There are many elements to a brand.
They all need to work harmoniously in the machine that is your business. We have identified the five key components that, when functioning properly, will connect your brand with it’s audience.
Digital, analogue, environmental.
Wherever seen, used, discussed or heard, your brand needs to be consistent. All this matters.
When talking about your brand, you need to be clear who you are. This prevents confusion for stakeholders, therefore increasing engagement.
Whatever you offer it needs to be talked about through the most appropriate channels. Make yourself heard above the whirring and clanking of your competition.
Once your brand is out there in the business world, don’t be afraid to evolve and adapt. Start it up and never stop.
It’s vital that your team functions as a unit, embracing your brand values, vision and aims. Inspire them to bring their own career goals in line with your brand, ensuring success for all. With all these in place, there’s that can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-spark that every successful brand has.
This can be a man, a mind, a machine or a means.
Yours is there to discover.
The vision you create for your business is one of the most powerful drivers of growth. Having a vision of what you want to achieve, and where you want to get to, is infectiously compelling — to your consumers, to your team and to any potential investors.
As a company founder or MD, your greatest challenge is not just defining your vision in a way that reflects your brand, but in ensuring that everyone on your team buys into it. Your team — be it managers, contractors or even the student who works part-time in-store — needs to have a passionate appreciation of what you are trying to achieve and how you are trying to achieve it.
Here are four ideas to help you define your vision and motivate your team:
1. Keep it simple and make it powerful
Making a vision easily understood is one thing but making it resonate with your audience is more complicated. The key is to avoid jargon and use words and phrases that anyone in your business can associate with. Perhaps the most famous example of this was back in the 1960s when Nike’s vision simply said “Crush Adidas”.
The tone of that statement draws on the competitive nature of sport and the target audience. Its clarity of purpose couldn’t be mistaken by anyone. Nike’s vision was simple, do anything it takes to be bigger and better than its main rival.
2. Be ambitious, paint the future
The most customer-centric businesses will share their vision from the perspective of their customer, and there is no more compelling a way to do this than painting a picture of an ambitious future you want to create for your customers.
Henry Ford used this method — creating a vision that would have been impossible for any person to misinterpret — “I will build a motor car for the great multitude... When I’m through, everybody will be able to afford one, and everyone will have one. The horse will have disappeared from our highways, the automobile will be taken for granted.”
3. Convey the passion
The way those at the top convey the business vision has a direct impact on how customers and staff respond to it. It’s not surprising that many of the world's most successful companies have been led by founders who lived and breathed their business.
Steve Jobs once asked the chairman of Pepsi, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?". Apple's own vision was certainly ambitious — “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advances humankind.”
4. Make it relevant
Bold and ambitious visions inspire teams but only when they understand the relevance to them. You must involve the team in order to encourage engagement with the business vision. Co-creation is one of the most powerful ways to do this.
A compelling brand vision, that is understood and believed by your team, is a competitive advantage. It becomes a growth driver for a business and it can make the vision self-fulfilling.
When running your own business, you can find yourself in contrasting situations with customers, suppliers, employees and others. Whether you’re in a meeting, sales pitch or negotiation it’s important to remember to always look smart and professional. The more organised you look, the more people will trust your expertise and advice. However, another way to influence outcomes is to carefully choose which colours you wear, because colours can influence people’s emotions and decisions.
Blue and earthy shades are good for building partnerships and relationships with people. Collectively liked by everyone, blue helps instil a feeling of trust and security. Earthy tones such as beige, peach and tan can make you look friendly and approachable therefore helping develop the initial relationship solely by first appearances.
Red is great for negotiations for its association with action, energy and passion. This can lead to impulse decisions and purchases. You should, however, balance how you present yourself when wearing red because it can be connected to feelings of intimidation and aggression. Simple items can impact how people react towards you, so start small by wearing a red accessory such as a tie or handbag.
Where there is the possibility of a large audience, such as a sales pitch, wear purple or orange. Purple is linked with creativity and confidence, while orange commands attention without being too controlling. Use these colours to connect with your audience. Try an orange shirt or purple blouse under your suit and see what effect you can generate.
Black, charcoal and dark grey are more conservative colours. They are an indication of power, boldness and authority. Wear these colours to formal meetings where you wish to keep your personality hidden or reserved.
Avoid green and white when it comes to business meetings. These colours can make you seem inexperienced and innocent. Green is often related to money and jealously, which could hamper your chances of any positive outcomes.
Overall, lighter colours present a friendly and more sociable image, so use this to your advantage when you’re working with people in a pleasant, comfortable environment. Darker colours should be worn for reserved situations to instil power and influence the current mood. Avoid mixing dynamic shades and neutral colours excessively, otherwise you could create an array of confusing emotions and conflict between you and your customers or employees. Keep it simple and smart and you should receive the required level of respect.
This article was written by India Cash who is working on behalf of ASOS who are retailers of day dresses, suits and accessories.
Branding - It's a word that’s bandied about a great deal these days. But what does it actually mean and what's changing within the world of branding? The Design Council defines a brand as: "a set of associations that a person (or group of people) makes with a company, product, service, individual or organisation.
These associations may be intentional - that is, they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity, for example - or they may be outside the company's control." (Source: The Power of Branding: A Practical Guide, The Design Council)
While the value of branding is growing, many small businesses still overlook the relevance of its role in helping to increase leads and revenue.
