What is branding?
You’ve heard the phrase first impressions count. But did you know it only takes 10secs to form that first impression, regardless of whether it’s good or bad/online or offline? So, what is branding, why do you need one and how much should you be investing?
It’s the same as dating; you want to leave them needing to know more about you after the first date, to tell their friends they’ve ‘met someone special’ and arrange the 2nd, 3rd, 4th date… until they fall madly in love with you and want to be with you forever (just don’t tell them you’re seeing multiple people, you want to make them feel special).
Branding is what people expect, experience and remember about you when you’re not (physically) in the room to woo them. A strong well-designed brand is a promise, to always understand its audience’s fears, desires, wants and needs. It can communicate with them on a deep level. If your brand was a person how would they walk, talk, dress, what would its values be? This impression should be consistent across every touchpoint; from how they are greeted at the door, to visiting your website; did they feel part of something special, understood, empowered? Did you leave that lasting impression?
A good brand designer will always design a brand that stays true to what your business stands for and is able to capture the true essence of what makes you unique.
The Expert & The Innovative Competitor
A couple of years ago I was emailed by a man who had run a chiropractic clinic in London for over 25 years. His request was for a new logo. Before I emailed him back I Googled his business to see what his current branding was like and get a feel for the business and what he offered. I found his (pretty old) website and saw that his logo wasn’t bad. It was the name of the clinic with a picture of a hand above it (granted it wasn’t the best logo I had seen but it was self-explanatory). So what was the need for the new logo and why now?
Before I agreed to take the project on I needed to know a little more what he was hoping to achieve from updating it. So I arranged a good time to call and discuss the project. Our conversation went like this:
Client: I need a new logo because It’s old and I’ve had it a long time.
Me: OK, but old doesn’t mean bad if it’s working. Why now?
Client: Because I need to stand-out more. In the last year, a new practice has opened down the road and lots of people are going there. (I quickly googled his competitor)
Me: But why do you think they’re going there?
Client: They look newer and trendier that’s why I want to stand out more be a little bit more modern?
Me: OK, but again, trendier doesn’t mean better. If I wanted to go to the doctor, I would potentially want someone with more experience in the field rather than someone right out of school.
Client: Ok so how do I compete with them?
Me: You don’t have to compete. You both offer the same service in the same location but you’re both offer very different experiences. You have years more experience, he has a visible brand presence, his website matches his leaflets, his social media, his A-board out front; all of which are celebrating the fact they use the latest technology. He has consistency and visibility which reassures people. You’d benefit so much more from bringing your brand into alignment (no pun intended!) and focus on your uniqueness: experience and expertise.
The key point to take-away here is that on its own a logo won’t make you stand out to new clientele, you have to look at what a brand stands for as a whole. A logo is an asset to a brand, it helps people identify one business from the other, but a brand is why people choose you over the other choices. You’ve never decided on a company because their logo looks cool (or maybe you have, who am I to judge), but you don’t stick with a brand just for a picture.
A lot of my clients come to me already having self-diagnosed the reasons why they may be struggling or why people ‘just aren’t interested’. But the truth is they often just treat the symptoms with quick solutions, not the root cause of why their business is not getting noticed. This is when having a clear brand identity will set up for great things.
What can a brand do for me & my small business?
- Make selling easier
- Future-proof your business
- Find it easier to attract and retain clients
- Build a community that loves you and what you sell
- Charge more (People are always willing to pay more for brands that they believe in)
- Give you clarity and focus moving forward
- Aligns you to your target audience
- Keeps you on track while growing your business
- Spend less on promotional campaigns
- Shouts about you even when you’re not in the room
I don’t have a brand, It’s just me running the show…
Nope! You do have a brand. If you are the face of your business and people tune in to see what you’re up to next then this is called personal branding. If you talk to all your clients in a certain way i.e informal/as an expert etc. Or you only use blue for your content, or your clients love that every time they visit you, they feel like they’re catching up with a friend, that is a brand.
A lot of my clients are personal trainers and they are their own brand (almost like a certain famous family that has a reality TV show…). You have to decide early on if personal branding is right for you. Do you want to be front and centre stage? With a personal brand people will follow you for you. You have that magic that they aspire to.
