Creating Your Brand – Ten ways to be memorable
“Lights, camera, action!”
Like making a film, creating your brand can be just as exciting, full of energy and promise and, if you create the best experience, also memorable for your customers. When you start thinking about setting up your business, how to create your brand may not be the first thing on your mind. However, the decisions you take in these initial stages will have an impact on your brand and how others will view it. The more care you take when you are creating your brand experience will ultimately be the reason why your customers will keep returning to you.
If there is one area above all others that we are most passionate about, it is the importance of branding in the broadest context. We have worked with many companies, both large and small in translating the marketing offer to the brand experience. We know how hard it can be to create the tiny actions that add up to a very special experience. The hours spent on creating a ‘look and feel’, finding the right words to engage with customers and employees, how to sustain a reputation.
As a small business starting out your first creative steps are so exciting, even with very limited budgets the ownership you feel as you see your logo, the ‘look and feel’ of your website, your products, or your premises, and your first images in social media which announce to the world, ‘This is my business, how can I help you?’ can bring real joy and delight.
We also recognise that when you are first starting out with very limited budgets, there are so many things to consider, but how you source your materials, the packaging you choose for your products, your marketing, the ‘look and feel’ of your website, your use of social media, the way people can contact you, and many more choices all have an impact on your brand but getting it right in the beginning will really help to grow your following.
In recent years the branding landscape has changed dramatically; we have seen the growth of new young brands, the enhanced role of social media and celebrity influencers, while traditional companies with more established brands have struggled to maintain customer loyalty.
In the current climate, it is also important to be cautious; it is very easy in the first flush of enthusiasm to overspend on premises, advertising, marketing, and other external support before you have really tested out your products, or services in the marketplace.
Some of our best-loved companies were created from small beginnings, but even in these early stages you can start to achieve a memorable brand experience.
Here are some important steps to consider:
1. What is meant by a brand?
Essentially a brand consists of a number of components, the name, the logo, the colours used, the typeface, the strapline or slogan, but importantly this is also extended into a brand experience. How a customer feels when interacting with you, your people, the products or service, the processes and the premises, or the online experience.
We are surrounded by brands everyday, and almost everything we touch, use and see will have a brand attached to it. Spend time just looking around you, begin to look more deeply at the brand experiences that attract you. If you ask a group of people to describe different brands you will begin to see similarities and differences depending on their own experience. There will also be examples of assumptions being made without an actual experience to back it up. Start comparing these brands to the experience that you want to create, it is so important to feel engaged with your own brand.
2. Brand Responsibilities
Whatever service, or product you decide to offer, do it with integrity, if it is a product that you are either making, or sourcing, take care to ensure it adheres to health and safety, ethical and trading standards in all aspects of the supply chain, particularly if you are importing goods. Ideally source locally and always use reputable companies.
If you are offering a service, make sure that you deliver to the highest level of your ability. There is a saying that you are only as good as your last performance, make it count every day.
3. The conversations
We don’t need our messages to be complicated. We’ve all experienced call centres when people are speaking from a script; and by comparison how welcoming it is when even those with a script manage to inject their own personalities into the conversation. It is such a different experience when we hear a smile in their voice, or even a natural question, or statement added into the conversation.
Make sure that the language and tone that you use in written and in verbal communications is accessible, friendly and welcoming, but above all it is written in a natural and engaging style.
As well as all the research needed before you set up any business, when you are creating your own brand, carrying out background research is also one of the most important stages as you begin to create your brand experience.
There are a number of factors that you need to consider as you start to build your brand including some practical considerations:
· Are you hoping to build a business for the future?
· Is this to meet a particular need, do you need to include this in the name?
· Is this to meet a short-term need, or is it likely to be more enduring?
· What are the key stages in the delivery of your product/service, how does this need to be branded?
· What examples have you seen in other brands of best practice?
You may feel that you want external advice, either in finding the right name or in creating the overall look and feel. Whichever route you choose, it will be helpful to carry out some preliminary thinking, the clearer your understanding of the different aspects of your brand the easier it will be for someone else to help you.
5. Your brand name
Choosing your brand name can be either exciting, or frustrating depending on your level of initial success. However be assured that every company, however successful will have gone through a similar process.
Choosing a name can be as simple as taking your own name and adding it to the service you will provide, traditionally this is how the original names for some of our best-known brands started. For others, it may have involved taking something more obscure and creating a brand around it.
The process involved in creating your brand name, will often follow similar stages:
· You decide that you want to offer a product or service.
· You explore how the idea may work in practice.
· You identify the sort of experience you want to offer.
· How do you want your customers to feel?
· Will your business be including other family members, or close friends, if you include their names, what might happen in the future if they decide not to continue being involved?
· You start to explore possible names, brainstorming, using mood boards.
· You begin to formulate some preferred names.
· You start to qualify your choices, is it easy to spell if a customer entered the name in a search engine?
· What do the initials spell if you abbreviated the names?
· Is the name memorable for the right reasons?
· You refine these choices until you settle on the name that resonates with you the most.
Once you have made a decision on a name, or one or two potential names, spend time living with your choice. Go to sleep on it, how does it feel when you wake up? You may want to share your choice with a trusted friend or family member, but don’t necessarily be swayed by their comments, accept their thoughts and reflect on them. For a new company starting out this can be a real challenge to get right. Particularly because this is something that potentially will stay with you for a long time, do not be afraid to return to the drawing board and start again.
