So you have probably noticed brand icons are everywhere – on your way to work, in every advertisement, and attached to nearly every brand. Some of the most famous brand icons include the Geico® Gecko, Tony the Tiger who munches on those delightful Frosted Flakes®, or the infamous Ronald McDonald.


Now, take a step back and look at some of these most famous brand icons and ask yourself the logic and rationale behind them. How can a tall, lanky, clown man magically make sub-par hamburgers fly off grill and into the mouths of millions of people around the world? Most times brand icons don’t make logical sense, but they work because they represent fun. Who doesn’t like a little bit of fun thrown into the drudgery of charts and graphs and persuasion?

The most effective brand icons can easily be identified as:

  • Animals – even mystical or scary ones
  • People – stars or athletes
  • Toys – to appeal to that inner child within us all

Remember those good old High School days? Nearly every student, community member and students-to-be that lived in the high school district were fanatic about sporting stickers, school supplies, and clothing designed with the local high school mascot and colors. Some were forced into this “brand” by proximity (school district boundaries), while others were led to it by the family tradition of alma mater; either way, the majority of the students became brand advocates. Each high school had a firm identity and color scheme to make it easy for its crowd to “buy in” to its brand … creating … fanatics. Each high school’s identity also made it easy for the crowd to show which school they stood for.

Branding and marketing are much the same way. Brand your company to make it easy for your customers to “buy in” to an identity. Market your brand to find a balance of finding your crowd and letting your crowd find you – you can proactively promote your brand while also passively attracting your crowd to your brand. Your crowd doesn’t want to be force-fed marketing messages. They want something to crave … captivate their attention and pull them in with a strong brand.

Either way, a ferocious lion or fluffy teddy bear can be quite effective in winning potential customers.

Brand well and prosper!

Andy Cleary

Andy Cleary

Andy Cleary

Founder & CMO at Orbit Design
The founder of Orbit Design, the Branding Map Process, and co-author of “Genius Simple Branding” and “Salt”, Andy Cleary has been working with independent businesses for over 30 years. He has branded businesses ranging from business products companies, to universities, to international airport designers. His focus has been on how branding drives sales.
Andy Cleary

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