Many new business owners want to fire up the branding engines up from Day 1. We applaud their enthusiasm, however flying into a visual identity with minimal insight is a foolhardy plan. Laying a thoughtful platform for your brand, as well as your business, ensures its longevity and trusted place within the industry.
Therefore, before a designer even picks up a pen, we suggest defining these 3 key areas.
1. Define who you are and what you do.
This step seems straightforward. You’ve been yourself for your entire life, and you’ve been practising your profession for a while. Well, that was easy. Tick. Next point…
Now, wait a minute. Hold your horses. Back it up. You need more than just a name, a title and a degree to start attracting customers. Why would potential clients choose your business over a competitor, particularly if they’re already well positioned in the market? What separates you from your rivals? What additional services do you offer? What is your unique selling proposition?
Woah, woah, woah. So many questions, I know. Sorry. But they must be answered (and actioned) in order to get a jump on your competition. By acknowledging your strengths, weaknesses and points of difference, you can define your position within the industry and establish your professional offering. These characteristics play an influential role in the direction of your branding; if you aren’t aware of them, your designer isn’t either.
2. Define your audience and language.
“I want to sell to everybody”. This statement is, all too often, declared boldly, brashly and at the business owners own peril. Keeping your options open may seem like the safest choice, but this marketing direction is impossible to brand, resulting in weakened sales. Even the world’s largest, most diverse brands have their set marketing targets.
Sure, ‘everybody’ eats McDonald’s; their marketing tells us so. But how many stores do you see in suburbs like Burnside? Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nil. Macca’s underlying branding strategy targets lower socio-economic areas. This demographic are more likely to eat cheap, fast food and, in turn, generate healthier profits for the company. They understand their product and who will consume it – despite everybody ‘lovin’ it’.
Then there’s language. The battle for international electronics supremacy rages worldwide; Apple and Microsoft compete fearlessly for top honours. However, both play to their advantage. There is no better example of this marketing position than in the Argon office. Apple’s minimalist style and snappy headlines attract our designers, while Microsoft’s comparatively complex layout and detailed explanations appeal to our web developers. Creativity vs Analytics. Both companies accommodate for each mindset, but, shrewdly market to their strengths.
In short, targeting ‘everybody’ is a cop out. While your products and services may appeal to the masses, your ability to maximise your income will be higher within a particular demographic; this is where your business needs to direct its branding.
3. Define your personality.
In many instances, your personality reflects directly on your business. This integration can be handy. You can be yourself, act naturally and let your character resonate with your clientele. However, this isn’t always the case. What happens when your traits and profession don’t match?
Imagine serious Sally trying to spruik party supplies, or comical Carl attempting to broker multi-million dollar deals. Despite every Hollywood comedy suggesting these scenarios will succeed in a series of hilarious circumstances, it simply isn’t true.
Compile a list of your personality traits, hobbies and passions. This very personal analysis can be daunting, but its details allow you to make an accurate comparison between your abilities and those required to succeed in your profession. Find skills that intersect with your industry. Sally’s demeanour is perfect for event organisation, while Carl is better suited to hosting out of town stakeholders.
Most importantly, don’t completely remove your personality from the business. Clients who enjoy an authentic experience with a company, and their team, are the best brand ambassadors.
Once these points have been defined, the branding process can begin. Knowing the business has a reliable marketing platform, your design team has all the tools and confidence to create a meaningful and lasting visual identity.