In short, he can help us learn a few things by analyzing his example. Branding Begins means that we’ll talk about the principles behind some of the brand elements that you will need to establish from the start and, while we’re at it, you can try sketching your brand’s origin story in your mind.
We’re not going to attempt an exhaustive analysis of the Batman brand. What we are going to do is take a look at some of this brand’s elements and think about how they can help us with our own branding processes. Let us dive right in.
Batman – Can it get simpler than this? You might ask yourself that, but some of the best ideas out there are, essentially, so simple that they may come across as both stupid and genius. Not only is the name simple and highly representative for the character, but it also follows some important rules you should keep in mind while considering a naming process.
What you can learn from it: 3 questions you can ask yourself when wondering if a name for a product, services or business is good or not. You don’t need to check all these criteria for your name to be good, but you can keep them in mind as general guidelines.
1. Does it have a good ring to it? The way a name sounds can hint at your brand’s personality. Try comparing names like Mystique Studio, Power Motors and KitKat. See the difference? Or, rather, hear the difference? Batman’s names sounds strong – which is very befitting for a superhero.
Additionally, the name should be easy to pronounce and most people should instinctively pronounce it as you intended the name to sound like. On that note, be careful when deciding on a name in a different language and also when you have an international target market. Check for similar sounding words in the languages of the countries where you want to introduce your brand so you won’t end up with an embarrassing surprise (remember Frappula?).
2. Is it short enough? This is not about the visual length of the name, it’s about the number of syllables. As a general rule, try to avoid using more than 3-4 syllables in your naming if you don’t have a good reason for doing so. A long name can be difficult to pronounce and remember, and you don’t want your customers doing that now, do you?
One situation when you can break this rule is when having a name comprised of two or more words. Customers may refer to your business using only one of the words and others around them will get what they’re talking about. Another situation is when you can reduce your name to an acronym which customers will use to refer to you and which will look better in its logo form.
3. Is it unique? Ah, uniqueness, the Holy Grail of naming enthusiasts. All naming processes start or should start as a quest for uniqueness, but it is not that easily attainable. Don’t give up on trying though. If some managed, maybe you can too. And it’s well worth it. Having a unique name will help you become memorable and it also reflects well on your brand image as a whole.
Furthermore, there a lot of practical aspects in favor of a unique name: getting it registered easily, finding a free web domain, not causing confusion amongst the audience and, yes, not getting sued. It was easier for Batman since those were other times. But if you consider your business as unique, you should strive to give it a unique name.
The Bat-logo has changed quite a few times over the several decades Batman has been active, but in its own way it remained consistent. See here the Batman logo evolution throughout the years. It has always been a black representation of a bat-like figure, with outstretched wings, that was facing the viewer. This gave the sensation of contact between the logo and the viewer, as the bat-logo seemed as if it was coming right toward the viewer.
What you can learn from it: 3 important principles: consistency, representativeness and impact. Let’s tackle them one by one, shall we?
1. Consistency doesn’t mean an aversion to change. If you want to go through a rebranding process, go ahead and do it. It’s important to keep your logo looking good and up to speed with today’s visual trends. However, the changes you make should be well thought out and, if there’s no good reason for it, you should avoid “reinventing” your logo too drastically. Some elements were included for good reasons and they should continue defining your business and maintaining a relationship with your audience on a logo-level. Of course, this is only valid if they do their “defining your business” job well. Which brings us to principle nr. 2:
2. Representativeness is a must-have. Otherwise, you’d just slap a picture of a building on any business. Batman’s logo does this very well and, yes, of course it’s an easy job when you have such a suggestive name and such prominent features. But your business should be able to have a representative logo as well. Think long and hard about what represents your business, then associate those things with visual elements and styles. Your logo is your brand’s signature – people should be able to tell who they’re doing business with and what they’ll get out of the deal. And, speaking of people…
3. Impact is basically the impression you leave people with after interacting with them. I’ve mentioned above that the Bat-logo makes you feel like this dark superhero is coming for you. To save you if you’re in trouble, and catch you if you’re naughty. It’s about creating a feeling within the one who sees the logo. Through the elements employed, the style or its other design aspects, your logo should be able to give people a feeling of trust, excitement, youthfulness, empowerment or whatever you’re going for.
Batman has been called many things, like The Caped Crusader or The World’s Greatest Detective, but no other epithet (or tagline) has stuck in our minds such as The Dark Knight. And isn’t that a marvelous tagline? (despite being from the DC Comics universe, not the Marvel one) It’s packed full of meanings for the character and all things related to him, and it also meets the requirements I’ve listed above for the name and logo. Yes, things like uniqueness, impact, representativeness, short length, being tongue and ear friendly etc. also apply to taglines.
What (else) you can learn from it: Creating an image in the audience’s mind. Unlike the name and logo, a tagline is more flexible. You can change it more often, depending on the image you want to create or the message you’re trying to get across. And also unlike the name and logo, it’s not a must-have. From a different perspective, it’s a bonus round – in which you can “tell” your audience a little bit more about yourself, let them “see” more of you. So make sure to take advantage of that and create a vivid image that gives more depth to your brand. Make it memorable. Make it so representative that it becomes synonymous with your brand. Back it up with your actions and communication.
Remember this though – a tagline can be but isn’t limited to a campaign core-message. You tell your audience more about who you are (to and for them) instead of what you are currently doing, what offers you have or who you’re sponsoring and so on. A tagline is more flexible but, since it reflects your brand personality, you’re going to want to keep it more stable than a seasonal message, so that your customers know and trust who they’re dealing with.
We’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg with this, since there are many more aspects related to branding – like positioning, USP, tone of voice, branded materials and so on – all of which we could improve by taking a look at the Batman brand example. Maybe I’ll do another article on that sometime but, until then, I hope you’ve found the advice in this article helpful in your branding endeavors. And, just in case you’re not feeling up to a task this complex, give us a call anytime.