From a very young age I was brand-washed by my father. Dad was a self-described “old-ad-man” who labored thirty five years in advertising for the RCA Broadcast Systems Division in Camden, NJ—promoting and selling broadcast television equipment around the world. RCA’s logo, and the image of Nipper, or sometimes referred to as, “His Master’s Voice,” could be found throughout our home in statuettes and bookends, prints, tie bars, pen sets, notepads, stuffed animals, jackets and apparel, a 3 ½ foot vinyl point-of-sale display, puzzles and even a 3 foot back-lit replica of the stain glass windows found in the “Nipper” building in Camden. These were things that I lived with, and some that I still live with.
What I didn’t realize growing up was that my father was indirectly teaching me about the importance of powerful branding by building value and image through repetition. And although these things meant more to me than the commercial value of RCA and Nipper to the average “Joe Consumer,” they still had an affect on me emotionally because of the value and repeated emphasis placed on them by my father.
Recently, I volleyed opinions back and forth with a local businessman about business cards. His argument was simple is best—sometimes you’d only have a few seconds and a handshake to make an impression. I agreed, but wouldn’t you choose powerful over simple if you could? And if the person were to see your business name or brand somewhere else in the community, wouldn’t you like for them to have an instant recall of meeting you, if only from a brief encounter and a quick handshake?
Branding is part projected image and emotion, and brand images can have a very strong influence on the emotion that you want to convey about your business. RCA/Victor inherited the copyright of “His Master’s Voice” from the Gramophone Company and used it convey a message of quality and loyalty. The 1898 painting by English artist Francis Barraud, A.R.A. depicted a real-life mutt; part bull terrier with a trace of fox terrier. Nipper was known to nip at the heels of visitors, hence the name. The painting depicts a loyal dog, sitting atop his master’s coffin, attentively listening to his recorded voice through a Gramophone horn and reacting as if he was alive—a strong testimonial to the quality of the product. It’s also, a durable trademark that has sustained for over 110 years because of its simple and universal message.
Make your branding powerful and consistent. Connect images with emotion. Put some deep thought into the messages that you want to convey, and make it part of your brand experience.