Category: Branding

Why every business should have a brand (even you!)

Before I begin to delve into “Why every business should have a brand”, a little personal case study:

My dad’s a self-employed electrician. He’s done the job for something like 40 years and he has no need for any new clients, because the ones he has are repeat and loyal customers who will see him through to retirement. He doesn’t need a website, he doesn’t need business cards. Word of mouth gets him enough business off the back of his outstanding reputation. My dad, as he has told me time and time again, “doesn’t want or need a brand”.

The thing is, he already has one, he just doesn’t realise it! Brand is more than a logo, a catchy name, a website, or a set of pretty stationery items… My dad’s brand is the set of standards and values he represents: reliability, quality work, fair price, and decades of experience.

So, why should every business have a brand?

Because it’s going to secure your future, build your business and create a strategy for success.

Any business, of ANY size – from one-(wo)man-bands to multinational corporations – can reap the benefits of a brand strategy. If you have nothing else, a brand strategy is going to enable you to find fans and advocates, help you employ the right people, keep you on a true and authentic path, allow your customers to build trust in your business and keep them coming back for more.

Brand strategy is made up of the following things:

Who you are, what you do, and how you do it.

In marketing speak, these things could be termed as;

  • Business values
  • Business goals / targets
  • Planned actions

I’ve broken them down a little so that you can start thinking about how a brand strategy might boost your business;

Business values

These are the things that define who you are. Values should be steadfast and long-term if your customers are going to learn to trust them. It could be that you are mindful of the environment in all you do, perhaps you strive to support people in hard to access areas, maybe it is important that your business is always affordable. Whatever it is it has to be authentic and true. Don’t be tempted into buzzwords or things you think you “should” be. Think of your values as the foundation blocks of everything you do. They are what you will become known for – your “brand essence” – and are the basis of your reputation. All of your actions as a business will uphold them, reinforce them and allow you build trust.

Business goals / targets

These are the things you want to do. In my dad’s case; provide electrical services of a type that gains a loyal customer base, so that he can sail through to retirement without worrying about “the next job”. My dad’s example is quite a straightforward one, but you might have long-term and short-term goals as well as the overall “ideal” outcome of your efforts. Write them all down and you will have the target for your strategy.

Planned actions

Everything you do as a business should uphold your values and drive you closer to your goals. Bringing the two together in everything you do will be your brand strategy in action. Having your goals and values defined will help you to be consistent in your messages and interactions and present you as a united business. Whether you’re one person or 1000+ employees, you will all be inhabiting the same idealogy.  You are now also able to make a plan! What are you going to make sure you do to achieve your goals? And how will you make sure you always have your values at the very heart?


Once you have a brand strategy, you might want to think about things such as a logo, a refocused website, and other bits and pieces that can really bring a great brand strategy to life and push things to the next level. If you feel you would like to discuss any creative branding services with me – why not get in touch?

About the Author:
Emma is a Graphic Designer and Illustrator living in Bristol, UK. Her illustration work explores a thin line between creepy and cute; working with kawaii motifs, galactic colours and quirky themes to create unique and fun designs.
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Re-branding a global software company – from the inside!

Girl in the Forest

Earlier this year, I was right in the middle of one of the largest (and most daunting) re-brand projects I have yet undertaken. For any designer, the following statement will strike a small amount of trepidation, even in the most hardy:

I was rebranding my employer, from the inside.

Am I crazy?

I was kind of doing the unthinkable; An in-house job, on our own brand, with all of the possible hurdles of that position being large and scary. They were hurdles I knew I would have to face in a disciplined manner for the best results:

  • I knew the company extremely well, and therefore had a natural and unavoidable bias
  • People knew me and they could approach me with any number of concerns from design to office politics at any time (and why not?! I’m a – I hope – friendly colleague and love a chat!)
  • I was very close to the project; as a designer I had had strong opinions on previous branding iterations, and I felt the pressure I put on myself to better them keenly!
  • Mostly importantly – it had to be my best work to date, because I had to live with it!

That last point was something that kept me up at night – a designer’s work is never done! I can always improve things; trends, skill levels, tools and influences change all the time, and I always feel I can make something better. How was I going to be able to finalize my work (not a problem, I do that all the time) but also look at it every day for the next however many years and not want to change it?!

I had a BIG JOB on my hands.

How did I do it?

So how did I do it all and stay sane, without bias, and with no office drama? Let me tell you – COLLABORATION.

I might have been the sole designer on the project, but I was not the only person creating this brand. I employed a process of focus groups, staff surveys, customer surveys, stakeholder groups, feedback sessions and shared moodboards to make sure I was making decisions based on the direction of the company, the sentiment of the current brand and the values the company wanted to uphold. I made sure I had influences and research that were not solely sourced by myself as my first step beyond bias.

Having a very public process which allowed people to get involved and have their say early on meant that I was not constantly approached in the office with suggestions/opinions/feedback from others at ad hoc intervals, leaving me free to get work done and have something to show – which was fed back into the collaborative workflow via company newsletter updates.

Using an open approach to in-house design worked extremely well. I gained stakeholder support for key areas of the brand from high-up levels very early on, which made the later process of refining style and approach so much easier. I work as a member of the marketing team, and my colleagues were excellent sounding boards for getting the “feeling” of the brand right. We assigned a brand archetype to the project to give a very clear persona to work towards. We spoke “our language” to get the brand right, and we created a brand we knew we could become with authenticity and belief.

So lastly – most importantly – how did I create something I still look at every day and go “yes, I’m OK with this” even when I know I maybe have a better font in my arsenal now, or refined photo editing skills to smooth the edges even sleeker in that one banner stand? Simplicity. I created something with room to evolve, and something I – or anyone else – could grow with. I created a brand that was so different from the competitors in the market that it always looks impressive. I embraced stereotypes, and simplified the recognition process. I used a four-colour palette and removed the need for complicated relationships between brand assets. I didn’t change the logo form, but I updated the colour. I championed the use of considerable white-space. The brand is clean, bold, striking and simple. And I can live with that because it’s what I aim for in all of my work. I made something simple, and simplicity is timeless.

 

About the Author:
Emma is a Graphic Designer and Illustrator living in Bristol, UK. Her illustration work explores a thin line between creepy and cute; working with kawaii motifs, galactic colours and quirky themes to create unique and fun designs.
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