27 Sep Does Your Branding REALLY Represent Your Business The Right Way?
Branding is one of the single most important elements of a company’s ability to grow, retain repeat customers, and ultimately succeed in a competitive marketplace.
Unfortunately, many businesses have a disconnect between what their brand should be representing and what it is representing. Most people tend to think of branding as simply having a consistent theme or “feel” throughout their marketing materials, including things like logos, color schemes, and so on.
While this isn’t wrong by any means—consistency is indeed very important—branding experts understand that successful brand building involves a lot more than, say, having a business card that uses the same colors as your website or employee uniforms.
A simplified way of explaining branding would be to say that it’s a memorable way of conveying a message to your customers… and that’s the question we’d like to explore here today. Does the message you’re projecting actually represent your business correctly?
How Colors and Visuals Convey a Message
The visual elements of your branding strategy are huge (but as we’ll discuss in a moment shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all of your branding efforts).
Considering everything from logo design to color schemes is important because these design elements all convey a nonverbal message about your business. For example, black and white color palettes are generally used to convey formality, sophistication, and balance. Blues are for serenity and calm. Yellow is for energy and fun.
Of course these interpretations can vary from one project to another, but generally speaking, you won’t see youthful brands with neutral color palettes and you won’t see “serious” brands with bright, in-your-face colors.
The point here is that your favorite color might be purple, but it might not be right for your brand.
Typography is even very much worth considering for your brand. What you actually say is important too, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Font selection is more important than it sounds because if you’re maintaining brand consistency, you should be using them throughout most of your marketing materials.
Generally, companies choose a primary and a secondary font, the primary being used for titles and headings and the secondary font being used for paragraph text. The style of font used by a makeup company should be different than the font used by a car company. It’s a little hard to explain, but you know it when you see it—take a look at Mac Cosmetics font selections versus the typography on the Chevrolet website.Your favorite #color might be purple, but it might not be right for your #brand. Click To Tweet
Branding is About More Than Just Looks
At Design Ninjaz, we love thinking about looks. When we design a sleek website or an eye-grabbing brochure for one of our clients, we put a lot of thought into the purely aesthetic appeal of the project. It’s important that your marketing materials look professional.
However, what’s also important are the non-visual elements of branding. These may include the written copy on a website or brochure, the posts you make on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media platforms, or any of the other elements that target senses other than sight, including the scripting for audio and video presentations.
Non-visual considerations outside of design and copywriting exist as well and brand experts are thinking about them—there’s even such a thing as “scent marketing.” Do you think it’s a mistake that Abercrombie & Fitch stores all smell the same?
What about tactile experiences? Diners at Texas Roadhouse are encouraged to throw peanut shells on the floor. (More on this fascinating peanut business in a moment.)
While Design Ninjaz hasn’t entered the scent marketing scene (yet) and our floors are remarkably peanut-free (for now), we do take into great consideration the tone and voice our clients want to project through their brand. Slogans, taglines, and other written content should all be deeply considered and retain brand consistency.
A very basic example of this would be that a high-powered law firm probably shouldn’t have the words “awesome” or “badass” appear too often in their copy. It would go completely against the grain, which is likely to be serious and professional. Similarly, an energy drink company probably wouldn’t describe their product as “resulting in the imbiber feeling quite lively.” Yawn.
In fact, let’s take a look at a real-world example of voice and tone by peeking again at that Texas Roadhouse blog post about the peanuts:
Your business might not benefit from using the word “y’all” in your copy, but for an establishment like Texas Roadhouse, it’s perfect.
Branding Efforts Should Have a Core Concept
Focusing branding efforts on a core concept actually requires a lot more thought than you would first imagine. A core concept is the primary message that your branding needs to convey.
“We produce blue widgets, therefore our branding should focus on blue widgets!” is usually how the thought process goes. In some cases it might be that simple, but it usually isn’t.
Some businesses offer only a singular service or product. For example, most of the time a plumber would more or less singularly offer plumbing services (unless they’re Mario, in which case they may also offer princess-saving services). A car wash usually offers pretty much exactly what’s on the tin—car washing services.
In this case, branding is sometimes focused on the elements of a business that make it unique or better than the competition. Everyone knows what a car wash is supposed to do, so why should they go to your car wash? Maybe there’s something special about the soap, or your quarter machine is never out of service.
On the flipside, there are plenty of businesses that offer many different kinds of services or products. Usually, these offers fall under the same category but can become highly specialized. For example, the same insurance company that sells basic health coverage might also offer something called “multiple birth insurance,” which is for highly virile men who find themselves deeply fearful of producing triplets with their partner (just kidding, but kinda-not-really).
You’ve probably never seen a commercial for multiple birth insurance, but you’ve probably seen ten or twenty thousand genericized insurance commercials, usually presenting the service as a safety net of sorts. That’s because even though they sell highly specialized products and services, they know what their core message is.
The point here is that your branding should reflect your core products or services. Don’t try to cast too wide of a net—it can do more harm than good, even when you’ve been given advice ad nauseum to “niche down.”Your #branding should reflect your core products or services. Don’t try to cast too wide of a… Click To Tweet
Training Employees is Part of Branding Too
Your employees are more than just the people who show up for work every day to keep your business afloat: they’re the ambassadors of your brand. They’re on the front lines of your company, and it’s up to them to help you maintain brand consistency.
How do your employees answer the phone? How do they dress? How do they treat your customers or clients?
An employee at a skateboard shop will (and should) do all of these things much differently than a receptionist at a commercial real estate firm. The real question here is whether or not your employees understand the core concepts of your branding efforts, and does it show in their work? Because it should.
Don’t Fail to Get to Know Your Target Audience
The best people to tell you whether or not your branding efforts are working and feel “right” for your business are your customers.
Customer surveys and changing marketplaces are often what prompt businesses to undergo rebranding. Perhaps the most famous example of this in recent memory is the 2010 Old Spice rebrand. The company realized that they were perceived as the brand of choice for older men and competitors such as Axe were scooping up the younger demographics. They began developing commercials (which have since become famous in the marketing community) that very effectively captured the attention of younger people, making Old Spice cool again.
When was the last time you conducted a survey? Have you examined the evolving marketplace for your industry lately? What trends are you seeing? Should you stay where you are, or should you pivot?
These are all great questions to ask yourself to see if your current branding efforts are actually in line with what the public wants and expects.
Here’s a quick tip to see if your branding is grabbing attention where you think it is: have your employees gently ask new customers and clients about how they discovered your company. Maybe they heard a radio ad, saw you on Facebook, or were referred by a friend. Ask your employees to keep a record of these reports and compare against what you expected. Sometimes the answers will surprise you.
Assessing Your Brand & Learning More
We hope that this post has given you some food for thought and acts as a starting point for assessing your brand. The big takeaways here are:
- Even seemingly small visual elements like typography are important.
- Branding isn’t just about the visual elements.
- Expressing your core service or product should be a focus of your brand.
- Your employees are your brand ambassadors.
- Brand consistency is important.
If you’d like a trained eye to look over things for you, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll send a Ninja over right away.