Whether you’re looking to further distinguish yourself in a saturated market, or want customers to instantly visualise a consistent and coherent concept – visual branding is likely to play a key role in turning a business into a brand.
Sadly, we’re becoming an increasingly judgemental species. We all like to think we don’t judge a book by its cover, but 9 times out of 10 we unfortunately do – it’s an inbuilt self-defence mechanism that dates back to the dawn of time. This is why the first impression continues to rule supreme – so what exactly does your business instantly communicate to a potential customer?
Even if you love your brand and how it looks, we believe it’s well worth 3 minutes of your time to consider the following 5 tips to ensure your business is abreast of best practice, and pro-actively conscious of how you’re being both perceived on and offline.
1 – UNDERSTAND AND RESEARCH YOUR AUDIENCE
What demographics are you targeting? How does your target market behave on social media?
Defining your audience is the first step to building a successful visual brand identity – from there you can understand how they could, would and should interact with your brand. Dust off your balaclava and start snooping at your competitor’s audience on social media – who is active, and who responds? You can learn a lot about who the audience is by the questions they ask and the posts they engage with online. If they react best to video content this might dictate the medium for your own website’s ‘About’ section, for example.
2 – CONVEY YOUR PERSONALITY
How are presenting your brand’s personality visually?
Today’s consumers are inundated – neigh, bombarded, with typical web advertising, stock-imagery and regurgitated content. The challenge in this online world is to express the character of your business before sales reps or customer service is able to put a face or voice to your brand. Take a look at the landing page below of Present & Correct – a progressive online stationery store. With its neatly laid-out grid of glorious imagery, the site reaches out to what is surely its core audience – people who adore stationery.
Even the website background gives you that notepad/school exercise book vibe. The website imagery is consistent in oozing their brand personality – understated creativity. A sheek yet subtle design-orientated stationary store. It makes us think of a hipster mid-30’s maths teacher and a fashionable secretary all at once, which I’m sure forms part of their target audience. All in all, a great landing page.
The way your brand speaks to the general public will determine how people interpret you. It’s as simple as that. Your business could be revolutionising sport with cool new technology, but if your tone of voice is dull and boring and stuff like this that now you’re probably reading this in a monotonous tone – people will perceive your brand to be as so.
3 – DESIGN YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION
How do your logo and typography communicate your brand values? Are you being pigeonholed into an unintended category? What does your business card say about your brand?
As stated in the intro, first impressions are kind of a deal breaker. Malcolm Gladwell said it best when he stated, ‘buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings.’ A first impression is often based on the initial outward appearance of your business – the stuff that’s visible right away before they dig deeper. A slick logo and clean-look website inspires confidence because it looks professional. If a company is emphasising these characteristics on a visual first impression, then users are likely to treat that as an indicator of what using their product might be like, for example
Branding, however, isn’t just about looks – it’s also an experience. The first impression (and the long-term one that results from following respective social media channels, dealing with customer service staff, and using the actual products and services) is paramount to how you will perform in a competitive market. Designing and cultivating your ideal first impression will take time, and require you to examine how your business is perceived at every imaginable consumer touch point – but it will increase the likelihood of your brand coming across in the right light. Get feedback from your target audience and also people who know nothing about your industry. Amplify the positive impressions and rectify any areas of confusion or inconsistency!
4 – KEEP IT CONSISTENT
Do you have Photoshop templates for your social media? Is your website copy written in the same tone of voice as your blog posts?
While it’s true each marketing channel needs its own strategy, keeping the look of your brand consistent at every consumer touch point is pivotal for communicating a unified brand message. Why is this important? Because you can spend hours, weeks, months, years deciding on the design and ethos behind creating your perfect company, but without consistency, your brand’s values may dilute and deteriorate.
Some examples of visual brand consistency would be applying the same filter to your Instagram imagery or using the same font type across all visual platforms. It creates cohesion so that if a customer follows you on Facebook instead of Instagram, they still get the same story.
We’ve been following Camps Bay Girl in particular for a while now, and while we’ve never met her in person, we perceive her and her travel blog to be of the utmost quality and sophistication. She creates a true sense of wanderlust that has us regularly checking Skyscanner for cheap flights to South Africa, among other countries. Over time, she has shaped our perception of her and her travel knowledge with consistent imagery. We now recognise her blog as the outstanding resource for all things Cape Town and beyond.
5 – BE AUTHENTIC
Are you practising what you preach? Does your product or service satisfy all the needs it claims to?
The consumers of today are smarter and savvier than anything we’ve ever seen before. Research processes form large chunks of their purchasing behaviour, and it’s important to stay as transparent as possible in every aspect of your business to avoid being stung. We offer reputation management services and have witnessed some fairly ugly stuff when brands have been caught out in a lie, or even in honest mistakes – the general public are unforgiving in nature when parting with their hard earned cash comes into the equation!
Stay vigilant and true to yourself. You can’t be the expert in everything – pick a niche and make it your own instead of stretching yourself to thin by casting a wider net. For example, a strategic brand consultant’s bio might look something like this:
“If you’re looking for quick fixes to your marketing muddles I’m NOT the man for you. I’m in my element when I can get underneath the skin of a business, and identify the hidden charisma of a brand.”
Instead of coming across available for business, he’s dictating the environment in which he (and suggestively others) should operate in order to get the most out of their marketing endeavours.
Did these 5 snackable tips help? We certainly hope so.
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