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Creating New Orleans Brands – No Fleur-de-Lis Allowed

Brand vs. Brand Identity

Creating New Orleans brands isn’t as easy as you think. Let’s start by making the distinction between brand and brand identity.

A brand is an idea, a feeling, a story. It encompasses all the physical and abstract elements that surround a business. It’s also a value proposition that separates you from other businesses in your industry.

A brand identity, on the other hand, is the ambassador for your business. It is a series of design patterns, logos, and typefaces that will, at the best of their ability, communicate all of the essence of your brand.

What happens when you mix an iconic city like New Orleans and a locally-focused culture? You end up with a dozen equally spicy Tabasco bottles on a supermarket shelf. And you know which one people are buying? The one that isn’t shouting “New Orleans” in your face.

So, here are a few tips from a marketer turned designer to help you develop your local brand and brand identity.

1. Know Yo’ Self.

Connect Your Story to the Product

An effective brand identity can’t be established without knowing who you are; before you think logos and colors, figure out your story. The iconic lightning bolt scar of Harry Potter would be meaningless without the tale of how he got it.

Having a clear concept of who your company is will help your designer find the best way to communicate that to your audience.

Understanding Your Clients

Any designer’s first question will be: “Who are your clients?” The answer they’re looking for isn’t “locals between 20-29”. They want to know how your clients approach your products. Are they passionate about your company? What do they wear? Are they knowledgeable about the benefits of your products or do they like them because they’re affordable?

Think of Mastercard’s recent rebrand. They understood that in the complicated and cumbersome landscape of payments they had to stand for simplicity, security, and seamlessness – three very important aspects for today’s clients.

mastercard-logo-band-redesign
Simplicity is often the way to go.

2. Think outside of the bowl. (Get it? ‘Cause New Orleans is a bowl? I’ll stop.)

Place: It’s one of the 4 (or 5) P’s in the marketing mix. It refers to two things: the actual location where you’re selling your product and the channel you’re selling it in. As our world gets more technology-focused and our society more globalized, the way you sell your products today might be completely different from how you sell them in the future. So, how do you keep your message alive and consistent when you’re not selling through a controlled environment like a storefront? As one of my favorite marketers, Angela Ahrendts stresses, “The more technologically advanced our society becomes, the more we need to go back to the basic fundamentals of human communication.”

Your brand identity should transmit the same feeling whether someone encounters it through your store, through social media, or through your website.

This is important for businesses that base their message in the uniqueness of this city, its history, music or the cuisine. When creating a brand correctly, a locally-focused message must transcend its geographical boundaries and instantly connect with outsiders, the same way it connects with locals.

3. Local business. Local design.

Now comes the fun part: the design. By this point you’re prepared to take the smooth next step into making a shiny, beautiful, long-lasting brand identity.

For a local business, you can’t go wrong with a local designer. Much like hiring a local copywriter makes sense, it’s the same with designers. You need someone you feel comfortable with, who speaks your language and knows how to speak to your clients. If you’re partnering with a local agency, matching the size of your business to theirs will enhance the sense of partnership that’s necessary when developing an identity. The chemistry between you and your designer(s) will have great influence in the quality of their work and ultimately, the translation of your brand to your audience.

A brand is much like a person. Make your brand the kind of person you’d want to have around.

4. Nix the Fleur-de-lis. It’s super cliché.

Creating New Orleans brands is more than Mardi Gras and crawfish, it is about understanding what people appreciate about their city and respecting that enough to refrain from watered-down, cliched expressions of it.

We know branding. We know local. Ready to give your story a beautiful, long-lasting identity? Call Online Optimism at 504-324-0073.

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