Having a good brand can make or break your business. Image by Mark Nazh. In the following article, we’ll be sharing a few branding tips for you to implement in your photography business. You can apply the same general rules if you operate any kind of visual online business where your goal is to sell your creative work. Every single visual material has to be consistent with your brand, think of your logo, the fonts you use and your color palettes. Like I’ve said before, the difference between a successful brand and other less known ones has a lot to do with their branding consistency and their marketing efforts.
Why do I hate my new logo?
Never fear, your Cleveland Logo design firm Go Media is here to explain!
Everyone knows what a logo is. It’s that shape companies use to represent their company; like Nike’s swoosh, McDonald’s golden arches (M) or Starbucks green mermaid. But what’s branding exactly? Branding is a more holistic perspective of how your customers experience your company. While a logo is only a small simple mark, a brand includes every single touch-point your customers have with your company.
Let’s use Nike as an example and consider the differences between a logo and a brand.
Nike’s logo is the swoosh. It’s a nice clean simple shape that represents motion and speed. The name Nike is derived from the greek Winged Goddess of Victory. It’s very nice, but it’s just a mark – a simple shape.
Nike’s branding includes its commercials, sports celebrity endorsements, product packaging, store design, product placement on tv and in movies, sponsorships, in-store graphics, hang-tags, the music in its videos, the design of its website, print ads, product photography, technology, and on and on and on… It’s every touch point you have with Nike.
So, why does it matter? Why should I care that my Cleveland Logo Design company Go Media does branding and not just logo design? Here’s why: your customers don’t experience your company in the form of a logo floating to them in a white Matrix-like void. They experience your brand through your website, or your menu or your product packaging or your commercials. It’s important that the design company that is working on your logo understands that your logo is just one small part of a large collection of graphics.
Unfortunately, this is how many business owners think a good logo design works.
Step 1. A potential customer sees a logo.
Step 2. If the logo is ‘good’, they have an emotional and intellectual reaction. They instantly know what the company sells, and they know it’s awesome!
Step 3. They decide to purchase the product or service.
Naturally, if this is how business owners think branding works, then they would expect to have a strong positive emotional reaction when seeing a new logo concept for their company. But they don’t. Almost all business owners upon seeing a new logo design for their company do NOT have a strong emotional reaction. And since they don’t, they assume the logo design is bad. After all, they have a strong positive emotional reaction to the Nike logo! That’s what makes it a good logo. Right?
So, if the logo itself doesn’t trigger a positive emotional reaction, why the heck do I get so excited when I see the Nike logo? Here’s how it really works:
Step 1. A potential customer sees a logo.
Step 2. If the logo is familiar to them (such as Nike’s swoosh), they will instantly remember all the experiences they’ve had with the brand – the commercials, your experience owning Nike products, seeing your hot neighbor wearing Nike clothes, the packaging, the way your friends talk about the brand, celebrity endorsements, etc.
Step 3. These memories trigger the emotional and intellectual response. Yes! I know this company! I know their products, and they’re COOL!
Step 4. They decide to purchase the latest pair of Nike shoes.
As you can see, the logo is only a visual queue to the brain to recall their experiences interacting with the company (also known as the ‘brand’!) The memory of the brand experience is what triggers the emotional reaction!
So, back to the business owner and the new logo. This is how their experience looks when looking at their new logo.
Step 1. A potential customer sees their new logo design.
Step 2. They do NOT have any memories tied to the new mark.
Step 3. Because they have no memories, they do not feel ‘excited’ or enlightened in any way.
Step 4. They fire their designer.
Now, let me just clarify something. I don’t want to suggest that all business owners instantly hate their logo design and fire their designers. But this is certainly a challenge that designers face when working with business owners – particularly those who have well established brands. Companies with well established brands have many years of experiences with their logo – creating strong emotional attachments. Hopefully this knowledge will help you understand why you’re still clinging to your old logo and not upgrading to a new, better one.
“Well, that’s all fine and dandy Bill, but why are you telling us all of this?” I can hear you thinking. I just want to make a clear distinction between ‘logo design’ and ‘branding.’ What Go Media does for it’s clients is ‘branding.’ We consider all aspects of what makes up a brand, and integrate that into our design process. So, yes, at the end of the project you WILL have:
These are all the foundational elements you need for your brand. But during the process, you will find that our team also considers other aspects of your brand. This is unique to each project, but might include things like: hang tags, signage, website, apparel, paper type and finishes, uniforms, billboards, product packaging, etc.
