Branding basics: Building your brand

graphic By Mirella Marie

Building a brand is one of the most important parts of business, yet also one of the most overlooked. For a brand to be sustainable, it must evolve with a business’s life cycle and meet the changing needs of its audience.

Here are five things to consider to when building your brand:

  1. Vision

A strong brand starts with a vision. If you’re unsure what yours is, ask yourself the following:

  • Who do you want to serve?
  • What are your brand’s values?
  • What is your “why”? (Meaning, why do you do what you do?)

Once you identify these points and present them in a clear way people can understand, you’ll start attracting an audience that shares those values and relates to your “why.”

  1. Credibility

It’s natural that people will wonder if you can really deliver what you say you can, so having a quality designed brand identity and website is the first step to instilling trust in your audience. Testimonials, case studies (where applicable), and high-quality photos of your work will also help alleviate doubt, convey professionalism, and establish your expertise. Credibility by association is another way to positively shape people’s perceptions of your brand, so make an effort to align your business with leaders in your industry (and others) and people who are smarter than you.

  1. Authenticity

There is no shortage of pretenders on the Internet, which is why being authentic is so important. While many businesses might have a tightly curated Instagram feed, people want to see what goes on behind the scenes because it’s more relatable. For example, showing sketches of your latest design will give people a look into your creative process instead of just the final product. Being true to yourself, knowing your brand, and injecting your personality into it will help you stand out in your competitive industry and attract people who resonate with you.

  1. Visibility

Your brand needs to be visible in order for people to recognise it. Positioning your brand in front of the right people in the right places at the right times will keep your brand front of mind and help it become memorable. For example, if there’s an event your audience will be attending, find a way to promote your brand to them through that event. The more it is seen, the more likely people are to remember you when they need the products or services you offer. Never give people time to forget about you.

  1. Consistency

As with anything, consistency is key to achieving results, and your brand is no different. Being consistent shows that you’re reliable; in turn, people will know what to expect when dealing with you. For example, having the same imagery across all your communications will encourage trust and brand recognition. If you’re consistent with when and how you communicate, your brand will grow sustainably.

Remember, your brand is one of your business’s most valuable assets and building it is an ongoing process that takes time, work, commitment, and passion to be successful.

Mirella Marie is the owner and creative director of Vertigo, a Melbourne-based graphic design studio specialising in brand identity and design. She is also a contributor for Women of Graphic Design, a project examining the work of female designers around the world. Join her on Instagram at @studiovertigo.

Branding basics: Rebrand your brand

CWC_2016-01-21_georgia-phase_insta-graphic_template By Mirella Marie

Rebranding is changing the image of a business. It focuses on how the business is perceived and how it has developed beyond its original goals and values. Some businesses will rebrand in their early lifecycle once they’ve discovered who they are, what they’re doing and where they’re going, while others will rebrand after having grown (or outgrown) their existing brand.

Your goal when rebranding should be to build upon your existing brand in order to maintain its audience, awareness, recognition and loyalty. If you steer your brand in a completely different direction, you may need to build it up again from scratch.

Reasons to rebrand

  • A change in the type of products or services that would attract new customers (or disengage current ones). For example: you changed your product from chemicals in plastic packaging to plant based ingredients in biodegradable packaging.
  • Changes to business ownership or structure. For example: hiring staff, bringing on a new management team, sole trader registering as a company.
  • Leading the business into a new area. For example: expanding into international markets or other industries.
  • Negative publicity. For example: a social media campaign, ad campaign, or brand spokesperson that offended the public; your audience discovering your products and services are not sourced, produced or advertised ethically.
  • Staying relevant. For example: incorporating a responsive online store and a complementary app so your customers can place orders straight from their phone.
  • Changes in customer needs. For example: offering more eco-friendly and sustainable products and services to a growing socially aware audience.

Reasons not to rebrand

In most cases, the following challenges may be resolved with the redesign of an existing brand identity and design materials without requiring a complete overhaul of the brand itself:

  • Professional image. Your logo, branding and marketing materials are DIY, but now your business is up against competitors who have quality, strategic brand identities designed by professionals.
  • Lack of consistency. Communication and marketing materials are not consistent in their design and implementation, which can affect brand trust and recognition.
  • Outdated logo. It was designed 10 years ago based on what was trending at the time.

Launching a rebrand

  • Don’t launch your rebrand until your brand identity and design have been updated and implemented across all touch points (where possible). For example, having a new logo on your website and an old logo on your business card will not only make you look unorganised and unprofessional, it will confuse your customers. If your customers are confused, they will turn to your competitors.
  • Launch your rebrand internally first to your employees and educate them on what it means and why it matters. Your employees need to feel excited and emotionally connected to the brand and most importantly, they need to believe in it. If you don’t have employees, ask your friends and family.
  • Gradually lead up to launching your rebrand to your audience in order to build anticipation. Engaging your audience and giving subtle hints that something new is coming will excite them and make them feel involved.

Things to consider

  • Why do you want to rebrand?
  • What do you want to achieve from a rebrand?
  • How are you going to achieve it?
  • Who do you want to target?
  • How will the needs of your new audience meet the needs of your current one?
  • Will your customers still identify with your brand?
  • Have you conducted any research into your competitors, market, audience and industry to determine if a rebrand is the best decision for the direction you want to take your business?

Rebranding needs to be driven by strategy, vision and research. Before you consider rebranding your business ask yourself if you really need to, because if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Mirella Marie is the owner and creative director of Vertigo, a Melbourne based graphic design studio specialising in brand identity and design. She is also a contributor for Women of Graphic Design, a project examining the work of female designers around the world. Join her on Instagram @studiovertigo.