Branding can be divided into 2 separate categories
1.) How you present your business.
2.) What are other people (the users) saying about your business/brand and how do they perceive your brand?
Let’s start with #1, how you present your business.
1. THE WAY YOU DRESS
Do you have a dress code for your business? Do you look presentable? Depending on your business, especially if you have employees, I’d advise wearing something that has your brand’s logo on it. If not that, have a color scheme that both yourself and employees wear.
2. THE WAY YOU CONDUCT YOUR BUSINESS
Do you have great customer service? Do you follow-up with clients with branded content? Do you give clients or potential clients business cards? Do you have business cards? What about brochures or fliers? How do they look? Are they professional looking? Whatever content you give to clients, whether it’s a receipt, invoice, gift, or a product sold, if you can brand it with your own logo then do it. It’s a reminder to them that you exist and that your business is there to help them.
Need some marketing materials?
3. VISUAL IDENTITY / DESIGN
- If you already have a logo to represent your business, what does your brand logo look like? Does your visual representation look like you designed it in Microsoft word? (This may be hard to see yourself so make sure you get a couple opinions)
- Compare your logo to those of major, successful businesses, both globally and in your area. Does your representation stack up to theirs? We’re not going for copying, or for imitating them, but we are looking for quality – QUALITY.
Hire a professional if you must, in fact, just hire a professional.
Professionals will usually know what is happening within the industry of design. Not just graphics design, but design as a whole – at least they should. You’d be surprised how much fashion influences design as a whole, from graphics design, to web design to print media.
If you a hire a professional, trust them. This isn’t to say your opinion doesn’t matter, because after all you are paying them to work for you, right? Your opinion on your business matters, just make sure you hear them out and you are willing to keep an open mind to direction based off of their experience. If you look at their portfolio and see that they have had multiple clients pay them for work, they probably know what they’re talking about because those clients have trusted them with the visual identity and presentation of their business.
Think of it this way: If you are an electrician, and someone hired you to do a job at your home because they don’t know all there is to know about electrical work (I definitely don’t outside of Youtube’ing tips). You’re getting paid to do your job, and there is a certain code that you have to adhere to for things to be done “right,” otherwise you could get in trouble, the house could be a fire hazard, and not to mention, YOUR NAME IS ON IT. If you’re like me, you probably take pride in what you do. So, what would happen if the home owner told you to do your electrical job in a sub-par manner, or not up to a certain business standard that you have set for yourself? You may explain the importance of why you are doing things that way and the dangers of not doing things at a professional standard, yet still you want it done differently. You as the electrician would probably not be happy to put your name on it and would probably wonder why you were hired to do a job.
THE POINT…Protect your BUSINESS’ visual identity, and have a professional designer do the work. Your business’ success could depend on it.
4. ADHERENCE TO A BRANDING GUIDE
Do you have a branding guide? What is a branding guide?
A branding guide is a document that can be supplied by a designer. It is there for your own reference whenever you do any type of in-house design, marketing, or press releases. This is to ensure that you are using the exact same colors, fonts, and styles that were determined by your designer (usually the one who created your logo) day in and day out.
A branding guide can even go as far as using the same photographer, or same screen printer or embroidery business that you work with. This is an extreme example but would probably be found more with fashion brands. The goal is to set a standard and the more you adhere to your guidelines the more you communicate that your brand is ‘here to stay’ to all of your potential and current clients. You are creating a lifestyle.