Get your head around design and branding.

What is branding? Do I need it?

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Your brand is defined by your customer. Your brand is what your customer says it is.
 
When it comes to hiring a designer for your logo or website, it is helpful to understand what your brand is, and what branding actually means.
  • Advertising is a repetitive message to convey your greatness.
  • Marketing is telling other people, large numbers of people about your greatness.
  • Public Relations/Word of Mouth is other people telling other people about your greatness.
  • Branding is when people know and understand that you are great.
The world we live in today moves at great speeds. Our attention spans are becoming shorter due the increasing amount of information we receive every day. We are hardwired to spot the “something different”, the thing that stands out, we filter out our choices in a fraction of a second and pursue the thing that feels right, we consume on ‘gut feeling’. It may stand out because the ‘thing’ that is being offered is unique, or because it is a company that has developed trust in it’s customers over the years. It’s no coincidence that Coca-Cola has the highest brand value.
 
Coca-Cola is a great example to use to illustrate so many of my points. I have had clients in the past who have used the Coca-Cola logo as a reference for what they want their logo to look like. Presumably because they know this brand so well and associate it with success and reliability. The logo is not the brand. It is a visual representation of the brand. Your logo needs to represent your brand, which will be completely different to that of Coca-Cola.

Customers and clients when buying a product or service will ask themselves three questions:

What is it?

Why Should I Care?

Where is the Proof?

If they can’t find a succinct answer to these questions then they will return to a brand they already know and trust. Customers need to be persuaded by gaining their trust through proof.

Your brand is comprised of several components, here are a few:

  • Your staff
  • How you interact on Social media
  • Ethical standpoints
  • Customer service
  • Customer experience
  • Website
  • Graphics
  • Logo
  • Tone and Messaging

Logo Design on a tight budget

When starting a business you may be on a tight budget, you’re looking to keep costs down and a common mistake during this time is to decide to create a logo, and website yourself for your business despite having no experience in design. Don’t forget that Graphics and web design is part of your brand and needs attention.
 
An example I would like to refer to is a sandwich shop with the unique selling point of hand-made, made to-order sandwiches by retired caterers. Their sandwiches were amazing. They would make any concoction you could think of. Unfortunately they decided to do their own logo and posters for their shop. Their logo was hand drawn on a piece of lined paper stuck on the glass of the door. It was a few coloured pencils and a black marker creation. This logo was putting people off going in. I spoke to a few people who even thought that the shop would be unhygienic just because their logo looked rushed without any care given to it.
 
That is when your logo is ruining your brand. You may have saved money by not hiring a designer, but the money you are losing from customers getting the wrong impression about your business is a lot greater.

Think of your logo as wrapping paper

Would you buy an expensive diamond necklace as a gift and wrap it in wrapping paper that came as a deal, 3 rolls for 49p? Is the recipient going to be excited opening that gift? So no matter how good the product is on the inside, it has to look good on the outside or we just wont get excited about finding out more.
 
A website has become the new shop window. We browse with a critical eye and are subjected to more “online shop windows” than we ever have done on the high street. Before the internet, if you wanted to buy a t-shirt on the high street you may have four or five shop windows to browse and ultimately make a decision. Now, we have a multitude of shop windows from all around the world trying to entice us. Yours needs to stand out.              

What should I expect when hiring a designer?

When you have hired your designer, you may have pre-conceived ideas about them. You may have heard horror stories about companies paying £5000 for a squiggle and yet their business doesn’t succeed. Or you may not know what to expect at all. Below is a list of things you can expect from a designer:

  1. A designer will want to meet with you to discuss how you would like your project to be initiated. This can include questions about deadlines, existing designs (If they have any), goals and expectations.

    If a price hasn’t been decided already then this is the time to have this discussion, or the time to raise any queries about a pre-discussed costing. Some designers will require a deposit or even the full amount upfront before they begin, this is to ensure that the project will go ahead and gives you the feeling of being committed to the project.

  2. Ask the designer to provide examples of previous work and check out their testimonials before you go ahead with the arrangement. 

  3. Not all designers will do this but I always provide meeting notes to the client after a discussion. It is handy to refer to if you ever need to, and stops any confusion occurring further into the project. It is beneficial to both you and your designer, if the designer doesn’t provide any confirmation on what has been discussed then it would be worth asking that they do so.

  4. A second meeting will take place, this is where the main goals for the project will be discussed. I provide a questionnaire to the client especially when designing a logo or website, this gets the juices flowing. This starts to make you really think about what you want and what your business is about. The designer will then have enough information to begin their research and initial sketches. This doesn’t have to take place in a meeting, it can be over the phone, Skype or email. But the discussion does need to take place. Again, I would then provide a ‘Response to brief’ to make sure both myself and the client are happy to proceed and that all ideas have been understood.

  5. Expect ongoing interactions with your designer, you shouldn’t be wondering what they are up to. Make sure you trust the designer however, if you haven’t heard from your designer for a few days or even a week, DON’T PANIC! they have not forgotten about you, they are most likely hard at work on your designs. When in a creative process it can be all-consuming, hours can seem like seconds and the flow does not want to be interrupted. A good designer will apprehend your concern and won’t leave it too long for you to begin to worry.

  6. Design updates will be provided for you to give feedback. Now that you’ve seen the initial visual representation of your ideas you will start to understand what you want a bit more. Many times I have heard clients say they aren’t sure what they want but they’ll know it when they see it. These initial designs are for you and your designer to further understand what you want and for the designer to guide you into their vision.

  7. Trust the designer, and the designer should give you reason to trust them. You should be ready to be persuaded into the designer’s world and vision. Trust that they are the professional and they will deliver.

Branding is an exciting part of your business and will carry you through to your goals.

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