At Push10, it has always been critical to the success of design projects that we start each relationship by establishing a baseline of our client’s understanding of branding marketing.
Clients shouldn’t be embarrassed to admit that they haven’t thought about that at all; poll your creative friends and ask how many have a robust understanding of taxes and accounting. Have a defibrillator handy. Likewise, we can’t assume our clients would begin to comprehend the nuances of creative strategy when they approach Push10 with a need for a logo treatment and website.
The more background and research we invest into crafting a client’s identity strategy, the greater the impact in customer experience. Cutting corners at the onset of a project will likely result in a disjointed, fragmented identity which doesn’t connect with the product or service. This merely causes confusion for the customer. You don’t have to have a million-dollar marketing budget to learn from those that do. It’s helpful to talk to small business owners about the color and typography choices of big brands and help them understand those choices when seen alone, and then amidst their competition. Papyrus on a Big 3 accounting firm? Never. Here are three planning steps you can’t afford to overlook:
1. Research & Competitive Analysis
How much are you thinking about your competition? Whether you’re obsessed with beating your rival or haven’t yet identified who else shares your target audience, it’s important to pay attention. Are you making it obvious how your business is different from theirs? If the customer can’t tell, the customer won’t care where they spend their money. By stepping outside your business to take a look at the marketplace, we can make sure all branding differentiates from the competition.
2. Brand Messaging + Story
Messaging matters. Identify the story you’d like to communicate to your customers and maintain consistency across all platforms. If you set out to be aspirational and high-end to some customers and Discount Dave to others, you become nothing to everyone. Brand personality goes beyond voice and messaging — it lives in every user interaction: packaging, online, on the phone, etc.
3. Brand Guidelines
Since you’ve invested the time and attention to create a beautiful brand, you now have to resist the temptation of it getting watered down and knocked off like a cheap Chinatown purse. Brand Guidelines are a set of rules for ensuring that anyone who works with the brand down the line adheres to the correct treatment and maintains the intended customer experience.
Some words of warning on going generic
Two final areas that risk diluting a business’s impact within the marketplace are with copywriting and photography. Often, many clients believe no one is capable of writing about their business better than the person who started it. This may be true, but a professional writer brings an expertise in speaking to customer personas. In creating that brand messaging that we referenced above, which of course includes SEO language, we find successful branding marketing. Writing for the web reader differs from the reader who wants a take-home brochure — even if she’s the same person! Then there’s opportunity cost: if you’re writing website copy, who’s running the business?
And then there’s photography. Custom photography creates a tone and feeling that no other competitor can own. Not to mention a wide-ranging library of images for future use! Whether showcasing your team, office, or product, the right photography helps set the brand tone from the first customer interaction. Of course, we understand that budgets often require stock images. In these instances, we’ll avoid the hilariously generic stock imagery — “Business People Shaking Hands,” “Happy Family,” “Delicious Food” — to find stock images that feel customized. The time and cost is worth it to make your communication materials feel personalized.
Business success depends on so many variables. In today’s marketplace, businesses must work harder to capture, and keep, the customer. The right branding helps. When you invest time and resources into establishing your brand, you can create a memorable experience for existing customers — and help attract new ones!