With a host of powerful tools at our fingertips and a rapidly evolving internet, never in our history have we been able to launch a coordinated message as quickly and effectively as we can today. With a vast market before us armed with smartphones able to directly receive our messages, you have to ask… Is my brand image up to the challenge? Do my corporate graphics speak directly to my audience? Am I sending a consistent message to back up my brand?
supports, employs, and delivers converges into one single impression. This is known as your brand. If you are in business, you have a brand. The question is, do you understand your own brand and are you in control of it? Businesses that are in control have a major advantage. It has never been more critical to look at your brand identity and determine whether it has what it takes to stand out in the digital crowd.
The benefits of having a well-designed logo and visual identity system far outweigh the one-time cost of developing them. A well-designed identity and a brand identity usage guide will help those in charge of making decisions involving graphic design feel more comfortable doing so. Once you have a successful logo and a brand guide in place, you’ll find it hard to operate without them.
Many business owners are savvy to the benefits of having a strong, simple visual brand. They are also aware of the more precise message delivery and reduced time waste that result from having everyone in the company follow the instructions the brand guide contains.
Saving a few thousand dollars by using the “make it up as we go along” system for your corporate identity is a bad idea. You may be able to get by this way, but you’ll never know how much a purposefully planned strategy could have helped your brand. Lost revenue, missed business opportunities, and countless “overlooks” of your business can result. How much time do you spend reinventing the wheel every time you have to supply graphics for advertising, signage, vehicle decals, or even just news releases?
It’s tempting for some business owners to take up the offer from newspapers or billboard companies to design ads for free since design was thrown in with the ad buy. But if you go this route, you are handing full control of your brand and ad design to a person who may know nothing about your company. Your brand is more than a logo, but the importance of your logo as the focus of a professional, recognizable visual identity that ties together all aspects of your business must not be underestimated. It isn’t something you want to leave up to someone else.
Over time, a well-designed identity that fully expresses your brand has the potential to build so much value that your company will be hard pressed to operate without it. Good public recall and exposure significantly increases the value of your brand, making it easier to merge, acquire, or sell the business should the need arise.
Let’s talk logo
A strong logo or wordmark that successfully conveys your brand is gold. Your logo works 24 hours a day. It is your best employee. Your logo is often your first visual exposure to potential clients and it speaks volumes. Your logo is responsible for establishing that emotional connection between you and your customer. It defines who you are and what you do. It creates trust and legitimacy. It distinguishes you from your competition.
Your logo impresses your values on your clients and the general public. It spurs referrals by satisfied customers. It creates a sense of connectivity and a sense of belonging. It’s a beacon of recruitment for those interested in working for your company.
One mistake some business owners make is to minimize the importance of a professionally designed logo. Some treat the corporate visual brand as an afterthought. A strong logo or wordmark that successfully conveys your brand is gold. It’s not uncommon to work with a business whose owner, family member or acquaintance who “has a flair for drawing” developed the logo the company uses to this day. Unfortunately, more often than not, this approach is holding back the company’s full potential for growth.
A strong logo or wordmark that successfully conveys your brand is gold.
A successful logo uses type, symbols, illustration, colour, and style to define the nature of your business and your corporate character. A professional designer will help you to determine whether your logo should be a symbol, a wordmark, or a combination of the two. Your designer will discuss the attributes of your brand with you and convert those characteristics into a unique visual representation of what your brand stands for. This is accomplished by drawing on a complex mix of experience, emotion, and sound graphics training. A successfully implemented brand identity will eventually build its value tenfold.
The usage guide
Your visual identity should be supported by a professionally developed usage guide. This is the blueprint everyone in the company will follow to ensure that the brand is used properly and consistently. Your guide should address everyday logo usage points such as
• your corporate colours
• your corporate typefaces
• the logo in multiple formats
• logo sizing and spacing
• examples of correct and incorrect usage of the logo
• samples of ads, correspondence, promotional items, and vehicle graphics, as applicable
A well-developed usage guide will spell out the corporate brand promise so that everyone is clear on the main purpose and message for all advertising and branding requirements. Having a detailed usage guide makes it easier to tackle such tasks as ordering branded giveaway items for sponsored events, acquiring corporate apparel, and delivering artwork with instructions for sponsored event signage.
Your corporate logo files should be clearly named and available in a central location for everyone in the company to use. This helps ensure that the logo will be consistently used by all. Generally, a good place to keep logo files is a secure area on your website, online transfer drive, or corporate intranet. The usage guide should always accompany the logo files. This allows employees who are travelling to access the logo files and guide wherever they are. It also makes it easier to maintain a database of company graphic templates that everyone can use.
A professionally designed brand identity system will thrive online. There are virtually endless tools online to promote your business – having a good visual identity system takes the guesswork out of digital promotion. All of your efforts, whether they’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, or your corporate website or in electronic newsletters or news releases, will maintain a consistent, professional look.
Brand identities are constantly evolving – trends change, companies change, and people change. Even successful brands constantly evaluate their messaging. Consider refreshing your brand image if your logo has become dated, if there has been a change in management, or if your marketing goals have shifted and your target audience has changed. Does your brand deserve a second look? You bet it does. It deserves every look it gets.
First published in the June 2018 edition of The Business Advisor.