As a marketing consultant I believe that one of the key – and most beneficial – services I can provide to any business owner is to ensure that they have a strong, relevant and powerful brand with which they can grow their business. In my previous life I managed the global Avis car rental brand across the UK and Europe, so branding is an area in which I have significant hands-on experience. I’m also rather passionate about it!
DIY design – a recipe for disaster
The trouble is it seems to be a very delicate issue and, over time, I have discovered that I often have to tread very gingerly around the subject. Why? Because so many small business owners end up creating their own brand identities. Now don’t get me wrong, I do understand the reasons that so often lie behind this: it’s usually down to the budgetary constraints of starting up a business; it can be the perception that branding will cost a small fortune (well yes, it will if you don’t choose your designer carefully!) which leads to an unwillingness to seek out professional design services; and sometimes it can simply be down to the business owner believing that they can do everything themselves, that mistaken belief that ‘no one will ever understand my business as well as I do’.
It’s the latter reason that makes my job sometimes tricky when I challenge a brand identity that just doesn’t work for the target audience. Yes, it’s the business owner’s ‘baby’ but, to extend the metaphor, it doesn’t mean that everyone will think it’s cute and gorgeous or as engaging as its parent does!
DIY design is one of my top 10 marketing mistakes and I would advise anyone thinking of creating their own brand identity to please don’t do it! Unless of course you are a graphic designer. That’s not to say you might not have a great idea, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. But it takes skill and knowledge to translate an idea into an appealing brand identity that will give your business credibility.
Your brand identity has to be fit for purpose
And how do you know whether it is or not? Well, it has to be right for your audience (not you, sorry!) and clearly position your business within the marketplace. It should embody your business values and communicate your core offering – clearly and with conviction. It should be memorable and it should be unique, not a ‘me too’ solution. And that can be a very tall order.
You need to like it as well, I won’t deny that, because you have to live and work with it day in day out, but you cannot assume that you think as your customers do or perceive your business in the same way. So a brand identity must connect and appeal to the audience first and foremost.
Poor branding will limit your profit potential
Branding is inextricably linked to your potential to make your business successful and profitable, it’s something I’ve been banging on about for a while (take a look at this previous post and I’m sure I will continue to do so for years to come. Because if you get it wrong it can spell disaster for your business growth potential.
Do you believe that good branding is easy to do ‘on the cheap’? Can small businesses afford to quickly skip over this area of their business?