Brand identity is everything – it’s not just your logo – it’s you, it’s your team, it’s what you offer, it’s how you work, it’s what you love…it’s what attracts your clients to your business.
I truly believe that your brand identity is what sells your service, not your service that sells you. If you are more expensive than your competitor but your potential client buys into you and is attracted to your brand, they are more likely to book you over your competition.
It’s your biggest business asset, it’s hugely important and should be invested in from day one – here are my key considerations:
Your brand is like your ‘elevator pitch’, it needs to be appealing, understandable and showcase what you do. It’s the first thing that a potential client sees, and that extends to the presentation of you and your team too. How you look, how you present yourself, your personality, they’re all part of your brand identity. Ultimately it helps you stand out from the crowd.
Let’s start with you…have you ever wondered what first impression you give? We have just seven seconds to impress a person, so this means we must act quickly to nail it! Whilst your personal appearance is not everything, it’s essential that you get it ‘right’ when working on a personal engagement level.
Is your hair clean and tidy? Ladies, is your makeup ‘right’? What outfit are you wearing? Does it fit properly, is it professional, do you catch the eye?
Review your first impression, and ask a peer for honest feedback in order to get it right.
Investment is key
Not investing in your brand from day one is, I believe, one of the biggest mistakes that businesses make. Many believe that they can’t afford to hire a graphic designer to develop a brand identity for a business, but I think you can’t afford not to.
You want to be taken seriously, so start by taking your potential clients seriously and providing them with what they want to get from you – a fantastic first impression.
With a great brief, graphic designers can work their magic and provide you with logo etc. designs to be proud of.
Ensure your graphic designer creates a ‘Brand Guidelines’ document too, it will ensure that future designers create something cohesive.
A professional website is key too. It doesn’t have to be a large website with many pages in the first instance, but it does have to look great, be on-brand and be eye-catching with enticing information.
The same applies to your email address too. Using a Hotmail / gmail / aol etc. email address does not give a good first impression. For the small fee per year to have a domain matching one set up, it’s an investment not to be forgotten. In my role as a Wedding Planner, this year a proposal to my client was refused due to the supplier using a Hotmail email address in their business correspondence – in my opinion they were the perfect supplier match for my client, but they lost the business due to the client saying, ‘they’re using a Hotmail address, they’re not serious’. The supplier lost over £2.5k of business as a result.
Creating a strong brand that people start to remember means that you have built an identity – hurray! When people start to remember you and chat about you, ‘word of mouth’ business will flourish, and you and your team will enjoy working within a business that’s grown through band commitment and pride as it will be such a positive environment to be in.
Don’t forget social media
Are you talking in the right voice? Are you being professional in your approach, or too chummy? Are you using a business page?
Ultimately, do you appeal to your target audience? Again, it’s first impressions.
Make sure that you have professionally designed banners / profile pictures for your social media pages that correctly fit the space, and use good quality imagery.
The importance of customer service
Your customer’s experience is absolutely key to ensuring that your brand continues to have a great reputation and can continue to grow.
You can have a fabulous brand in terms of ‘look’, but if you’re letting your clients down, you will never be successful.
There are many ways that your clients can provide you with reviews of your service online that are quick and efficient, and they go a long way towards enticing new clients. Reviews are not only fantastic to showcase on your website / social media / presentation material, but they do wonders for your SEO.
If you receive a review, thank your reviewer publicly too, it shows that you really care.
Overall, brand is everything. You should live and breathe it, and your team should too.
Don’t get complacent. Review your first and lasting impression to both new and existing clients on a regular basis, and don’t be afraid to make subtle changes to keep up with the times. Review you competitor’s brand too as part of your annual competitor analysis, it’s good business sense to know what they’re up to, too!
Natalie Lovett, managing director of The Whitewed directory.
Further reading on brand identity
Clear branding ‘can vastly improve business’
A clear brand identity can improve recognition and create a ‘seal of quality’, according to an industry expert.
Ray Jones, spokesperson for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), says a strong brand can help a firm to ‘differentiate’ and stand out from competitors.Strong branding, he believes, means a company can compete on more than price – generating loyalty and stimulating innovation.
‘Brand-led companies like easyJet recognise that the brand is like the writing in a stick of rock; it underlies the ethos of the company, and that includes its people and values,’ he adds.
According to marketing company Miranda, over a ten-year period design-intensive companies outperformed the FTSE 100 by 200 per cent.The company says on average design-focused businesses expected a 50 per cent return on their most successful project but actually exceeded their expectations, with an average return of more than 75 per cent.