As a designer, my most requested service is creating corporate (visual) identities. My clients are usually entrepreneurs in need of a logo, some marketing material, and a website to hit the ground running. And it usually works out well enough. The client gets in touch, they tell me their brief and what they are looking for. I get some information on the client and their business, I design options, we refine until approved and it is all done.
All good and well. But the results tend to be shallow. In many cases, it doesn’t matter, it’s just another business, and most people don’t care too much about aesthetics or presentation, the level of design sophistication in business is not always high this side of the globe. But…
‘Design is the silent ambassador of your brand’. – Paul Rand
So does your design accurately depict your brand? Or is it just adequate? Do you even know what your brand is? Your brand is probably languishing as an untapped or underutilized asset in your arsenal as an entrepreneur. Stop thinking only about the aesthetics and start thinking about what your brand stands for.
When most people hear the word ‘brand’ the first thing that comes to mind is a logo. But a brand is not a logo. The brand is the meaning the logo eventually becomes associated with. The brand is the sum total of the experiences and feelings your audience has towards your business or product, or even you as a person. And this ‘meaning’, this ‘key idea’ is what you should be trying to express when you commission design for your business.
The promise of a good brand is this – with a solid and well exposed brand, your dream clients and stakeholders will know you, they will seek you out, and if you do your job right and deliver on the promise, they will love you and bring more friends.
Can a business really benefit from work-shopping their brand, defining their values and vision and modus operandi? Or is it just simply another way for consultants to milk money from you? You are an entrepreneur on the go and you are more concerned about sales funnels, revenue streams and growth-hacking. You are more concerned with being profitable and staying in business.
A good entrepreneur in my mind is always seeking to grow past the startup stage into a fully-fledged sustainable company. Theoretical models – business models, operational models, organizational models and so on, even though they sound very business-like and academic, are useful patterns for thinking about and understanding how businesses work. They allow you to scale from the early stages to a mature business. Your brand identity is one of these systems. Understanding it could transform your business and very well change your life. Investing in the process to develop a solid brand strategy and design comes with many advantages and here are 8 ways it would help you.
- Clarity. As a business owner, it helps you understand your story, and the story of your brand and how it came to be. It helps you understand what you believe in and what you are really in business for. Too many people get into business and get lost, not seeing the forest for trees and not working with purpose.
- Direction. It gives you direction on your goals and how you could achieve them
- Edge. It gives you a unique edge and competitive advantage by playing to your strengths and what makes you tick.
- Empathy. It helps you know understand who your customers are, what their needs are and how to connect with them. It also allows you to let go of unnecessary activities and focus only the tasks that help you deliver your brand promise.
- Stand out. The stronger a brand you have, the more it sticks in the mind of your customer, eventually, you become the only solution they want.
- Tribe. A well-executed brand strategy helps you build a loyal following and develop deep relationships with your audience that allow you to grow and evolve over time, responding to their needs in real time.
- Building. It is terrific for on-boarding new employees and motivating partners and stakeholders. If everyone is bound by a unifying compelling vision, you have a winning team and a winning brand.
- Opportunities. Having a solid idea of your brand allows you to discover and exploit opportunities that you may have never been able to see otherwise.
With a clearly defined brand identity and strategy, your business or organization would know what it is, what inspires it, and where it is going. It would have a clear sense of whom it needed to be speaking to and how to manage and execute its communications. It would know what it believes and what makes it unique. It would be more effective and efficient in its business development efforts and delighting customers. It would have the strategic advantage and a roadmap for growth into the future.
And those are all wonderful things.