So, you have been busy and thought well and hard about your business and your brand. You read my post why small medium sized business deserves strong branding and hopefully it made sense that it is important to think about your brand. You have made that all important first step and created a great looking brand board. Looking at it now, you are now wandering where to go from here. It might all be very confusing and daunting, but there are some simple steps to take, which will help you evaluate your brand.
Stand your board(s) up, lean them against things, so that you can step back and look at them from a little further away. Is there anything that stands out? Do you notice anything about the stuff that is on your boards? How does it make you feel, do you think the stuff on your board(s) truly represents your business and your brand? If you feel really positive and happy about the things that are on your board(s), then look at some of the detail on there and follow these easy steps to distill your brand.
1. First things first… YOUR NAME. Are you still happy with it and does it reflect the character of your brand? A good name should be an integral and positive part of your brand and describe its offerings. It should be unique and memorable, easy for customers to understand and remember. And most importantly, it should create an association with the brand’s promise. If you have doubts about your name, then now is the time to get down to basics, research your competitors, brainstorm with family, friends, colleagues and find a name you are happy with. Do it before you have invested in your brand collateral, changing a name half way through the branding process can be a bit of a nightmare.
2. Your promise
Have you found out what your brand stands for? The unique benefits your customers are getting by buying into your brand? You have hopefully spent some time reviewing your products and services, your target audience, interviewing customers, brainstorming with friends, family or colleagues and should be able to put a simple brand promise statement together. It could be like a 60 second elevator speech, starting with ‘[your name] helps [your target audience] to [unique benefits] by providing [your products and services]. Something like ‘Wright Creative helps small and medium businesses to understand and optimise their branding by providing coaching in the form of workshops, downloadable courses and blogging’. A strong brand promise which is delivered consistently will give your audience trust in your offerings and ensure customer loyalty.
3. Your beliefs
Your beliefs will give your brand an extra layer, which will differentiate you from your competitors. What are you passionate about? Yes, your products or services, but what is it that makes you special? Are you sourcing local ingredients which will support your community? Have you invested in particularly environmentally friendly equipment? Are you connected to a charity and offer your services for free? What are your principles and values? Try to find words that reflect those beliefs, words like ‘equality in business’ ‘support’ ‘transparancy’ or ‘sustainability’ ‘integrity’ ‘innovation’. Find between three to five words that describe your beliefs and make them part of the communication with your customers.
4. Your voice
This should be easy now. Look at your brand board(s), then read your brand promise statement and your belief words. Which tone of voice should you choose when communicating with your target audience? All those elements you have thought about , ie target audience, your promise and your beliefs should give you clear parameters how to talk to your audience. Is it friendly or formal? Passionate or reassuring? Is it with empathy or with passion? Whatever tone you choose, make sure that you do not patronise your audience or use unnecessary complicated terms that some people might find difficult to understand. Try to keep it as simple as possible, but make sure you communicate your promise and your beliefs. Your tone of voice should come through in all your communication and marketing materials, even the small flyer, which should have been at the printers yesterday needs to be checked against your tone of voice parameters.
5. Your logo
‘WOW’ you think ‘the logo is this far down the line and I thought branding was all about the logo.’ You are right, the company logo is very important, but it will be difficult for any designer to create a valid and bespoke logo for your business if you have not thought about all the above. Quite frankly, he or she would be making it up and would that be the right approach to creating your logo, which hopefully will represent your business for quite a long time. Your logo should entail your company name and/or a symbol, which represents your products and services. So, are there any elements on your brand board(s) that might help you or a designer to create your company logo? Concepts, symbols or images? Have you looked at competitor logos and are there any you like or dislike? Collect all those ideas and thoughts, they might help you when briefing your designer or when attempting to create your own logo.
Photography will bring your brand alive. What kind of images did you choose for your board(s)? Have you got a lot of happy people using similar products or services? Focus on photography that illustrates the unique benefit of your products and services, how do your customers feel when they use them. Avoid images that are cliched but find some that illustrate your promise and your beliefs. Look at what your competitors are using, what you like or dislike about it. When you have chosen a style of photography, which communicates the right emotions and moods, then put a little sample board together. Whenever you commission a photographer or go out to take some shots yourself, check the images against your photography mood board to make sure that they are on brand.
Your brand colours will work side by side with your logo and any photography you are using. It should be quite easy now… Look at your board(s), which colours stand out? Is there a primary colour that you have chosen for your brand, how does that colour make you feel? Are there any secondary colours you would like to add to it, contrasting or complimentary. Have a play here, as it might not be completely obvious. A good start is always to have a look at your competitors and to see which colours they are using. Position yourself carefully, as you don’t want to look the same as the masses, but you also want to communicate the right look and feel for your brand.
Typography is becoming more and more important in today’s brand landscape. The growth of bespoke fonts encourages businesses to be more creative and unique in its font usage. What type of fonts are standing out on your brand board(s)? Are they minimal, clean and modern or are they more traditional or elaborate with serifs or decorations? Whichever font you decide is appropriate for your business, make sure it is legible and can be used easily on the web.
When you have worked through these 8 steps, you should be able to pinpoint the direction in which you want your brand to move and what your audience can expect from you. The next step from here would be to involve a professional designer to visualise all these ideas for you or to get your pencil out and to put some of these ideas on paper yourself. Whatever you choose to do, keep going back to your brand board(s), refresh them with time and update them with new ideas.
I hope this post has give you some insight in how to approach an evaluation of your brand. If you need any help or would like to book a brand workshop with me, give me a call or email me.