Creating and developing a brand is an exciting and inspirational process, it’s also one that should not be taken lightly. When we conjure up thoughts of iconic brands that have stood the test of time, it is important to remember the considerable investment that has gone into them. A quality offering needs to be at the heart of your brand and everything within the business should reflect this quality. By not giving the appropriate level of money, time and effort a strong brand needs you are simply devaluing it.
If you can relate to any of the points below, it’s time to reconsider your branding strategy.
Not Establishing Definitive Brand Guidelines
When the time comes to establish your brands identity, it’s critical that guidelines are laid out to preserve the time and effort that has gone into the process of creation. Brand guidelines encourage a level of consistency when it comes to the versatile ways that the brand is communicated and ensure an accurate representation.
Without these guidelines, it’s all too easy for logos to become pixelated or out of proportion with a tagline, or the wrong shade of red to be used, the wrong font….you get the idea! Create a document for your brand guidelines that details the following;
- The Logo
- Brand Colours in both CMYK and RGB (for off and online marketing)
Obviously this list isn’t exhaustive; if there are other elements that are necessary to define your brand, they should be added to your guidelines document. By failing to create these documents, the brand will lack consistency and direction.
David Vallance from Digital Impact gives some further insights, “First things first: you don’t get to define your own brand. Instead, it’s decided by the thoughts, feelings and actions of every single other person who comes into contact with your business. Your brand is defined by the tone in your communications, your activity on social media, your customer service and the way your staff conduct themselves. It’s defined by the design of your letterheads, the quality of your business cards and aesthetic of your website. It’s defined by every single thing you do and every single thing people see. That’s why you need brand guidelines. Brand guidelines set a consistent tone and style across every single customer-facing facet of your business. It ensures every customer experiences your business exactly the way you want it, regardless of whether they are in your store, on your Facebook or on the phone. That consistency brings the branding power back to you.”
Overcomplicating the Brand
“Keep it simple stupid”.
Take a look at some of the most iconic household brands, very few of them have experienced much change over the years. They may have slight variations in the font, colour or images but it’s likely that you would still instantly recognise their previous logos.
While it’s tempting to continue to keeping adding to a logo, the likelihood is that it doesn’t need it. Its job is to be recognisable and remembered by your audience. The human brain relates to brands using the same pathways and processes it uses to remember faces and characters, so essentially we have a genuine relationship with a brand. Stay well clear of over complicating your branding elements.
Not Policing the Brand
So, you have put blood, sweat and tears (not to mention countless hours) developing an epic brand guidelines document – Kudos to you! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this is only half the battle, now you need to monitor where and how it’s being used. The last thing you want at this point is a competitor creating a similar logo to yours, potentially creating customer confusion.
Setting up Google alerts so that you are notified every time your brand is mentioned is a proactive way of monitoring your brand and ensuring sites are linking back where appropriate, using correct imagery alongside the brand mention and the correct logo.
Some of the issues you potentially face will be minor, while others may need to be dealt with in the legal realm.
Rolling Out Rebrands Poorly
If you do choose to rebrand, it need to be a solid effort because any changes that you decide to make to a brand that you have already established could affect the relationship that your customers have already built. Seriously consider if the changes that you are planning to implement, do the benefits out the risk of losing business?
Graphic designer and Illustrator Lee Mason concurs “A common mistake I see time after time is businesses diluting their brand. People pay me to design their logo and associated brand guidelines, then ignore them all and change the logo colours, shape, or use the wrong colours or font, and before you know it the visual brand is a mess and they might as well not have had a rebrand at all.”
If the rebrand is something that you decide to go ahead with then you need to factor in some education in your content marketing so that your customers and prospects understand and engage with the rebrand.
Not Knowing the Power of a Brand
Creating a strong brand has many advantages – customer opinion is incredibly influential. ‘Brand’ is the way in which you are perceived; I’m sure that each one of us can recall a brand that we adore and a brand that we have negative feelings towards. Every day, people are forming these perceptions, but they should not be left to chance, as a business you have the ability to shape and mold them.
To undertake this process of shaping you should consider 3 things; what service are you providing? This create a one dimensional perception, so underpin it with ‘How?’ How are you delivering this service and what are the words associated with it? The 3rd point for consideration is what associated feeling do you want people to experience with your brand? I mean, in addition to invoking positivity of course!
Richard LeCount from USB Makers gives his view, “First impressions are everything and ultimately if something isn’t presented well its unlikely your target audience will pursue it further and find out more. Yes, I’m talking about your branding. It needs to peak interest and communicate your brand values. Keeping your business on brand is essential and without doubt, it needs to extend to all areas of your business”
Work steady with a smart plan; building a brand should be a skilled and deliberate effort to achieve a pre-determined perception in the mind of an individual, with a great deal of care when it comes to all aspects. Remember – your branding is not one dimensional and all aspects of the business should be able to live and breathe it to enable a positive holistic brand perception.