Many articles have been written about why branding is important for every kind of business. Yet I feel obligated to write my own branding article. Why? Because not many articles fully describe the world of hurt your business can go through if its brand is not well designed.
Before we begin, what is branding exactly?
In short, a brand contains every visual and verbal asset used to describe your business. Your visual brand includes:
- Color palette
- Fonts (typography)
- Secondary branding assets like photo treatments, textures, patterns, etc.
Your brand also includes less tangible things:
- Brand promise: what your company stands for and promises its customers
- Brand voice: the way your company sounds and speaks
- Target audience: the kind of customer you want to attract
- Brand positioning: how you want your company to be thought of by your target audience
- Brand differentiation: how you distinguish your business from competitors
When you start thinking about it, branding encompasses a lot of things… so many things that you can start to see why good branding is important:
- Good brands have a unified message. Their brand promise is clear. This means a business’s customers know what the business stands for. Your brand promise could be to provide excellent customer service. If you don’t deliver that service every time, your brand’s promise is moot.
- Customers perceive businesses with good branding as credible and trustworthy. Having consistent, clear branding means that customers know that what they see or hear once, they will see or hear every time.
Let’s say you bought a logo for $50 off of some crowd-sourced design website. If a professional isn’t managing your branding, over time you can end up with inconsistencies in logo usage, colors, and fonts. For example, if your logo isn’t prepared properly to scale large enough to fit on a vehicle, the logo can look blurry if you try to make it that big. A sloppy execution of your brand may cause people to subconsciously question your legitimacy, and drive them to choose a more buttoned up competitor.
- Customers know what makes your company unique. It’s critical that customers are able to easily describe your business and their impression of it. If you’re not accurately or attractively describing what you do and why you’re better, customers will remain uncertain about you. You must give customers a reason to choose your business over local competitors within a 30-mile radius.
- Good branding adds value to your business. According to a study published in Psychological Science, putting your logo on something biases how consumers make buying decisions. Authors Marios Philiastides (University of Nottingham) and Roger Ratcliff (The Ohio State University) advised, “…Companies should place special emphasis on brand design and awareness and strive to promote strong affective associations with their brand among customers to develop and maintain a competitive advantage.” A clear, well designed logo can help make customers choose you over another company’s less memorable or poorly designed logo.
The Sticker Price of Bad Branding
Let’s look at the cost of bad branding for a small, home service company:
- Fleet of 5 vans: $1,500 to $3,000 per van x 5 = $7,500 to $15,000 (Price depends on how the brand elements are applied to the van)
- Website: (let’s assume you already have an acceptable one and you change the look, feel, and copy) = $2,000
- Stationery and other swag: Thousands of dollars (depending on how much you need)
- Business opportunities: Priceless (unless you do an opportunity cost analysis). One impression is sometimes all you get, so if your first impression leaves your customer underwhelmed or skeptical, you just lost potential revenue. The longer your boring brand exists, the more missed opportunities compound.
Grand Total: AT LEAST $10,000
The assets listed above are necessary for running a modern business, so you might as well get your branding right the first time.
Good branding is something that ultimately adds value to your business, so look at it as an investment in your business’s future. If you don’t, it’s going to cost the same if not more to fix the corners you cut.
What can I do if I have an underperforming brand?
First, you need to call in professional help. Don’t call your sister’s friend’s 15 year old, call in a branding agency, like Trillion, that knows exactly how to revive your floundering brand.
At Trillion, we have three options for different budgets:
- Option 1: Full Rebrand Rebranding your company means changing every asset that your company has, visual and verbal. With a total overhaul, you have the opportunity to create not just a totally fresh look, but devise a strategy that will make your brand the strongest it can be. When Trillion rebrands a company, we perform careful research so we can streamline and set up your brand for success. Understandably, this option takes time to build your recognition and reputation. The price is the highest, but it also means your brand stands to gain the most by redoing it.
- Option 2: Brand Refresh This option is popular with companies that have a lot of assets like signage, vans, and other items the logo appears on. We take what works, and improve what doesn’t. If we have to keep the logo, sometimes we can do small improvements that won’t change the fundamental integrity of the mark.
Next we create a style guide that lists the “look and feel” for your brand: how to use the logo, colors, typography, and any secondary assets like textures. We then change whatever assets make the most sense: your website, business cards, letterhead, etc. The price for this is more middle of the road because we don’t change everything. The benefit is a unified, consistent brand with more opportunities for success.
- Option 3: Timed Rollout Approach If you’re on a tight budget but want to start the process of improving your brand, we can help you create a roadmap for changing your brand’s assets. This way, you can choose to spread the costs out over a longer period of time. The biggest con to this approach is you can have an awkward transition, like growing your hair out after a botched haircut. Overall, if this is the solution that suits your needs, get started now! Late is better than never.
If you haven’t professionally branded your business yet, think ahead. A $50 logo could end up costing your business thousands. If you’re ready to renovate your branding, choose a design agency whose work you admire to create an engaging and successful brand for your company. Agencies like Trillion are business savvy and know how to create a custom, step-by-step plan to grow and roll-out upgrades to your brand. We help you think into the future for the wellbeing of your brand with 1, 3, 6, and 12+ month goals.