Branding is one of the biggest focuses – and pain points – for businesses across every industry. It’s an overwhelming concept that has been misconstrued, inaccurately-defined and inflated to be a “silver bullet” for boosting sales. Branding is an exceptional marketing tool, but we need to refocus on what’s really important when it comes to creating a professional and consistent brand that resonates with your people.
Before you even mention the word “logo,” you must be sure that you have fully thought through the many other layers of your brand’s appearance. What does your business represent? What do you want to communicate? What are you really selling? The answer to these questions provide the foundation for a strong brand.
Ready to dive in? Let’s get started by looking at what your brand’s appearance really needs to accomplish in order to connect with your buyers.
Your brand’s appearance needs to…
Resonate with your target audience
Many business owners approach creating a brand as a fun opportunity to design a logo, T-shirts, mugs and pens that appeal foremost to themselves. I’m willing to bet you know a few examples of exactly what I’m describing here. A business unveils its new “brand” that is little more than a logo that has been printed on anything that didn’t move.
The first cringe-worthy detail of this scenario is the mistake that a logo equals a brand. Wrong. A logo should come as one of the very final pieces of branding, once you are very clear on your messaging, target audience, look and feel. Next, is spending money you don’t have printing this logo on items that won’t directly result in profit. Finally, is creating a brand based solely upon your personal preference of colors and design. What about your target audience? Are they going to connect with this brand?
Your brand presents your business – your baby – but unfortunately, it just not about you. It’s about the people to whom you are trying to sell. Your target audience’s demographics and common traits should be the first consideration when establishing the appearance of your brand.
Match your product or service
Next, your brand’s appearance needs to match your product or service. We just talked about how your brand needs to resonate with your target audience, well now it also needs to complement what you are trying to sell. The psychology of colors has been heavily studied which is why health products are often green, food products are often red and bridges are never yellow. It may sound cliché or overused, but it works and there’s a reason why the most successful brands have carefully matched their appearance with their product or service.
For example, maybe you are trying to sell boutique children’s toys to a high-end clientele. The branding and packaging needs to feel exclusive, expensive and quality. A mismatch in brand appearance would be selecting something in dark gray tones with cheap looking font and gimmicky messaging like “The first and only train set your child will ever want!” To sell high-end, you must reflect high-end.
Reflect who you are AND who you want to become
A strong and relevant brand will reflect who you are right now and give you room to grow into the business you want to be. Often businesses will limit themselves with a brand that feels outdated and unprofessional in a matter of a few years. You may be on a shoe-string budget, but you don’t want your brand’s appearance to reflect that. Look the part of the company you want to be in 10 years – today! An investment in creating a quality brand will always pay you back with interest in the future.
Make people feel something
People don’t want to be sold something and they don’t want to be told something, rather they want to feel something. Sell people through the emotion you create with your brand’s appearance. Start by listing the values that are most important to your business. This could be family-owned, local roots, organically grown, giving back to the community or encouraging continuing education among employees. Whatever makes it to the list, be sure to use these to connect with your target audience through your brand.
Some ways to emotionally-charge your brand is to incorporate your “story” into your website and marketing materials. Tell people about your struggles and triumphs that led you to where you are today. This will make your brand real, relatable and memorable.
Be professional and consistent
Finally and most importantly, you need to have a brand whose appearance is professional and consistent across all methods of communication. Ideally, this means using the same graphic designer or marketing firm to ensure consistency. If you are doing it in-house, use the same artist to design every piece.
First, keep your brand professional by investing in high-quality images and fonts. Paying a little bit for these resources makes a huge difference on the finished product. Next, remain consistent by updating each and every marketing tool (website, social media accounts, business cards, newsletter template, brochure, email signature, invoices, etc) with our new colors, logos and design. The professionalism and consistency of your brand directly reflects upon the professionalism and consistency clients will expect to receive from your services.
Out of the five points highlighted above, how many does YOUR brand accomplish? What are some areas for improvement? Share your thoughts by commenting below!