What's in a Brand?
A great many companies have a tendency to assume branding is the same as marketing. A brand is, in a sense, a personality, an image, a reputation, if you will. Ultimately, a brand is the marketplace perception of a company. The process of branding involves market research and the strategic creation of elements that give meaning and value to a company and the products and services it offers to consumers. The purpose of branding is to create visibility, familiarity and availability to consumers. Branding is used to help garner loyalty and trust by communicating who they are, why consumers should buy their products, what they have to offer and most importantly, consistently delivering on the brand promises the company makes. Any business looking to grow and prosper must understand the value of branding, so they can implement a brand strategy and reap the benefits. There are many aspects of creating a brand and the process can be daunting. Hiring a professional team to help build your brand will support your ability to compete in target markets and keep you from getting lost in the shuffle. Working with local experts will also be helpful as they will better understand consumer behavior and local market segments. For example, businesses in the Chicagoland area might search for top Chicago marketing and branding companies to help narrow results. But before you invest money, let’s take a look at the most common branding mistakes companies make and how you can avoid them.
The Wrong Name
What’s in a name? Is the name you select for your business really that important? In branding, it is of the utmost importance. Many people simply don’t understand the potential impact a name could have on their business and ultimately their bottom line. Using a family name is okay – even advisable in many cases. Forbes.com suggests family names used in business can increase your ability to earn loyalty and trust. However, it might be worth considering that should the brand name become highly successful, would you be willing to sell it?
If you decide on a non-familial name, be careful not to use generically over-used words that can be found in literally every other market on the planet. It becomes nearly impossible to separate your business from 5,000 others with the same name. Also, overused words have a tendency to lose their meaning and effect. This should be a no-brainer, but the statistics are staggering.
Your company name is a critical branding element that could make or break your ability to succeed. Industry leaders today understand what’s in a name. They understand the power of strategic branding and the sum of its parts. Ignore the concept and elements of branding and you will continue to max out on growth potential. Only when you start to work with experts in the industry, will you see the true meaning of this note.
Building a Brand with Chaotic Elements
This speaks to the true nature of those companies who piece together brand elements without a plan and without an understanding of how they work together. Many companies fail to create cohesive, succinct and easy to understand elements that establish and support the company brand. Take logo design for example. Whenever you see a tagline included as part of the logo, you can safely assume they have not been professionally branded. A logo is just as important as a company name and should include the company name and possibly a symbol – known as the logo mark. A logo mark should be a clean and simple vector-based graphic that is as clear and effective on business cards as it is on billboards or banners and every other print or digital application in between. Take Nike for example. They don’t even need to put their name on a product, they simply display the “swoosh” symbol, and it speaks volumes about the brand. They don’t have to include anything beyond the small logo mark in any of their promotional material and you know immediately who you’re dealing with – otherwise known as brand recognition. Your company may not compete with Nike, but as far as branding is concerned, you can learn a lot from what the sports giant is doing with their branding.
The Color of Chaos
All too often, companies foster chaos in their unprofessional branding efforts by casually changing the colors of their brand through various collateral at any given time and for any given reason, i.e., website, brochures, direct mailers, digital campaigns, etc. Establishing and remaining consistent with your brand colors is imperative in creating brand recognition. Think about the most iconic brands in the world – most people can undoubtedly associate each of them with their brand colors as they rarely (if ever) deviate from their strategic selections. A great deal of research has been conducted on the psychological effects of color. Industry giants know how to capitalize on this information in their brand strategy. The New York Times reported on some of this research stating the psychological effects of the color red is used to “[increase] appetite and table turnover in restaurants”. How many companies in the food and beverage industry can you name that use the color red?
No Clear Visual Design Flow
And color is just one piece of a company’s visual brand that must remain consistent. The style of imagery is another. Making sure the photography used in your marketing collateral is professional and consistent in style is quite important. It might be said that nothing can devalue your company more than poor-quality photos. The graphic design style and font selection should be clearly established and should remain consistent as well. Overall tone of voice in all written and verbal communication is another piece of the visual brand that provides an opportunity to deliver consistency and bolster brand recognition. These are just a few elements to keep in mind when establishing your company brand. All companies start out small – even the industry leaders. The difference between companies that remain small and the companies that flourish is the understanding and consistent use of the power of branding.
Blending in With Competitors
There’s nothing wrong with utilizing competitor specific elements in your branding, to an extent. There’s something to be said about emulating the best in any field, but there’s a breaking point as well. If you focus on literal copy-cat methods, your brand will falter. You don’t want to blend in with your competition and try to get their leftover marketing channels. You want to compete head to head, and that means that you’ll need to stand out. Branding is all about establishing and clarifying what sets you apart from your competitors. Consider this: there are 100 other companies selling the same widgets you’re selling. Establishing and promoting your brand is showcasing your personality and style and communicating your brand promise to customers. Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing, says it best, “If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low-cost producer is the only winner.” If you’re not selling the lowest price widgets, you’d better be building and promoting your brand. We can help you build a strong and cohesive brand and offer marketing services as well to get you and your brand in front of your customers.
How to Avoid Mistakes in Branding
Taking all of the above into consideration is a good start on building a stronger and more easily recognizable brand, but these are only the highlights of brand messaging and design. You can avoid the mistakes so many companies make beginning with the points discussed here. In order to be truly effective with your brand, it is imperative to have a clear business model and understand your market(s), so you can achieve a solid position within them. Your brand elements are designed to support your market position and objectives. It goes without saying that your product and service must match your branding and marketing, or your business won’t be successful in the long run. Consumers are intelligent and resourceful these days. There is a great deal of strategy that goes into branding. It is worth looking into having brand and marketing professionals guide the process for you from the beginning, so you can rest easy in that respect and focus on other aspects of your business.
Ready to build a better brand?
Get in touch with us today to get back on track to the road of happy (and successful) destiny. We look forward to working with you!
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Jungbauer Design Studio is a design, branding and marketing firm passionate about helping companies in the Chicagoland area establish differentiation in their market segments. Our brand process, integrated marketing communications, high-quality design work and outstanding project management skills offer a unique experience to companies looking to establish, or increase the quality of their brand, marketing tools and overall sales. This integrated model offers insight into the benefits of branding and marketing, a better understanding of the design process, a clear roadmap for cost and time expectations and a seamless process from the first consultative conversation to final execution. We aim to raise the bar in everything we do for our employees and for our clients. For more information, visit jungbauerstudio.com.