When I started out, I was just a girl who liked to doodle and mess around with Photoshop and Illustrator, and sometimes InDesign. My sister was an artist and being the younger sister, I always was copying things she did, so of course I tried to be an artist too. When I landed a job as a marketing assistant – a far cry from days of assistant manager of the local bowling alley – I immediately called my older sister for help.
When I started working as a marketing assistant I didn’t really know much about branding or brand management. I remember wondering if I was legitimately even qualified for the job I had. I’ll admit, I didn’t go to school for marketing (actually, I was studying nutrition…but that can be a story for another day), so having my boss entrust me with the creation of a newsletter, social strategy, and marketing and design initiatives felt scary.
I dealt with my fears of not doing the best job I possibly could by staying up late and researching. I read everything I could about marketing and design. I learned the CRM we used, Mailchimp, I took classes on Illustrator and Photoshop, etc. I actually ended up being pretty damn good at my job and was able to propel myself down a career path that I never saw coming.
I have never stopped learning and taking classes. I want to always deliver my best to my clients. Part of delivering my best comes in the form of sharing my knowledge and experiences with the world. One of the lessons I quickly learned was that a brand is more than a logo.
I think it can be a common mistake for business owners and those starting out to think that they can get a logo slapped together and hit the ground running! I know that when I first started I didn’t really understand that branding is a complete package. While your logo is definitely a very important mark for your business, and something that your customers will come to know and recognize, your brand ultimately stretches far beyond your logo.
I like to think of a brand as the total of the visual and non-visual aspects of the business in the mind of its customers. So, what does that mean?
When you have a business, that business has its own personality and culture. Your customers will get to know these aspects of your business and as they become more familiar with it they attach memories and emotions to the business. The memories and emotions that a person has for your business will influence whether or not they return and also creates a sense of loyalty among your clientele. In fact, people are substantially more likely to buy from a brand they are familiar with and trust.
Okay, so if people get to know the reputation and culture of a business, then why do we need visuals beyond the logo? Well, here is another huge aspect of complete branding – Visual Identity. Your Visual Identity is everything that visually represents your business. Now, you are probably thinking, “uh, duh,” and I know that definition wasn’t earth shattering, but it wasn’t supposed to be. If you want a more formal definition, business dictionary defines Visual Identity as:
"Visible elements of a brand, such as color, form, and shape, which encapsulate and convey the symbolic meanings that cannot be imparted through words alone. In a broader (corporate) sense, it may include elements such as building architecture, color schemes, and dress code."
Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/visual-identity.html
Back to the point – we need to be concerned with Visual Identity as a part of complete branding because, much like our business’ personality, culture, and reputation, our customers will familiarize themselves with the look of our brand. When your customers see the specific colors and elements that you attach to your business they build connections between both these visual elements and the non-visual elements of your business – the personality, memories, feelings, etc. Your customers will know what your materials look like and will also come to feel as though they know what to expect, which builds trust and confidence in your business.
Having a unified front in not only your customer service and interaction, but also in they way you present your business is what truly makes up your brand. Having a logo is great, and I personally believe it is essential that every business or personal brand have one, but visual styling takes things to the next level for businesses.
When you know that branding is more than a logo and invest in your business you look like a true professional. Before your customers or even potential customers see the name or logo they can recognize that it’s your business – which means that you grow your brand awareness more effectively with a strong visual identity than with just a logo.
Personally, I have found that you will also gain a solid direction in your marketing efforts when you truly brand. I think that sometimes, with so many social platforms and ways to market, it can be easy to have scattered efforts and a lack of focus. Branding takes you through the process of defining your ideal clients and customers. You will think about not only how you want these individuals to view your business, but also how they will find your business, what social platforms they are using, their demographics, etc. Knowing all about your ideal customer is essential to effective marketing.
There is so much to be gained from branding your business. I cannot stress enough how many times I have seen entrepreneurs who think they simply need a logo slapped together and then just – boom, brand established. It is this thinking that generally leads to scattered, unfocused efforts and poor visual cohesion of their materials. Sometimes things are still fine, and these businesses do well because they have a solid referral base, but even if that is the case with your business, investing in a brand will help you grow exponentially! Logos are great, but a brand is so much more than just your logo.
What experience do you have with branding and logo design? Do you think it’s an absolute necessity for businesses to have a brand these days and not just a logo? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave your thoughts and comments below! Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest from Akari Design Studio!