Every brand has a certain image they want to uphold in front of their target audience. But sometimes the identity a brand wants to promote doesn’t match the perceptions consumers actually have. Various branding elements, especially names and logos, can often send subliminal messages to consumers which are usually the complete opposite of the message a brand is trying to communicate.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you think long and hard about the message your brand wants to express. Once you do so, you need to carefully look at your branding elements to determine whether their valid representations of the brand identity you’re trying to convey. Take a look at why the subliminal messages your name, logo and design elements send are important and how they can make or break your brand.
The Importance of Subliminal Messages in Branding
Branding is all about the type of emotional reaction you want to trigger within your target audience. Do you want to incite feelings of trust, reliability, and warmth? Or maybe you want to build a brand connected to feelings of power, competence, and security? Whatever message you choose to market to your consumers, you need to make sure your branding elements, i.e. name, logo, packaging, slogan, etc, are supporting your vision.
All aspects of your branding elements are responsible for creating and maintaining your brand identity. Even the tiniest of details like typeset, color, size and placement play a role in branding. For instance, if your brand is geared towards personal services then it should reflect warmth and care. However, if you’re in a more serious business niche like technology, then you want to visually present your brand as reliable and efficient.
Also you need to pay close attention to the tone and voice of your brand, as well as maintain brand consistency. The inability to do so will leave an impression of being inauthentic and unprofessional.
You might be interested in: 5 Signs You Have a Weak Brand and How to Strengthen It
Negative Subliminal Messages
Some brand logos send a really bad message to audiences. As a result, these brands usually end up appearing as unprofessional. Here are several real-life examples of names, logos and slogans that express a negative subliminal message.
Brand Name: Juicero
Juicero was the target of public mockery after claims from consumers that their appliance was superfluous. Consumers coined the term “Juicebro” as a pun for the growing bro-culture presence in Silicon Valley’s companies and investment firms. This goes to show that before settling on a brand name you should always consider how it can be used against you in the future.
This Italian clothing company has made news across the world for its controversial double-entendre logo. Specifically, the logo features a stylized letter ‘A’ with two circles to the left. However, if you look at it a bit more closely, you’ll see that that it looks like two people performing a sexual act. At first glance, it’s pretty difficult for consumers to guess what kind of products the brand sells – and rightfully so.
KFC’s well-known “finger-lickin’ good” slogan sent a different message to Chinese consumers following an embarrassing mistranslation. Namely, the popular catchphrase was translated as “eat your fingers off” in a KFC restaurant in Beijing. This shows why language checks are an imperative part of international branding processes.
Positive Subliminal Messages
It’s interesting to note that subliminal messages found in brand names and logos aren’t always a bad thing. In fact, many brands have ingeniously utilized the power of subliminal messages. Here are some examples of positive subliminal messages.
Brand Name: The Boring Company
Founded by Elon Musk in 2016, The Boring Company is anything but boring. The Boring Company is an infrastructure and tunnel construction company that aims to build an extensive tunnel system for high-speed automobile travel. What makes this a good brand name is that it is self-deprecating, playing with a witty double meaning. Though humor does aid in creating a positive subliminal message, you must always be cautious of your audience and context.
FedEx is one example of a brand that effectively uses subliminal messaging as a tool to push branding efforts forward. If you look closely at the FedEx logo you’ll see that it hides an arrow in the negative space. This is a subliminal message to suggest speed and precision.
Slogan: Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club’s slogan – “Shave Time. Shave Money.” – is a great instance of positive subliminal messaging. The clever quip combines two of the brand’s greatest qualities, cost and convenience. It’s witty, straightforward and perfectly represents the overall tone of the brand. And it’s very effective.
The Bottom Line
Looking at these examples of brands and subliminal messages we can see that it’s vital to take adequate action to improve brand names, logos and other brand elements before it’s too late. Otherwise, use them as powerful branding tools to highly position your brand in consumers’ minds. Learn to modify, utilize, and align them with your long-term branding objectives.
Whoever said ‘looks aren’t everything’ was certainly not thinking about branding. This is one subject where looks are everything. So always make sure to look your best.
Is your brand sending the wrong message to consumers? Speak to professional branding and trademark experts about how you can align your branding objectives with your subliminal brand messages.