When I’m asked about branding by prospective clients, there is often a misunderstanding about what it entails and just how to go about branding their business. Some see it as being all about consistency while others see it as solely about standing out from the crowd. While these two factors are important, there is greater depth to the branding equation than most businesses realise.
Following are seven things that business owners need to know about branding.
1. Your brand is not your logo.
Your brand goes far beyond the corporate symbol on your letterhead, your website, or your social media avatar. The logo is an integral and vital component of your business identity but your brand is much more. Your brand is the enterprise in its entirety; the company, its products, its people, and its customers. It is also defined by the impact it has on society, the environment, and culture. It is a constantly evolving perception, both internal and external, of what your business stands for.
2. Don’t be afraid of being unique.
The fear of being different can sometimes cause unnecessary distraction from the main goal of brand development — to stand apart from your competitors. You need to fully explore the possibility that your brand can create its own space within the market, to be a leader and not a follower. Reflecting the unique qualities of your business, and the people who operate within it, is the start of building a framework for your brand identity to be expressed.
3. You cannot, not brand.
You have a brand whether you like it or not. Everything that you do while presenting your business to the market goes towards building the perception of your organisation in the minds of the consumer. You have a brand image simply by being in business so you need to make sure that it sends the right message to the right people.
4. You need to become, Not Lost.
For brands, the ultimate goal is to become Not Lost. A wine label needs to be Not Lost on the shelves of the bottle shop, a company needs to be Not Lost in search results for their services, a shop sign needs to be Not Lost amongst the other signage and advertising in its vicinity. In fact, brand communication is about becoming Not Lost in the market place and your business needs a compass to show the way.
5. Your brand is your business.
If you’re in business, you’re in the business of branding. Everything you do, every message that you send, every person that you hire, needs to reflect your brand’s ethos. Anything less creates a disconnect between your market and your business, which undermines the value of your brand. You need to close the gap between the reality of your service and the perception of your brand by constantly monitoring your communication strategy. Your brand’s value is directly related to the ongoing investment made into it.
6. People love brands.
Brands help us navigate the world we live in by accelerating our decisions. We no longer just purchase products or services, we buy into an idea, a promise of an experience that is offered by a brand. Whether that promise is excellence or affordability, each brand has its own niche offering to the market. Businesses, like people, love choosing brands that reflect their own values and ideals. Make sure you align your brand with those of like values.
7. Visible brands make more money.
We’re all in business to make money and building a brand that speaks in the right tone to the right audience is a surefire way to increase your market presence. You don’t have to be a genius to work out that an increased presence translates to more customers, more revenue, and ultimately more profits. Good design is good business and a visible brand is a successful brand.
While it is relatively easy to control your corporate identity, it is a much more difficult thing to try to control your brand. It’s a living entity that needs to be maintained. You should be talking about your brand as much as you do about the bottom line.
Here are three things that you can do right now to give your brand more focus:
- Clarify your purpose,
- define your audience, and
- hone your message.
making brands visible™
Nic is a brand designer who provides strategic and creative direction for his clients’ brands. His studio services clients around the world and across multiple sectors. They have a deep expertise in branding for professional services, with significant experience working in the not-for-profit sector. His ethos is to do good work for good people, with a process that is based on the principle of thinking before doing, to define the direction before putting pen to paper. Think. Plan. Make.