The brand Police

When you see the above colours you instantly think of the Police. This is no accident and is totally by design.

The emergency services have one of the world's most instantly recognisable brands of all time and this is for good reason. When you see those colours, the stripes on the vehicles and hear the sirens, it means one thing to people; that the emergency services are present – be aware!

This is a perfect example of a great brand and the reason that it works so well is because we have all grown up with it. They do not change the colours, stripes and siren tones every year as they know that this would damage their visibility and worse still, could cause the loss of a life if someone doesn't recognise an ambulance which is roaring up behind them on a busy street. Every now and again they will slightly tweak the tones used or tighten up / re-align the brand style but essentially it stays the same.

Another good example is that of our Lollypop People. I have a bag of sticks in my wood store in the back garden, the bag is bright green with orange and red highlights. Every time I walk past it and catch it in the corner of my eye, it reminds me of the lovely Lollypop People who help children cross the roads safely each day because it's the same colour as their uniform.

That is what a great brand should do. It should remind your customers of your business, even if they just see your colour or hear part of your advertising jingle when you aren't around personally. It needs to reflect your values and be ever consistent in its use.

My brand isn't working, what should I do?

The first thing that people do when they realise that people don't recognise their business' brand is panic and organise a re-brand. If people don't recognise it then surely it must need to be more in-your-face or bigger and brighter, right? Wrong. People don't recognise it because you either haven't given it long enough or you keep on using it in different ways and with different styles / colours. Imagine if you could change your face every day, even your close friends and family would struggle to recognise you. When you re-design your logo every year this is essentially what you are doing.

So what should I do?

Building that great brand takes years and years of patience. We live in a world where people want quick fixes and we see amazing start-ups growing to huge corporate entities in what seems to be over night. Well I'm afraid to say that building a good solid brand just doesn't work that way. You must be in it for the long haul.

Hire a professional designer and work with them to create the absolute right brand for you. There are reasons why some design businesses charge £200 for a logo whilst branding agencies charge £200,000. The cheaper option will probably be based on some trendy style that you will want to change in 12-months, no hope of a consistent brand that will last 30-years or more here. The latter will (mostly) be creating a lasting brand that your business can embrace and grow with for decades. So although you may not have £200,000 to invest in your brand when you start up a business (who does!?), do invest wisely and seek out a professional designer or agency that will work with you to create a lasting brand and not just a quick fix – it's probably one of the most important things you will ever purchase for your business and it will work out a lot cheaper in the long run by saving on re-brands each year.

I know of people who have spent more on a coffee machine than on their business' brand, this is insanity and just says to me that they don't respect their own business, so why should I buy from them? A lot of people disliked the London 2012 brand when it was unveiled but just look at how unique and memorable it is, it's truly a great piece of work whether you like it personally, or not.

So next time you think of using your logo in a crazy and whacky style just because it fits the moment, think again, are you watering down your brand?

I'd love to hear thoughts on this, as always. Post below and I'll get back to you!