What is branding? Why is it so important for your business?
By Trudie Avery
Trudie Avery is a branding expert who helps start-ups and small businesses stand out from the crowd. With almost 25 years of branding experience behind her, she is passionate about educating businesses on the importance of creating a brand that is true to them and connects with clients. In this blog, Trudie explains what branding is and why it's so vital to the success of your business.
1. What is branding and what does your 'brand' include? Is it more than just a logo?
It’s such a common misconception that your brand is your logo. But while your logo is the cornerstone of your brand, it only forms part of the brand as a whole. Your branding and your brand is every interaction that you have with your customers. It’s the way that you make them think, feel and react, even when you are not in the room. It’s the perception of who you are, what you do and who you do it for and you leave clues to this everywhere, from your business card to your website to your social media posts and leaflets.
2. When you’re setting up a business, how important is it to think about your brand?
Well it depends how serious you are about your business… Some people don’t have the budget or the know-how to create a brand and think that it is simply a logo that they get for £25 from Fiverr. It may take them years of attracting the wrong clients, or battling to attract any clients at all, to work out that branding is very important indeed.
3. What does branding do for your business?
Effective branding can promote recognition and desire for your business. If your brand is consistent and easy to recognise, it can help people feel more willing to buy from you. When you become familiar and trusted, and known for what you do, you become less of a commodity bought on price, but a valued service bought on desire. Buying decisions are based 80% on emotion and 20% on logic – remember that when you’re buying your next pair of shoes!
4. How is your ‘brand’ different to your ‘brand identity’?
Your brand is the non-tangible bit… It’s your values, your purpose, your mission and your ‘why’. It’s the reason that you do what you do and who you do it for. Your brand is the emotion and the relationship between you and your customer.
Your brand identity is how you communicate visually, and this is where your logo, your brand colour pallet, your brand fonts, your brand imagery and message come into play.
5. What are your top tips for getting really clear on your brand?
This bit is REALLY important. To create a brand, you need to be really sure about what is important to you and what is important to the people you ideally want to serve.
Think of it like this; you go together with your best clients like a horse and cart. Bear with me…
Imagine you were a racehorse. You work hard, you train hard, you value speed, efficiency, effectiveness and above everything else you want to win, to cross the finish line first! You are passionate, creative and value freedom and energy. Your perfect cart is streamlined, made of light-weight titanium and corners like it’s on rails! It too values speed, passion, hard work and effectiveness and the two of you are on a mission to create something very specific, you have a common goal that you hurtle towards.
On the other hand, you might be a shire horse, strong and sturdy, sure footed and cautious. You may have great integrity and wisdom and believe in doing this properly, in the right order. Your cart is solid, made of wood and built to last. Your cart may have already tried speed and shed its load, so now values the kindness and compassion of the shire horse because they both care about not only getting from A to B but trusting one another to get there in pristine condition, safely, whilst enjoying the journey.
Do you see? Branding is a feeling, so in order to connect with your customers, you need to be sure that you both share the same values.
6. How do you work out what sort of ‘feel’ you want your brand to have?
Once you know what your values are, you need to really focus on WHO your target market is. When I ask people who their target market is, 9 times out of 10 people will tell me; “Everyone. Anyone would benefit from my products/services.” And this is often true, but this will not serve your brand. If you try to talk to everyone, you end up talking to no one.
And this is massive. But think of it like this… If you want to start a fire, do you get the biggest log you can find and light a match under it? No. You start with the kindling, so you need to find your kindling. Start off by targeting niche pockets of customers, because people buy when they feel understood. And if you can talk clearly, authentically and specifically TO someone, then they will listen.
So, who is your kindling? For most people, your kindling are the people most like you. You understand their problems, what they are feeling, because you’ve either been in their position, or you have helped people like this a hundred times before.
Whoever your target market is, get as specific as you can. Women, age 35 – 70 is not a target market. Working mothers of toddlers age 35 (that’s the mother’s age, not the toddler’s) is a target market. Think about what their worries are, what keeps them up at night, what pains them and how you alleviate that pain and when now is a good time to work with you, then you have a target market.
