Branding is an essential part of every business, and we’re not just saying that because it’s what we do!
Done right, and a brand is your best salesperson. It understands everything that’s great about your company and communicates it to your target audience perfectly. For a lot of businesses it’s the first and only thing consumers interact with, and ultimately educates their decision of whether to buy or not.
Not everyone is an expert and it’s very easy to get branding wrong. Unprofessional or inaccurate branding can have very adverse effects on your company’s image and bottom line.
So if you’re branding your company as a new start up, or exploring the process of rebranding, here are 10 things worth considering for a successful process:
#1: It’s Not About You
Let’s get this out of the way early. Your branding is not necessarily about what you like and your personal aesthetic preference, but it is completely about what your customers like and will engage with.
If you really like orange? It doesn’t really matter. What matters is what that shade of orange means to the viewer, how does that fit within your marketplace and will your target audience respond positively to it.
You have to be prepared to compromise on your personal taste when building a brand for your business – especially if you aren’t your target audience.
Which leads nicely into point two.
#2 Know Your Audience
We often hear business owners claim: “Our brand is for everyone.” However, the statement is rarely true, and its shows a naivety, particularly among new startups who haven’t really considered their market, and overstate the importance of their product or service.
It does really help to be as specific as possible and this is not just helpful for branding, but for when you start marketing your product. It’s a lot easier to to focus on a persona, or a demographic, rather than casting an unrealistically wide net.
Consider whether you’re company is B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). If it’s B2B, what size businesses, specific industries or geographic areas are you looking to target. If you’re B2C is your business for a certain age group, genders or for people with specific interests.
Ultimately, the more targeted you can be, the more fit for purpose your brand will be.
#3 Position Yourself
It’s important to work out where you brand sits in the market. Research your competition and work out where you fit into the industry. Will you be positioning yourself as a high-end luxury brand or a budget brand
If your product and positioning are a mismatch, you run the risk of misperception denting your chances of selling your products and services.
#4 Know Your USP
What’s your brand’s USP (unique selling point)? Why would people choose your product over a competitor’s?
Are you doing something innovative? Unique flavours or ingredients? Do you have a captivating story to tell? Perhaps your business is doing something good for the world?
Conscious consumers care about a lot more than price these days and are far more likely to show loyalty to a brand that they connect with on a deeper level. Understanding your USP helps you to focus on what message you need to communicate. That USP needs to be at the forefront of your branding and messaging so customers can’t miss it.
#5 Brand Values
Avoiding hollow words like “professional” try to summarise your business in single descriptive words. As an exercise, start vague with a large list of applicable words and narrow down to 3 or 4 key values that are true to your company and are the foundations of all the good that you do.
Take those brand values and understand the impact they have on your clients and potential customers. What do you want your customers to feel when they work with you or engage with your brand?
Understanding the aspiration of how you want customers to feel when interacting with you is crucial to developing a strong brand identity. Take control of the emotions that your brand evokes and use them to your advantage.
#6 What’s the Point?
What exactly are you doing this for?
Understanding your vision for the company and why you’re doing this is so important. Think about the long term plan for the business and outline where you see the company going, you can work back from there until now to assess the steps and milestones you need to make. It helps you to hone your identity towards achieving these goals and can often help answer a lot of the questions above.
#7 More than A Logo
We can’t stress this enough. A logo is something all brands have in common and it has always been an essential part of the toolkit, but it’s not the be all and end all and a logo on its own is not a brand.
A logo on its own is nothing more than a name badge for your business. If the logo lacks cohesion with the key touchpoints of your business then your brand is quickly diluted and your messaging won’t hit the mark. You must consider colour choices, messaging, fonts and imagery styles, as a start, and ensure that all of your values are consistently represented.
This might sound like a pain, but it really is a blessing as it means you don’t have to have your logo carry all the weight in presenting your brand message. Place the same importance on the flyer you send out, vehicle your drive, or workwear you wear, as you would on the logo. First impressions are important so don’t show any weaknesses with your brand touchpoints.
#8 Keep It Consistent
This is where we see many brands fall down. Lots of effort creating a great brand identity but not then putting in the effort to carry it through to the real world.
You need to make sure all of your touchpoints are giving the same message about your brand. Make a set of rules for you branding and adhere to them to achieve that cohesion and brand impact.
Think back to the values and emotions you outlined that are specific to your business. Will your customers feel this when browsing your website, visiting your store or picking up that leaflet you sent. Your brand has to work across a variety of media. If it doesn’t, it’s time to rethink!
#9 Scalable And Flexible
To successfully achieve consistency and cohesion across your touchpoints, it is important to plan accordingly and have the foresight to install a scalable identity from the start.
Think about each time a potential client or customer interacts with your business, now and in the future. Consider the challenges your brand might face in each instance. Ensure that your brand assets are impactful at a range of scales (business card to billboard), and think about how the identity performs in different media. Is the colour palette effective in print, as well as digital?
Besides aesthetic consideration, there are technical challenges to overcome with flexible branding like using the correct file formats, image resolution and font types. A daunting task for a non-designer but it’s paramount to having a successful, and scalable, brand identity. Blurry images will look unprofessional and poor representation of your brand colours will dilute the identity and harm your recognition.
#10 Get Your Imagery Right
We stress the point of ensuring that your imagery is of the requisite quality and we mean the file size as much as the subject. Unprofessional photography is potentially harmful to some businesses, while the amateur aesthetic can have its benefits to others. We have written a guide to choosing the appropriate photography for your business.
It doesn’t always have to be a photographic approach either, we often find businesses adopting an illustrative style to their imagery as it aligns with their brand values and is a better vehicle for delivering their brand messaging. We have another piece of interest here for anyone considering the pros of illustration vs photography.
Bonus #11 – Get Us To Do It!
Arobase have a wealth of experience building awesome brands that perfectly communicate a brand’s message. We can help you through all 10 of these points and deliver the brand your company deserves.
If you are thinking about starting a business and need a brand identity or perhaps you’re an established business looking to reconnect with your client base, feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation consultation.