Your business brand firmly defines who you are as a company and your value to your customer base. Despite its importance, however, many small businesses undervalue the power of branding services – an oversight that can cost close to 33% of company revenue!
So, how do you go about creating, developing, and maintaining a brand for your small business? And why is branding so important anyway? As a web designer, branding is something I help small business owners with daily. All of these questions prompted me to put together a quick lesson in Branding 101.
What is branding?
Branding is a marketing technique that identifies your company, product or service as unique amongst the competition.
While most of us recognise a brand as a graphic, logo, or symbol (like the coke logo) brand identity can also be a design, a name, a mascot, or anything else that makes your company, product, or service distinguishable from “the rest.”
What makes a strong brand?
Research from Kantar Millward Brown found that globally the strongest brands are those that:
As an aside, it is interesting to know that according to statistics, 89% of shoppers stay loyal to brands that share their values.
By building a brand that meets these three criteria, you become a recognisable name in your industry and inspire confidence and brand loyalty in consumers.
WordPress is an excellent example of branding done right – they offer a unique platform that blurs the distinct lines between previous content management solutions and makes dynamic content management accessible to anyone. Ask anyone to recommend a blogging platform to you, and the chances are that every one of them will mention WordPress.
As I mentioned above, one of the most important things about branding is that it distinguishes you from similar businesses and products.
For example, Coke and Pepsi sell similar soft drinks, but unique recipes and distinct logos make each recognisable. These unique factors are what allow both companies to maintain a steady presence in a competitive market.
Levelling the playing field
Small businesses must stand out from existing corporations and competitive small companies in the same niche to succeed. It can be a daunting prospect as a new company. Fortunately, a professional branding services team can help level the playing field and give your small company a fighting chance through brand identity design services.
A quality branding campaign can take your new business and, through the delivery of regular, quality content and interaction, earn you a healthy percentage of industry business.
Connecting with your audience
Good branding is not just a means to build your company as a recognisable entity. Good branding is a means of connecting with your audience.
According to a 2019 study by Edelman.com on trust in brands, 81% of consumers said that trust is a factor in whether or not they buy from a brand.
Aside from having a quality product or service, how do you build that trust? By connecting with customers and potential customers on a personal level.
If your company comes across as a cold corporate structure (no matter how small), you are making no connection with customers. Having no connection with customers means no trust, and in turn, that means no brand loyalty.
Through communication, you hear what clients have to say about your products or services. You answer questions about your brand. You give your business a personality that clients can connect with. You also benefit from real-time market research data!
Branding services give you direction
Branding is not all about the clientele though it is also a means of giving your company direction.
Have you ever had a great idea for a business, but as you go about developing that business, so many suggestions get made that you begin to lose direction? For example, have you gone from a speciality store to a mega-mart?
It is easy to lose direction when you first step into business, but good branding can help you stay the course. Each aspect of branding can steer your company in the right direction, so you always have a clear picture of where you are going.
What are the different aspects of branding?
With so much to accomplish, it is a good thing that there are many different aspects of branding that you can use to your advantage. Let us take a look at the elements of branding and how each can be used to fortify your brand.
The first aspect of branding services is to find your voice. How will you convey your message to others? Will you be an authoritative figure? Will you be a fun and friendly voice? Will you be inspirational? Choose a voice that best matches your company goals, the products or services that you offer, and the audience you are targeting.
Also, keep in mind that your brand’s voice will influence every aspect of your company, and it needs to be consistent. This consistency across platforms plays a significant role in consumer trust. In fact, research shows that presenting a brand consistently across various platforms can increase your company revenue by as much as 23%.
Brand voice is how you communicate with your client base, but brand style is how you appear to your client base. Brand style incorporates various elements, including logo design, typography styles, artwork, and colour schemes.
How important is brand style?
It does not take long for customers and potential customers to remember your brand. According to statistics, it only takes between five and seven impressions to make your brand memorable to people!
