Are you properly integrating your brand?
Every successful business needs a developed and growing brand that is consistently integrated into everything they touch. Exactly how that is done varies according to the unique needs and challenges of each business.
Let’s start with: what is a brand?
It’s not just your logo; it is much more than that. I have heard it said that a brand is a promise of an experience. It’s the story of who you are and what your business is about. Your logo is one very important piece of all the elements that tell your story and help potential customers decide to do business with you.
These well-known companies have logos that don't really tell you about their products, yet they are successful brands doing successful business:
It isn’t the logo itself that tells the brand story; it is the context and message the logo is surrounded with on a consistent basis that tells you that Coca-Cola is refreshing, that Harley-Davidson motorcycles give you freedom, that Starbucks coffee is special, that Nike athletic gear helps you “Just Do It.”
If you promise a certain type of experience, and keep that promise across all touchpoints, your branding remains intact and successful. If not, then your customer base becomes confused about your business, and you must work that much harder to win them over.
Think about the backlash against Volkswagen in the recent news. Their brand has definitely been damaged by the revelation that nearly half a million “eco-friendly” diesel cars had been rigged with equipment that allowed them to cheat on emissions tests. Now when people see the VW logo, will they think of technology and sustainability? Or cheating and corporate greed?
I understand what a brand is, so what is this about integration?
Integration is how all the various brand elements and touchpoints work together to support your brand. No matter how big or small you are, you want all of your voices to tell the same story. Before they can do that, you have to know what your story is....
What is your unique selling proposition? What makes your business different from your competition? Can you communicate how you want your customers to see you in a brief sentence or two? What are some adjectives that describe you? Are you cutting edge, bold, and in-your-face? Are you sophisticated, romantic, and complex? Are you small, local, and friendly? Earthy and sustainable? Or funky and quirky with an offbeat sense of humor?
Once you know who you are, you can develop the elements that point to your brand story, and introduce those elements to your potential customer base. Some of these elements may include:
- Logos, standard fonts & colors, even sounds
- Identity materials, such as business cards and letterhead
- Promotional materials, such as brochures and rack cards
- Business signage, employee apparel, and vehicle graphics
- Websites and social media presence
- Ad placement in various media such as newspaper, magazine, radio, and television
- Direct mail, postcards and newsletters
- Product development and packaging
- Gifts and salable items, such as T-shirts, hats and mugs
- Posters, menus, videos, commercials, and more
I see how it all needs to work together, so how do I start?
Even if you are already running a successful business, it's never too late to make it even better! Ideally, most companies should start building their brand at the beginning of developing their business — even when conceiving a business name. Starting later in the game may mean more of a learning curve and maybe some minor “damage control,” but there is no downside to building a solid brand at any time, especially with the support of an experienced marketing and design firm. Such firms have specialized knowledge to:
- Help you discover your brand story, name, and market
- Strategize your marketing presence and growth
- Develop your logo and supporting elements
- Advise you on how best to integrate your brand into touchpoints relevant to your industry
- Propose additional marketing opportunities you could be taking advantage of
- Manage your branding, keep it up-to-date, and protect it from damage or dilution
- Suggest, produce, and implement additional or revised branding elements for you as your business needs grow and change over time
The more closely you work with such a firm, the more successfully they can manage your brand, which allows you to spend your time doing what you do best — running your business!
Brand integration isn’t just a good idea; it is a necessity.
If you are ready to take your brand seriously and are interested in help developing and integrating it, contact us. We can help. firstname.lastname@example.org