Whether we’re meeting with new business owners or people who have been in business for 50 years, the topic of branding is always where we end up. How to brand themselves more effectively, what cohesive branding can do for their business, why it’s important to brand consistently, and how it can add value to their business.
What is branding?
Branding consists of three crucial elements that work together to create a cohesive brand:
When you are branding yourself or your business, you are creating an identity that needs to be maintained. It needs to be present in every communication that leaves your business, and the scope of communication might be broader than you expect.
Communication actually covers the following:
- Social media
- Business Cards
- Physical marketing assets (postcards, flyers, pamphlets, rack cards, etc.)
Every single thing that your business sends out into the world, every little detail that exists that can be traced back to you, is a form of communication, and those need to accurately reflect your business!
Everything your business says and does is part of your brand. Does your brand have a chipper personality online? Is it a little bit sarcastic and sly? Do you speak mainly to other businesses with sales-driven language, or are you trying to reach the community around you with more natural and relatable expressions? It is very important to know what language works best for your brand and make sure you keep that consistent across all platforms. Why consistent?
The final piece of the branding puzzle is consistency! You don’t want to make a pile of social media accounts and then abandon them because you got too busy. If you’re going to focus on your brand and making sure it’s consistent across every medium and platform, you also need to make sure you are focusing on it consistently! This can’t be ‘that thing your business did that one time’. You need to commit to your business, and demonstrate to your current and potential customers/clients that you are confident in your services or products and that they’re worth putting this branding effort into!
Why is consistent branding so important?
Take a look at this imaginary branding for a newly-opened chocolate shop. Before they have even opened their doors, they have developed a cohesive branding strategy for their business that will increase their brand value before their product has even been available on the market. Their packaging has clear references to their shopfront, and their stationary follows the same visual vocabulary that makes it easy to think of their shop when you see their invitation to their grand opening.
Consistency creates brand value.
The overall value and even the perceived value of your business skyrockets when you show customers that you care enough to make yourself look good. You are using your branding to demonstrate how much you believe in your products or services, and in turn, they are giving you the benefit of the doubt by trusting that because you look the part, you must be the best in the business.
How many times have you found yourself picking a product or company or service just because it looks better than your other options?
Consistency is memorable.
Without being consistent, you have no way of tapping into your brand investment. Let’s say you run a cafe, for example. If you spend thousands of dollars on designing and decorating your shopfront and your interior to create a certain vibe that connects you to your customers and creates a great atmosphere, but your takeaway food is leaving in plain brown boxes, you’ve lost your investment!
Understanding that your products are the same as a business card is the key to taking advantage of your branding investments. So if you are running that cafe, and you have invested all of this time and money into the look and feel of your shopfront, you need to invest a little more to make sure that feeling is communicated by your boxes. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, remember you don’t want to be spending too much on packaging! But it’s as simple as a sticker, or a ribbon, or a color.
If your brand takes advantage of lime green, you spend the extra $0.10 on the lime green packaging. That way, if someone sees a lime green box being carried down the street, they instantly think of your food, and they’ll be more likely to return a little sooner. Think of all the places that box is bound to turn up, and realize that every single one of those scenarios is an opportunity to take advantage of your existing branding investments.
Cohesive branding communicates quality.
There is a lot of power in being cohesive with your branding. Using that lime green box instead of just the generic brown box actually creates the illusion that the contents of that box are better than another box. It’s up to you to follow up on that illusion and make sure that your brand accurately reflects the quality of your product or your services, but that consistency of branding is enough to make someone believe that your product is as good as you say it is, because it shows that you have invested thought into how it is represented.
These types of branding consistency are a lot easier to imagine for businesses that typically have a strong external image. Restaurants, construction companies, retail, you can envision these branding consistencies being applied to them in a fairly straightforward manner. The conversation looks like this:
However, this is something that can be applied to every single business that operates. Digital or physical, corporate or consumer. For clients who aren’t sure where they should focus on branding, the conversation starts like this:
“What leaves your business?”
“What do people see on a daily basis?”
It’s at that moment that you begin to realize that every scrap of paper, every email, every vehicle, every uniform, every price tag, and every phone call, are all connected together to form a perception of your business. So if every single detail isn’t considered and branded accordingly, you aren’t fully investing in your company. That cohesive branding is what tells people to choose you over your competitors, and it can even rationalize differences in price if you can communicate a significant difference in the quality of your product or service.
Why are you telling me this, this is your job isn’t it?
We are a branding and web design agency, who feel strongly that the decision to brand effectively has to start in the heart and mind of the client. If you aren’t fully committed to your brand’s consistency, our work can’t do it’s job properly. We aren’t part of your day-to-day operations to make sure things are consistent, all we can do is help you take an audit of what in included in your brand, and then work to create a consistent brand with you. At the end of the day, it’s our work in your hands, so we would like to make sure you know what it means to us.