5 Brilliant Examples of Big Brand Imagery

Great brand imagery is born from great ideas

What’s the value of great brand imagery? It’s not just the power of consumer recognition, it’s a huge element of your overall brand personality. It’s also a crucial part of building brand awareness, and that’s not something a successful brand can do without.

Awareness is the essential first stage of the purchasing funnel. Brands that generate high awareness and find themselves in the initial consideration of a consumer journey can be up to three-times more likely to be purchased than brands outside it.

Brand recognition and awareness are the gold-star of good brand imagery. Colour has an important part to play in that equation. Studies have shown that colour can increase brand recognition by up to 80%.

Brand imagery isn’t just one single thing, it’s the whole aesthetic that’s represented by your brand. But perhaps the easiest place to explore that importance is with iconic brand logos and the colours palettes to match. So let’s take a look at 5 global brands that exemplify the value of great brand imagery.

McDonald’s

Oh those beautiful golden arches. Depending on your preference, it’s either the sweeping gateway to a McNugget-laden paradise or the icon of rabid global consumerism. Whichever it is, there’s no doubting that McDonald’s brand imagery is instantly recognisable on an international stage.  

The iconic arches actually began life as a physical design feature at the very first franchised McDonald’s store in the 1950s. When the fast-food chain was purchased in 1961, the Golden Arches were incorporated into a wider brand logo. And so a legend was born.

What’s particularly powerful about the McDonald’s brand imagery in this regard isn’t just that the arches themselves are so recognisable, it’s the consistent use of golden arch and bright red as a primary colour that have proved a timeless hit.

Nike

Brand imagery is a core component that has contributed to Nike being the global leading sports brand. That simple Nike Swoosh and the tagline ‘Just Do It’ create a brand awareness that defies geography. Wherever you go, Nike will be there. What’s more, people will never fail to recognise it for what it is.

One of the most impressive elements of Nike’s iconic brand imagery is it defies the usual narrative around the importance of colour. The traditional logo might well be a simple black on white, but the Swoosh is transferable to virtually any sporting goods in any colour, and yet still garners immediate recognition. I bet the guy who designed Nike the logo for US$35 in 1971 is probably kicking himself a bit now. I bet he’s kicking himself with Nike trainers though.

Air Asia

It’s pretty clear that in many ways, Tony Fernandes is a genius with a Midas touch. The airline that he and Co-Founder Datuk Kamarudin Meranun purchased for a token fee in 2001 is today a billion dollar business. There’s no doubt that savvy purchasing decisions and a booming aviation market played a big part in that, but clear, effective brand imagery had a valuable role in the journey.

Air Asia’s simple, red and white logo and consistent brand imagery makes its planes instantly recognisable throughout Southeast Asia. It means that every plane that lands or takes off, that skims the rooftops on landing or cruises into the sunset, creates a recognisable and iconic slice of brand advertising. That’s why great brand imagery can be so impactful – because of the power to turn any surface into a potential advertising space for your brand.

Apple

I mean come on guys, it’s just an apple, right? Not so much. The Apple brand logo is another example of brand imagery that is famed the world over. I think that’s partly down to the fact that iPhone users never fail to wave them around and let you all know they’ve got the latest model.

The Apple logo and accompanying brand imagery has developed into a status symbol for technology, and even spawned legends about the history of the design. What it does reveal is how intrinsically a brand image can be interlinked with perceived brand value. If you develop a brand that people recognise and trust, and a logo or imagery that they trust to go with it, you’re building a huge opportunity for your brand. You can probably even charge people US$1,000 for a phone, and they’ll be glad for the privilege.

Michelin

Michelin offers a particularly intriguing brand imagery, one part strangely adorable Michelin Man, one part smart colour palette and clear brand consistency. The Michelin Man, or Bibendum as he’s rightly known, has been around since the early days of the brand at the turn of the 20th century. He represents the very real human element of brand imagery – essentially a character designed to personify the ethos of the brand.

Bibendum also reveals the intriguing way that brand imagery evolves over time to represent the needs of a brand. In the early 20th century, Bibendum was a character very much portrayed as the upper class. His cufflink adorned, cigar-smoking demeanour represented the customer base that could afford the luxury of automobiles at that time. As the brand’s customer base has evolved, so too has this iconic poster-boy for the brand imagery, with the latest reimagining coming in 2017.

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