Why take branding seriously?
Branding is something that business owners ought to be taking seriously. However, most freelancers, sole proprietors and small business owners don’t think branding needs to be done properly in the beginning stages of a business. This can be problematic for various reasons. This blog will cover why it is important to establish a great brand from the get-go of your business, rather than waiting for the ideal time to create a brand that matters and is worth it.
What are some of the branding mistakes that are being made:
- Often, due to budget restraints, start-ups and individuals pay inexperienced individuals to create brands for them.
The reason this could be a concern: inexperienced individuals who might have talent in design, don’t always do brand research to create a strong brand that will stand the test of time. Brand research involves understanding the client’s industry, researching competitors, researching target audience and what the ideal target audience views and likes, and researching and developing a personality brand that appeals to the client authentically as well as communicates strategically to the client’s ideal target audience.
- Often, due to budget restraints (yes again), start-ups and individuals create a brand prematurely, with the knowledge to rebrand later on, when funds become available.
Often at the start of the business, the company personality has not been fully established, and that plays a vital part in the brand value of a business. I see many businesses that started quite simply, that when they do a rebrand, they are able to go as powerful as they want without disturbing the current clientele’s perception of the brand. The problem comes in when a brand precedent has been set. For example, many businesses start with something that doesn’t represent them at all, something that looks like a poorly designed Word Art, logo rather than a well-designed, sophisticated and simple logo. The type of client that is wowed by a Word Art logo, is possibly not your ideal client, or a client that will pay a lot. Consumers value logos, as logos are the first impression they get of the business they are dealing with. You are possibly risking setting a poor brand reputation. First impressions count. And if you don’t have paying consumers as a result of a poor logo, how will you gain enough funds for a rebrand in the future?
- Brands and brand power are underestimated.
Why is a brand important? As mentioned above it’s the first impression a client will have of you. It sets the tone of your business, of your business activities, and of your values. It needs to shout who you are and what you do. Think iconic brands like Nike, Coca Cola and Apple. Apple has gone through many rebrands, and the rebrands have been closely linked to the owner or main decision maker in Apple at the time. Jobs, who had a rebel nature, saw the apple as wholesome (a concept deriving from Eden), but also saw it as forbidden fruit, a possible symbol of the unobtainable, the desirable. Apple products always shouted innovation. The products were premium, sexy, desired. And consequently, the logo, stood as an icon for the values of quality and innovation (https://www.logodesignteam.com/blog/apple-logo-history/ . If you want a business that is to become iconic, your brand message should come through easily. Your brand visuals should also be connected to your products and brand message. They need to correlate and not be disparate.
Your brand is the identity and personality of your business. With it, you have the power to impact. If used correctly, your brand will be liked. People will admire a brand, just as they admire people. People will be attracted to it. And similarly, if the brand is poorly executed, people can also not be attracted to a brand, and have feelings of distrust and discomfort.
Take care of your brand, and your brand will take care of you.
- What you do isn’t represented in the brand.
Although we would all like to aspire to be a Apple or Coca Cola, we are often not and need to be more practical with our brand positioning. I see many brands, and think okay, I see many flowers. Does your business revolve around flowers, or the feminine, or do you have a niche or unique product that somehow applies to flowers? Oh, wait? You do networking events?! Do you showcase flowers during the event? Is one of your personality traits, being a flower child? No? So why flowers? Answer: “Flowers were just pretty….” Or “flowers remind me of my grandmother.” And I am here to be harsh. I understand the sentiment. My first business also had a symbol that was closely connected to me, but few understood what it had to do with my business. The apple in Apple was integrated as part of the quirk personality of Apple. It showed the rebellion nature against other more formal tech companies at the time. Yet, Microsoft, in 2012 saw an obvious connection and embraced the physical symbol of a window for the windows system, that acted as interface and fit the Microsoft brand (https://www.logodesignteam.com/blog/microsoft-logo-design-history-microsoft-brand/).
Easy solutions to breach the gap between the brand and what the business does do exist: simple taglines, representative iconography and business names, all are methods to ensure that your ideal audience knows what you do.
In conclusion, make sure that you know yourself and how your personal values effect your brand personality and brand values, before rushing into a brand that is not authentic and representative of you. Also ensure that your brand isn’t all about you – it needs to communicate clearly with your target audience. It’s sometimes difficult to let your baby go, but your brand is about your client, as much as it is about your values.
And lastly, make sure that your brand designer takes time to get to know you, and put the research into your business to ensure that your brand offers a unique visual user experience, yet competes within your market. Don’t allow pretty for pretty’s sake. Rather ensure that pretty and strategy walk hand in hand to become the singular vision and icon for your business identity.