This design process is different than most other firms take and can even be confusing at first to our own clients. In the first couple of rounds they might ask: “Hey! Where’s the logo?” Invariably, they come to understand what we’re doing and by the end they have a much more well thought-out solution for their company. They have more than a logo, they have a brand!
“But Bill!” I can hear you saying “One last thing. Why does your website call your service ‘Logo Design’ if what you really do is ‘Branding?’” Well, the answer to that is simple. More business owners search on Google for the term ‘logo design’ than they do ‘branding.’ So, naturally, I want my website to be optimized for the term people search more. When communicating with clients it’s important to maintain a client centric perspective.
Stay tuned for the next article that details a step-by-step example of our logo (branding) design process: “The Branding Process: 4 Steps to Success”
Sold? Ready to start your branding project with Go Media? Request a Quote for your next Logo Design Project. Or give us a call! 216-939-000
What are the advantages of branding? It’s a fair question.
We’re always talking about branding, but what are the real advantages of branding a business?
Away from having a good looking, attractive brand, that sells well to your customers, there are a whole of other advantages to branding your business properly.
As a bit of a primer to this article, check out our Ultimate Guide to Small Business Branding, which will guide you through a lot of the key terms and branding ideas to consider for your business.
Or, if you’d rather check out a video, then we’ve got you covered here:
If you want to create the next Apple, or Nike, but you don’t understand the competitive advantages of branding, or even how good branding can work for your business, then this is the post for you.
The first two things a strong business brand should do is work to build brand recognition and customer loyalty.
Consistent and considered use of the same graphic elements, wording, photography, and advertising, will work together to form your brand identity.
If people see your brand in the wild, and it’s consistent in it’s visual approach and delivery, your building up brand recognition.
Consistency is a vital ingredient when trying to use branding to your advantage. It’s no good having an advert in Men’s Fitness, that looks completely different to the advert in GQ magazine. Then, when the customers visit your website, they’re greeted with something different again.
Consistency helps build brand recognition, which is one of the biggest advantages to successful business branding.
One of the main things that a strong brand helps you do, is communicate. Communicate your vision, mission, and ideas.
But it also helps communicate;
When I started Canny, I knew where I wanted to be in a few years time. So I decided to not use “Tony Hardy” as my design name. I started off with Canny Creative.
I wanted to communicate size. I didn’t want people to think it was just one guy working out of his bedroom in his underpants. Which it was, for a little while.
But the plan was always to grow, so I used my brand to communicate size. And it worked!
Branding can also help communicate quality. Let’s look at pizza as an example. Because, who doesn’t like looking at pizza?
Dominos and Pizza Hut are two of the most successful pizza chains in the world. They stand out from a sea of other pizza companies, because of their strong branding and marketing efforts, which make them known for quality pizza.
Here’s a real story about an experience I had with Dominos;
When we went out to Tokyo to visit Shodai, Adrienne was struggling with the food choices. Being a vegetarian, and not understanding the language, the food was becoming an increasing challenge.
On the fourth day of struggling to find food she could eat, we gave up, and navigated through the Japanese Dominos website to get her a plain cheese pizza.
We went with Dominos, because we knew they wouldn’t let us down. Turns out Dominos is the same the world over. The taste was great, and the experience was great too.
However, I do still get Japanese Dominos pizza newsletters every week. Normally a Tuesday. I’m guessing they do Two For Tuesday too!
After the Dominos story, I don’t think we need to say much more about experience and reliability.
Branding can help communicate your company’s experience and reliability. Dominos in Japan won business off us, because of the strength of their brand.
We knew they wouldn’t let us down.
When people recognise your brand, they begin to trust you, and become loyal to you.
People use McDonalds because they recognise the golden arches. When they’re driving home late at night, and pass the big M at the side of the road, they know they can get a decent enough coffee or hot snack from there.
The McDonalds logo is actually quite powerful. At times, it can evoke the smell and taste of their fries. That’s strong branding!
Turning your customers into loyal fans of your brand can also help increase your bottom line.
You recognise the golden arches, you decide to stop for a coffee and an apple pie.
