As a graphic design studio we are partner to lots of small businesses and a handful of large corporations. Amongst the small to mid-size companies the term ‘Branding’ is regularly misunderstood, and furthermore it’s often dismissed as being something that only large corporates need worry about.
For the benefit of those naysayers, this article gives a few ideas about how small businesses can build strong brands too, and in doing so develop greater relationships with their customers.
To begin with, we find that many small businesses fail to take advantage of the opportunities that branding offers because of their own preconceptions of what it is. The three responses we tend to witness include:
Branding … that’s just another word for a logo isn’t it? Well no, actually it concerns the vision and values of your business; in essence it’s personality and the promises that it makes to your customers.
Branding … that’s just a fluffy marketing term! Ha. Brands in-fact appeal to our emotional selves and like it or not, everyone has their own instant emotional reaction to your brand, because humans are wired to do exactly that. In considering branding ‘fluffy’, some folk are ignoring the fact that those instant reactions are an opportunity to engage and communicate with their customers at an instinctive level.
Branding … that’s for multinationals with fast moving consumer goods. Traditionally it was. However many service related business came to realise that their customers were only able to make a judgement about their services after the purchase has been made. Whilst products have tangible benefits, services have no taste, touch or smell. They can only be experienced after they’ve been bought. Service business started to realise that as part of their sales, they needed to build confidence and a level of trust that they were the right choice for the customer, prior to the sale.
The very essence of Branding can therefore be used in a variety of ways in support of the businesses desired outcome:
To influence choice
To build loyalty and advocacy
To command a premium price
To provide differentiation, particularly in highly competitive markets
To provide a platform for growth.
This means that across any business mix of promotional materials, customer and sales service, websites, advertising, marketing collateral, and yes … logos, the brand identity can be developed to communicate a range of recognisable traits and positive qualities:
Pride – professionally designed logos and brand identity systems show that you are committed to presenting as a strong contender in your industry.
Visibility – the majority of prospective customers look for highly visible, well-defined and reputable businesses when seeking to make a purchase. The look and feel of your identity plays a major role in the decision making process, particularly in an ecommerce environment where their only experience of your company prior to making a purchase is the website and content itself.
Credibility – credibility with strong visual messaging in a professionally developed branding system, used throughout all business and marketing communications is how many of the most successful corporations stay one step ahead of their competitors.
Appearance – your brand identity positions your business to work with larger organizations. This helps to increase margins by setting premium rates for your products and / or services.
Retention – humans are visual people, and most people remember the things that they see, better than the things they read or hear. A consistent visual identity for your business and marketing communications will keep you at the forefront of current and potential clients’ minds when they require your products and services.
Stability – when you’re not in a position to claim that you’ve been ‘in business for 25 years’, a purposeful branding system can build the impression that your business is dedicated to the industry.
Differentiation – if they follow the direction of your strategic marketing plan, then a professional logo and a strong identity system will enable you to position your business succinctly, and in the right place in relation to the competitors in your market.
One great example of a small business reaping the benefits of a deliberate move to branding itself professionally is Brisbane based Exhibition & Display Services.
Originally established for the Brisbane Expo in 1988, they are a very well established business with many longstanding customers. However their external communications were suffering from a combination of fundamental errors, the sum total of which was creating a lack of professionalism and emotional appeal, both of which are paramount in the minds of prospective customers looking for competency and experience in exhibition design and event hire services in Brisbane.
In a steady approach over an 18 month period they have had their logo redesigned, then their website redesigned, then their business stationery, product catalogues and so on (all by us of course). The design approach itself sought to leverage the positive and more identifiable aspects of their existing materials, mainly the colour scheme, so that there rebranding was more of an evolution rather than completely throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
With the introduction of clean bold lines, confident design typography, and a Swiss style colour palette approach with a breakout of complimentary swatches to enable navigation of their broad event hire product range, they’ve ‘honed’ themselves and in-doing so have created great pride within the business, and great interest from new customers. Our headline for this article was inspired because they’ve been almost too successful, with renewed interest in products and services making them almost too busy!
Ultimately a brand has to be nurtured. Good branding takes time, thought and consistent application, but that doesn’t equate to a big budget. A good branding mindset requires both discipline and passion. It’s about caring for the big picture and the small detail.
To discuss your branding, call us now on 07 3300 0494.