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What is Your Brand Saying?

I once interviewed for a job with a leading independent real estate company looking for a creative addition to their marketing department. The president clearly stated his objectives to me. "When you look at our company materials from 30,000 feet, I want it to be clear that they all belong to one company." Every piece of their collateral looked different. There was no unity; nothing that tied them all together.

I landed that job and began to unify their brand throughout the entire line of communication materials.

Why was that important? It's simple. A strong brand identity helps establish the name and reputation for whatever product or service you supply.

There are three reasons why you should have a strong, brand identity for anything you are trying to promote.

1. It gives credibility. Without your brand, people don't know who you are and many don't even know you exist. Successful brand identity will set you on a larger stage and broaden your business in the eyes of the public.

2. It builds consumer confidence. People are attracted to strong and even subliminal messaging and when the overall impression lacks unified design or sends mixed messages, customers aren't sure they can trust your business to be professional either.

3. It communicates excellence. Many businesses start up but neglect establishing their brand successfully. That communicates something to people. It says, "We're just trying to get by." If a business cuts corners on their own image, why would people think they wouldn't do so on what they promise to deliver after purchase? Simple things, like using a hand-lettered sign telling who you are rather than getting something professional printed always makes me want to stop and tell them the impression it gives.

There are five important elements to successful branding.

1. It's original -- with it's own distinctly difference from competitors.

2. It's simple --easily recognizable and not too complicated or in-depth.

3. It's appealing -- colors and shapes are important. Make sure it's designed well and looks great.

4. It's meaningful --it should convey a meaning that makes people stop and think about your brand.

5. It's reproducible -- if the images cannot be conveyed across all platforms, it will be frustrating. It should be easily reproduced on all forms of media.

So, how do you design a successful brand? First, you call and talk to me, so I can talk us through these key points, but whatever you do, follow these steps:

1. See what's already out there -- competitors, websites, and do a thorough search to see what's already being offered.

2. Know yourself and what your company's values and advantages are.

3. Create the design that embodies your values -- how can colors, fonts and styles help convey my values and what you offer?

4. Market your brand -- begin to promote your brand everywhere. Website, social media, print, advertising, public relations...get it out there and make sure it all looks like it came from the same company!

5. Tweak when needed! Times change and so do consumers! You don't want to constantly change your brand, but you do want to maintain the pace of the general market. Is your current brand outdated? Does it still reflect the image you want to portray to the public?

These principles don't just work for businesses. Wise Design was hired to brand and market a new contemporary worship service at St. Bartholomew's Church in Hartsville. A name had been selected, "By Design" and they knew the direction they wanted to head in. First I designed a simple logo with graphics that conveyed a feeling of design but with a twist to represent all the cogs that work together to bring people together at a service. We planned the date of the first service and worked backward to plan when certain materials would need to be finished. Then we determined the methods that would be used. I started a new Facebook page and Instagram account as well as updated their website to include the new service information. Rack cards, online ads, bulletin inserts, large interior bannerstands and outside vinyl banners were some of the methods that were developed to communicate to the community that something new was starting. The design was consistent throughout each piece and the messaging was consistent and clear.

No matter what you are doing to brand yourself, an event, or a business; reflect on what that brand is saying and if it's telling people what you want it to. If it's not, I know someone who can help!

To see a sample of all the materials created for the By Design introduction campaign, go to my Marketing/Design section.

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