So what is branding anyway? It can be so easy to assume that only large corporations and companies with multiple employees need to worry about branding.
I’m busting this myth for you right now, then you will see how your small business can prosper and profit.
In a world where online businesses are booming and new businesses are starting up all the time, it has never been more important to think about your brand. How else are you going to stand out from the crowd?
Branding is not just about being different. In fact, it’s about being DIFFERENT from your competitors, but CONSISTENT within your business. So that means same, same but different, right?
By this I mean all your marketing material, website, email marketing, Pinterest Pins, social media posts, business stationery needs to show your brand. The more often someone sees something, the more likely they are to remember it and associate your brand + your key messages.
Think of some famous brands and their consistent messages. Coca Cola is all about having fun and is consistently branded in red, with a particular font style and colour. Even when they branched out to offering different flavours, the same base branding, colour, font styles are there.
Consistency is Key
Being consistent doesn’t mean being boring. It means that your business is recognised by its unifying and identifiable elements. These brand elements include –
- business name
- elements – eg lines, artwork associated with your branding
- patterns and textures
- Images – depicting your brand mood and vibe
It’s also about consistent personality. These are things like –
- The services your business provides
- Your business systems and processes
- How and where you connect
Branding by Example
Let’s look at an example. Company A is a family photography business. They advertise in their own Facebook group, in other local Facebook groups in their area, and in flyers. Here is an example of what they have posted in a marketing graphic.
Company B is also a family photography business. They use similar marketing approaches and materials. Here is what they have posted in a marketing graphic.
Which one do you prefer? Which company are you drawn to? Which one stands out as a business you want to engage with, and want to click through to their website and learn more?
In the first example, there is no consistency of colours between the images or the title and the individual images. Apart from one family photo, the other images are food related, or obscure to what the business is actually about.
Now let’s look at the second example. If I am looking for a family photographer to hire, I am drawn to this visual. It is on brand, it is clear, and it shows that the photographer offers studio and outdoor photos. It also shows that the photographer either sells framed prints, or cares about how the photos are going to look when framed. Or both.
I get that imagery and colours can be subjective. Wouldn’t the world be boring if all designs were the same and based on the same template? Do you know what the key is? It is to look at it from the customers perspective – it’s about the MESSAGE. The subtle message as well as the obvious message.
The subtle message refers to the impression you are setting. It’s telling your website visitors (aka your potential future customers or clients) that you:
- are professional
- follow a process
- have taken the time to set up your brand content
- show that you care about the details of style and cohesiveness
- show that you pay attention to detail.
Does A Picture Really Tell A Thousand Words?
Some of you may be thinking would someone really get that much information from a few pictures? You would be surprised. Remember the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” – well it is true. Having worked in the corporate world for almost 20 years, I know first hand that impressions count. In the fast paced world of online business where visuals are king, a potential client or customer is going to be making decisions on the visuals they see before they read the words.
Let this sink in a little.
It doesn’t mean that ‘glossy’ and ‘shiny’ is all that matters. It’s not. What matters is that the visual brand consistency is there, as well as the quality content to back it up.
So that’s the “subtle” brand message, but what about the “obvious” brand message? This is more about the actual content – the words and pictures, the headings and their relevance to your brand. The relevance of your business name and logo to your brand. That’s a whole other blog post topic.
So What Does This All Mean?
Of course, not having coordinated branded Pinterest pins and social media posts doesn’t mean you are going to fail. But it can make a difference as whether the next visitor to your website or Instagram account is going to want to engage with you and take the next step. It can make a difference.
How are they going to feel about your brand?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this branding matters topic. Leave a comment below, and share your experiences on the subtle and not so subtle messaging in brand story.