Your brand is more than how people see you – it’s how they perceive you, what they think about you and how they feel about you. It is anything that leads them to choose your business over another one.
Is Your Brand Working for You?
Business owners like you go into business for themselves because of their passion for what they do, and their desire to be able to make a good living from this passion. You want the freedom of a comfortable income and happy work-life balance from work that you love. Something that doesn’t necessarily feel like a work, something that you wake up to each day and can’t wait to get stuck into.
But many business owners will work too long and too hard trying to build a customer base and a good reputation, and years later still find themselves earning only a basic wage.
This isn’t because they aren’t good at what they do. It’s because they aren’t good at selling themselves. And they aren’t good at charging what they are worth.
This is where good branding design comes in.
What is Brand Design?
Branding, in a nutshell, is the identity you create for your business that gives it a distinct look and feel. A brand designer will make sure that your business message is communicated through its public and visual representation to the people that you most want to connect with.
Your online and offline presence will be represented everywhere, including your website, emails, social media pages, guest blogs, in posters, business cards, promotional material, possibly even on packaging and to decorate your store.
You are probably familiar with the term ‘graphic designer’, and you may be wondering why having a graphic designer for your business may not be enough for branding. Graphic design is one very valuable part of brand design, but it doesn’t stop there.
A graphic designer will create a visual representation of your brand. Through visual communications, original graphics and promotional material, they will craft a unique business identity. This could include a colour scheme for your business, original logo, website layout, and font choices.
Brand design combines graphic design with an in-depth knowledge of your business message, as well as industry and marketing trends to create a whole strategy for your business.
This means analysing your industry, your customers and your competitors. It means understanding what sets you apart and what solutions you provide for your customers that no one else can.
It means crafting an identity for your business that helps you connect with the right audience, and then helps you intrigue them enough to buy from you.
Do you need a brand designer anyway?
Your brand is more than just the graphic design – this makes up only part of the whole package that your branding represents. Branding includes what your customers see, and it also includes how your business makes them feel. It includes the total experience provided by being a customer of yours.
It must be mentioned here also that a brand is also the responsibility of the business owner as one can have an awesome visual identity and go through the brand creation process but if it just sits there collecting visual dust then it is of no use to anyone. Seth Godin makes the point that a brand
"used to be a logo or a design or a wrapper. Today, that's a shadow of the brand, something that might mark the brand's existence. But just as it takes more than a hat to be a cowboy, it takes more than a designer prattling on about texture to make a brand." He concludes by stating that, in brand creation, "design is essential, but design is not brand."
The journey of a successful brand requires many steps and yes it is essential to include a designer that knows branding and a brand expert that knows or has access to a great graphic designer. A brand designer will have both of these skills.
So, what does a brand designer actually do for your business? What is the benefit of hiring a brand designer over a graphic designer? Grab a pen and paper; I’ll share with you why you need a brand designer.
Branding gives you greater control and direction over your customers’ perception of your business
When you start out in business, customers will develop their own perception of you. Without branding this takes time, and mostly works through word of mouth. Without branding, it is also a bit out of your control – you won’t be able to direct or affect the perception of your business except through impressions of your products and services.
Branding speeds up the word of mouth process
Branding can do two key things – it can bring you the right customers and it can do it faster. If you are just starting out, or if you have been in business for a while and still don’t seem to be engaging the right customers, then working with a brand designer could be a very clever idea.
Branding creates harmony and consistency in your public image
Many small business owners are capable of putting together a cohesive visual representation of their brand, through DIY-ing a logo, and choosing some snappy colours and font. A word of warning here, tread carefully if this is the approach you are going to take. Ensuring you have done the groundwork before starting any visuals of your brand is key to creating something with longevity. DIY-ing is no replacement for working with a professional who knows your industry and has the skills to bring your vision to life both visually and internally.
A sense of harmony and consistency is needed with your branding so that everything about you gives the same feeling and exudes the same experience.
When your customer follows online links to you, consistent branding lets them know they have come to the right place. It welcomes them and gives you that presence of immediate professionalism, quality, and trust (along with any other feelings you’d like to come across as well!)
When we are showing up authentically it is easier to connect with people
The confidence and ease that comes with sharing something that is you, something you don’t need to hide behind, brings a higher level of confidence to you as a business owner. Making a greater impact through your business becomes inevitable, as you will feel safe knowing you are being your authentic self.
It isn’t so much a case of ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ but rather keep sharing to allow the space for people to build the trust they require to take the next step to work with you.
Being authentic sends a consistent message between how you are in person and how you are in the digital landscape. If your business has it’s own unique personality, then ensuring you and all of your team are on board with your brand values and ethos will be imperative to showing up authentically.
Some secrets to good branding include:
- Branding which is targeted and focused enough to engage the customers that you want
- Not just trying to please everyone or promising things that you can’t deliver
- A message that is clear, truthful and relevant
- A message that matches the values and aspirations of your customers, not just solving their problems
- Branding that delivers the human and personal side of your story
- Branding that positions your business where the right customers will find it
Ok, now all of that probably sounds wonderful for your business, but doesn’t really explain how it all happens...
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