If you have a business, you have a brand. The question is, are you intentionally building an effective brand?
When you’re working on your brand, you’re working on how your business is perceived, and how a business is perceived is crucial to its success. A lack of understanding can lead to some costly mistakes! But fear not - we’ve got you covered with our list of some common pitfalls to avoid, so let’s jump in.
Marketing is defined as the set of strategies you use to actively promote your product, service, and company. Think of marketing as the actions you take to connect with your customers and get them to buy your products or services.
Branding, on the other hand, is about defining who you are as a company. It’s your mission, your values, and what makes you special and unique. It’s your key brand elements, like your logo, your website, and your brand style guidelines (this is where studios like ours come in!).
If marketing is what gets people to engage with your company for the first time, branding is what keeps them coming back for years to come.
DIY your brand and you might be creating problems for your business down the line. It would probably be a bit mean to list out examples of DIY branding disasters, so try to take our word for it. The investment in a long term brand identity is absolutely worthwhile, and can be instrumental in propelling your business forward.
A professional will do the legwork for you by undertaking research into your target market, applying their design expertise to put together an excellent visual identity that speaks to your customer, and collaborating with you through the whole process, so you get to concentrate on the work of running the business. As summed up in one of Steve Jobs’s management principles: focus on what you’re good at and delegate the rest!
Having a brand that is consistent and looks the same across all your marketing activities makes it easier for customers to know and trust you.
Your Brand Guidelines will be a multipage visual document that covers and illustrates all the essential elements of how your brand should come across. For example, you’ll be able to refer to the guidelines for instructions on what brand fonts to use, how to use your colour palette, and the logo do’s and don’ts, among many other essentials.
As well as helping ensure consistency and authenticity across people, departments, channels, and material in-house, they’ll be a major help to any 3rd party professionals you employ to help with marketing, content, graphic design, product design, and more.
Updates and branding strategies that stray too far from the brand origins can sometimes fall flat with your existing customers who have grown attached to your familiar and comforting brand. Failing to honour your roots is a mistake that can lead to a messy tangle of compounding errors.
As we’re sure you have found by now, repeat customers are far better than new ones – not only are they known to spend more, but if they’re well looked after they will also freely market your brand for you. Consider your existing customers’ expectations and history surrounding your brand: how and why it resonates with them, and how an update would enhance or damage this relationship.
Recognize your company's core image and values, and keep them at the forefront of your mind during any redesign process.
While keeping up with current trends can be useful in a marketing context, you cannot rely on them in your branding. Trends by definition fall out of style, so attaching your brand to a passing aesthetic would be a mistake. Consider them instead as inspiration and reference material.
If you feel your current branding identity is looking a bit dated, consult a professional (enter, Pithy Studios!) on what steps can be taken to bring it into the modern age with refinement and finesse. After all, considering how a brand identity might age is part and parcel of the branding process.
Branding can be time consuming and difficult to navigate without the help of professional expertise. Mistakes like these can cost time and money and set you off in an entirely undesirable direction. Thankfully, there are studios like ours who specialise in getting businesses like yours off the ground with some solid branding design that’ll stand the test of time.
Have you run into any of these branding mishaps while developing your business? We’d love to have a chat about how we can get your brand back on track.
Check back next week for part two of this article – five more branding mistakes SMEs should watch out for!