By Ed Carter at ablefutures.org
Branding is often the divider between a successful business and a middling one, and yet it’s still a commonly overlooked aspect of the work process by many entrepreneurs. Much of the reason for this comes down to a misunderstanding of what branding is and how to manage it consistently. In this first-look guide, Sign Biz explores its definitions, the way it can affect consumer interactions, and how to begin implementation.
In a sentence, branding is the identity of your business in the minds of the consumer. It is both critical for your business’s long-term success and challenging to get right. Developing a solid brand requires commitment, planning, and diligent work.
The question, then, is how can we shape and mold this identity in a way that is favorable for the company and, ultimately, its bottom line? For generations, brands have achieved this with the best creative talent. A few hundred highly-skilled copywriters, graphic designers, and marketing managers working in sync can sculpt a brand identity that is unmistakable in the mind of the consumer.
This creative team will attack three key components: voice, values, and design.
Your brand’s values are the guiding principles. It helps if you and your team also believe and abide by these values – often, companies will suggest they stand for one thing and then, internally, do something else. Your brand values will endear you to different sets of consumers, as well as affect business decisions and PR activity.
Your brand’s voice alludes to the way your brand speaks to its customers/clients through marketing and in all external-facing, company-related media. It should be built to reflect your key demographics and to help drive internal company OKRs (objectives and key results). This means that you have a set tone of writing and a specific lexicon that your writers will draw upon. If you are a B2B financial consultancy, this is more likely to be formal, jargonistic, and direct. If you are a consumer-facing teenage makeup brand, you may opt for something more casual and laissez-faire.
As the consumer’s first touchpoint, the design of your brand is arguably its most important component. Modern consumers will form a perception of your company immediately based on the colors you use, the shape of your typography, and the style of your logo. This is why it’s crucial to know exactly who you’re targeting, their preferences, their spending habits and to craft aesthetics around this data.
It’s important to note that all three branding components feed off one another. Ideally, your brand values should affect the way your company looks, and occasionally the way your company looks can feed back on the way it sounds or the things it purports to believe.
If you’re on a shoestring or you’re confident enough in your own artistic sensibilities, it’s also possible to do much of the legwork on your own. For example, you can sketch out and provide examples of logos you like, then ask your local sign shop designer to build a logo for you. The shop professionals know good design, effective logotypes. You could also try following one of the many online guides to craft your own brand voice — employing it across social media and on your company site.
Once you have the foundations of branding in place, you’ll often find that the next steps (to do with marketing, sales, customer service, etc.) reveal themselves. For now, your main priority should be to craft a truly unique, personal identity that resonates with clients/customers and to stick with it consistently.
Credits: Photo Top- Pexels, Eva Bronzini