“Having a powerful brand is vital in today’s economy, it can be the difference between a business that blends in with the crowd or stands out from the competition“
– Athena Varmazis, vice president and general manager, Small Business Services, American Express Canada.
Branding is NOT a logo. A logo is PART OF your brand.
Branding is NOT marketing. Marketing is something that you DO using your brand to support it.
Branding communicates to anyone who’s looking – what you are, what your business is, what you are about. Everything that makes you “you” is what branding seeks to express.
This is conveyed in various ways including;
– your logo
– your colour palette
– your typefaces
– your imagery
– your choice of paper stock
– your music choice
– your tone of voice
– your customer service
– your tagline
Branding helps you to STAND OUT from everyone else. It helps your business to look the business. Effective branding gives you personality and character and helps your customers to get an idea of what’s really important to you, what your values and vision are.
Branding is how your customers perceive you. So it’s important to think about:
1. How you want your business to be perceived.
2. What the values of your business are
3. What the vision of your business is
4. What other businesses in your niche, selling similar things to you, are doing and how you can stand out from them and offer something more attractive.
An example of this is Rachel’s Organic Butter which has black packaging so that it stands out in the chiller section from all the other butters on offer – lots of gold, yellow and greens. Have a look next time you go to the supermarket.
This is exactly what branding does – it helps you to stand out so that you don’t blend in. It helps you to succeed. It helps your business to SHOUT OUT from all the other businesses “Hey! Look at me! I am different and better than all of them, pick me, pick me”
Branding is about:
– promoting trust
– setting expectations
– communicating your personality
– reinforcing your messages
– differentiating your business from others
Branding is consistent. This means that you don’t use a different font every time you write a letter or have three different logos to pick from. You don’t do some things in purple stripes and other things in lime green with spots. The aim with branding is to ensure that all your different methods of communication look and feel the same, so that if a customer gets an email newsletter from you they recognise it as being from you and feel comfortable with it because it has so many similarities to your website or your Facebook fan page. Consistency is not about making sure that every single thing you do looks exactly the same, but that it conveys the same message everywhere.
Great examples of consistent branding include:
There’s a good article all about the consistent branding of these companies here. All of these companies are successful and have maintained consistent branding over time which means that even though there are lots of competitors for them, they still stand out from the crowd. They are memorable and their consistency makes them trustworthy. People know exactly what to expect.
Here are eight ways that you can improve consistency in your own brand now:
– Become clear on your message. What do you do? Why do you do it? What are your values? What do you want to convey about your business? Who do you want to communicate to?
– If you are using more than one logo, pick one. Or if you are not settled on your logo – the chances are that none of them really suit you down to the ground – have your logo redone. Your designer should ask you lots of great questions which will get you thinking about your business and come up with a logo which epitomises your business.
– Use your logo EVERYWHERE. Your logo is not your brand, but it’s an important part of it. You want to ensure that people see your logo, remember it and associate it with your brand values. Make sure they see it.
– If your logo came with brand guidelines – USE THEM! This will ensure that you are using your logo consistently and correctly. You should find that the brand guidelines include your colour palette and typeface, make sure that all your methods of communication are in line with this.
– If you don’t have brand guidelines, then take some time to create brand guidelines for your brand. This means that you need to think about the colours – by which I mean the exact shades (you can do this here) – that you’re going to use as your brand, your typefaces, the type of imagery you’re going to use (photographs, illustrations, the perspective and style of these) and how things will be laid out. You’ll need to be really specific and consider how each of these areas communicates about your brand. Here are some examples of brand guidelines from around the world that you can look at to see how you could do this. Once created, your brand guidelines will make it much easier to achieve brand consistency.
– If you have staff make sure that they understand how important it is to be consistent with your branding and that they have copies of the brand guidelines that they can use for reference. They might not like all of it. I know someone who has to use garamond to write all of her emails, signs etc. and she hates it, but it’s important to use the same font so that it’s clear where each piece of communication is from.
– Brand up your social media experience so that when people visit you there they can connect your profile with your brand immediately, and you are conveying the same things.
– Make some branded templates. For example, make a template for your powerpoint presentations so that they always look the same, make a branded letterhead, make branded email signatures for everyone – you can do this with everything that you use so that every time you send something to anyone you are reinforcing your branding.