5 ways your brand identity is hurting your business - and what you can do about it.


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Written by Varun Murkar

June 14, 2016




Maybe your business is suffering from an identity crisis (or a PR one). Maybe there's a disparity between your brand persona and your visual identity. Or maybe you've outgrown your branding. Or maybe you just hate it. That happens, too.

But a poorly-designed brand identity can hurt your business. Here's how.

1. You attract the wrong customers.

Someone ever expected you to charge heart-breakingly low rates because you "seemed cheap"? Or someone didn't approach you because looked too expensive (and you weren’t)?

Yup, that's because something in your positioning and visual identity doesn't line up.

2. Potential customers perceive your business as out-of-date.

Rotten Apple

So, your logo looks like it was made in 1996 - in MS Paint. No offence if it actually was, but come on - it's 2016, and you can do better. It may have worked last decade, but trends have changed, and you’re behind the times.

3. People don't get what you do.

Can a random person understand what you do without a website/brochure/pitch? You messaging has to be clear enough for anyone to understand in an instant. As we'd put it - design for an 8-year-old. Though not like an 8-year-old.

4. You look the same as any of your competitors - or worse.

Dirty Bird

We're curious who designed this.

Taking inspiration from a competitor's branding is one thing - creating a clone/version with slight variations is another. Or maybe it just looks like something really offensive. Trust me, it's going to be a turn-off for potential customers.

5. You employees don't "feel" the brand

Your clients aren’t the only ones who are impacted by your brand identity. It matters to your employees too. Take Apple, Google, Twitter, or Netflix for example. Your team benefits from having a clear idea of how you will position your brand - something that's going to come in handy in everything from sales to customer service.

Ouch. you've got some fixing to do.

So, maybe you've read this and are now sweating about your branding. Now, don't just jump into it. There are two main things you need to consider before you start looking for someone to fix your brand identity.

What all would the rebrand affect?

Rebranding is not just a prettier logo. While logos, websites, business cards, and stationery all fall into branding, your rebranding can also touch your company's name itself, your tagline, your product's name, company pivots, and a wide range of other touchpoints.

How much will it cost?

Marketing materials such as logos, flyers, and brochures make an impact on a customer’s first impression. However, a lot of brands avoid refreshing or updating their collateral, citing cost as a reason. We understand that cost can be a hurdle between you and a rebrand that you love. Though that's what we're helping our customers with at Cuber - to create a memorable brand identity on a budget.

Your brand identity should show what your business is about, setting you apart from your competitors. It should convey your value. This can seem rather daunting, but that's what we're trying to simplify.

12 Tips for DIY Enthusiasts

By now, you may be wondering, "Hey, what if I do this myself?". Congrats! You can. If you do it right, you save money. If you don't have the time or required expertise to do it yourself, get in touch, and we’ll help you through it.

1. Define a Clear Objective

What are you hoping to accomplish from your rebrand? It may be a clearer message, a different brand positioning, or reflecting something new you do. Whatever the purpose, keep a specific objective in mind.

For example, you may want to shift (or expand) from B2B to B2C. Consequently, you'll need to make sure your logo conveys what you do to laymen, your copy (written content) is simple and jargon-free, and is accessible to the potential customers.

2. Redesign Your Logo with a Purpose

When you’re designing your logo, think of what you want it to say. For example:



3. Determine Consistent Elements

If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you. One of the best ways to get people to trust you is to be consistent. And that extends to your visual content, too.

For example, don't just redo the logo. Make sure you're updating your collateral business-wide - be it business cards, packaging, or stationery. Even on social media, you can create a consistent look to your visual images (such as a watermark). If you do it right, your audience will instinctively recognise your brand in the crowd of faceless others.

4. Draw Visual Influences Relevant to Your Product

Can your brand be identified with a simple image? For example, as a cafe, your brand can be visualised as a cup of coffee. The audience will understand that a brand represented with the image of a cup of coffee is a coffee shop. So, how would you represent your brand?

5. Pay Attention to Your Fonts

Fonts can go bad really quickly, so be sure to pick a relevant one.

For example, if you're a girly or whimsical brand, you can consider a script font like Waterlily.

