What are you wearing today?
Sounds like a bit of a weird, late-night phone conversation, doesn’t it?
Here’s the thing: Appearances send a message, and the same way your clothing represents your persona, your business branding represents your business.
Take a pulse. Look at your branding as it is right now.
What does it say about your business? Is it boring or drab? Or is it lively and energetic? Does it say “We’ll work hard for you,” or to continue the metaphor, does the imaging translate to, “I’m wearing sweats today.”
Interesting question to think about, isn’t it?
Ever notice how all car brochures are sleek, glossy, and shiny? Yep. There’s a reason for that. It’s called association.
When it comes to building your brand, imaging and graphics are vitally important. In fact, when starting out, it is highly recommended that you consciously pick a business personality that you want to build — and then literally create your imaging around that vibe. Be conscious about this.
And if you’re already up and running and decide that it needs to be tweaked (because the message you want to send is not the one that resonates from your materials), now’s the time to hit the “adjust” button.
One size, color, font, and layout does not fit all.
Consider that you need different types of imaging for the various aspects of your advertising and marketing. And by all means, don’t stop thinking about imaging and graphics after you’ve picked out the perfect logo. Think, also, about the messaging you want to achieve from your marketing materials, website, blog, AND your logo. You might be hitting varied demographics in the different pieces of the branding puzzle:
Logo: Quick — What are the first three logos that pop into your head? The giant “M” for McDonalds? The Nike Swoosh? The three lines for Adidas?
What other logos stick out? Oh, that little apple has gotten a bit of recognition over the years, hasn’t it? That’s what you’re looking for. Simple. Eye-catching. Simple. And eye-catching. Yes, those four. In that order.
Marketing Materials: Consider everything from your letterhead to brochures, shelf talkers, testimonials, packaging, and anything else that you put into hard copy print.
How are you going to get them to connect with your brand?
Website: Want the real secret? The best websites are all about “less is more.” Of course, people should be able to click on the various tabs to get to the nitty gritty and details of your operation.
On your homepage, however, you want the personality of your business to pop, and you want easy-to-access, user-friendly, and highly intuitive options for your visitors. Want to know why the iPod shuffle was so successful? There’s ONE button. Think about it: Steve Jobs was all about “one.” One color t-shirt. One look, all the time. One button on his best-known products. One apple. Even the “i” in iPod represents the one-ness of the product. Little brilliance there, isn’t it? The takeaway here: Keep it simple.
Blog: Content marketing has become king. If you haven’t jumped on the blogging bandwagon, now’s a good time. Get creative, fun, and upbeat with your own words and style — or hire a freelance writer who can get the job done. Blogs are hitting a different demographic, and the stats are in: This form of content marketing WORKS. Blogs are conversational, friendly, upbeat, and funny.
And unless you’re selling caskets, there’s room for humor. Use it! Depending upon your style, tap into your inner Cosby, Seinfeld, Leno, or Fallon — and let the laughter flow. There are a lot of problems out there in the world, and people are tuning into their favorite blogs to get some light reading, worthy information, and connection.
Establish a relationship with your readers, and watch the bottom line improve. Give them what they want: worthy content and a little escapism from their day of work and life. Do that, and you’ll keep them coming back for more.
Demographic: Check this out: A little-known fact is that companies like Lands’ End actually have names and massive pictures of individuals up on their meeting and design room walls — these images are of their target customers! For “Emma” or “Jack” they’ve got great back-to-school backpacks and preppy, put-together outfits for every season. They quite literally have created their perceived demographic, and then all marketing materials are projected to the Emma’s, Jack’s — and the parents, grandparents, schools, or organizations that would buy for these cool kids.
Great idea, isn’t it?
Meet Emma. What emotions come to mind here? What emotions do YOU want to elicit from your branding?
Who, exactly, is your demographic? What colors, styles, vocabulary, fonts, and vibe would best work for themdirectly to them. Sit back, and literally name some of the people in your target demographic right now. Who are they? What do they look like? That’s a fun one to bring to the next meeting.
Go have a good one!
Valerie J. Wilson owns Wilson Writing and Consulting and enjoys freelance writing for many companies, organizations, and individuals like Steve Wynn.