For example: Let’s say you’re a Yoga instructor. You might be a master of Vinyasa yoga and your flow might be the same as the other instructors out there, so why do people choose you? Because of ‘you’; your values, your charm, your calm soothing voice or upbeat persona, your amazing yoga pants, the easy recipes your share to go along with your classes and how you make everyone in the room feel like they are part of an exclusive tribe. Read more about personal brands for wellness businesses here.
Your magic is what will always set you apart and help you claim your spot in the market. Building brand awareness can be both easy and difficult and that’s why brand designers (like me) work with you to establish a strong framework that you and your audience will love and what your business stands for.
I’m only a small start-up, do I need a brand?
Honestly, it depends. Like I mentioned above, a brand is what your business stands for. A strong brand helps to accelerate success faster than not having one. I always ask my clients what they want to achieve? Most of them want to make more money and become successful. A brand will build that legacy, a strong community and safeguard your businesses in the market. Still not sure? Here are two points to help you decide:
Case one: If you’re just looking to test the water with a new product or service to see if there is a market for it; I would say no to a full brand identity at this moment as it is not necessarily essential and your business is not at the stage where it needs a brand. A logo will be enough of a presence at this stage. But do bear in mind that the logo you choose at this point will be what you need to stick with, should you expand into a full-on brand later. Why? Because consistency is what creates trust. If you drastically change your logo (at any stage) you run the risk of losing that trust you’ve built and leave your audience confused. I would always find a designer that knows you and your business and stick with them for the long-haul should you be ready to branch out into a full brand later.
Case Two: You may have been running your business for quite some time and are looking to take it to the next level but have no idea how. Maybe-your struggling to find new clients, stand out in a noisy space or want to up your prices but have lacked success? A brand will leap-frog you to the next stage of your business and build a strong and safe foundation for getting you to where you want to be.
Case Three: If this is something you’ve dreamed of for years or months and you whole-heartedly know that you’ve got something special or maybe you’ve been doing what you’re doing for quite a while, you just haven’t formalised it yet, then yes a brand will help you accelerate your successes much faster. A good brand designer will work with you to build something special that speaks to your audience and something you can grow into, that will stay true to your business and it’s needs.
How much does a brand cost?
This is a tricky question.
Remember your brand is the essence of your business and your business is the essence of your brand. A brand strategist will work with you to design a brand that can connect and communicate with your audience which can translate to higher sales, higher profit and better retention of your clients and patrons. So rather than thinking of it as a cost, think of it as an investment into the success and longevity of your business.
An approximate investment can range depending on the designer. My stance is hiring a pro will actually cost you less in the long run and potentially increase your revenue faster than DIY-ing it or opting for a freelance marketplace. An experienced brand consultant & designer will charge from £1’500+. But prices can reach as high as £10’000+ if you choose an agency. For most small businesses a brand designer will be the preferred option. Making sure you choose someone whose niche aligns with your industry is what you’re aiming for. For example, as a brand consultant & designer, my niche is in health, fitness & wellness. I know a lot of people in that industry and my long experience and knowledge of this space is why people hire me to stand out and make impact.
What goes into Designing a Strong Successful Brand?
|Market Research||Understand the market & who your competitors are.|
|Brand Discovery & Strategy||This stage is about establishing your target audience and what their fears, desires, wants & needs are. It is also defining your goals, values & telling your story ‘why’.|
|Brand Design & Styling||Logo design, tone of voice, colour palette, photography style as well as a number of ancillary design decisions and accompanying media.|
|Website Design||Making sure your online presence aligns with all the previous stages to spark action.|
|Brand Guidelines||A document that you and your team can always refer back to for clarity and audience on the brand and keep on track with future media and projects.|
|Launch||Once all aspects of the brand are refined or re-developed its time to create hype around your brand and celebrate its launch.|
There’s a lot that goes into creating an irresistible brand. A good brand designer will always work closely with you to understand your business inside-out, to achieve the most effective results and weave a sustainable strategy into its framework.
Remember, as with all things in life you get what you pay for. I often have people say to me “But I’ve found someone who will design me a logo and colour palette for £100.” And my response is usually A. that’s great but that is a completely different service, and B. If that’s what you feel your business is at right now, then that’s the right option for you.
I love helping people look, sound and feel confident and safe in their business and believe that every savvy entrepreneur deserves a brand that empowers them to be the best and spark action among their audience. I want to help them live life without competing for sales (because we’re not all natural-born salesman) and thrive in their space. They deserve to own a brand that’s shouts about them when they’re not in the room, does most of the legwork for them and leave them time to run the business they dream of.