In our first part of this 2 part post on branding consistency, we focused on the part of branding that we can control: “how you present your business.” Now, let’s talk about the other side to branding:
What are other people’s (the users) perception about your business/brand and what is their experience like?
Before we dive in, the following are all questions we should ask ourselves as business owners and if we have the opportunity to, we should ask our target audience. Why? Because it can help identify any trouble spots within our business. For example: I am not the greatest at grammar. Even though I know the differences between the words: your and you’re, what commas are meant for, and I know how to spell (mostly). I tend to not pay attention, and can post terribly written content. So, if I’m not asking the questions below, I can easily overlook my faults and represent my own business terribly enough that I could scare away any potential clients.
So, here we go.
1. WHEN THEY SEE A REPRESENTATION OF YOUR BUSINESS, WHAT IS THEIR FIRST IMPRESSION?
Is your business one that the customer can trust to deliver? Now, of course I’m going to refer to design because that is my field…You would be surprised how a well designed logo or website can affect this mindset. If it looks cheap sometimes it will almost immediately turn a potential client off. If you’re wondering why your website doesn’t generate business, there is a good possibility that it’s lacking in one or more departments such as:
Design & Layout – Along with the visual design being exciting and easy to understand, layout is huge when it comes to where the human eye naturally wants to look. A professional with years of experience in design will take this into account when designing and laying out your project.
Readability – Is your logo, website, business card, (insert other marketing material here) easy to read, see, and make out? Is your business name legible from a distance or is it too small? If someone visits your website, is it easy to navigate and find the information they want? Ask yourself, “do I think a drunk person could find what they are looking for on my website?” I know, that’s an extreme example, but seriously, if the readability of any marketing material like a brochure or website is too hard to read and understand, or does not get to the point it can be a huge disappointment when it comes to showing off to your target audience. Also, if you have the same issue with a website then don’t be surprised if your bounce rate is high. (A bounce rate is the number of people who visit and then leave your website fairly quickly versus the amount of people who stay engaged seeking more information.)
Findability – Is your business easy to find? Whether it’s the phone book, Google, Yahoo, or a physical location, is your business marketed well throughout the city? How is your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? When you search keywords within your industry, coupled with the name of your city, will your site be queried within the first page of Google? For example: Our firm is in Tulsa, OK. If I go do a Google search for, ‘Graphics Design Tulsa’ our firm is on the first page, and it even shows our review rating. If your business is not coming up within the first couple pages, I’d advise checking out our search engine optimization services.
2. WHAT IS THEIR OPINION OF YOUR LOOK?
This is tricky, because if you ever had design work done you probably had someone you trust give you their opinion on the work provided to you. Opinions are great, but it is important for them to be weighed against the opinion of a professional, then compare those opinions and work together with the designer to come up with a solution if it’s necessary. As a professional designer, when I supply a project draft I always ask for detailed feedback. The point here is to understand the perspective of my client, and their opinion, in order to create a solution. Now, when it comes to getting the opinions of others make sure you do not second guess yourself and what you like. Once you start to receive a lot of people’s opinion you can run the risk of confusing yourself, the designer, and next thing you know, the direction you once had based off any previous consultations can be jaded.
Some large design firms actually factor brand research into their pricing for brand identity/logo design, and they will design a handful of options, and then survey a number of people to see how they respond. A prime example would be USA Today’s logo (the blue circle). It’s a freakin’ blue circle, and their name in a specific font, simple as can be, right? Wrong. Though the design aspect may be simple the design firm surveyed a large number of people to see how people responded to a vast number of logo ideas before landing on the right one.
Need some marketing materials?
3. WHAT IS THEIR OPINION OF HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF?
Do you have a dress code, and based off of what you wear, do people get a sense of where you work or what you do? Think about Apple. Walk into any Apple store in the USA, and all the employees are wearing the same shirt, even the same color shirt, so it’s easy to identify who is there to help you. Also, they wear t-shirts, probably as a means to make their employees feel approachable. If they were all wearing suits what would that do psychologically to a customer? Bottom line, what vibe are you wanting to create around you as an individual, and the work that you do?
And finally, this leads us back to consistency. Once you have asked your clients, and yourself the important questions then we want to maintain a standard and ask…
4. DO THEY SEE BRAND CONSISTENCY THROUGH ALL THE DIFFERENT AREAS OF YOUR BUSINESS?
This question is loaded, because your business can have SO MANY departments and aspects. So let’s just get the ball rolling with a few listed below on the design side of things.
Is your brand consistent in?
- Print Media
- Color Scheme
- Social Media
And the list goes on…
All of this goes back to our previous post on developing a branding guide, but let’s touch on that once again. Your brand needs to be consistent from it’s conception and throughout it’s life. That does allow room for change, but just like a child grows up, they change, but who they are stays the same, their features mature, they change their clothes every once in a while, but for the most part they are still recognizable because of who they are. Unless, however, they FORGET who they are. The branding guide is there for this reason: So you DON’T forget who your business is. You determine how much you adhere to this, what positive changes you need to make to succeed, and what aspects never change.