7 Keys to Building Your Business’ Identity With Branding
Building a strong identity (brand) that can be identified across all your marketing, can help you gain the trust and loyalty of consumers and help you stand out from the competition. A brand is something that is remembered. Something that makes your company stand out from the competition. A burger is just a burger until you add the “special sauce”. Once you do, you have a Big Mac. Ever heard of it? Well, that’s because it was branded! So what is your “special sauce”?
Branding Requires Consistency
Imagine a florist gives you his business card at a networking event. You look at his website and the colors and style are completely different from the card. That makes you uneasy, but you decide to give him a shot. When he arrives, you see the logo on the side of his truck is in a different type face than the other stuff, and you think, “Is this one company or three?”
Plenty of small businesses suffer from what you might call “multiple brand personality disorder.” Their logo, business cards, stationary, website, emails, and advertising, even their uniform logos and vehicle decals, look like they came from a bunch of different places, which isn’t good.
Creating a strong visual identity
If the different points of contact you have with people seem inconsistent, they’ll think your business is inconsistent as well. Here are seven ways to make sure you put forth a strong, consistent visual identity that will reinforce your customers’ trust and make you stand out from competitors:
1. Understand your mission. Developing a strong mission statement that explains the purpose of your company can be the springboard to a consistent design that reinforces that purpose. The mission statement should also reflect your company’s personality. Are you the friend next door, the expert, fun, serious, or an inspirational brand? An inspirational brand is one that inspires action, like Nike’s “Just Do It”. All communication should speak in this voice.
2. Step back before you “fix” things. One reason for a mission statement is to avoid focusing on marketing materials in a piecemeal fashion. A small business will say their brochure doesn’t look like their website. That’s because the website was built six years ago, and the company has outgrown it. You have to step back and consider the overall brand before leaping in to fix stuff. Perspective is critical in this area. Just be sure it fits the mission.
3. Remember that brand is in everything. Small business owners sometimes forget that brand isn’t just demonstrated by their website or business cards. It radiates through everything they do. For instance, the signage on your truck should have the same look and feel as your business cards. When it comes to creating and strengthening a brand, there are no “little” details. Every detail must match. A square peg just does not fit in the round hole!
4. Put your brand in your name. A starting place for your brand is your company name. The most effective business names communicate the unique selling proposition or unusual aspect of the company. For example, a company called “Last Minute Catering” quickly communicates what they do and what sets them apart from the competition. When you have this type of front-line transparency, it leaves little room for guess-work.
5. Type(face) yourself correctly. A business should develop a style guide of colors, fonts, and logo parameters that will remain consistent online and in marketing materials or promotional efforts. For example, the typefaces you choose tell a story about your brand. For example, if you use Times New Roman, you may be deemed traditional; whereas using Comic Sans may say that your brand is playful. If this first point of branding does not translate online, then you may give off the perception that you don’t understand the personality of your brand, which could trickle down to your service offerings.
6. Own your color. Colors are so powerful that a consultant always shows a client the logo in black-and-white first-and then in different colors to gauge the varied emotional impact. Think broadly of how you can use the color you select to represent your business . For example, Regions Bank owns the color lime green. That color is on their television ads, billboards, annual report, and business cards. But the company goes beyond that to consider every touch point. When they sponsor a luncheon, they give the food away in green bags. When the chairman shows up to speak to employees, he wears green tennis shoes or a green tie. By linking a strong, specific, and appropriate color to your company, you can get instant impact in a market anytime you show a splash of it.
7. Let yourself get bored. One of the biggest challenges in creating a consistent brand is that you will get bored with the look much sooner than your customers will. Your friends will tell you that your ads all look the same and that you should change them. But they’re looking at every single ad, whereas you’re lucky if the average person on the street notices one out of every five of your ads. They take five times as long to get bored. So resist the impulse to change for the sake of change. Your brand reflects the way you do business, the quality of your products and services, and the way you are perceived.
These are just some of the things to examine in your small business. Branding is what people think about and recognize first in whatever business service niche you fall into. If customer s are “keyword “ searching in your business category, you want them to find you first. By projecting a consistent, stable image, you can help them them!
Richard Gould – Design Administration
Gould Design, Inc.