Do you know what your brand stands for?
By Jennie Ward
Too many small businesses make the mistake of thinking ‘brand’ means the same as ‘business’, and that once they have chosen their name, logo, and possibly got a website up and running, that’s all the setup work done.
Whether your business is just starting out, or has been around for fifty years, having the right brand has never mattered more. But it’s worth spending the time to do it properly, because getting the brand right means giving your business a real, distinct identity that sets you apart from your competition.
Just like prospective house buyers, who tend to make a decision on whether to buy a property 10 seconds after walking through the front door, consumers make snap decisions when choosing the businesses they want to work with, and a strong brand will immediately create the right kind of impression. But, this only works if the brand aligns perfectly with the business goals.
So when was the last time you took a good look at your company’s branding? If it’s been more than a couple of months, then it’s time you consider giving your business a brand audit. That might sound daunting, but it’s easier than you might think, and done properly it could open up valuable new opportunities.
Here are some tips on the things you need to consider:
Name – Is your business name strong enough?
Once upon a time, most businesses were a play on their owner’s name (think WH Smiths, or Sainsbury’s, or Woolworths), and the name itself had no link to what product or service they were selling. These days, businesses tend to be more closely aligned to that service, with a meaning that gives some insight into what they offer. Nike, for example, was named after the Greek Goddess of victory, while Coca-Cola is named after the Coca leaves and Kola Nuts used as flavouring. Lego, meanwhile is a combination of the Danish phrase ‘leg godt’, or ‘play well’.
Coca-Cola is named after the Coca leaves and Kola Nuts used as flavouring
Trademark – is your business name or product trademarked? Does it need to be?
Few companies consider trademarking a business when they first set out, but as they grow, not doing so can be a real risk. What if another competitor sneaks in and trademarks it first? Then, even if you were there first, they could force you to change your name, costing you the time and effort you’ve taken to establish the name in the first place.
Strapline – does your business have a strapline or slogan? Do you need one?
If your company name isn’t instantly recognisable, then a strapline or slogan can accomplish the same thing, telling the story of what values you stand for, why you’re different and what you can offer. Some famous straplines that do this include L’Oreal’s ‘Because You’re Worth It’, and Google’s first strapline ‘Don’t Be Evil’, which has now been changed to ‘Do the Right Thing’.
Make sure your font doesn't look outdated or unprofessional
Logo – Is it still fashionable?
This is perhaps the most important thing you need to consider in a brand audit. Trends in logo design and colour are always changing, and what was on-trend three years ago could be out-of-date and unwieldy now. Think back to the early days of web design when every font was either Comic Sans or Papyrus. Both these fonts now look dated and unprofessional – not what you want associated with your business.
Your logo needs to be distinct, recognisable and, again, something that embodies your brand. A hyper-modern font wouldn’t suit a brand that stands for heritage and traditional values, but would suit a business built on high-tech innovation.
Any logo also needs to be versatile, so it can be adapted to suit print and digital media. A rectangular logo with lots of graduated colours may be more difficult to get printed to use as livery on the side of a van, for example, while certain mixes of colour might look great online, but will clash badly in printed media.
Next week, we’ll take a look at your brand’s values and how to reflect them online and in social media.
Creative Living London carries out regular brand audits for clients to help them reach their true potential. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org