Last week – as you may know if you like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter – we went camping. We arrived at 7pm after setting off considerably later than intended because of the game of tetris that my husband had to play to get everything in the car. The sky was a bit grey and threatening looking and when we unpacked the tent we scratched our heads for a while and had to work out how it all fitted together. Fortunately we were staying with friends so there was lots of help, and even though it was actually raining by the time the tent went up, it was pretty quick to do.
The tent (and I am not a tent expert so excuse the lack of proper terminology!) had an outside bit, a ground sheet, two rooms to attach inside, two types of pole and lots of tent pegs. At first we though the pegs were missing but they were just hiding under the tent (phew!)
Without all of these bits (and a mallet) it would have been quite tricky to put the tent up and live in it for a week. As with many things, you need all the right components to make sure that it works. Without the rooms, we’d have been sleeping on the grass, without the pegs, we wouldn’t have been able to put it up, without the outside part, we’d have got very wet! (It rained quite heavily in between the sunshine and the tent didn’t leak at all), without the ground sheet we’d have had grass as our living room floor, without the poles it would just have been a crumpled heap.
With branding it’s just as important to ensure that you have all the elements that you need to build a strong brand that will just work.
In my last post I talked about the importance of consistency, but I also brushed on other topics that are essential to think about in order to make your brand work. Things which you need to consider to make sure that your brand holds together just as well as the tent did even in the rain and wind.
Your logo should be an expression of your brand values, it should indicate what you do and what you’re about and be a strong part of your brand. It should be easily identifiable as “yours”, along with your branding. The logo for R J Elliott Dental Technician – is easily identifiable as his. It’s a face made from the initials to indicate that the business is all about improving smiles (through making false teeth) and also that it’s a friendly place to go. It’s also important to consider placement, how much space is needed around the edge of your logo, the minimum size that it can be used, where it looks best on a page – and then stick to that as much as possible.
Colours are SO important. I’ll definitely be writing more about colour as it fascinates me. Colours all have different meanings and like it or not they convey a different impression depending which colour – and which hue and intensity – you choose. For example – as a very brief run-down, yellow can indicate optimism, confidence, friendliness and creativity but can also indicate fear, emotional fragility or depression depending on the tone used and it’s relationship with other colours in the scheme. Room Makeovers used orange and green in their branding to show reassurance, harmony, passion, balance and refreshment. (They are also THE place to go if you need colour advice for your home or business)
Typefaces are another way to express the personality of your business. They need serious consideration as the wrong typeface can cause issues of legibility as well as conveying the wrong message. This doesn’t mean that you have to stick to Arial all the time, but that you will need to determine which fonts and styles are used for different purposes ie. as body text or headlines. Once you’ve decided this then it’s important to be consistent with this. I often recognise who a letter is from due to the typeface my address is typed in, or the handwriting of the sender. Your chosen typeface could become as synonymous with your brand as your logo.
The imagery you use will also say something about your business. It’s important to think about this from the outset as this will give you the greatest opportunity to communicate through your imagery straight away. You might want to consider using a professional photographer so that all of your photographs will have a consistent look and feel. Or you may want to use photographs to tie in with your branding using illustration. Examples of this are Grow up Green who had her photographs taken by Mandy Charlton and then overlayed with illustration in keeping with her brand and Gems who has used stock photography and incorporated this into her brand style. Or you may prefer to use illustrations which all have the same style. See the Applause Accountancy Facebook page for how this works with their owl illustrations.
If you are selling something really expensive and fantastic, why would you print your leaflets on thin shiny paper? The paper that you choose also
gives an impression of your business. This is also an opportunity to think about your values in terms of the environment, you may prefer to use recycled paper for example. You may also like to think about finishing touches to help your print work stand out such as spot varnish, lamination, foil blocking, letterpress or a whole host of other options that your designer is sure to talk through with you if they are appropriate. These things will cost more, but it might be worth it depending on what you do and who your customers are.
If you own a shop selling pastel painted furniture and you play Slipknot what will that say to your customers? The music you play in places where your customers will be is as important to conveying your brand values as your visual image. It can also be useful to find a piece of music that embodies what your business is about and who you are. When I designed the logo for Mandy Charlton, I literally immersed myself in her chosen song in an attempt to get inside her business and found it very useful!
I am not a copy writer, but I do understand that the words that you use to talk about your business are very important in order to convey what you do and why people should buy from you. Everything a potential client reads about you will need to make sense, be spelt and punctuated correctly, encourage the reader to want to work with you/ buy from you and be interesting enough to read through to the end. This includes the copy on your website, on the about section on social media, on sales letters, on emails, on your business card, in brochures and on leaflets. Make every word count.
Marketing is something that you do using your brand. Your brand conveys what your business is and what your values are – marketing helps to get your business known and put your brand in front of your target audience. This includes things like Market Research, Social Media Marketing, having a plan to put your business in front of the right people and knowing exactly how that’s going to happen with a staged plan. Examples of marketing include: writing a post on Facebook, running a campaign, arranging some PR, putting on an event and emailing your list.
So you have all of this stuff – your logo, your guidelines, you know which colours and fonts to use, your photographer has taken some amazing shots that you know you’ll use again and again, you’ve got your website and social media all looking beautiful and consistent and your leaflets are not only beautiful and eye-catching, but every word has been agonised over and there’s no way that anyone with half a brain won’t want to buy your product or service after they’ve seen all that.
Then they buy something from you. What happens next? You have firm values which have influenced everything that you’ve done up to this point. One of them is probably quality (this is on EVERYONE’S list until you define it a bit further) maybe you said you were friendly and honest? Anyway, you send off your parcel or deliver your service and you don’t smile, or you don’t say thank you, or they complain that the standard isn’t good enough…
My point being, it doesn’t matter how good your branding is. If people notice your business and they start to interact with you on social media, send you an email, call you up, buy something, complain about something – and your business is not demonstrating the same values as your brand – then you’re doing yourself a dis-service and throwing your money away. If you’ve said that your cushions are really well made, that they wash well and that they’ve been decorated by hand and then you post them and they arrive crumpled with stitches falling out, then you’re not living up to your brand and you need to reconsider. All the branding in the world can’t make a business that’s bad good. That starts with you.
So there you have it – once you’ve sorted all of that out then you can put up your tent safe in the knowledge that you’ve got everything you need for your brand to work from start to finish, and just like us needing help to put our tent up on holiday, you don’t have to do it all yourself. There are plenty of designers, web developers, printers, photographers, copy writers and marketers who can advise you on every step.
If you’d like to talk to me about how I can help you to create a brand that is consistent, strong and really communicates what you’re about, then please get in touch.