In every successful business, there comes a point in time when your audience expands beyond your friends, family, and local market. The timeline varies – it might happen as soon as you launch, or after several years of hard work. But whenever it happens, you need to have your brand in place.
To understand why, let’s look at the basics.
What is a brand?
Your company’s brand is simply how you’re perceived by everyone around you: current clients, past clients, potential clients, competitors, and the market as a whole.
Every business has a brand. The difference is that successful companies carefully shape their brand image through the use of branding and brand design: the use of logos, fonts, color palettes, and other design elements to create a purposeful image for your brand.
Great branding tends to be both subtle and specific. Many people think of logos first when they think of branding: Nike’s swoosh, NBC’s peacock, Apple’s apple. That’s why most small businesses prioritize getting a logo (sometimes even before they’ve gotten together a real business plan) – it makes their business feel “real”.
But logos are far from the whole story when it comes to branding. Font plays a huge part in how people perceive your brand – would the Harry Potter series feel nearly as exciting and magical if the titles were all rendered in Arial or Times New Roman? Would Google’s products seem nearly as high-tech if their logo font was Papyrus or Lucida Calligraphy?
Color also affects how consumers perceive brands, from the cheerful blue and yellow of IKEA to the deep black and electric green of Alienware, a company that makes gaming computers. There are even some businesses that have a signature scent to ensure customers have a positive association with their store or salon.
Is your business ready for a brand identity?
It can be hard to know exactly the right time to build a complete brand identity.
A lot of it depends on your market. If you’re a bootstrapping small business, just starting out and trying to grow, you probably don’t need a full identity package. But if you’re poised to grow significantly, or you’re launching a startup with a huge potential impact, you’ll want to have your complete brand identity in place before customers have the chance to get the wrong sense of your brand.
Redesigning or updating a brand is an even bigger challenge. It’s important to make changes carefully and with a lot of thought for consumer perceptions.
Apple, for example, is a company whose brand image focuses on advanced technology, user-friendly interfaces, and aesthetically-pleasing minimalist designs. It makes sense that while they settled on the iconic “bitten apple” image in 1976, they haven’t hesitated to change the color scheme from rainbow to monochrome to glass to metallic as styles and trends have changed.
Other companies tend to hold on to their brand image longer. The Golden Arches has been the primary symbol of McDonald’s since 1968, and Twinings Tea has been using the same logo since 1787 – more than 230 years.
Of course, while a brand refresh can be a great way to breath new life into a business, it can also damage a company’s reputation if the redesign is done without considering how consumers feel about the existing brand elements.
Tropicana learned this lesson in 2009, when they spent $35 million on a completely overhauled product design and accompanying ad campaign – only to find that their customers didn’t recognize the new cartons and thought they looked generic and low-quality, leading to a 20% drop in sales in two months and a speedy return to the old look.
How do you build a brand?
When it comes to building your brand, logos and business cards are only the beginning.
To create your brand image, you’ll need to determine your brand identity – who you are as a company and the mission and values you want to promote – and understand how various visual and non-visual elements combine to appeal to your target market.
Working with design professionals like Daley Design can make the process much easier. With years of experience, a passion for execution, and an expert eye for design, we’ve helped many companies build a brand they can be proud of.
We also bring a valuable outside perspective to your brand design, allowing you to get a better sense of how to appeal to prospective customers who are unfamiliar with your company.
If you’d like to learn more about how Daley Design can help your brand get off the ground – whether you’re starting from scratch or looking for an image makeover – we’d love to chat. You can get in touch with us at email@example.com.