Brand and Deliver: The Importance of Establishing Your Organization’s Identity

If you think “branding” means coming up with a catchy slogan and a pretty logo, you’re kind of wrong – but you’re also kind of right. Logos and tag lines are key components of an overall branding strategy, but branding itself is a broader process. Branding is better described as: establishing an identity in the market for your product or service. It’s the main message to your customers that sums up why they need you and what you will deliver to them, but it’s also everything associated with your company, from the brown trucks you immediately identify as UPS, to the old gold jacket on a Century 21 agent. Good branding is both visual and visceral. It’s not just a recognizable look, but it should also make you feel something about the product or service. A bank’s branding should evoke trust and responsibility, a beauty product’s branding should make you want to feel glamorous and pampered, and that’s what branding is all about. Here are some things to consider when establishing your company’s brand:

Make it clear

Don’t muddle your message by trying to convey too much information, or not clearly conveying exactly what it is you offer. There’s a road in New Hampshire that I travel occasionally, and somewhere along the way I pass a sign that always baffles me. It says, in giant letters: “JUST OIL.” But underneath, in much smaller letters, it says: “and more.” Well if it’s “just oil,” then that means there is no more, and yet apparently there is. Here’s a tip: don’t design your branding to convey two messages that completely contradict each other. And what kind of oil is it, exactly? Is it an automotive service place where I get my oil changed (and more)? Or is it a store that’s packed to the gills with all kinds of oil – olive oil, motor oil, massage oil, home heating oil (and more)? I’m not really sure, I stop reading after the “and more” because I’m just confused (and more). Sometimes you only get one glance from a potential client who passes your billboard, or sees your brochure – so for the love of oil, be clear about what you offer.

Be consistent

Once you’ve established what your market identity is, and the message it conveys, you must align all of your marketing efforts to consistently represent your brand. This uniformity should be applied to anything that represents you: logos, slogans, Poor Brandingpromotional pieces, brochures, signage, website content, and so on. Also, make sure your branding makes sense. A law firm specializing in corporate litigation probably doesn’t want their logo to feature the firm’s name in neon bubble letters with a unicorn as their mascot. On the other hand, that look might work well for a children’s party planning business. If your brochures all feature a red and black color scheme, then your website should not feature pink and green. Anyone who looks at your brochure and then accesses your website should immediately know they’re in the right place because they see the same branding – colors, fonts, logos, slogans, etc.

Be relevant

One aspect of branding that can be tricky is knowing when to tweak your brand, or even completely rebrand. Should McDonald’s replace the golden arches, or Nike throw away the swoosh? Probably not. Some brands are so well established and still effective enough that they should be left alone, but sometimes the market changes, technology renders products useless, and brands need a refresh. A brand can become tired and dated, and sometimes products and services change so drastically that there is no choice but to reestablish your market identity. For example, if you’re a knitting supply company that markets to elderly people and you realize that knitting popularity is exploding among college students, then a refresh or total rebrand might be in order. In other situations, the saying “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” rings true. Remember “New Coke?” Yeah, that’s a “don’t fix it” situation. And when McDonald’s reintroduced their chicken nuggets and initially used the tag line, “Now made with real chicken,” I mean, come on. “Now?” You’ve said one word too many. The point is, know your industry, know your market, change when you need to change, but don’t change for the sake of changing.

When done thoughtfully and consistently, branding can really bolster your market presence. So be sure to take the time to identify your message and design your branding to align with that message, and chances are you will be just fine (and more).

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