Jane Mancini has 25 years of experience working as a graphic designer with some of the biggest corporate names in London. Since starting her own company on the Surrey / Hampshire border, she’s been applying her eye for design and colour towards helping start-up businesses and SME’s develop their brand identity and brand communications.
Jane answers some questions and dispels a few myths about what branding is all about and explains why it’s so important for a business that wants to be taken seriously, regardless of how large or small it is.
What exactly is branding?
Branding is everything you do that other people see and experience. It is your voice. It forms the public’s opinion about your business and moulds how they feel about it on the sliding scale from fanatical loyalty, through indifference to rejection, or even hatred.
A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play. Everything contributes to your brand: the way employees dress, the quality of your product, your customer service, company name, business cards, website, advertising – everything.
But the brand does not explicitly say “Buy me.” Instead, it says “This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me.”
Who do you like building brands for?
I love working with entrepreneurs; many have left large corporate companies to settle in Hampshire and start something new. They understand the importance of branding from the start and they set aside a sensible budget for it.
I also love taking an existing brand belonging to an established local firm and refreshing it, bringing it to new life and helping it grow. Many companies come to me with a logo they’ve had for 10/15 years and know they need to do something but they are never sure what. McCarthy Holden Estate Agents and The British Equestrian Federation are prime examples of what can be achieved through a brand refresh.
What is a brand for?
Your brand can reassure new customers and keep existing ones loyal. It can make investors, suppliers and other businesses take you seriously. It is the expression of the values of an organisation, product, or service, whether you want your business to look trustworthy, established, fun, professional or whatever is appropriate, then you need the right branding.
But your brand also needs to work internally as well as externally. Look at Apple or Ralph Lauren; everybody should go to work thinking: “I’m proud of my company. I’m proud to hand out my card and I’m happy to point people towards our website.”
How long does a brand last?
When you’re developing a new brand, you want something that will grow with you. A good brand can last, but usually it’s a good idea to refresh it every five years.
At the early stages of your business, a brand can reflect the personality of the individual owners but as your business grows, you also want your brand to grow and mature, an entity in its own right, especially if you want others to invest, or to buy it.
Isn’t a brand and a logo the same thing?
A common misconception is that a brand is the logo; logos are only one part of a brand but they are the most visible part and seen most frequently by the greatest number of people.
But branding is all communication that influences how people see you and your business. These associations may be intentional – that is, they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity – or they may be outside the company’s control. For example, a poor press review. Understandably, branding is often an afterthought for an entrepreneur who’s busy doing a million things to make their business idea happen and you can buy a logo design for £30 off the internet, but what does that say about your business? And there’s nothing to stop another company from using the same logo you’ve just bought!
What can damage a brand?
A brand is like a reputation, it’s so easy to undermine. If you don’t deliver on what you promise, that will affect how people see you, but inconsistency in your communication means the public isn’t even sure what you’re promising.
People don’t always understand this but if you send out invoices with the logo in different positions, or you use different fonts or colour schemes on brochures, email footers, twitter campaigns etc, subtle doubt is cast in people’s minds and they will wonder whether you can deliver.
Inconsistency destroys a brand bit by bit and a damaged brand can have a big impact if you want to sell your business later on.
What single piece of branding advice would you give to anyone running their own business?
If you don’t want your brand to be lost in the crowd and you want to be found in a busy market place, then make sure you set aside a budget and some time to create a consistent brand that reflects what you do.
If you’re aiming to become big and you want to be taken seriously, or your long term goal is to sell your business, then get it right from the start.
To find out how we can help your brand and grown y our business, contact Wag Design or ring us on 01420 22731.