If you have a logo, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a brand. A brand is a sum of all the things that make up your company, and that communicate a specific message. A brand is the big picture, the impression you leave, and the image you project. Many companies use this to their advantage to build loyalty and associate emotions with purchasing their product or service. Coca-Cola is probably the most famous example, associating coke with happiness.
For most brand’s their logo is at the center of their brand assets (logos, taglines, brand images, icons, etc.), but you don’t have to have a logo to have a brand. Take Taylor Swift, or almost anybody in the entertainment industry for example. Taylor’s brand is, quite literally, her. There is no logo that comes to mind, or even a specific graphic, it’s Taylor. Even though she doesn’t have a logo, there is still an image and message that Taylor Swift wants to project. For Swift that message is authenticity and “you can know the real Taylor”. When you pour through her social media accounts, website, albums, concerts, etc. you will start to notice a reoccurring theme, that can only be summed up as authentic. This is intentional and strategic.
Developing a brand is a strategic move that runs through out the whole business. AirBnB is a prime example, their company centers around connecting travelers with unique lodging through a robust community. AirBnB’s message is very evident in their marketing and branding. Their website is full of little goodies that let you make the experience uniquely yours. You can create your own variation of the AirBnB logo, share stories about your travel experiences, order custom printed merchandise, and more. AirBnB’s experience on their website reflects their brand message of “travel as unique as you”.
For small businesses and startups paying attention to branding can mean the difference between one store and one hundred, ten app downloads or ten thousand. In our society, consumer’s expect companies to have it all together, and that means that your company has to have more than just a logo slapped on everything. Milennials and the rising Generation Z often use their first impressions of a business as a filtering mechanism. Recent studies have found that young Millennials and Gen Z consumers run everything through an “8-second filter” before deciding whether or not that business or article is worthy of their time. For businesses, this means that you only have 8 seconds to make a meaningful impression. If your company has not put the energy into developing a clear branding message, you will likely lose that business to someone else who has.
Developing a brand does not mean that you have to go out and hire a marketing agency and drain your profits. Good branding is about consistently projecting one message in every part of your business: visual identity, purchasing process, customer experience, retail location, website, etc. Developing a brand is all about keeping the core message in the forefront of your mind as you make strategic business decisions.
The best place to start developing a clear branding message is to put pen to paper. What do you want people to take away from your business? What is the core message? What are you projecting now? Brain storm several key phrases before deciding on what your core branding message will be. Think through where you want to take the business and where you are now.
After you have nailed down what you want to project, it is time to evaluate everything. Your branding should permeate all aspects of your business from your business cards to your website to your contract. That does not mean that everything needs to be designed to the T, but it is smart to evaluate everything your customer touches with the question “Does this match what I want people to say about my business?”. Below is a list of parts of your business you might want to evaluate.
After you have identified areas that you could improve, take time to note what it is that you don’t think is working. Create a list in order of easy fixes to total overhaul and go ahead and knock out the easy ones. For the more difficult ones, make a plan for how you are going to address them. Do you need to hire a copywriter? Do you need to find a developer? Some of the more difficult challenges will require more than just an afternoon pounding away at the keyboard, and to make them happen you will need to build it into your budget.
Realized that your website, logo, or marketing materials are not up to par? Contact me to discuss what we can do to improve your branding. I work strategically with startups and small businesses to design competitive branding and develop websites that actually work.
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