Pulling back the curtains on our branding approach
Why branding is an important investment in your business
Put simply, branding builds credibility. Have you ever looked at your competitors website, brochures, or even social media ads and thought: “Wow. How do I get that?” or “They are bigger and better, I wish I was like that”. Good branding leaves a lasting impression on your customers and potential customers (and even your competitors). It instantly instills trust and often allows businesses to command a higher price, or be the instant first choice of customers.
So, what is branding?
Branding goes far beyond just a logo, branding is about communication. Your brand is the collective sum of the visual assets, behaviours and values that your business communicates to the world. It can be made up of designs, tools, guides, company values and anything else that projects a message about who you are as a business. It includes
Why is branding so important?
Quality branding has a real and lasting effect on the success of your business.
How? It’s all about perception. Your branding shapes the way people think about you and, with any luck, influences the way they interact with your business.
Take a Facebook post, for example. If your goal is to gather ‘Likes’, ‘Shares’ and ‘Comments’ to spread your message online, you need to use language and styles that appeal to your desired audience. Get those right, and you’ll likely see a spike in online engagement. But if there’s no cohesive branding message, engagement falls and Facebook posts get lost in the digital ether. Consumers are not likely to engage with your posts if they don’t know who you are.
And it’s not just Facebook. The same theory applies to the fonts you use in business documents, the feel of your products or the layout of your store. Every interaction your customers (and potential customers) have with your business is an opportunity to relay a message about who you are and why they should care (and ultimately, why they should purchase your goods or services).
Think of a clothing retailer – any one will do. Kathmandu, Jack London, Tigerlily, Millers. Take note of how you feel about the retailer. Now think why. Do you like/dislike the colours of the fabrics? Is their logo fun and playful, or maybe it suggest a corporate audience? All of those elements – and even the scents sprayed and music played in store are part of the retailer’s brand “persona”. Imagine your retailer were a person – is it easy to imagine what kind of person they would be? Could they be an adventurous weekend camper, a well-groomed businessman or a young woman going on a beach holiday? You might like the store, or you might not, but the point is that brands achieve success by having calculated conversations with a defined audience.
Your branding directs the conversation you have with your audience. Create a strategy that speaks to them with clarity, vision and purpose, and you’ve got a key tool for driving engagement and building credibility.
How do we create successful brands for our clients?
It starts with strategy. A well-designed brand strategy identifies consumer emotions and addresses their needs.
At Digital Beanstalk, we go beyond designing “just a logo”. We produce brand visuals using a three-phase process. Our branding process is all about understanding your business and customers to find a personality that’s fits for you. We create branding assets communicate your key message to your ideal market.
PHASE 1 - Clarity
Get to know your business.
Every re-brand we undertake starts with us getting to know your business.
Think about how well you really know your own business. This might seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the core factors in a successful brand.
Understanding your own brand is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Although you might already have some ideas about your audience and messaging, it’s vital to refine this.
During the initial clarity phase of a re-brand, we ask the questions that matter most. We explore who your clients really are and dive into the nitty gritty of how your products and services fulfil their needs and desires. You’ll learn to identify the features, benefits and implications of your products and services to produce more relevant content that really speaks to your clients.
Before any visual branding is created it’s vital that you can answer the following in depth.
• Who is your ideal target market?
• What’s your brand archetype / personality?
• What are your key selling points that set you apart?
• Who are your competitors and what do they look like?
• Beyond financial gain, why does your company exist?
Knowing the answer to these statements in depth is vital for a successful brand strategy. Setting the course at this stage makes for smooth sailing when it’s time to producing content for campaigns, events, digital and print applications.
Many businesses often have a fear that defining their brand personality, archetype and target market means excluding anyone to doesn’t fit in with these groups. This is not the case. It simply means putting more recourses into more valuable customers. Let’s look at Nike for example.
Their personality challenges, they resonate with a “hero” archetype. Nike would appeal to high end athletes, or individuals who are at least very serious about their fitness. If an older unfit woman decided to purchase a pair of nike shoes, they wouldn’t turn away her sale, however they would not focus their advertising efforts on her. It’s unlikely many people from this group would buy nike products and if they did, they certainly wouldn’t buy as many products as frequently as a professional athlete who benefits from quality equipment. Think about who would benifit from your product the most, who will spend the most and who is likely to have the most customer loyalty.
PHASE 2 – Brand Strategy
When we work with clients in the creative concept phase, we pull together our resources to produce designs that are visually beautiful, conceptually strong and communicate your vision to your customers. It’s important to have a clear thought process behind any visuals - nothing should be done without a reason so to speak.
Try to imagine the look of your brand as a whole. The best way to do this is to picture, if your logo was removed, would it still be recognisable as you?
Do you have a pattern that links to your brand?
Does a stock photo look unique or could it be just any stock photo?
Think of coca-cola for example. Their iconic wave and red means even if you removed the logo from products, it would still be recognisable.
Remember to think back to your core personality. Brand design is not just about pretty pictures, it should also align with your personality brand personality, and resonate with your customers.
PHASE 3 – Brand creative
Write it down and lock it in
It’s great if you have fonts, colour palette, image styles and even language you like.
But what happens if you are away and someone else needs to brief a designer?
What happens if you use a different design firm all together? What happens if one designer changes a font, another adjusts a colour, another swaps an image – before you know it your brand is unrecognisable from the original image.
That’s why it’s imperative that your brand is recorded in a way that if you were removed from a situation, advertising would still be smooth and flawless. This is why we equip all our brands with a in-depth style guide. A style guide showcases your brand designs and outlines how to use them.
It is a list of instructions to explain to anyone what colours to use use, fonts personality even how to edit images in a way that maintains consistency.
It’s also best practice to keep a folder of all your logo files and brand assets in vector, png, jpeg, reversed colour and monochromatic colour. We like to call this a “brand suitcase” that can be passed to any designer or printer. This way regardless of end use, be it a billboard, a sticker or a press ad, everything one needs to create a piece is there.
What should be included in a style guide?
• Your fonts and how to use them
• Your colour palette with Pantone, RGB, hex and CMYK codes
• Image styles and image treatments
• Brand patterns
• Language styles
PHASE 4 – Roll out
You have your brand, now is the time you use it to refresh all your old, outdated marketing materials. Follow your style guide, use your message and go those clients!
Do you want to know how to get higher paying clients?
Our free brand strategy guide gives you the tools you need.