In an increasingly visual world, it's surprising that so many businesses still view branding as being purely about a logo. While a powerful logo is still important, bringing branding to life in business means ensuring that the look or design of a company matches its overall strategy. Linking brand and design with your overall value proposition and business strategy is the way to make it work for a business.
Almost half of UK businesses believe that design contributes to some extent to increased market share (46%) and turnover (44%)
So why is it that many companies continue to miss out on the full benefits of branding? Is it possible to build a company brand that actively connects with customers and delivers a real return on investment?
The secret is not about having a big budget, but about taking a well considered approach. Integrating branding within an inbound marketing approach allows companies to achieve this because inbound marketing uses technology that allows companies to research the demand that exists in their target market.
Business-owners looking for a brand with commercial impact may ask ask a design or branding agency to do the job for them. But in return for their fee they often recieve only a one-off logo or website design along with the significant level of consultation and cost associated with the rebrand. On its own this misses out on the bigger picture of branding, which is to make money for the company. Instead, it is very likely that the agency will focus on:
Great, you have a new logo, but does it reflect what your company stands for and your marketing strategy?
Even better, your branding agency or design agency is focusing on creating a powerful, joined up brand and overall design. But before you go there, take a closer look at what these companies are offering.
Do they link branding and design directly with Return On Investment (ROI)? With 7,099 design businesses in the West Midlands alone (Source: The Design Council), it's important to select a design or marketing agency that actually aims to look at what your customers want.
Despite the popular myths, your brand, your logo and your company look and design is not intended for you - it's intended for your target audience and, most importantly, aimed at generating visits, leads and sales. Here are some ways to build branding that actively boost company performance:
Make sure your branding is shaped around the demand in your existing market. Inbound marketing technology allows you to research the demand that is already out there.
Align your branding with your company's value proposition. This provides a better ROI and ensures that your branding shows what differentiates you from the competition. Combine the online research into your market with marketing persona research where you interview your existing customers, potential customers and even competition to find out what your target audience really want, what their business plans are and how your competitors sell.
Use a range of resources. Why leave your entire brand in the hands of a design or branding agency when you can have access to a wider range of resources to make it work harder for you? From heat mapping that allows you to see the demand for your services to mystery shopper facilities, inbound marketing gives you the insight to shape and create a more meaningful and profitable company brand.
Branding, is like an iceberg — it exists mostly below the surface. The visible brand messaging accounts for what we see above sea level. The invisible brand – the company culture, the customer experience — is the mass below the surface
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin came back from the moon, the first thing they were greeted by was a huge neon sign that said "Welcome to Earth — home of Coca-Cola". That is how powerful a brand can be.
But your company doesn’t have to be the size of Coca-Cola or Mercedes to have a brand. In fact, every business has one. And by building yours into a strong one it can become one of your most valuable assets. Branding is a simple representation of who you, your company or your product are. One of the key fundamental steps to begin this process is to implement some honest self-analysis to discover your brand truth. The results of this establishes your unique brand identity if you are true to yourself.
Branding ultimately creates that all important first impression in your customers mind. A dynamic branding and product positioning formula is one that will invite new customers, and propel them into a desired action.
Remember, a brand is not a name or a logo or a colour scheme or a design layout or a tag line or an advertising theme. A brand lives in the customer’s perception. A brand is not what the marketer says it is; it’s what the customer thinks it is. A brand begins and ends with the customer, and most important to the customer’s perception is the customer experience. Customers will believe their own experience before they believe the advertising.
Advertising works only when it is supported by the customer experience, and strong brands are built one customer experience at a time. Effective branding is what causes people to walk past all the no-name, on-sale colas at the grocery store and pick up the six-pack of Coca-Cola that costs twice as much — just ask Neil Armstrong.
Powerful design enables you to connect with your ideal clients. It’ll help you attract, engage and seduce them into buying from you or working with you, and of course, it’s a wider thing than just design. It’s about your powerful design fitting into a powerful brand strategy.
How can you be sure, when you’re working with a design agency, that they’re going to provide you with powerful design and not just good design?
What is the difference that makes the difference?
Powerful design requires an in-depth understanding of your business, your objectives and your customers. Run a mile from anyone who asks you what colours you want or to sketch out how you’d like something to look.
Powerful design takes time. Coming up with creative concepts that will really connect with your audience and unlock something within them doesn’t happen in a matter of moments. It’s going to take time to develop those concepts and produce polished artwork.
Powerful design uses colour psychology to unlock your goals, values and message and also use it to authentically communicate with your ideal clients. There’s more to colour psychology than simply knowing that blue is calming and red can be aggressive. Colour psychology enables us to help our clients communicate coherently, authentically and with clarity.
Powerful design is creative. When we create powerful design we think outside the box. A business that works with large corporates should have a website that is bland and safe, right? Wrong! A designer must tap into a client’s brand values and company ethos to create a site that firmly differentiates their company from their competitors and enables them to connect with their customers. Oh, and win a whole pile more business.
Powerful design sweats the small stuff. Often the difference that makes the difference is the attention to detail. When you look through a powerfully designed website, it’s not just the homepage that looks lovely — that strong design runs throughout the site and reassures and engages.
Powerful design will cost you more than good design. You need to find a really good agency – one that has a firm understanding of not just how to layout a page, but typography, design trends and colour psychology. They’ll probably be very serious about investing in their team, which means that their hourly rate will reflect that. They won’t be the cheapest, but they will give you the best results.