Branding. That ambiguous concept that everyone's talking about. Many companies, from your advertising firm, to your manufacturing company, to your payroll service, now also offer "branding" services. To make sure that word isn't being misused on an invoice to add a line item and you are truly receiving a branding service, it's important that you know the answer to a few questions. What is the definition of a brand? What does a brand do? Isn’t my logo my brand? If you don’t know the answer to these questions there’s a good chance you may need to review your brand.
Well, let's start with what a brand isn't — your brand is not your logo! A common misconception about brand is something I encounter regularly in conversation. When I tell people that I’m a designer of brand communications, the response is often, "Our company already has a logo." That my friends, is what a brand is not. A brand is so much more than simply the image that a consumer associates with your company; a brand is how your customers experience your business.
That said, there is a reason that the logo is the first thing that comes to mind; it is most often the first visual encounter a new or prospective customer has with your business. So while it's not the most important part of your brand, it is a good idea to make sure that your logo is still relevant. If you aren't sure, there are a few simple tips to determine whether it is or if you need to update your logo, and ultimately your brand.
Let’s focus on the logo for a minute. There are certainly companies who have launched with ambiguous names. Google or Apple, for example, created marketing campaigns large enough to nationally explain their brand. Now, if you have access to a budget of that size, you may not have to worry about this. Otherwise, it's a good idea for smaller companies to either state or demonstrate the product in the name and logo. If you sell tires, either the image of a tire, or the word tires should be used in the name and logo — ex. Bob’s Tire Emporium.
First, if you are going to use an easily recognizable illustration or icon, such as a tire, please -- DO NOT USE CLIPART. It is far too recognizable and common, and demonstrates that very little time and effort was put into your logo. Another key way to ensure a good identity, is to always keep your customer in mind. Identify your ideal customer, and shape the logo around what appeals to them -- not to you. Your logo is about attracting customers that will buy your products or services, it is not about your personal preferences.
Here are a couple of quick and easy tests to determine whether your logo needs to be redesigned visually. If your logo doesn’t work in black and white, then it doesn’t work. And I do mean true black and white, not varying shades of grays. Second, clean design is key; make sure your logo is identifiable and readable in both small and large sizes. It should be able to work on both a billboard and a return address label. Keep in mind, your logo will be used in many ways such as print, embroidery, signage, not just the web.
Now, I conceded that a logo is important, and all the above tips will help you determine whether you have a logo worth keeping, but a logo won't grow your business. Only a well-developed overall brand strategy will help you achieve your business growth goals.
It is easier to understand the necessity of a brand strategy once we've defined what a brand is: Brand is the DNA that is embedded in every element of a successful business, including marketing, advertising, public relations, employee training, etc... However, without a well developed brand strategy all of the individual tactics float aimlessly, occasionally interacting, and far too often, colliding with one another. A well developed brand strategy is what connects them and imbeds the DNA of a brand throughout every aspect of an organization.
For example, a strong brand is similar to a set of Russian matryoshka dolls—each component stands securely on its own yet has the same characteristics as the others while fitting perfectly one inside another. A logo is only one doll inspired by the core purpose of the organization, the DNA.
As a brand communications design firm our goal is to educate, and apply a holistic approach to defining those layers, and more importantly provide an outline that will help grow your business.
Get in touch with us today to explore your brand together.