What does your branding say about your business?

The way you present your business, products and services says a lot to a potential customer, and it might not necessarily come across in the way you were hoping for. Naturally we all consider ourselves professionals: professional at what we do, professional in our approach, and a professional hardworking adult. However sometimes our branding, our website, our business cards, our content, says something very different.

There’s an analogy I heard recently that I really liked, that I feel sums up the importance of presentation.

Imagine you walk into a shop, you head over to the counter, and there on top by the tills, is a pot of pens, a selection of 15 all shoved into this one pot. How much do you think that pen is worth? 99p, maybe £1.50?

Now imagine you walk into a shop, you head over to the counter, and through the glass top you see a pen, carefully led upon a red velvet mould, enclosed in a beautifully handcrafted wooden box, embroidered with a delicate pattern. How much is this pen worth?

For all you know the two pens might be exactly the same, but it’s the way they are presented that gives them value. It’s the same for houses too.

Let’s say we’re preparing to sell our two bedroom house. Nothing special, a nice, quaint two bed terraced on a fairly average estate. Before we allow an estate agent to show people around, we’re going to spruce the place up a bit. Maybe we’ll touch up the walls, doors and skirting boards. We’ll cut the grass and tidy up the garden. Perhaps we’ll buy a few diffusers to spread a pleasant scent around the house.

It’s highly likely that our house is exactly the same as the other two bed houses around us, but because we’ve spend some time and effort presenting the house in a nice way, it makes it more appealing and creates an extra level of value to the person viewing the property.

Now let’s look at what this means when it comes to branding. What makes a good logo? What makes it look professional? It’s a hard question to answer because there are so many ways to design a logo, none of which are right or wrong. However I think we can all agree that it’s fairly easy to spot a logo that was made in paint using a bunch of clipart images and a standard Times New Roman font. You’ve all seen them, bland colours, dodgy edges, slightly out of focus. What does this say about the business?

In reality, the person running that business, let’s say his name is Jeff and he’s a plumber, is probably a really good plumber. Maybe he’s been working for 25 years and really knows his stuff. And yet his branding is letting him down, because it makes him look unprofessional. Now for some customers, the logo might not matter to much to them, perhaps they’ve been recommended him by a friend, in which case the recommendation is that much stronger. But what about the potential customer that found Jeff on Google or on Facebook. What is their impression?

Your business’s brand is your reputation, it’s what people think of when they hear your name. This takes time to create and cultivate, think about Apple, Disney, Nike, these are all brands that stand for something, that we have some kind of emotional reaction to. They’re also all brands that have been around a while. Branding on the other hand, is the visual way you are packaging up and presenting your business to the world.

The branding you use should look and feel professional, it should feel like you spent some time and money on it, whether you designed it yourself or hired a graphic designer, it should look well made. It should be consistent across everything you do, across digital and across print. Nothing says amateur like a business card with one font, a flyer in another, and a website with a completely different one.

If you haven’t already, it might be worth conducting a quick audit of your branding and how you’re using it across you various online and offline activities. If anything is inconsistent, it should be quick and easy for you to fix. Here’s some things to think about.

  • Are you using the same logo or logos throughout? Think about your website, social media, leaflets, flyers, brochures, business cards.

  • Are your logos crisp and clear? Do they look out of focus? How do they look when printed?

  • Are you using the same fonts?

  • Is your text sizing, spacing and layout consistent? Does it look clean?

  • Are you using the same colours? Do they look the same across digital and print?

  • Are you using a consistent name? This might sound odd, but some companies start out using their legal name i.e. Jeff’s Plumbing Ltd, only to change it later to some kind of trading name i.e. Jeff’s Plumbing Services. If you haven’t looked at your branding for a while, this might be out of date.

  • Are your team using the same approved documents, powerpoint presentations and headed paper, or are they creating their own and distilling the companies branding however they see fit?