Branding is an ongoing concern for businesses and doing it well takes more thought than many appreciate: so how can you ensure your branding is working for you?
Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business and is much more than simply designing a logo. Your brand is your company ethos, it’s your DNA and what runs through your veins as a business. It’s the expectations you set yourself as a business, your clients and your customers.
Your brand is everything from how you look, feel and interact with both employees and clients. It defines who you are, who you want to be and how you’re perceived by others. It’s certainly not an area which you want to neglect at any point throughout your businesses journey.
From inception to years later, your brand should always be at the forefront of your mind and you should be continually striving to define and improve the value of your brand. No matter what your business size, start-up, SME or large scaled business you’ll always require a strong brand identity.
It’s just Presentation
Isn’t branding just presentation? Wrong. Your brand is far more than just a logo and as our first impressions are often visual it’s essential your brand image conveys your story, who you are and what you do.
When you’re coming up with your brands visual identity, consider who it would be if it were a person. Visualising your brand can help you to identify much more than how to present your business artistically and it can also help you to come up with its tone of voice.
Think about how many brands we are confronted with on a daily basis. It’s only the ones who make us stop and take note that we actually notice, but every day we’re infiltrated with brands who simply don’t resonate with us. Visually, we live in a world where the markets are increasingly competitive so look for unique visual branding opportunities.
Richard LeCount from USB 4 Photographers comments, “First impressions are everything and ultimately if something isn’t presented well it’s unlikely we will pursue it further and find out more. Keeping your business on brand is essential and it needs to extend to all areas of your business. When attending meetings or networking events make your business stand out with a branded portfolio and share important information on a USB.”
Tell a Story
Your brand should be your story, with first impressions acting as the blurb of your business. Consider the elevator pitch idea and think about what you would want someone to take away from spending a short amount of time with your brand. What would be the key points and messages you want them to know? Once you’ve defined this you’ll have a clear idea of the essence of your business.
How do you want people to react to the name and tag line of your business? How will the colour palette make us feel? Is the font angular and sharp or soft and flowing? Where can we go to find out more? Is the tone of voice conversational or direct?
Focus your Business
Defining your USP will have been one of the first things you did when starting up your business but it’s important that this is incorporated into your branding and continued throughout your business. Focus on what you’re business set out to do and don’t become a jack of all trades. Expand with ease and don’t launch something new that you aren’t sure you can deliver on either.
Branding can help to motivate staff too and allow them to become advocates for your business. A survey found that 91% of valued employees are motivated to do the best for their employer, so branding even extends to your employees and how you treat them.
Brand affinity is what many strive for. Think about how often you reach for the brand you recognise simply because you trust it over it’s often cheaper counterpart? We all buy into brands more than products and whilst they may be what you sell branding can add value to your business that products and services cannot.
Jo Swann from Chocolate PR agrees, “When a brand has a strong voice that’s when it becomes a valuable commodity – it not only opens up more opportunities for acquiring and retaining customers but and this is when monetary value can be really rewarding, from selling the business to licensing or franchising it.”
When a brand has more value it can charge more for its products and services, with a consistent brand image adding equity to your business.
Tips for 2016
Branding is an ever changing industry and keeping up with and defining trends can help you to get ahead of competitors in 2016. Taking the lead from big brands and scaling them to fit your business can help to provide you with inspiration.
Partnering with similar brands can help to maximise your ideas pool and when combined with complementary skillsets can help both businesses to flourish. Become a thought leader within your industry and adapt content according to its platform.
Tim Kitchen form Exposure Ninja shares his predictions for 2016, “Branding is changing, there’s no doubt about it. It used to be all about the big, glossy brands and while people still love slick visuals, we’re increasingly starting to see a demand from consumers for brands that are authentic, personable and interactive. We want businesses to show their human side and to be able establish an emotional connection with the brand.”
Further reading: Imagining the workplace of the future