Once you know these things, then you know how you need to make them ‘feel’. This is your brand.
7. How do you choose which colours and fonts etc you should use?
Colours and fonts are your best tools for creating emotion. There are massive amounts of psychology behind both of these things, which would be blog articles in their own rights. But you know that blue is a corporate, safe and trusted colour, whilst orange is joyful, exciting, slightly daring. Bright colours make you feel differently to pastel or muted colours – there are many associations we have with colours so research it well but also, go with you gut instinct.
Typefaces too have their meanings. Serif fonts (like Times) are traditional and respectable, whilst sans serif (like Arial) are modern, strong and clean. Or maybe you like a handwritten font, to feel creative, personal or elegant? There are a myriad of fonts to choose from, so again, see how they make you feel.
** One top tip – never EVER use Comic Sans. Ever.**
8. How important is branding your website?
Your branding should be consistent everywhere. Use your brand colour pallet, fonts, images, messages consistently, all the time, everywhere. This is how you build a relationship, and this is how you win trust and recognition.
Your website is a huge part of your branding. It should demonstrate your values and show your customers who you are while simultaneously ensuring that the visitor knows that you can solve their problem.
I just designed a website last week for a life coach and his biggest value is calm. So, without actually using that word specifically, the whole website just feels calm, by the use of colours and beautiful imagery. Think about the feeling that you are looking to portray, the perception that your customers need to feel to want work with you.
9. What role does branding play in marketing your business?
Branding is part of your marketing. Your brand strategy leads your company compass and should be evident everywhere, and your brand colours, fonts, imagery and tone of voice should be consistent right across your business. Visible in every communication from your proposal to your invoice, in your email footer and all your marketing materials. Keep the same colours until you are bored brainless by them! And then still keep them, as they will become synonymous with you and will be recognised even when your logo isn’t there.
You know what the Red of CocaCola looks like, right? Or the purple and orange of FedEx? You know that McDonalds is red and yellow, you even know what shade of green Waitrose is. I rest my case.
10. Do you have any advice about growing your brand on social media?
Again, be consistent. A friend of mine said to me once; “I always recognise your posts on Facebook because you always use your lovely colours”. I always talk about branding, and I almost always use my logo. I want to be known for branding, so I show up consistently, every day, I give help and advice about branding, and now, when there is one of those posts and someone says, does anyone know someone who can design me a logo, I get recommended 4 or 5 times. People know me, they recognise me, and they trust me. That’s what a strong brand does.
11. Finally, are there any big Dos and Don’ts you could share about branding an early stage business?
If you can, it is definitely worth getting a designer to create your logo. They should ask you a lot of questions about who you are, your values, your target market, what you do and what makes you different. Make sure you feel comfortable with the designer, like they really ‘get’ you because you should love your logo.
Make sure that your logo is supplied as a jpeg, png and a vector eps. The Vector eps is crucial, and often the one not supplied by Fiverr or other cheapo logo generators but this is the file that will enable you to blow the image up to the size of a house without losing any quality of the image.
11. Finally, are there any big Dos and Don’ts you could share about branding an early stage business?
1. If you can, it is definitely worth getting a designer to create your logo.
They should ask you a lot of questions about who you are, your values, your target market, what you do and what makes you different.
Make sure you feel comfortable with the designer, like they really ‘get’ you because you should love your logo.
2. Make sure that your logo is supplied as a jpeg, png and a vector eps.
Vector eps is crucial, and often the one not supplied by Fiverr or other cheapo logo generators but this is the file that will enable you to blow the image up to the size of a house without losing any quality of the image.
With many thanks to Trudie for her super useful advice about branding your business.
If you’d like some more handy tips or support with your branding, please do check out Trudie at Avery Creative. Find her on LinkedIn or facebook.
Trudie also has an online course for people who want to learn more about branding and how to up-level their business by creating a strong brand for themselves. You can find out more at , you can find out more at www.brandonashoestring.com