You’re in a new town and see Starbucks’ famed siren logo. You know they can get a half decent cup of coffee from there.
As a byproduct of brand recognition and brand loyalty, you’re making gains on your bottom line.
All of these micro-sales and interactions happening around the world is what makes the big brands as successful as they are.
Imagine this. Starbucks announce a new range of donuts. They’re going to go really well with their coffee.
You’re going to give them a try. Because you’ve come to know and love the coffee, so the donuts can’t be bad, right?
McDonalds went from being fast food and fries, to the McCafe type restaurant that does half decent coffee and bakery products.
A strong brand allows you to scale your brand, and change direction or pivot when required.
There’s only one brand we need to mention in this game. That’s Apple.
There phones are double the price of their competitors. Their computers are double the price of their competitors. Everything about them is “premium” – yet most people Apple product in their lives.
Why? Because their customers are fiercely loyal. Me included.
I got an iPhone 3 when they came out, and I’ve never changed since. I bought my first Macbook in college, and I’ve never looked back.
Having a strong brand allows you to charge a premium. But you need to make sure you get the product right too! Let’s not mention the Apple Homepod.
The next advantage of branding your business properly, is that it can help you with the recruitment and staff retention process.
Taking the focus from external sales, to internal company happiness, branding can help you get things right, across the board.
Your brand can make people think;
Every fancied a job as an Apple Genius? Well, they’re not the easiest jobs to come by.
Fancy working at Google? Of course you do! Who doesn’t want to work for a beautifully insane company with slides in their office.
A strong brand that communicates it mission, values, and personality can help recruit and attract the right new employees.
According to a recent LinkedIn study, a strong brand receives 2.5x the applicants per job post. Another study by CareerArc found that 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job.
Your brand isn’t just for your customers, it can effect the internals of your business too.
Your brand strategy document gives you a key strategy that you can relate all brand and business decisions back to.
This document can help form the shape of your company. It tells people what you’re all about, and reminds you, when you get caught up in the day to day running of the business.
The advantage of having a brand strategy document clearly outlined can’t be overstated.
Having it to hand gives you something to refer to, refer your employees to, and serves as an important reminder as to what you set out to do at the start.
It can also be used to help take your company into the future. A good brand strategy document should outline where you’re looking to go next.
And it should grow organically with your business! When you reach goal one, what happens next?
Having a brand strategy outlined is a massive competitive branding advantage. You know exactly where you’re headed, and that can put you leagues ahead of the competition.
The visual element of branding is always the part that people want to discuss the most.
Your brand identity guideline document should outline how your brand identity looks, and how it should be visually represented in certain situations.
It can be used as an easy handover document when moving between agencies, or when having ads created in-house by someone else’s advertising department and so on.
Your brand identity guideline is the lifeblood of your brand’s visual style. And you should protect it with fire.
This is the key piece in the puzzle when it comes to building brand recognition. Your guideline should be used to consistently ensure your brand is represented visually, in the right way.
These two documents combined are enough on their own to sell the advantages of branding for your business. They form the backbone of any successful business brand.
This is one of the most overlooked advantages of branding.
If you have a strong business brand, you’re making it easy for when you want to exit your company.
A strong, attractive, money making business brand will make it a lot easier to sell when that day comes.
People don’t want to invest in things that they then have to spend ages putting right. If your brand is already on the right track, you’re eliminating on extra headache for prospective new owners.
Combine this with the brand recognition and loyalty that you’ve amassed as you’ve grown, your business is starting to look like a very saleable asset.
Now, obviously you need to ensure your business is doing well too, and you’ve not wrapped your business brand up inside your personal brand.
But once you’ve got all of that in place, your branding can be advantageous when it comes to exiting.
People buy into brands. Whether that’s customers, investors, or prospective new owners.
The first thing anyone is going to do when hearing about your brand is check out your website or social channels. Then, they’re going to judge you.
What does the brand look like? Can I support them? Do I like what they stand for?
We live in a brand aware world. If you don’t have a strong brand, you’re not benefiting from the advantages of branding.
Take stock of how your business is represented right now and ask yourself “do I have a brand that I’m proud of?” If the answer is no, you know what to do.
What do you think? Is your business seeing the advantages of branding? Let us know in the comments below!