As the first point of contact most people have with your business, your logo and branding set the expectation of what’s to come.
When we see the periwinkle blue of a Tiffany’s box, we know whatever it holds has significant value. When we experience the minimalism of Apple packaging, we know to expect cutting-edge but elegantly simple technology. And if we see a haphazard logo with inconsistent branding, we’re inclined to think working with that business will be the same.
Your business logo influences the subconscious perceptions of your clients and potential customers. Ninety-three per cent of purchasing judgments are made on visual perceptions, which means your logo has a silent, but crucial impact on your business.
But for many time-poor small businesses on tight budgets, branding often takes a back seat to perfecting a product offering or nailing customer service.
Alex Litzow, design lead at Sonder Digital Marketing, says investing in effective, consistent branding is crucial for businesses looking to establish themselves in the market.
“A company’s branding allows consumers to form an opinion of them at a glance. A strong brand helps influence the consumer’s opinion and makes a good first impression,” Litzow says.
“Basically, your branding could be the difference between you getting the sale or your competitor getting it.”
It’s clear that effective branding should never be an afterthought: here’s how to get it right from the beginning.
Learn from the best
Your logo is inseparable from your brand – what would Coca Cola be without its trademark white script on a fire-engine red background? Would Nike be as successful without its confident swoosh, an instantly-recognisable design classic?
Dr Lauren Rosewarne, social scientist at the University of Melbourne, says memorable branding works by evoking an emotion in consumers.
“Branding gives consumers a sense of comfort and safety – they feel they know what they are getting when they purchase something from a certain company,” Rosewarne says.
“Brands stir in us certain emotions: some people are drawn to luxury brands because they denote wealth and conjure feelings of success and esteem; other brands offer feelings of nostalgia (Kraft, Disney) or patriotism (Qantas).”
For Litzow, creating an evocative and impactful brand doesn’t need to be complex.
“If you’re a small business with a small budget, it’s important to remember this. A nice and simple logo that’s been packaged consistently with the rest of your branding assets – like fonts and colours – is enough to build a powerful brand,” he says.
“Inconsistent branding is ineffective branding”
Once you’ve pinned down a logo that captures the essence of your small business, it may seem like a good idea to plaster it on everything – from your website, to t-shirts, bags, business cards and labels. Litzow recommends waiting until all branding is finalised before sending anything to print.
“Getting a new logo is exciting! But, as tempting as it can be to print or use your new logo as soon you get that first draft down, don’t,” Litzow advises.
“It’s so important to finalise the brand before you start using it. So many things, big and small, can change throughout a branding project, and inconsistent branding is ineffective branding.”
Managing branded collateral
But how can small business owners ensure consistency in branded collateral while they’re busy keeping the lights on, staff paid, and orders filled?
Marco González is the founder and creative director of branding agency Vibranding, and has worked with well-known brands like Chupa Chups. He recommends creating a ‘brand bible’ with guidelines for how the brand should be depicted and represented.
“It’s a beautiful and relevant document to share with new employees and with suppliers and third parties. This means everyone is on the same page when it comes to representing the brand,” he says.
While this may seem like a tedious additional step when launching a new business, González says investing the time and effort now will set you up for success in years to come.
“A successful brand identity is fundamental to business and will last years (it could be forever) — this is why it’s very important to get it right from the start.”
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