I’m in an ‘every little help’ store with my shopping list, I’ve taken a trolley and I am ready to start on the Labyrinth of Brands adventure. So why do I choose ‘Ecover bio-concentrated’ over ‘Persil Small & Mighty’?
The answer is because the brand Ecover aligns with my values. Their brand name says ‘Eco’ and their colours, blue and green also say, eco-friendly. And its packaging looks serious and professional. So I obviously fit in their target market.
This story illustrates the interaction between the customer and the brand. Why will people choose you and not the other guy? They will choose you because with your brand you will tell them that you are the one they are looking for. How do you that? Simples! The following ten words will help you.
Learn everything you can about your market sector and define who are you selling to, aka high-value customers. You must know all your competitors and understand everything about the people you want to engage with, even their salary. Remember that your high-value customers can’t be everybody, because you don’t talk the same way to a 19-year-old girl and to a 65-year-old man. A good tip is giving your high-value customer a name and surname, for example, Grace Legge, so you can imagine how Grace would like to be spoken to and what she’d like to see.
What is it that makes you different that the other guys? Maybe your service is faster or like the above example maybe your product is environmentally friendly. This is called unique selling point (USP). Define yours.
While you gathering the information of the points above, create your business and brand mission statement. It should be your mantra, something to help you when you get sidetracked. Coca-Cola’s mission is to refresh the world… Obviously.
Naming your company isn’t the easiest task. You can trade under your own name so it feels like a personal service, like ‘John Lewis’. Take into account what you have learnt from your research. Is your potential customer going to respond to a literal name, like ‘webuyanycar.com’, which is aimed at people with a specific need and little time, or is he/she young and tech-savvy so will react positively to a name like ‘Flickr’?
Before you start dressing your brand with colours and logos define it! It will help you if you think of it like if like a person. It should be someone whom Grace Legge (remember her from paragraph one?) would love. Easier to understand it with two examples for makeup products:
Our first Grace Legge is a 26-year-old girl who loves fun and parties. Her salary is 20k a year and she lives in a big city. So by knowing all this we know that she will react to our brand if it looks inexpensive and bubbly with bright colours.
The other Grace is a 43-year-old executive woman working for a multinational company with a 50+k salary. She will respond to a gold and black, serious and elegant brand.
So brand your product or company for Grace and forget about your personal taste.
‘Oh at last he is talking about logos!’ I hear you say. Well although the logo is the face of your company, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Bear in mind that some brands deliberately choose not to have a logo.
The word logo is short for logotype, which is essentially the representation of a brand. So your logo should be a visual asset that mirrors what your company is. There are lots of ways to create a logo, it can be just a typographic one or a symbol. Whatever you design needs to appeal to your customer. Their customer might need a spelt out logo like ‘Facebook’ or if they’re visual and design-led people, the symbol of an apple might be enough to attract them. Or you can have both, i.e. a symbol with the spelled-out name like ‘London Underground’.
When you design the logo, a good tip is to design it in black and white first. We’ll add the colours in the next paragraph.
Most of us love colours. The colour is a powerful and emotional element of the brand. We could write for hours about colour. Colours can bring ideology and perception to your brand: that’s why BP (British Petroleum) chose to be green, to give that environmental feel to the brand, and yet they’re not exactly an environmentally-friendly company.
You can have more than one colour but don’t choose too many of them or else your logo may end up looking a bit childish. Colours need to have a purpose.
If you have friends who are graphic designers, I’m sure you will know how we despise the font ‘Comic Sans’. The reason for it is its overuse, especially in places where it shouldn’t. It was originally designed to be in a speech bubble, hence its name. But then Microsoft made it available on all their programmes, and people started using it to make their documents fun and personalised.
Fonts (or types), like the colours and your logo, will be part of how your brand looks. If you want it to look traditional you will use a Roman type, but if you are after a modern look your type should be a Sans-serif.
Your business will have to speak through adverts, press releases, business presentations, Facebook comments or your website, to name but a few. How will you speak to your customers: are you going to be friendly? Informal? Technical?
Choose a coherent tone of voice that aligns with your customer’s language. If you are talking to scientists, you will need to have a precise and technical voice.
The more you make your brand consistent and coherent with your high-value customers, the stronger it will become. So if you have clients coming to your office, brand your office. If you drive a van to deliver your goods, brand it! Paper bags, invoices, uniforms, social networks… Brand everything.
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