Branding, Necessity Not Luxury
Your brand identity goes beyond that of just having a logo. Your brand needs to speak to your customers in how it looks and feels.
Let’s go back a step to brand names. Everyone knows the logo, or brand, for corporations such as Target, Delta Airlines, Walmart and Verizon. Brands that are used consistently lead to more engagement and action from potential buyers and those who offer referrals.
But, when it comes to branding, it goes much deeper than a logo. About 10 years ago, while trying to put together a few marketing pieces for my employer, I was handed a “brand book.”
Little did I know that marketing collateral needed more attention paid to it than just slapping in a logo here and there. Most logos have standards and cannot be skewed, stretched, cropped, electronically reshaped or changed into “prettier” colors at the whim of the user. Colors usually have a primary set as well as a secondary set, and those colors have color codes that need to be matched down to the letter or number. The branding book set me straight on exact colors, approved artwork, buffer space, as well as a logo's minimum and maximum sizes.
For larger companies, branding is easy. It’s been established and people know it. For small businesses, branding is equally as important. In order to be noticed and competitive, one must create a brand and begin cultivating connections with their audiences through marketing, messaging and engagement. For those who know me, they are aware that I love the color pink, but they don’t know my pink actually has four shades. Those shade codes are used in all of my marketing – from printed documents to social media.
So, let’s recap – your brand identity goes beyond that of just having a logo. Your brand needs to speak to your customers in how it looks and feels. Believe it or not, your brand influences your customer’s experience. For small businesses, finding your brand requires brainstorming, researching and time.
That short list is not the fun part of branding, however, so let’s talk about what is. Creating your logo! design utilizing your chosen color palette, typography, iconography and photography or graphics. Your logo needs to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, catchy, and not too busy. Simple is always best, meaning not too busy to make someone say, “What the heck am I looking at?”
Now, let’s get back to branding boards. That is where all the pieces of your vision come together in one place including your fonts, colors, spacing, patterns, inspiration for the color palette, graphic elements and even your tagline. All those in one place makes it a visual board as well as a quick reference guide.
Once created, you will find yourself using this brand board over and over to ensure consistency in your visuals. In other words, you only use the font specified, the colors previously chosen and graphic elements you created. Always. Consistency is key to building your brand. You don’t see Target using all the colors in the rainbow for their stores, right? No, it’s red. Always red. And always a round target, not triangular one week and rectangular the next.
With the digital marketplace and social media so heavily used, branding is critical. There are thousands of businesses vying for the attention of consumers, and yours needs to stand out. Those potential customers need to become current customers. Speak to their eyes and hearts and draw them in – believe it or not, brands are that powerful. Branding is not a luxury, it is a necessity.