Two of the most common misconceptions I have to overcome with my clients is that:
Your brand is a logo or business card
Once you’ve ‘got one’, you’re done.
Defining a Brand
First, it’s important that we resolve the issue of defining what a brand is. The term originates from the usage of a metal branding rod to mark cattle so that it was clear who the owner was. It’s inception is still very metaphorical and appropriate to it’s application even today. So, without over-complicating it…a brand is the perceived personality of your product, service, or company.
The good news is, you already have one. The bad news is, you may or may not know what that perception is let alone have any control over it. Brand management is a key part of what we do at CEED Creative. Many of our clients first contacted us with the sole motivator to get a logo or have us design a piece of communication for them, but we’ve successfully converted many of these clients into ongoing relationships that allow us to do our best work and create the most impact for them.
All branding starts with an impression. Many times your logo is the first impression which is why we believe it to be of the utmost importance to spend the appropriate research, time and money on your identity. A logo is only the beginning however, the seed. Understand that every aspect of your business adds to the total brand experience. From the logo to the employees you hire, the brand is part of your company’s being. Ensuring that your advertising, image, hiring materials and overall operations support your mission and core values is all part of the brand’s thriving and it’s a ubiquitous process. If you aren’t interacting with your customers and engaging in active data gathering to gain an edge on how they perceive you then you are failing yourself.
Traditional Communication Methods
Traditional print advertising relied on what I refer to as a ‘napalm’ approach. A print buyer / marketer would survey who your customers are either by common sense, intuition or actual statistics and seek out communication platform that matches that market segment. Then the creative is designed and crafted to stimulate the desired response and published in said publication(s). The problem with that approach is for the tens of thousands of dollars which can quickly be spent on this approach you have no real feedback. You don’t know how many people saw your ad, who acted on it, who told a friend about it, etc. Historically, if you paid $50,000 on an ad campaign in Q1 and you saw an increase in business at all you could only assume it was a result of the ad campaign. Correlation is not always causation however.
…But Print Still Matters
Taking advantage of web technology you can easily track and receive reports on all of the “X” factors that I mentioned before, but before you condemn print let me throw another fact at you. Print still matters. Print still maintains a level of perceived prestige where your brand is concerned. Consider the process and cost of doing a simple direct mail piece. You have to pay for creative, printing in large quantities, mail lists (assuming you don’t own one) and postage. It is not cheap, but this is an advantage to those who can afford it. Print still owns a
level of intimacy that web-only campaigns don’t carry. It’s tangible and people respond to that. By using PURLS (Personal URLS) to drive the customer to a targeted webpage as a result of the print piece you can track it’s efficacy. Another technology that bolsters the power of print and it’s marriage with technology is the QR Code which can take the customer from print ad to webpage simply by snapping a photo with a mobile device.
Why Design is the Key to Your Business’ Success
The global economy and technology’s ability to rapid prototype are making a business’s ability to thrive against competition more difficult than ever. Our position is that great design and brand strategy can put you ahead of the pack by creating meaningful, emotional connections with your customers. This can help mitigate the dog-eat-dog strides of constantly lowering prices. A great brand is the reason a customer will pay more for a unit of your product than the lesser known and trusted competitor. That’s why we invite you to Grow Your Business by Design.
Over the course of the upcoming year 2011, we’ll be writing more articles that come down from this aerial view and talk more specifically about some tools available to your business that can help you manage your brand and help you gain an edge on your competition.