I feel that I talk about this quite a lot (and I shall continue to shout it from the rooftops). It stems from my passion, to make sure all of my clients’ brand identities mirror their visions, values, and ethos…it’s really at the heart of what I aim to achieve as a designer.
As humans, we are hard-wired to make constant judgements about everything we see, hear, touch, smell and taste.
We quite literally cannot help doing this – you would need to be bereft of using your five senses if you didn’t. A few day-to-day examples: this can be anything from walking down the high street and deciding what café to eat gauging your choice from the wafting aromas in the air, to judging how people are looking at, or speaking to you, to which of your neighbours has the best-dressed windows or maintained gardens.
Well, imagine if people were making constant judgements about your business – how does it appear in their minds? What does your brand identity say to them? In fact, this is what your clients and potential clients are doing! So, you need to make sure that your vision, values and ethos are clearly signposted in your branding, the keyword being ‘consistency’.
Consistency in your branding gives your business a personality and identity to which people can relate. People will feel they can trust your brand; the consistency has helped to strengthen this, building your reputation as dependable and trustworthy.
Customers will be so pleased with your company, they; will return to you time and time again and feel confident to spread the word to others, too.
Brand identity runs throughout everything you do, from the macro aspects of your business to the micro, such as email logos, documents, presentations, and printed marketing collateral such as flyers and brochures, so make sure you check and double-check every last detail. Make sure your staff aren’t using old branding – you could be sending out mixed signals. In turn, this could affect your ‘standing’ in a judgemental marketplace, especially if your competitors are more up-to-date than you.
Brand identity consistency is key across all your communication channels. Check your tone of voice is consistent across all your social media, your website and any packaging or signage you have. Do your vehicles carry the same identity as your website and premises signage, for instance (although we understand because of the expense, it can take time to update a fleet)? The use of your logo, brand colours and key messaging across all of your communication channels is essential and will help to strengthen your brand identity.
Pulling together all of the different aspects that make up your identity will define and solidify your branding.
Consistency in branding is the key that unlocks your identity in the eyes of others.
The word ‘stakeholder’ is used a lot, but who makes up your key stakeholders?
Take some time out to reflect on this; it’ll be worth spending time doing this on your own, and also asking colleagues or employees the same question to get a general ‘feel’ for the breadth of who your stakeholders are. Other people may come up with ideas you hadn’t thought about, especially those with their ‘ear to the ground’ as markets constantly evolve, change, and adapt over time.
You may hear the terms strategic messaging and strategic communication used. They both mean the same thing, really – messages sent out to all stakeholders involved in your business. Whether you or your colleagues use business jargon, or just express ideas in your way, that’s fine! At the end of the day, as long as you are all clear about who your stakeholders are, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
As a starting point, though, let’s think about your employees as stakeholders – your employees need to be your brand advocates, driving your business forward in full knowledge of your company’s brand values, ethos and visions. In fact, an excellent employee won’t just be aware of these factors; they will ‘believe’ in them. After all, your brand and company’s reputation is always at stake in a highly competitive business world, so make sure your colleagues are entirely on board with your brand. If your employees don’t believe in your brand, why should anyone else?
Next, let’s think about your customers – take the time to consider what these stakeholders are looking for carefully. Develop your brand to meet these needs. Today, customers have an array of companies to choose from. It may be worth thinking about what makes existing, or prospective consumers, ‘tick’; take their emotions and feelings into consideration when sending brand messages to customers. Remember, customers don’t just buy a product, process or service, they buy your vision, ethos and values. Look after them, and they will look after you.
Are your competitors stakeholders? Yes, they are, so try to keep on top of what their strengths are, as well as their weaknesses. How does their brand identity match up to yours? Are they doing anything different? Are there any new start-up companies in your sector, who may become a more prolific competitor in the future?
Also, are your suppliers, or distribution channels, on board with your brand? Make sure you are giving them explicit brand messages about your identity. Your good reputation will, in turn, benefit their businesses, too. They are more likely to remain a long-term strategic partner if they believe and fully buy into your brand.
What about your community? They are stakeholders in that what you do, and how you make the locality ‘look’ directly affects them. It is essential to make sure your community is happy with what you are doing; consider how highly Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is regarded now.
Two key ideas to leave you to think about are these:
1. Effective branding and messaging is consistent and straightforward.
2. All businesses communicate, but not every company sends clear messages to their stakeholders.