Saturday, 28 January 2012

Branding – at an Elemental Level

Your brand is a key part of your business whether you’re an enormous corporation or a one man band.  It defines your culture, attracts your key market and can even take on a life of its own.

And a key part of your branding is your logo.  You may outsource the design to a professional, create your own or you may not have one.

The purpose of your logo is to put your brand into one picture or message.  It needs to say it all and, as a picture paints a thousand words, it can say it all.  But, is it saying the right thing?  On the face of it, it may look fine but what does it say subliminally to your market?  Colours, shapes, words, even a slant or angle can project a message which is not integral to your brand and may even be the complete opposite of it.

Using the Five Element Theory from Feng Shui principles I’d like you to look at your brand with different eyes.

The Five Element Theory is from the system known as Tao and is one of the underpinning principles used in Feng Shui. Based on Yin and Yang the Five Elements describe the nature of energy and its constantly changing phases.  Everything can be classified using this system and, if you know how to, you can enhance or diminish specific elements to bring about changes in your life and your business.

Your logo can also be classified in this way.  Using the descriptions given below see which elements are included in your logo, whether they ‘fit’ with your business and culture and whether they go together:

The Wood element is a creative force as it symbolises growing Yang energy.  It works well for any of the creative professions or anything to do with education.  Using the Wood element you send a message that you’re motivated, enthusiastic and think laterally.  Any green shades symbolise Wood as do tall, rectangular shapes or designs where the movement is upwards (think of a sprouting plant growing up to the sun).

Fire is hot, it’s the sun, midday and full Yang energy.  Many fast food restaurants use the colour red, which symbolises the Fire element, to speed up eaters and move them through quickly.  If you use red you are going to get noticed.  Put the colour together with the typical shape of Fire, a triangle, and you have a warning sign.  The Fire element is great for industries that need speed and perhaps don’t need to foster long term relationships with customers – turnover is more appropriate.

The phrase ‘down to earth’ says it all.  The Earth element shows you’ve got your feet on the ground, don’t make big promises that you might not be able to keep and are consistent.  Typical professions that suit the Earth element are accountancy and legal.  The message to your customers is that you are trustworthy and here to stay.  Earth is represented by brown, orange, terracotta and yellow shades.  Natural stone is also indicative of this element as is square and squat shapes.

The Metal element is all about focus – sharp as a laser beam.  You’re committed to getting the job done and growth.  Metal is also probably the most ‘grown up’ element.  There’s a maturity and seriousness about these businesses.  Investment firms would be great represented by Metal as would any organisation with a strong focus on customer service or the need for precision.  Metal is represented by the metal colours: silver, gold, bronze or white and dome or circular shapes.

The final element is Water: fluid, flexible and full Yin energy.  In some ways the Water element is reactive rather than proactive so professions who wait for their customers to find them would suit Water.  Anything in the healing profession is an ideal example.  Water also represents the sub-conscious so can be used to give out the message ‘I understand what you want’.   Water doesn’t have an exact shape to represent it.  Water features irregular shapes and blues and black colours.

Putting them together

It’s possible that you may have one element in your logo but it’s likely that you have more than one so, if that’s you, let’s have a look at how they work together.

This diagram shows the three cycles that the Five Element Theory uses.  Firstly the outside circle moving clockwise is known as the supporting cycle.  If we then reverse this circle (going anticlockwise) it becomes the controlling cycle.  And finally the lines in the middle forming a type of pentacle show the destructive cycle.
  • The supporting cycle shows which elements support one and other.  You can see from the diagram that Wood supports (or feeds) Fire, Fire supports Earth and so on.  This means that whichever element is being supported is strengthened.  So, if you combined the Earth and Metal elements, the Metal part would be dominant as it is supported by the Earth element giving the message that your are focused and work from a strong foundation.
  • The controlling cycle works in reverse by showing which element drains the energy of another element.  Have a look on the diagram at Water.  Because it supports the Wood element, it is controlled (or drained) by Wood.  So, if your logo combines Wood and Water the Water element would be weakened and the Wood element take precedence which is fine if you want to focus on your creative abilities.
  • Finally the destructive cycle shows which elements clash with each other.  Imagine combining Water and Fire.  In reality we get boiling water and steam.  Using these two elements together will create a feeling of disharmony which may suit some businesses but not others.

What else?

There are many other things to be considered.  Here are just a few:
  • Does your logo slant upwards or downwards?  Upwards symbolises progression and downwards doesn’t.
  • If you use arrows which way do they point?  Up or down?  Left or right?  All have a subliminal message about the direction your business is heading.
  • Do you have words in your logo or use it with a strap line?  Some words are positive and others negative: not just in their meaning but in their energy.  The combined numerology of a word or phrase will bring a certain energy to the party as will specific letters.  Is that energy consistent with your message?

Of course your logo is just a very small part of your overall branding and there are many ways that you and your organisation will communicate your brand to your market.  Hopefully, with a little knowledge you can ensure that your message is one you want to give out.

Jackie Notman is an intuitive adviser and coach who works on an energetic level with individuals and businesses using tools such as Feng Shui, Numerology, Dowsing, Astrology, I Ching and the Tarot.   This article is from her blog at

For more information about her business consultancy service Business Energetics and to find out how to harness the real power of your business, go to her Business Energetics website.


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