One of the questions we get A LOT is: How do I know if my branding is any good?
“Good” is subjective, but what we can tell you is whether your branding is effective.
But first… we should get specific about what we mean when we say branding. It’s not just the visual things like your logo and color palette.
1. Brand positioning: The value you offer, who needs it, and why they should pick you over your competition.
2. Messaging & voice: What you say and how you say it.
3. Style & visuals: Your overall style and ethos, and how it comes to life in your logo, color palette, fonts, graphics, and photos.
Now that we have that sorted out… back to the question: what makes branding effective?
Whether we’re creating a brand from scratch or evaluating an existing one, there are a few things we always look at:
One of the biggest reasons businesses end up competing on price is because they don’t give customers a good enough reason to choose them over their competition.
Before your anxiety kicks in just thinking about coming up with a “good enough reason,” keep in mind that this can actually be something super simple.
It might be your niche—the specific group who needs exactly what you do and is willing to pay a premium for it.
Or it could be your process—the way you do something differently than everyone else.
It may even be the mix of experiences & values that have shaped the way you do business.
Once you identify what sets you apart from everyone else, you’ll want to highlight it as much as you can in your messaging & visuals.
This’ll make your overall branding more strategic. It’ll appeal to the right audience, communicate the right message, and—the best part—enable you to charge a premium.
There’s so much noise out there, it can feel REALLY hard to get your message heard.
One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is with a brand that looks & sounds unique.
You may be thinking:
Well, of course I want to look unique. But, how the heck do I do that?
By doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing.
Think about your industry. What are the branding norms? And how can you go against those norms?
For example, if most of your competitors write their copy in overly-corporate business-speak, maybe you’re the one that talks like a friend and breaks things down for them in a simple way.
Or, if they have a masculine look to their visuals (ie. a neutral color palette & lots of harsh edges), maybe you resonate with a female audience by adding more feminine touches to your visuals (warmer colors, smooth lines, and delicate touches).
Another way to come up with ideas is to look at the brands you love, and figure out what it is about them that’s unique.
Once you’re clear on your strategic positioning and the unique way you’re going to stand out, you bring it all together with brand visuals.
Brand visuals include:
It’s super critical that you have high standards for the appearance of your brand.
It makes you look more legitimate and reputable. You’ll be taken more seriously in your industry as a professional, and it’s less likely people will view what you do as a hobby.
Important note: High standards does not equal perfection.
Your copy and visuals will never be absolutely perfect, so don’t set that as your benchmark. Aim to be polished.
Polished branding looks like:
Polished branding does NOT mean you have to be boring. You can still have branding that’s fun and expressive.
Take our branding, for example. We think it’s pretty fun, but we’re also experts, so we make sure everything we put out looks & sounds super polished.
Show that you take your business seriously, and other people will take it seriously, too.
Don’t waste all that time you put into making your brand strategic, unique, and polished by not showing up consistently.
Why is consistency so important?
Using your visual branding consistently makes it more recognizable—leading to reduced costs + increased profits.
If you need convincing, here are 3 benefits you’ll get from consistent branding:
1. Your brand will get recognized more often
We’re assuming if you’re reading this article, you’re probably not running your business underground on the black market, and therefore you DO want do increase your visibility online.
Well, good news: consistent branding increases your visibility online by over 400%.
That means more people will see your branded content, and it’ll be easier for them to remember you so they can tell their friends about you.
Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Toms, says it best: “The easier it is for someone to understand who you are and what you stand for, the easier it will be for that person to spread the word to others.”
2. It’s less expensive to get new customers
It takes 7-13 touch points online for someone to become a customer.
If someone doesn’t recognize you because your branding is inconsistent, you’ve missed an opportunity for a touchpoint.
As your brand becomes stronger, you’ll see this show up as increased conversion rates & decreased cost per acquisition.
3. It’s easier to create branded content
One of the misconceptions around design is that every time you create a new graphic, it should be super unique.
The reality is: the more you use the same layouts, photos, colors, and graphics, the more people will recognize your brand.
So, next time you’re sitting down to create a graphic, and you catch yourself working too hard to make it unique, give yourself permission to pull something you’ve already created and use it as a template.
In general, templates should be your best friend. Use them over and over until you have a reason to update them.
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