It seems that every commercial enterprise these days is a ‘brand’. But brands have developed far beyond being about things like our favourite baked beans or cornflakes – now they’re also about the supermarket that sells them. Take Tesco, Waitrose or Lidl for example; each has its own distinct identity. Today’s brands are about ideologies and values: the charity we support, the political party we vote for, even our football heroes. Some of the most successful early brand names like ‘Hoover,’ ‘Sellotape’, ‘Stanley knife’ and ‘Walkman’ even became synonymous with the product itself.
Today every brand has its logo, its recognisable badge or ‘mark’. Design agencies come up with just the right image which will then be applied to every platform carrying the brand. PR companies have to work hard to get their clients’ brands noticed in a crowded marketplace and the competition is fierce!
The Centre for Strategy and Communication in London describes brands thus:
“Branding is not just about spin. A successful brand cannot be built on thin air. It needs the firm foundations of top quality service and well-founded values. Nor is a brand just a name or a logo. It is an amalgam of all the images, feelings, beliefs and experiences that people have about your organisation.”
Being associated with a brand says something about you; it’s more than a fashionable bandwagon to jump on: it’s personal. A brand may live up to the ‘hype’, or it may not. And its followers may be fickle. If they’re disappointed with the product, the service or the person, they’ll move their loyalty elsewhere. After all, there are plenty of brands to choose from.
Take the slogan ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ It was such a successful advertising slogan for Ronseal back in 1994 that it’s become an idiomatic turn of phrase that can be used for anything considered straightforward and reliable. Interestingly, Ronseal 5 Year Woodstain was certified as delivering that promised five-year protection!
All this serves to highlight the important difference between a brand logo and a ‘kitemark.’ Take certification for example – it does something a brand alone cannot do. A certification mark is an accredited symbol. It’s not about style or emotion, it’s scientific.
And that’s why a certification mark is so valuable and distinctive. It shows your product conforms to industry standards. It’s a see-at-a-glance authority that stands for trustworthiness and recognition. Certification enhances a brand because an independent third party is involved.
More importantly, a certification mark promises:
• Legality: the product was tested in accordance with an accredited standard
• Assurance: the consumer can be satisfied that the product they buy is identical to the one that was tested
• Consistency: regular audits ensure that the certified standard is maintained
• Partnership: there was agreement between the product manufacturer and an independent body, in our case, Certification International.
Just as Brand Beckham has demonstrated the strength of a husband and wife partnership, so Certification International’s relationship with its clients is a major part of its strength. And having certification keeps not only customers but stakeholders happy too. In fact, whichever way you look at it – it’s a win-win situation for any brand.