand’s promise nor does it always work cohesively with the psychological reactions consumers have to it.
With that said, the psychology of type isn’t always given the level of importance it deserves in brand identity work, particularly in web design. Ask yourself, does the font used in your brand identity and your website accurately communicate your brand promise to consumers?
While the answer to that question might be easy enough for you to get, there is more to typography than emotional reactions and the psychological perceptions it conjures. Readability is also essential, and readable typefaces in one medium aren’t always readable in other media. Bottom-line, if your text isn’t easy to read, it doesn’t matter what medium you’re using, who your audience is, or what your message is — you won’t reach your goals.
Research has proven time and again that people can read a simple typeface faster than a highly stylized typeface. Furthermore, the right amount of space between lines of text (i.e., the leading) and the width of blocks of text all play a role in how likely people are to read that text and how easy it is for them to read it. However, research has also shown that a fancy typeface can effectively communicate a brand’s position to consumers. What’s a brand manager to do?
The trick is finding the right combination of typefaces that communicate the brand promise and message without being difficult to read or off-putting to consumers. Your primary brand typeface should be simple and easy to read. Save the fancy typefaces for secondary elements and accents. Research also tells us that using a fancy font sparingly can boost brand and message recall.
Next time you think of just picking out a font you or an executive likes, think twice before you move forward. The art, science, and psychology of type should be considered first.
What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts about brands, psychology, and typefaces.
November 16, 2011
Ivory soap debuted in 1879 as an American soap to compete against expensive, luxury soaps from Europe. For nearly a century, Ivory soap has used a tagline (in one variation or another) that identifies Ivory as 99.44% pure — so pure, it floats! A logo refresh, new package design, and ad campaign created by Wieden+Kennedy, was intended to reinforce consumers’ focus on the pure message in a clean and simple way.
First up, the new logo is certainly simple as you can see in the image below. Honestly, it seems too generic, but where this brand refresh shines is in the advertising creative.
According to the description of the brand refresh on the Wieden+Kennedy website:
“The inspiration for this campaign came from the observation of how, over the years, in an effort to make life simpler, we have somehow made life more complicated. Taking a humorous look at what are called “Ivoryisms” – these honest truths include a series of simple and straightforward messages that reintroduce Ivory’s perspective on keeping things clean and simple.”
You can see some of those “Ivoryisms” in the print ad samples below.
These bold and simple messages are excellent. They capture people’s attention and represent things people can relate directly to in their own lives. There is no doubt that the “loofah” ad above will strike a chord with a specific target market (for example, men). Another hits people where it counts — their wallets, and a third is likely to resonate with audiences who don’t like overly-fragrant soaps that smell like perfumes.
The video element of the advertising campaign is equally simple. Again, the Ivoryisms take center stage with no visual distractions or cluttered messaging. Two samples are included below.
Focused brands are powerful brands, so it makes sense that Ivory would contract its brand focus to its original brand promise of purity. That clean and simple message says it all, and in today’s overflowing soap aisle at the supermarket, a pure, clean, and simple soap is just what many customers are looking for.
What do you think of the Ivory brand refresh?
October 20, 2011
According to research by Experian Automotive (reported by Motor Trend), Hyundai took the top spot in terms of corporate brand loyalty among American car buyers for the second quarter of 2011.
Suffice it to say, Hyundai has come a long way in the past decade — from the cheap brand with even cheaper quality to the #1 brand based on loyalty. But that’s not all. Hyundai’s Kia brand ranked well for individual brand loyalty with three Kia brands landing in the top 10.
Keep in mind, Hyundai didn’t change its brand image overnight. It took a long time for Hyundai to catch up to other corporate auto brands and finally oust brands like General Motors and Ford that led the brand loyalty list for years. During those years, Hyundai successfully changed its image by altering its brand promise from “cheap” to “good quality at a good price.” It’s a brand promise that is nearly always sure to appeal to many consumers (particularly during an economic downturn) and works as long as the brand consistently delivers on that promise.
Hyundai hasn’t just talked the talk about good quality and good prices over the past decade. The company has walked the walk and proven its commitment to its brand promise. For example, by offering one of the first 10-year, 100,000 mile warranties, Hyundai differentiated its brand from its competitors. Many of those competitors copied the Hyundai warranty, but most couldn’t part with their lucrative extended warranty products. Hyundai put its brand promise on the line by communicating its belief in its promise of good quality at a good price. The 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty was the perfect way to prove the company meant what it said. This is the type of program that attracts new buyers, encourages repeat purchases, and is a public relations dream come true.
Unlike other car brands that have touted good prices and good quality, Hyundai has not gotten complacent. The company realizes that what’s good today, most likely won’t be good enough tomorrow. With that understanding in mind, Hyundai continues to introduce innovative new designs, products, and promotions. Not long ago, ads hyping a new kind of return policy on Hyundai car purchases got people talking (and buying). The ads told consumers that they could buy a Hyundai with less worry because if a buyer lost his job in the next year, he could return his Hyundai!
In 2011, Hyundai is reportedly on track to sell more cars in the United States than ever, and its market share in the U.S. market has more than doubled over the past 10 years since its brand repositioning plan began (via NPR). Furthermore, Hyundai ranked 61st in Interbrand’s list of the Top 100 Global Brands of 2011.
Clearly, Hyundai’s efforts are working. What do you think of the Hyundai brand turnaround? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.