Now that you’ve that you’ve established who you are, what you’re called and your core attributes, we can start to think about forming a cohesive brand. A common issue that I see is that all too often different elements of a brand don’t gel. You will see high quality images and golden coloured text suggesting upper market, but then have copy that reads as though it has been dictated by Mike down the pub after 4 pints. Although it can feel a bit much to consider ALL of your brand at once, it will actually prove quicker and easier in the long run. For any small businesses/ start-ups reading I would still heavily advise you not to waste too much time on branding but these are the sort of things you should consider…
I have already talked about defining those 3 key messages you want to convey in every bit of marketing that you do. Your positioning is really an extension to this. It’s your relationship with your customer, and will obviously vary depending on the line of business that you are in.
A service that you use everyday is more likely to position itself as a customer’s friend and their marketing will aim to try and remind you how they are invisibly part of your life throughout the years. A good example of this would be banks who often sell you the ‘journey’ of services they will provide throughout your lifetime. If you compare this to a service you would use more occasionally such as the cinema for example; Cinemas are very much aware that they have become more expensive and people can easily wait a few months and watch a film at home. Their positioning is all about their premium nature of their experience, you are constantly reminded about how nice their leather seats and surround sound is. Perhaps one of the most interesting examples of a brand that has gone from being an “occasion” brand to an “everyday” brand would be Mcdonalds. Look back to the 90’s and Mcdonalds TV spots were centered around family treat time with a strong focus on kids…today Mcdonalds TV ads are all stories centred around how the brand invisibly connects people of different backgrounds and generations. It’s no longer uncommon for someone to pop out for a Mcdonalds a couple of times a week and not just as a special treat.
What position do you serve in relation to your customer and how often will they have contact with you and why? Everyone wants a friendly and reliable service yes, but do you act as a customer’s trusted advisor or are you at their demand?
Another big factor in tying down your brand is actually what you do. One common conundrum is over the services you offer. Where companies have several different strands to their business it can be difficult to make them instantly recognisible as part of your company whilst keeping them separate enough so that someone looking for X can find it easily enough. In some cases in which your services are not related at all (for example if you sell chainsaws and gerbils) than it may be wise to separate out your business, but bear in mind that twice as many businesses require twice as much upkeep. Generally speaking the easiest way to accomplish this is to have the same design elements, albeit in different colours. Not always the easiest look to pull off but if you go for similarly grouped colours (red, oranges and pinks for example) then this can work. Your services should also impact on the sort of branding you have, if you work on something highly technical then in some way shape or form that should be present in your branding.
Not a small consideration but colour printing does cost money, and this is especially true on promotional items. If your logo HAS to have three different colours then you will pay for it. I always advise companies that simple and bold are the way to go.
Last but not least. The actual personalities of the people and the industry should be reflected in your brand as they are the biggest representations of it. Yes, marketing does tend to be a polished version of your company, but it should where possible be reflective of reality. If you brand yourself as a serious company and your MD is sharing cat gifs on linkedin, then these things will match up! In a cohesive brand everything lines up from your website to your leaflet to your video, offices, service and lining up these different elements only gets more complicated as more people get involved in your business.