Waterlily

If you're an outdoor, adventurous type of brand, consider a font like Aliens & Cows.

Aliens and Cows

Whatever you do, do not use Comic Sans. You will lose all respect your audience has for you.

6. Use Colours to Convey a Tone

You'll have to pick your colours based on the feeling you want to evoke in your audience. Red usually communicates strength, confidence, and power and is a highly visible colour (e.g Levi's). Orange represents youthfulness and creativity (e.g. Fanta).

McDonald's Colour Palette

Gold is a symbol of luxury or high quality (Antara Jewellery). Brands or product that wants to come across as natural, healthy, sustainable, environmentally friendly, organic, etc. often use earthly colours like green and brown.

Starbucks' Colour Palette

Blue is one of the most widely used and versatile colours, communicating trustworthiness, security, and stability. White often communicates simplicity or a clean, modern quality.

7. Match Your Audience

The most enduring brands are the ones with great reputations; they’re authentic, they deliver clear messages and are consistent. Are you seeing the same brand as your customers see? Take a look at your visual content and decide what message you’re promoting. Is it the one you want to promote?

For example, if your brand is serious and uncompromising, why are you posting irrelevant funny memes on your social media accounts? Is your audience there for your humour or would a chart image of facts and figures be more appropriate?

8. Remember That Your Brand is a Story

Stories create the emotional context people need to identify with the brand. So, what's your story? Happiness and youth? Struggle and inspiration? Every element you choose will say something about your brand. Make sure it’s telling the right story.

9. Create a Style Guide for Consistency

A style guide will help you maintain consistency in your visual content. The simplest way to create on is to have the design process documented. Make note of the exact colour you choose (not "blue", but the HEX, RGB, CMYK (maybe even Pantone) value. Catalogue your selected filters, the size of your images, the fonts you prefer, and their weights and sizes, too. When it comes to brand consistency, every detail matters.

10. Make Your Brand Memorable

Everyone remembers the Nike, McDonald's and Apple's logo’s, they are simple, bold and effective. Simplicity is the common denominator here. The simpler the idea of your brand, the better it is conveyed. Clever logo’s using negative space to create ‘hidden’ shapes are also very memorable and effective.

Remember that, in many cases, your logo is the first encounter your audience has with you. It’s often the first thing to load on your website and the element that pops out from your packaging.

11. Don’t Forget To Carry Your Brand Over To Your Social Media

The best brands focus most of their energy on fostering relationships. Are you creating relationships with your audience on social media? Make sure that the visual posts you create are relevant and wanted by your target audience. If you create visual content that they crave, your brand will become more valuable to your audience.

12. Go Classic, Not Trendy

Don’t get rid of your core brand elements for the sake of following a trend. You may find that a little shift is all you need to push your brand to extraordinary.

Getting the word out

So you got a shiny new identity? Now's the time to flaunt it. Here are a few great ways to do that.

1. Use an Infographic to Show the Evolution of Your Rebrand

Infographics are a great visual tool for presenting otherwise boring information. Your rebranding infographic can basically document the entire process.

2. Leverage your mailing list

If you already have a newsletter going (or even if you don't), you can tie in your rebranding campaign to it. You can share behind-the-scenes bits of your rebranding. Sneak-peeks. Maybe even get their opinion of which of the two design options you came up with they prefer (after all, it's their perception of you that matters). Making them part of the process makes them more invested in the brand.

Will you or won't you?

Damn, that was long. But if I've been clear enough (hope I have), you can see that it's not impossible to do it yourself.

Once you know why you're rebranding (competition, refresh, new launch, whatever), make sure your design aligns with that goal. Then you can shout about it from rooftops. Do give a shout in our direction, too.

Now, I know something like a rebrand can consume a lot of time and resources when done internally - time and resources you'd rather spend on other aspects of your business. In that case, just get in touch. I'm pretty sure we can do something awesome for you at Cuber.

Over to you

Share in the comments below why you’re rebranding (if you are, and also why if you're not). Let's hear your story.

Cuber is a young digital agency utilising design thinking to improve your business. You can write to us at varun@cuberdigital.co to find out what we can do for you.

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