Equally important is the next stage, carrying out as many searches as possible making sure that no one else has the same, or similar name, check domain names, both in your own country and globally. Search Limited Company names, trademarks, check on the availability of the name on social media. Again at this stage you may want to seek advice.
6. Creating your visual brand identity
Some companies are so recognisable that if you show a group of consumers even a small part of their logo they will recognize the company by either the colour, or the shape of the logo. The same can also apply to their slogan or strapline, sometimes even their typeface.
Once you have gone through all the stages above, and often running alongside those stages, will be all the creative actions needed to create your visual brand identity. Your logo, your brand colour choices, your website, the images that you will use in social media, on any packaging, marketing, advertisements and much more.
Never underestimate the power of using the right imagery, just as you create mood boards for your home, creating mood boards to illustrate your brand is equally important, and a very useful way of building the overall ‘look and feel’ of your brand experience.
As mentioned above this stage can be really special, whether you create it yourself, or work with someone else, the creative side of building your brand can be such a magical and enjoyable part of the process as you see your brand choices starting to emerge.
Do keep any records of this brand creation, as it will become part of the history of your company.
7. The ‘look and feel’ of your brand
While creating your logo and strapline are an important part of this, it goes much further, how your company looks and feels to your customers is a very important part of your brand. We have all experienced that reassuring feeling when we walk into a place where we feel really at home and comfortable that we have made the right choice, or equally when we enter and feel the opposite.
Many transactions today are carried out online, even meetings are no longer face-to-face in a physical space, but held virtually. While your customers may not be actually entering your premises, they need to be welcomed and treated with a high level of customer service. When you are creating your website and social media, think very carefully about how you want this experience to feel.
As you set up your own business you will be taking the first steps into creating your own brand experience for your customers/clients. This is particularly important in the creation of your website, however beautiful it may be, you also need to review the functionality.
In the same way that a customer enters a store, the online experience needs to reflect the highest level of customer service. It is also a place to share your brand values, and your social responsibility as well as the important terms and conditions.
8. Supporting your local community
Now more than ever before it is so important to support your local community. Be collaborative, talk to other businesses, try and help, be responsive to opportunities that are presented. During the pandemic many new alliances are being formed. We all need people and businesses in our communities who genuinely care for others and want to give something back. You could also research local business hubs and support groups in your area.
9. As your business grows
Once you start recruiting others you will have additional responsibilities. This means that the messages that your business gives out are reflected by the actions of all people at all levels at all times. To achieve this you have to consider all aspects of your business to ensure consistency in your messages, behaviour and values. Importantly this also applies to anything that you outsource, or any part of your supply chain.
Employees experience every day whether you are delivering what you promise and this will be demonstrated through their attitudes and behaviour. Nothing will destroy a reputation faster than an organisation promoting itself as an employer of choice only to find its employees informally giving out a very different opinion to its customers, or their own family and friends.
10. Keep reviewing the brand experience
When you first establish your brand, you hope it will be enduring, but nothing stays the same forever. Technologies change, world events happen, individual motivations change. An important part of creating a brand experience, is always to keep it current and be ready to adapt to changing needs. On going reviews are a vital part of this process.
Importantly consider the following:
· Think about people that currently use the business, have their needs changed?
· Can you adapt your current brand to meet these needs?
· Could your brand evolve into something new?
· Do you and the existing team still have the motivation?
· If it needs to change ensure you prepare and protect them for the next stage actions.
· Sometimes as brands change and develop new teams emerge to take the business forward.
· Could an overhaul of the brand position it differently?
Sometimes circumstances beyond your control force a business to close, and while this can be desperately sad, always try and look for new opportunities for your and your team. The experiences you have gained will always have value as you move into the next stage.
If you have created a wonderful brand experience, whether your brand endures, or changes and evolves, you, your employees and the people you have shared this experience with, will always cherish the memory.
If you are trying to start a new business and are looking for inspiration, you might want to read our Employment 2021 – What next feature, which explores setting up a new business.
You can also visit Louise at Fine Art Design Studio to find out more about the branding packages that she offers to new businesses looking for unique and bespoke brand design.
Branding is an enormous topic, if you want to read more about how to create a brand, one book that we would recommend is:
Creating a Brand Identity® – A Guide for Designers by Catharine Slade-Brooking published by Laurence King Publishing
Description: Creating a Brand Identity goes behind the scenes to explore the creative processes involved in designing a successful brand identity, one of the most fascinating and complex challenges in graphic design.
This bestselling book is ideal for students, professionals and agencies working in the fields of:
· Graphic Design
· Brand Management
Authored by design and branding expert, Catharine Slade-Brooking, Creating a Brand Identity includes exercises and examples that highlight the key activities undertaken by graphic designers to create successful brand identities, including:
· Defining the audience
· Analyzing competitors
· Creating mood boards
· Naming brands
· Logo design
· Client presentations
· Launching a new brand identity
Case studies throughout the book are illustrated with brand identities from a diverse range of industries including digital media, fashion, advertising, product design, packaging, retail and more.
The book uses images of professional design concepts, brand case studies and diagrams throughout to illustrate the text. Flow-charts are also used extensively to highlight the step-by-step methodology applied by industry professionals to create a brand.