There are many different directions you can specialize in as a graphic designer. In design school we got a taste of each one - packaging design, advertising, user experience design, web design - but I was always drawn to branding. I loved the idea of creating a cohesive visual representation of a business through fonts, colors, graphics, illustrations, and patterns. The organization and strategy behind it all was right up my alley.
But I never understood just how valuable brand design was until I started Elle & Company a year and a half ago. While blogging, marketing, advertising, and social media strategy have contributed to my business’s growth, much of it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for a strong, recognizable brand.
There are innumerable benefits to dedicating time and resources into a streamlined brand. Today I’m touching on 8 of them with the hope that you’ll gain a better idea of the great impact a cohesive, well-designed brand can have on your business.
1. Accurate first impressions
First impressions are crucial in business. They can make or break a sale, build or destroy trust, and encourage or discourage engagement.
Your business already has a brand, and it’s constantly sending a message to your audience and giving off some sort of first impression. You don’t have the chance to explain your business to someone who finds your site on social media or sees your logo on a sponsor list; your brand often does the talking for you.
And that’s why branding your business is crucial.
Branding is the art of accurately portraying the right message to a business’s potential clients and customers and making a lasting, positive first impression.
These quotes say it well:
"A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is - it is what consumers tell each other it is." - Scott Cook
"Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice versa." - Jay Bauer
"Your brand is whatever your customer says it is." - Anonymous
A cohesive, well-designed brand communicates the right message and gives first-time visitors and viewers an accurate first impression of your business and/or blog.
Everyone appreciates good design, whether they recognize it or not. It’s the reason people can determine whether a restaurant is a franchise or family-owned, just by looking at their logo.
Even (and especially) if you’re just starting out, a well-designed brand can make it appear as though you’ve been in business for years. A cohesive brand can help you appear to be more professional, resulting in an audience that respects you and takes you seriously.
It also shows that you pay attention to detail and take your own business seriously, which leads me to my next advantage of a streamlined brand...
This just might be the most important item on this list. Trust is crucial to making sales, booking clients, and growing a loyal, engaged audience.
"If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you they'll do business with you." - Zig Ziglar
And while there are many ways to build trust among first-time website visitors and potential clients and customers, branding is one of the most effective.
People recognize when a business has put thought and intention into every facet of their business. When people see that your logo, social media accounts, website, business cards, and packaging are cohesive and consistent, they assume that your offerings and services will be, too.
And that builds trust.
If you were to see a green apron or a white paper cup with a cardboard sleeve, which business would come to mind?
A strong brand is recognizable even when the logo isn’t present, which is why you most likely thought of Starbucks a second ago. It’s identifiable by its tangible, visual elements (logo, colors, fonts, patterns) and its intangible, non-visual elements (terminology, tone).
If your brand isn’t cohesive, it’s hard for others to recognize your it when one of your images appears on social media or when they see one of your products being used by another customer. Each element of your brand helps your audience identify your business.
For example, many Elle & Company readers have said that they can identify my posts in their Pinterest feed right away because of my consistent blog image layout, colors, and fonts. My logo is nowhere on my blog images, but my brand remains recognizable.
People are very visual; we remember things by their appearance.
A cohesive, well-designed brand gives your audience a mental picture of your business and helps them remember it.
I could give you all the details about Bulloss Photography and how it’s a husband and wife team, it’s based out of Virginia, and focuses on engagement sessions and weddings. And while that’s all true and great, it wouldn’t be quite as memorable as seeing and experiencing their brand and putting a name with a face.
Once you see a brand, it’s much easier to remember the business behind it, especially if the designer behind the brand has incorporated some elements that set it apart from other brands in the industry.
And that’s where the next benefit comes in...
There are so many businesses within creative fields that it can be hard to tell them apart and differentiate them from each other.
Chances are that there are many businesses in your industry, too. A strong brand has the ability to set your business apart and differentiate it from everything else that’s already out there.
For instance, I’m sure you’re familiar with all 3 businesses below. They each perform very similar services, but their brands couldn’t be more different from each other. That’s great branding.
"When you brand yourself properly, the competition becomes irrelevant." Dan Schawbel
When you have a strong brand and you’ve thoughtfully considered every element of it, it results in efficiency with your time and your resources.
You don’t have to wrack your brain over what an informational pamphlet should look like, because a “design system” has already been created and the fonts, colors, and details have already been thoughtfully considered and decided upon.
It isn’t difficult to decide on a profile picture for your fan page, because a logo variation has already been created that fits perfectly inside that little square and matches well with the remainder of your brand.
A streamlined, cohesive brand saves you time (and stress) in the long run and gets all the hard work out of the way so that you can be more efficient with your time and resources.
I often like to make the analogy between a person’s identity and a business’s brand.
The way you dress yourself, the words you use, the way you carry yourself, your habits - all of those things reflect your personality, just as your brand’s colors, fonts, terminology, and tone reflect your business.
Your brand gives your business life, in a sense. It gives it character and an identity, and it gives your audience something to relate to, whether your brand is casual and friendly or modern and sophisticated.
Branding is far more than just a logo; it’s an experience. A cohesive, well-designed brand can differentiate your business from competitors, build trust with your audience, and give them the right first impression. It can lead to more sales and bookings, create recognition, and increase engagement. The benefits are innumerable.
Do you have a cohesive, well-designed brand for your business? If so, what are some of the benefits you’ve seen from it?
Although many business owners recognize the importance of a cohesive, well-designed brand, they don’t always know how to create one affordably.
And that’s where my upcoming Design Your Brand e-course comes in.
This course is an affordable solution for those who are hoping to start a brand from the ground up, rebrand, or refine their current brand. Over 5 weeks, I walk you through the design process I use with my branding clients and let you in on the decisions I make and the design principles I keep mind during each step. See more details here...
**Registration for the next Design Your Brand e-course is now closed. We hope to offer a second round in Spring 2016!