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Opinion on brand identity: does yours speak for itself?

When the word brand is mentioned, many of us instantly think of the well-established examples we know and see every day. Do you think of Google, Nike, McDonalds? Maybe you think of Snap-On, or Mastercraft if you’re a mechanic, or DeWalt or Husqvarna if you work in construction.

Regardless which brands spring into your mind, there is a good reason they did. They all share a common element: focus.

Focus is crucial.

I’m a designer, so when I am working on developing a brand identity for a client, here are the main questions I ask myself to help bring focus to the project:

  • What does the business do?
  • Why do they do it?
  • How do they do it better than the competition?
  • Who do they want to use their products or services?
  • Where is the audience?

Brand identity development in practice

For example: if you own a landscaping company, you certainly want to convey the impression upon first glance of your marketing materials that this is exactly what you do. You would likely have relevant services listed in your collateral, such as mowing, lawn maintenance, patio stones, etcetera.  Your target marketing would be property owners or commercial building managers within a specific radius. If you offer or plan to offer unique or specialized services, you would want to highlight those in your marketing materials to set your business apart from the competition.

If you are specific to a region or area then it’s important to consider what about this area makes it special and what are some identifiable or notable traits of this region. For example, you may include the regions name in your business name to identify that you are local and know the area. Your graphics and imagery would reflect the area to convey a feeling of home and trust.

Upon answering these questions, you can greatly increase your return on investment as you will know where to place the focus of the brand identity and what materials will really help or be a waste of valuable resources.

The logo that says it all

One of my favourite yet not visibly complicated and commonly overlooked part of the brand identity development process is developing the logo.

You may think to yourself “Damn, that’s one cool logo,” as you gaze upon a portrait of your puppy with a beautiful white outer glow around it which you will use to represent yourself as, we’ll say for now, a landscaper. Sure, it may look cool, but does it work? Is it solely due to personal attachment that you want to use this logo? Many people think that their logo must represent them directly which, even when developing a personal brand, is just the tip of the iceberg. This important and cornerstone piece of marketing needs to imply (within seconds of looking at it), what you do and who you are. It should be easily readable and invoke positive emotions or questions which will lead to being memorable (think McDonalds and hunger, Nike and being active, Google and searching the web, etc). You don’t want your clients to have to decipher complex typefaces, scripts or images which then become the focus rather than the brand itself. In the end, you would want a potential client to say, “I will look at so-and-so business for more info on lawn maintenance,” instead of leaving them wondering, “What did their logo say? What do they do?”

Brand identity tips

So, what am I trying to say overall? I am saying your brand should be clearly defined and decided before you hit the ground running with home printed flyers and a picture of your dog (even if you’re selling dogs from your home). Think about how it will work for your audience, how hard it will be to re-brand later-on (which is much harder than doing it right the first time). Take a look at your business as a whole as an outsider or ask someone not connected to tell you what they see when they look at your brand.

Remember, your brand identity doesn’t just represent your business; it represents the desires of your audience and their values. It represents your contribution to your community, your quality of work and your reputation. Say it right.

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