The 4 Elements of An Effective Brand
Good brand architecture is a hierarchy. Like the oft used Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, it starts with some basic obviously fundamentals that every brand should have, but then grows into areas that few brands successfully achieve. This article outlines four such levels, although I suspect there are plenty of different framings one could use.
1. Recognisability and memorability
I think the first element is whether the logo (or elements there-of) are easily recognisable and (eventually) memorable as representing your company. It helps therefore if the logo is distinct and doesn’t look like too many other logos out there. Especially logos in your market space. A good test is to show your logo (or part their of) amongst a set of different logos (on a phone Home Screen for instance) and see how quickly people pick it out of the crowd.
2. Communicates your values
A good logo—and associated brand material—should communicate your values as a company. For instance, if you’re wanting to feel safe and secure (or fun and playful) people should reflect these terms back to you when describing your brand assets. Even better if the brand can also communicate what sort of company or market you’re in. To do this you can show people your logo who don't know your company, and ask them what they think you do as a business. They may not get it spot on, but are the associations they come up with are likely to be illuminating.
3. Provides your design/marketing team with flexibility
You’re going to be producing a lot of assets over the coming years. Websites, banner ads, sales pitches, event marketing etc etc. Does your extended brand (colours, typography, supporting shapes, textures, illustrations and imagery) provide you with a broad enough pallet to use effectively? This is one of the main reasons why I see designers and marketing teams looking to refresh their brand. They've painted themselves into a corner with their existing brand language, and need more room to flex.
4. Do people associate with your brand
Lastly (related to point 2), are people excited about your brand? Do they feel drawn to your brand because it means something to them? And do they associate your brand not just with your company but with the wider category? A strong brand (with all that entails) can provide your company with a defensible moat which is hard for other companies to topple. Just look at the likes of Nike or Coca-Cola.
I should add that your brand is obviously more than just your logo mark and logotype. Some companies have created very strong brands around relatively unassuming logos. Google is a great example of a company who’s brand is so much more than just its logo. As such I think rebranding exercises often focus a little too much energy on the mark, and not enough on the rest of the brand architecture, and what your product actually means to people.