The eyes of your potential customers are the first participants in your business or your client's business. A snap judgement is made within seconds of one coming across your website or interacting with your brand offline. Choosing the right "sense of style" for your business not only reinforces how you want people to perceive your brand but also should support all of your marketing efforts. Whether you are starting your own business or already have one, the following tips will help you to think more strategic about how you're positioned in the marketplace as well as how people perceive your brand.
Normally, the first place a company start thinking about their brand is with a logo. Here are some questions to ask yourself when developing one.
- Does it clearly identify my company?
- Does it appeal to my target market?
- How does it make my company different?
- How does it support the import aspects of my company's USP?
Right along side your business logo comes your company's name. Here are a few things to consider when creating a name.
- Recognition of your products or services: Is it clear what your company does?
- Differentiation: Does your name stand out at all or does it blend in with the rest of your competitors. (example; A law firm called Smith, Johnson and Anderson VS Traffic Busters.)
- Favorable association with your target market: You know best what your target market eats, where they live and what motivates them to buy. Position your company in the best light with them and you'll start to see more traction.
Working with a Graphic Designer
The next steps will be different depending on how your business is structured, your size and relationships. If you're a larger organization, you probably have an in-house graphic designer that wears many hats. This is the go-to person I would consult with first before utilizing outside sources to create any sort of branded material. If things are busy and you need to reach out to someone outside of your company, I highly recommend you, at the least, include SOMEONE from your business that knows about your brand in the creative process. It will save time in the long run and keep your brand consistent over time. No one knows your business better than you or one of your employees!
There are a tons of ways to outsource graphic design as well. One of my favorites...and in my opinion the best is.... 99designs.com. This site not only allows you to crowd source your designs, but they allow you to provide a creative brief beforehand, rating and real-time feedback along the way. I've used this service many times and it has always proven to be successful. When using 99designs or a company like them (haven't found one to be as awesome), you need to make sure you're conveying the right things to the designer(s).
Make sure to include details like...
- Your business goals
- Your company's story
- Your target audience
- What you don't want
Giving enough information to the designer is crucial. Yes, giving "full creative license" to them is easy to do....but please don't. Laying the correct and most strategic foundation for your business from a branding perspective is one of the smartest business decisions you'll ever make.
*NOTE* If you're a small business, don't get obsessed with branding your business. There should be some definite thought, money and consideration there but it's easy to get sidetracked. Most small businesses don't have the huge marketing budgets like Coca Cola, Dell or Microsoft. A small business's marketing goal should be lead generation and getting people to RESPOND to your marketing messages. More on this in a different post but wanted to add it because its an important point to remember.
Do you recommend any other graphic design services? Did I miss anything else is relation to business branding above? Comment below.