Your company logo is a core component of your brand, and it is one of the first things that your customers are going to see. So, with such a significant impact on first impressions, what should you know about your company logo design?
A clean logo is better
Your company logo should be clean, that is, easily read. Indiscernible text is frustrating for customers to read, but it also leads to misunderstandings.
Your company logo should be unique
The design of your logo needs to be unique. Uniqueness will make your brand more easily recognisable – for example, on a social media network – and it will help you to stand out from the competition.
Your company logo should represent you!
Your company logo is an opportunity to tell clients about your business without saying a word. For example, a dog walking company that has a woman walking a dog in the logo lets everyone know what service they provide with a glance.
In another example, however, a dog walking company may have a single tennis ball in their logo. While there is a connection, this design is not clear about the services that they offer.
Why is it important to be transparent? Because no one likes to have, their time wasted. We are a culture of “now”, and forcing customers to search for information is an opportunity for you to lose that client.
Your company logo should stand out!
Having a logo that stands out is another important factor in branding. The colour scheme and font choices of your logo can help you to stand out on a crowded social media page or blend into the background – which do you want to do?
The importance of a professional logo design
There is much more to a company logo than design. Behind that design is a wealth of research and consumer studies that play a role in your brand’s success. Professional branding services offered by a graphic designer will be familiar with this type of research and will use that information and their creative skills to build a logo design that subconsciously appeals to your clients.
Typography refers to the process of choosing fonts, line-spacing, letter-spacing and alignment. Even if your logo is a graphic one, it will undoubtedly incorporate text of some variety. This text needs to be easily legible, representative of who you are as a company, visually appealing, and in keeping with your brand style.
For example, a professional finance firm would not use a comic-style font as it would cause distrust among clients.
What artwork will you be using to represent your company? Often, stock photos are used to build your company website or to post on social media channels. This artwork needs to be officially licensed (or you face a legal mess and a hefty fine), and it needs to be in keeping with your brand voice.
Interestingly, research shows that colour improves recognition of your brand by up to 80%!
Colour schemes are another important element of your brand style. The colours you use are going to represent your company in your logo, your website design, and on social media.
Colours have a subconscious draw, and different colours elicit different emotions due to their associations. For example, we associate green with nature and that tends to relax us, so this may be a good colour for a day spa. Green, however, may not make such a great colour choice for a personal coaching business.
Types of design assets
Why opt to have a professional designer do the job? A professional designer has the experience, they have an eye for creative design, and they can get the job done in a reasonable amount of time.
We have talked about brand voice and brand style, but how about brand strategy? Brand strategy is an important aspect of branding services because it defines your company goals. What do you want to achieve from your product or service? How do you plan to go about achieving that?
A solid brand strategy relies heavily on research and statistics, and without a solid strategy in place, your marketing efforts are seldom going to succeed. A failed brand strategy can also wind up costing you your business!
To succeed, your company needs a strategy that plans for success based on hard data and experience. If you lack these things, it is recommended that you seek out a professional to collaborate with you on developing a plan!
The option of branding services
Where a designer alone can help you to establish the graphical elements of your online presence, some designers (like myself) offer branding services.
Branding services include the graphical elements of branding as well as the non-graphical elements. For example, in my Logotype and Brand Guide package, I offer clients a style manual and guide for the use of their new branding materials. This guide helps my clients to properly implement the tools I provide them with so that they maintain a consistent presence across various platforms.
As a small business, you may wonder if full branding services from a branding agency is worth the investment.
Speaking as a small business owner myself, I can tell you that branding services are one of the best investments a small business can make. Instead of simply dumping you with a folder full of design files, branding services give you the know-how to successfully implement those files for an optimal web and physical presence in the small business world.
How valuable is the right branding?
For the average small business, having the right branding services is quite literally the difference between thriving and barely surviving. In fact, in some industries, close to 50% of market capitalisation is brand value!
If there is a possibility that close to half of your company’s worth could come from efficient branding, why wouldn’t you spend the time developing your brand?