Why you need a great brand (and how to build one!)
In simple terms, a brand is the personality of your business and how others see it. Great brands such as Apple have built their brand to such an extent that people know them by their logo alone and can talk about them almost as if they were a person.
Having the right brand is key to making sure prospective customers become aware of you, then start to consider you and finally buy from you.
Here are some thoughts and advice on brand and brand positioning from our expert, Simon Glenn from Platform Brand (he did all our branding!):
Brand Positioning is about creating the best image and emotions around your business and services in the minds of your target market. Your brand will find a position in its market’s mind regardless of whether you take action or not, our task is to take control and do all we can to influence this outcome as much as possible, starting with how you present your business to the market.
As with everything in business, the key to creating or recreating a company’s branding is in the planning. Whether you desire it or not, your brand and its connection with your market have a huge influence on the success or failure of our business and with 90% of information received by the brain being visual, the way your brand looks becomes top priority.
We’ve always compared the process of creating a business brand to the construction of a building, with a strong foundation and several storeys:
First, the foundation, which is all about research and planning:
• analyse the current positioning of your brand
• identify who your direct competitors are
• determine the positioning of each competitor brand
• compare your brand position with competitors to identify your USP(s)
• formulate the basis of your positioning idea based on company ‘values’
• create your ‘Brand Positioning Statement’
• ensure your Brand Positioning Statement is effective in all areas
A branding specialist should do all this for you and discuss their findings and proposals with you. Once your brand positioning is clear you can move to the next level.
Second, seek ‘Permission’:
Every brand should be unique in its own way. On a serious note it’s essential to ensure that you’re not only building a solid, communicative brand but you’re also working with a name and visual identity (logo etc) which will not in future raise extremely costly legal objection from other parties. This type of action could even lead to you being barred from using your own carefully planned branding.
To avoid any of these potential future hazards we advise all our clients to commission what is called a ‘Clearance Search’ around firstly the name they wish to trade as/build a brand for. This search will identify any companies, services or products in your chosen market already using your chosen name or wording and determine whether you are legally allowed to create and use your intended brand. We work with specialist Intellectual Property Lawyers to perform these searches giving clients the peace of mind that they’re safe in spending time and money on building their brand.
Once we’re confident that the plan is secure, we can move to the next floor:
Third, brand building:
Now that we know who you are, we can use the intelligence collected during the brand positioning stage to show the world how you look by carving out the shape and shade of your brand mark/logo and the visual devices that will accompany it as well as the tone of voice and key messages which will be employed from the outset.
We’ll produce a number of visual ideas, curating them down to present only those which best meet the requirements identified through brand positioning and provide the most flexible creative to you and your stakeholders.
The key consideration during this stage of visual identity development is that all graphics/logos MUST have the flexibility to perform effectively in any situation. This creative process should not finish until you have a visual identity you can relate to, believe in and present to the world with confidence. Now you have your look we’re ready for the next floor:
Fourth, how to use your branding.
The secret to communicating your brand well is consistency. Now we’ve put all these new brand elements in place we need to set out the ground rules on how to use them, or more importantly how NOT to use them.
Far too often we see visual identity which have clearly been initially produced by professional designers like Platform Brand but being stretched, squashed, miscoloured, oversized and generally abused by publications, events organisers and even clients themselves. This brand murder can be committed by internal and external forces and so we need to lay down, in black and white, the Dos & Don’ts of your visual identity.
We do this through a Brand Guideline. This short but extremely thorough document explains the rules for the use of your visual identity including colours, fonts, logo orientations and sizes and even distances from other objects. Sounds pretty obsessive doesn’t it, but brand recognition comes from consistent exposure. Consistency in branding suggests consistency of service/quality.
Now everyone knows where they are and what they’re doing, we can move onto the final floor:
Finally, insuring your branding:
Your brand will most likely become the most valuable asset your business has. As with premises, a vehicle, staff or public it really should be ‘insured’. Trademarking your brand and your brand mark can dramatically reduce the exposure your brand faces from competition and specifically impersonators, companies attempting to benefit from brand equity already earned by you and your business.
Trademarking isn’t always possible due to the intricacies of language and parameters in which the law is allowed to operate but if a trademark for your brand in the sector in which you operate is possible we would always recommend you insure your brand against possible infringement.
Investing in your brand from the outset is the best business move you can make.
Without a strong brand your business cannot run without you and its saleable value will be a fraction of it's potential. Platform Brand can identify the strengths in your service, your USPs, your most valuable target market(s), speak to your existing customers to get the truth about your existing brand perception in the market and then work with you to improve the clarity of your values and vision, your business tone of voice in communication, your brand identity (logo etc), the use of that brand identity across all your marketing and branded materials and the efficiency of your customer journey. Call us to set up a no obligation 'Discovery Session' meeting and let us help you create a winning, saleable brand.