Does My Brand Tell An Old Story?
Tell me your life story in six words.
Have you ever played this party game? It’s tricky- how can you possibly encompass your whole story in such a small container? Actually, a strong brand is one of the best examples. It tells customers what your company is called, what you’re offering to the world, and what you’re about and stand for.
Like a Russian Nesting Doll, a brand encompasses almost everything about your company. Inside of the outer shell, it contains a whole flurry of visual elements and mission statements that define culture, identity, and niche in an industry. It introduces you before you get a chance to interact with your customer, and like the best wingman, you want it to do a good job of talking you up!
Your brand is your company’s personality, and every aspect of your brand’s presentation helps your audience understand who you are and why you do what you do. So, how do you take it to the next level? First, you need to make sure the foundation is strong.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or brushing off the cobwebs, there are some building blocks of branding that are essential to have in place. In order to make sure your brand stands on sturdy ground, keep these four steps to successful branding in mind:
- Define your business. Why do you exist? What are you about? What problem do you solve?
- Know your audience. Who has that problem or desire for what you’re offering?
- Design your brand identity. When that problem comes up, are you who the customer thinks of to help?
- Monitor your growth. You’re in it for the long haul, so what KPIs help you track your progress? It’s a game-changer to have the data to determine if your brand is growing or stuck in a rut.
Along with visual elements, your brand is defined by the tone of your company’s content, the culture your business presents, and core beliefs or causes your organization stands behind. Does your company have a die-hard view of environmental protection? Is racial justice foundational to your mission? What makes you tick and drives your passion as a company? Don’t be afraid to tell your customers where you stand ethically! These characteristics of brand awareness will impact how you visually represent yourself.
What’s Loyalty Got To Do With It?
What brands are you loyal to? Why? Is it their high-quality products or their allegiance to help mitigate climate change? Brand loyalty is powerful. Done well, your branding has the power to attract customers for life. These days the consumer casts their vote for the world they want with their dollar and their brand loyalty.
You want them to recognize you, remember you, and connect with what you’re about. Building your brand identity means also building brand recognition: the key to creating loyal customers. The magical combination of brand identity and a powerful and forward-thinking impact statement can hook customers and help you develop your company’s personality.
Is It Time To Switch Things Up?
Part of taking your brand to the next level is being able to acknowledge that it might be time for a change. If your company feels like it’s stuck in a rut, trust your instincts! While you may have some organizational changes to make, it’s also vital to look at your brand’s potential issues.
Retire the 90s Haircut
Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot to love in the 90s. Between the grunge music and grungier clothes, the 90s had its vibe and its time in the limelight. However, if your logo is still stuck in the 90s, it’s time to let it evolve. A logo should be a living, breathing entity that can grow with your business model to keep telling your story. If your logo is more than ten years old, there have likely been significant changes or growth in your industry. Imagine if you were still rocking that 90s clothing for your day-to-day style, or better yet, your 90s hairstyle!
For example, Apple’s original logo was color-heavy: its rainbow-doused apple design was full of vibrancy and stood out in a growing industry. Today, Apple’s logo has become as minimalist as its sleek devices: black, crisp lines, and an unforgettable symbol of powerful technology. Let your logo reflect cultural shifts and new norms. Embrace modernized color schemes. Like a stylish new haircut or refreshing visit to the barber, a logo revamp can elevate your game entirely!
You’ve Got Inconsistencies
Don’t stop with that fresh haircut! Many companies think that their logo is the only consistent visual element they need— and a couple of decades ago, they may have been right. Today, consistency is everything: it’s vital for defining your brand, making your brand more recognizable, and building loyalty.
Does your brand have a style guide? A style guide helps all the departments and entities within your company consistently use specific brand elements, whether it’s to craft a customer newsletter or in creating an ad campaign. Who doesn’t love being on the same page?
When Reply-All Becomes a Reality
Growth is a great problem to have! You’ve evolved as a company from a one-man show to multiple departments, and that means you’re killing it in bringing your work to reach farther. But if you don’t have a strong brand identity, your brand message will feel like a cumbersome game of telephone, and you may lose a lot of your luster in the communication lines.
Make your growth an opportunity to solidify a robust set of visual criteria—your style guide— making it easier for your whole team to maintain brand consistency and tell the right story!
When Two Become One
What happens if you’ve merged – what does that do to your visual branding? Unless one company has exceptional brand loyalty and recognition, it’s wise to rebrand to combine your respective identities. Like a recently married couple starting new holiday traditions together, a merger is an opportunity to create a new identity with your visual brand.
You have a couple of options: either combine your names and identities so neither company loses brand recognition, or come up with a brand new shared identity.
A great example of a merger resulting in a total transformation is Verizon, which used to be Bell Atlantic and GTE. The two companies chose to launch a new brand to reflect the shift away from their previous landline service and focus on their mobile venture. The new identity allowed them to start fresh with a new service model and mission.
New You, New Do
Okay, now you’re feeling it: your brand is in dire need of a makeover. Now you have a few tasks ahead of you:
- Redesign/refresh your logo
- Define your visual identity
- Establish a style guide
- Create templates to make consistency easier across the board
Redesigning your logo is a big step, and it’s important to take your time deciding how it should change. If the full redesign isn’t necessary, start with small steps and give it a refresh instead. One great example of logo progression is Instagram: what began as a detailed Polaroid camera icon in 2010 has been simplified to clean lines that still suggest a camera.
Create a strong style guide to document how to (and how not to) use your brand’s visual identity. Your style guide will help define your brand’s tone of voice, company culture, color schemes, and typography. From business cards to presentations to social media messaging – consistency is key. Templates will ensure uniformity and make it easy for your company to craft messages and create easily recognizable content, which will help build your brand’s identity.
I Want The Makeover!
If this process seems daunting, fear not! At 729 Solutions, we’re your secret weapon and visual brand stylist! Together we’ll help identify gaps or inconsistencies, and also pull forward the areas you’re already shining and can share more! We’ll help recreate or refresh your brand from the inside-out and establish a system that will grow your brand recognition—and ultimately, your customer base.