We live in a world of brand communications, where we are bombarded each day with messages from organisations and businesses hoping to catch our attention.
If you are involved in running a start-up or a small business, branding might seem like a low-priority task. After all, can your brand really stand out when there are gigantic multinationals out there spending millions on public relations and marketing?
But branding is not a contest to find out who can shout the loudest; it is a core aspect of the reputation of any business.
In this article we will take a look at how to start branding your business while arming you with some brand-building tips that will prove useful whether your company is just getting off the ground or is well-established and in need of a fresh new look.
Every business has branding associated with it. ’Branding’ describes your business’ name, logo, colours, and even its tone of voice. Even if you make absolutely no effort to create a brand for your business, the reality is that you will still have one - it’s just unlikely to thrive.
From interacting with your business, people will naturally talk about your brand, experience it, and form opinions on it. By ignoring your own brand, you drastically reduce your ability to affect what people come to think about your organisation and the products and services you offer.
Core elements of your branding, such as name or logo, could affect your potential customers’ feeling toward your brand at any stage of the consumer journey, and those feelings could even be subconscious. It’s better to take control over your branding and consider the impact each element has. For example, the blue colour featured in the NHS logo has a calming effect, which presents the organisation as trustworthy. This is appropriate for a Public Health service, and a good example of a brand logo.
By devoting careful planning to your brand communications and applying a brand strategy that connects with every aspect of your business, you could differentiate your company from your competitors in the eyes of your customers and allow for recognition and trust to build.
It can help to think about your brand as the promise you make to your customers. If they are going to experience your brand instead of meeting you in person, make sure that your brand says everything that you would say about your company, and leaves them clear about the values held by your organisation.
When thinking about how to successfully brand your business, the name you give it is paramount. Avoiding names that are hard to pronounce or spell is a good starting point, and you can also whittle down your list of potential names by checking whether they have already been used be other businesses.
Aim for something unique, memorable, and which has relevance to your company's products or services. The handmade donut-selling business based in Nottingham, ‘Doughnotts’, chose a brand name that is directly relevant both to their product and target audience which uses a play-on-words that perfectly represents their fun brand personality.
People are not going to spend as much time analysing your company logo as you do. If they're only going to glance at it for a few seconds, make sure it gives them a clear, simple message that does not confuse your brand. It can help to think of the world's most successful brands here: Nike, Apple, McDonald's – all of which have strikingly simple, memorable logos that have stood the test of time.
Ideally, every touchpoint of your brand will look, feel and sound the same, so that people receive a consistent message no matter where or how they interact with you. That means that the experience they get when they arrive at your website should match up with the experience of walking into your company offices or calling you on the telephone. Think about the type of language your company uses, the atmosphere you want to create, and the way you want to make prospective clients, customers and partners feel.
Re-branding is also a viable option for existing businesses who don’t feel properly represented by their external brand image. This can be tricky, though. Rebranding is a bold decision but can be absolutely necessary, but try to only rebrand once, and do it properly.
Consider every element of your existing brand we’ve covered in this article, and leave no stone unturned. Most importantly, make sure you communicate with your customers. A personalised email sent out to all customers, explaining the reasons behind your decision to rebrand and what you’re looking to achieve by doing it can have such a powerful effect. Existing, happy, customers may then feel even more loyalty toward your new brand identity.
Spend time with a designer picking out a typeface and a colour scheme that will be used across all of your assets and marketing materials. Create a set of brand guidelines that anyone creating work for your company must adhere to. It is important that everything your business creates carries the same look and feel, so that over time people are able to distinguish the work you do from your competitors’, all while building a pleasant familiarity with your brand.
Test your brand out while you are creating it. Run your ideas by your friends and family members, and absolutely take on board the opinions of your staff. Being open to feedback is essential to creating a successful brand, because for it to work it must have a broad appeal.
If you’re in the process of building, re-defining, or marketing your own brand, you may find that it can become expensive. After all, if you aren’t a graphic designer by trade- creating a logo that’s good enough for your business to proudly wear forever isn’t cheap, and that’s just one element of branding we have explored today.