This week's 'This Much I Know' is all about branding. Each week, with these knowledge sharing posts I stress that I am no expert and that these are things I have learnt over the five years I have been running my business. However, branding is a subject that I have a good deal of experience in as I'm a Graphic Design graduate with over 12 years experience of working in the advertising industry working with brands at every scale from one man bands to multi-nationals.
Since I went freelance, I have developed branding for MANY small creative businesses and artists. The one thing that has struck me most over that time is the varying understanding people have about what a brand is. Which is why, today, rather than share 5 things I have learnt in the 5 years since I began my business, I'll share 5 key things I know about branding that may help others gain a clearer idea of exactly what it is and how to make it work hard for them and their business.
This Much I Know About Branding...
- Branding is not just a logo. It is an ethos, a vision, a mission and a set of values. It is basically the way you communicate all of that with your desired target market. Put simply, it is the way you tell the world about what it is you do and want to achieve. The logo is a part of that communication - an icon to embody it all. Branding is more than that though, it's the language you use, the images you choose to represent you, where you choose to be seen, how you package your products, how you handle an order or deal with a complaint etc...With artists, the brand is generally you!
- The key to it all is to simply understand what you makes you unique. What are your values? your vision? what are you aiming for? where do you want to be in the short and long term. How would other's describe you? How should it all look? If you were a colour what would you be? why? When you establish the answers to these sorts of questions you'll have the language for your brand.
- Have fun finding out the answers to these questions. Create mood boards, collect imagery, make it visual and enjoy the whole process of finding out. It will be time very well spent as without knowing those answers you will struggle to create a cohesive brand or brief a designer to develop branding that works for you.
- Consistency is vital as it makes it easy for others to understand your brand and identify with you. When you're consistent it makes it very quick for people to buy into your brand, and once they have bought into you, it is very reassuring to see consistent branding as people feel they know you. It's fine to dramatically change your branding if you need to re-position yourself to attract a new or different market...but be aware that you could lose loyal customers that don't share your new vision and no longer identify with you.
- Be clear on where you want to be in 3-5 years with your business and ensure that vision is reflected in your branding. Investing in well branded materials can be costly over time. Chopping and changing your branding is not only confusing and off putting for customers it can leave you sitting on wasted stocks of business cards, stickers, packaging etc. which is no good for the bottom line of your business either. Basically, it all stems from clearly understanding what your brand is about.
I hope you found this week's 5 tips helpful. Next week I plan to share some things I've learnt about selling online.
Until then, have a lovely day!