These are things both you and your designer should keep in mind as you embark on branding.
By Rebecca Black
We live in the age of experience. People are no longer looking for products that simply “get the job done”, they are seeking an experience when they make a purchase. To create this experience, you have to build a highly tailored brand around your business. Think about some companies and what they mean to you: Red Bull sells sports drinks, but the brand evokes images of the adrenaline fuelled, sports junkie lifestyle. At its core, Google is an advertising company, but they’ve done an incredible job at positioning themselves as a high-tech, trustworthy brand that is trying to better the world. The way you brand your company will determine the value customers place on your products and even your position in the market. Quality is perceived. Building a brand that customers value not only earns loyalty, but also allows you to place a premium on your products.
So, what is branding? Simply put, it is your promise to your customers. Your brand is what differentiates you from competitors in the market and communicates who you are through several elements. Done correctly, you can control how customers perceive the value of your company and products. According to Entrepreneur.com, “Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets.”
So what should you consider when branding your company?
1. Your Mission.
Your company’s mission should be central in everything you do. Branding is no exception to that rule. At the core of your brand and every form of communication you put out should be why you are doing all this.
2. Your Company’s values.
List out your values as a company. This can help define more narrowly who you are and what kind of brand you want to communicate to the world. If your company values innovation and modernity, you wouldn’t build a brand that seems antiquated.
3. How you are different from everyone else.
This should be at the top of your list. As I mentioned before, branding’s purpose is to differentiate you from your competition. So get down to the nitty gritty: why should customers buy from you? What makes you different? Then use that in your brand. And communicate it often.
4. Your target demographics and their mindset.
Know who you are trying to reach, and get to know who they are. Why do they make purchases? What are their aspirational groups? If you try and market to everyone, you won’t win. Find your demographic and talk to them. You’ll be much more successful.
5. The logo
The logo is the visual element that will serve as a representation of your brand. It is only one part of the brand, but it is very important. Why? The logo is the cue that people will use to immediately recognize (and often judge) your brand without much cognitive effort. Therefore, your logo needs to be strong, represent the most important elements of your brand, and be easily recognized. I could write a book on this one, but one piece of advice: your logo should communicate on more than just the surface level. Successful logos typically have multiple meanings. Invest in a good logo design.
I am a font nerd, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think that your brand typography may be the most important thing to consider. Correct usage of fonts can not only create a “feeling” or even “voice” for your brand, but it has also been shown that fonts can determine the trust level established with customers. Do a little research on fonts before you settle on one. Determine whether you’re a sans-serif or serif type of brand and then make sure your fonts are legible and readable. Quick tip: in general, try and stay away from scripted fonts…they can be hard to read and are difficult to use in a professional manner.
Although you may not realize it, you have a specific “voice” you use when you talk to your customers. It may be sassy (Menguin) it may be bold (Apple) or it may be professional (Goldman Sachs). Your brand voice should be considered in every piece of communication you make: social media posts, emails, website copy, everything. Determine what voice you want to use and write down a list of the words that should be used in this voice. Maybe even write down a paragraph in your brand voice for reference.
Colors are another vital factor when branding your business. As visual creatures, humans tie colors to certain thoughts and emotions. Think about it: red + green = Christmas, Yellow + Black = Bee, etc. Colors have been studied by psychologists and scientists as to their cognitive associations. Blue tends to evoke trust, purple: luxury, white: cleanliness. Just keep this in mind when choosing colors, and ask people in your key demographic how they feel about your color combinations before you settle on one.
9. Packaging (if you have it).
If you send your customers products, your packaging should reflect your brand. As I mentioned before, a successful brand creates a purchasing experience for it’s customers. So create packaging that is not only reflective of the elements mentioned above, but also evokes some sort of delight. Add a handwritten note, a small gift, or thoughtful layout in your package. Dotcom Distribution found that “52 percent of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from an online merchant that delivers premium packaging.”
10. How you will implement it.
Probably the most difficult tasks when establishing a brand is implementing it. The number one thing to keep in mind….CONSISTENCY! Make sure you establish guidelines on when to use colors, what fonts you use where, where to position the logo, etc. You may create the most beautiful, easily recognizable and perfectly packaged brand in the world, but if you don’t apply it in a methodical, defined way, you lose all of the trust & value you are trying to establish. Having a graphic designer or creative director on staff to implement and protect the brand will help this. And eventually building (and distributing) brand guidelines will help keep this consistency.
These are the main elements I think you should consider when embarking on the branding journey for your business. It is an important one, so pull on your boots, get ready to get knee-deep in the mud, and invest in the endeavor (financially and timewise) … it will all be worth it, trust me.
At Hayseed, we’ve re-branded three companies since May. Each one had a completely different mission and different set of challenges. For Qubowl, we built (from the ground up) a familiar, trust-based brand that was playful yet professional. For Piltdown Outdoor Co., we needed to create a brand that differentiated the company in a vast market. For Menguin, I created a sleeker, more modern brand to better fit their mission & establish consistency across all platforms. Branding is just one of the valuable services we provide at Hayseed. But in my opinion, it is one of the most important (this coming from the designer).