With all the talk about logos, people get the impression that an outstanding logo is all they need to get their business noticed. If that isn't happening, the logo must be all wrong. We often get new clients who come in frustrated as they tell us they are failing when it comes to branding and need a new logo. They believe that if they change the design of their logo to work better for the company, they will then have a fresh new brand. The problem is that they are expecting the logo to do more than it is intended to do. Your logo is only a small part of your company branding, it is not the whole picture. Let's take a look at how things come together.
Logo vs. Brand
Your logo is the text and symbol you use to tell people your company name. Think about the Nike swoosh or the red and yellow arrow from In N Out, these instantly remind a customer of your company and its name. A strong logo is an important element to establish. Logos provide a solid foundation for branding. However, having only a logo is like owning tires without having the rest of the bike.
Branding encompasses all the visual elements that tell people who your company is. This includes your packaging, your office stationery, business cards, and even the colors you use to decorate your office. Think of the red palm trees on the In N Out cups. Seeing that cup reminds a customer of the company and its brand without even seeing a logo.
Not only is your image visual, but it is also a part of customer perception. Providing customer service that they will remember also leads to a boost in your brand recognition. Think of Chick-fil-A employees who always reply with “My pleasure” to a simple “thank you”.
Your brand encompasses all of these things. It is the feeling people will get when they think of you. It is the tingling of their senses. Think about how your mouth starts to water when you think of a juicy burger and fresh salty fries from In N Out.
Let's look at this another way. Think of your business as a house. When people first arrive, the numbers on the door and the door itself tell them where they are (your logo). When they walk inside, the decor may be luxurious or simple, the colors bright or muted. The look of the room makes it easy to see whether the person should stand by the door, take a seat, or getaway as soon as possible (visual elements). Finally, someone either greets them pleasantly and offers them a seat and something to drink or leaves them standing and turns away, making them feel unwelcome. They either look forward to what is going to happen next or wish they hadn’t visited (your brand).
Communication and Emotion
Company branding is heavily influenced by communication. It is how you and your business make your customers feel and how well you communicate your purpose to them. A few important elements to think about are:
- Social media posts - Are your posts all about sales fishing or do you offer valuable insight into your business? Do your followers feel valued or do they feel it is all about you? Are your posts consistent in their content and visual style?
- Calls to action - What do you ask your customers to do? If you are all about giving to the community, do you only ask them to buy, buy, buy? Or do you have a catchphrase that encourages them to follow your example and also give to the community? They don't want your talk to be empty but instead want to see you walking the walk.
- Customer service - How are your phones answered? Do people feel you are willing to take the time to understand their problems? Are people left waiting for long periods of time on hold or faced with a computer that gives them too many choices? How do your customers feel after an interaction with your business?
- Actions of individual employees - Every single employee is a piece of your brand. Does the cleaning staff make sure the environment is clean and healthy? If someone is asked a question, do they take the time to ensure the answer is understood? Attitude is everything.
Every purchase is made based on emotion, even if the emotion is a subconscious one. How your potential customers feel when they hear your name or interact with you will determine whether or not your brand is "working". Company branding must start on the very basic level of conveying a particular emotion.
Take some time to figure out exactly what emotion you are trying to convey with your product or service. Start by creating a simple statement that says "My company is all about______." There is no right or wrong answer. Once you have a set goal in mind, then you can work on visual branding that presents that goal to your customers.