What is branding?
“What is ‘branding’ and do I need it?” We get asked this a lot by our clients when they first arrive in our inbox. Branding is not just a logo. A logo can’t be created and suddenly you have a brand. You can’t design a logo and apply it to your website or stationery and call that branding. It is a much bigger concept.
A logo is one of the visual parts of your brand. Your brand is the story your customer or client reads about you (visually) and how they perceive that story. It is the way your customers connect with you on a range of different channels from your logo on your business card, the website where you sell your products to the way you use your social media.
Brand in brief includes; your logo, your fonts, your colour, your imagery, the tone of voice you use, the way you describe what you do, the way you reach out to people and where, what and who you reach out to. (So not really that brief).
We design the elements of brand for our customers, but we don’t create the brand. What’s the difference? A brand comes from within the company. A brand is your values, the customers you want to attract, the way you want to engage with your customers, what makes you unique compared to your competitors? what do you stand for? what do you write about?
To create your brand we take all of this information, piece it together in a big picture and then apply a visual style to it. Branding is not just a pretty set of images, it is a whole lot more.
Our branding process
- Our customers get in touch and tell us they need a brand for their start-up or product and they like the colour blue.
- We thank them for their email and arrange a meeting to discuss their new venture and what their brand might be.
- We have a meeting (usually at their offices, because that’s a great insight into the company culture) and discuss ‘the brand’
- We then send them a pretty intense set of questions that really get under the skin of their brand, let us understand their values, their competitors, their customers, what they love about their current (if they have one) brand and what they don’t like. That’s a snapshot!
- We take all of this information and we research, then we research a little more and then we send them some of the research and have a discussion about the findings.
- We then take our research and the intense answers they provided and start to break it down visually.
- It is at this point, and only this point we take onboard that they like the colour blue — but only if it works with their colour & branding.
- Cutting a few more steps short — we pull this together and come up with a visual identity, the brand.
- Once we have agreed (and this usually takes a few more meetings, phonecalls and colour changes). We then pull together brand guidelines for our customers to use going forward. Highlighting all the elements that create that brand identity.
What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines are your visual bible. They are a handbook to the visual identity of your organisation and should be used, read and sent to everyone in your business. Brand guidelines ensure that the identity of a company is preserved and kept coherent no matter which visual device it’s applied to. Brand guidelines include things like:
- Logo Design — your main visual mark
- Colours (and how to use them)
- Fonts (and how to use them)
- Stationery Design — business cards, letterheads, invoices etc.
- Marketing Designs — Brochures, catalogues, websites & books etc.
- Email Designs — Email marketing templates, headers & how to use them
- Packaging Designs
The list can go on and include a range of different things depending on what your brand is. The logo should carry the weight of all of this information but it is not just a brand on its own.
Why is branding important?
Take a look at any successful brand in the UK or around the world what do you notice? Their branding is successful, it is consistent, it is coherent and it doesn’t falter. That’s why they are successful.
Branding is as important as marketing for a business to succeed. Remember it is how your are perceived and how your customer interacts with you. Good interactions lead to sales, bad interactions don’t.
With this in mind, it is important to put money in to your branding. Branding isn’t a expenditure, it is an investment in your future products and services. What you put in at the start, especially when you are launching, will make a difference in the middle of your business. Some people decide that they can do it themselves, and that in the long run is what costs people the money. Don’t make that mistake, theres a reason why professional design studios exist.
Consider this scenario; you need a service so you decide to google it, you come across two companies and review their websites. Website A has a professional brand, their logo is well developed and they are consistent. They have a particular way of engaging with you and you understand straight away what they value. Website B, has a brand developed for $10 and the logo is a bit blurry and small, their style is all over the place in terms of their tone of voice and you’re not entirely sure who they are and what they do. Who do you choose?
Now apply that your own business.
Studio Nuthatch develops brands for startups, small businesses and organisations in the social industry. We use a range of techniques to create a visual identity that cleverly and coherently display your values, ideas, products & services to your customers.