When you see McDonald’s Golden Arches or the Starbucks logo, you know what you are looking at.
That’s branding. But It’s only a part of the story, which also includes logos, color schemes, fonts, use of graphical elements, slogans or taglines.
You might think you are too small to have a brand. That this is for big companies with large bank accounts and big ad agencies working for them.
The fact is, you have a brand. The only question is whether it is definite or squishy, whether it enhances your sales and marketing or is a liability.
You might think you can’t afford branding, but any time you are working on any touch point, you are dealing with branding. By touch point, I mean any way that your business interacts with the world – whether website, signage, recorded message on voicemail, business cards or anything else.
You can markedly enhance your sales and marketing simply by being aware of these points whenever you are making a decision on such a touch point:
THE MINIMUM STANDARD FOR YOUR BRANDING IS TO BE CONSISTENT and APPROPRIATE.
If you have different logos, different slogans, different color schemes, different fonts, you are not communicating a consistent picture of who you are to your customers, potential customers, and others. You are confusing them, if only at a subliminal level. You may literally be competing with yourself where the viewer may not recognize this is the same company.
If you do have consistency, you have the possibility of all your images and messages reinforcing each other to build an impression on prospective buyers. But it also must be appropriate. Bright primary colors and cartoony fonts are not going to impress your potential customers unless you are a pre-school. If you are a lawyer or an electrician, they are a turn-off.
It isn’t hard to find what is appropriate. For starters, look at what the competitors are doing and see what gives you the right kind of impression. It really isn’t harder than that.
THE BRANDING SWEET SPOT
You can easily do more than meet that minimum standard. Think about three circles:
- Circle One contains what your competitors are doing.
- Circle Two contains what is appropriate.
- Circle Three contains what you like.
These circles (hopefully) overlap. What you ideally want is something that is in circles two and three but is on the edge of outside the edge of circle one. You then have something you like, that works (is appropriate, not too wildly different) but is unique, not something your competitors are all doing.
The creativity is in coming up with something that does satisfy all of this. A look and feel and message that is out there, but not too far out, that gives people the right impression, and importantly, that you like.
There is no single “look” that uniquely works. There is plenty of room for your own likes and dislikes to be taken into account.
I hope that helps.