Companies need to have the branding know-how to draw in customers and keep them buying, writes David Wilson.
Natasha says: how exciting to see an article on design in the mainstream press!
DESIGN can make or break your business. So says Dutch-born, Sydneybased brand designer Hans Hulsbosch, the creator of the leafy Woolworths logo and Qantas’s contoured kangaroo logo. According to Hulsbosch, many business owners lack a grasp of how branding works. Thanks to their ignorance, they end up choosing a self-defeating second-best branding solution.
Natasha says: forgive my cynicism, but this sounds like a sales pitch from Hans. Let's challenge that first statement "Design can make or break your business": There a a huge number of businesses that are very successful, without having utilised the assistance of a design firm. Yes, "branding" is quite a concept to get your head around, but the bottom line is, your brand is what your customers think of you, nothing else. if you have never had a logo designed, or a branding program implemented, your customers still have an opinion of you. Your second-best branding solution may only be that in the eyes of a designer, the general public are probably none-the-wiser.
Be picky, says Hulsbosch, whose encyclopaedic design knowledge covers everything from the relative warmth and coldness of fonts to the weight of airliner paint. Hire designers with a proven track record – stalwarts you can trust to do the job – he advises.
Natasha says: yes, OK be picky, but ultimately hire with designers you like and trust (not so sure about then being "stalwarts" - what does that mean exactly?), it will make whatever the project is more fun in the long run, and you'll feel better about paying them
But stay picky. Wait until the design in progress speaks ‘‘with the clarity of a bell’’, he says. Natasha says: yikes, how long is a piece of string? Better to put some work in before the designing starts, to be sure of what you want to achieve, (and your designer can help you sort that out) before you start paying design fees.
When you achieve that clarity your customers will be engaged Natasha says: what a sweeping statement! "Enagement" can only be ascertained by some research, and you need to establish how this success will be measured before you commence paying design fees, which means they will return and ‘‘buy over and over again’’. Likewise, if your brand strikes a chord, your staff will stand behind it and promote it, Natasha says: your staff are either with you or against you due to the intersection of their values and your corporate culture, a new logo ain't going to change a thing with them he says. Beware of lumping branding in with advertising or designating it ‘‘a junior job’’, because the field is fiercely competitive. Natasha says: yes I agree, designers (or visual communicators) are experts in our field, and we do a much better job at brand strategy than an advertising agency - who do campaign strategy very well.
Thanks to widespread high-tech wizardry, we are bombarded with images that vie for our increasingly brief attention. ‘‘Only through solid, well-developed and meaningful design that really connects with people will your brand and your product register in the mind of your customer,’’ Hulsbosch says. ‘‘In today’s fragmented media landscape you need a rock-solid brand.’’ Aim to capture your business’s unique traits, he says. Natasha says: OK I'll pay him this, a well designed visual identity (really the tangible product of the considerable clarity of thought behind this process, that will focus how you communicate with your customers) will cut through the visual dross that we see on a daily basis.
Two small-business specialists supply some nitty-gritty advice on how to convey what Hulsbosch calls the ‘‘soul’’ or ‘‘DNA’’ of your enterprise.
Tips for a perfect image:
- Seek help from the get-go, says a strategist and lecturer, Denise Beeson. Guidance is critical. Changing your look because another firm has a similar look can be costly.
- Be consistent in your ‘‘look’’. Check whether your business card resembles your brochure, website and so on, Beeson says. If not, your audience will be confused. A marketing consultancy director, Paige Dawson, agrees consistency is key. ‘‘The goal is for a customer to feel and see that you are the same entity from first introduction to an ongoing customer relationship,’’ Dawson says.
- Register your trademark with a patent office (ipaustralia.gov.au), Beeson says. That move gives you legal protection, curbing the use of your look by competitors.
- Name your company or product distinctively, Beeson says. Stay away from ‘‘vanity names’’. Your own is unlikely to tell the prospect enough about what you do.
- Adopt a slogan, Beeson says. A memorable one will boost your standing in clients’ eyes.
- Choose two primary fonts for all writing: one for headlines and one for body text, Dawson says.
- Choose two to three primary colours to use for all materials, she says. If you have a signature colour, carry it through across all items, from portfolio pads to mugs.
- Choose an image style to convey who you are and what you do. And invest, she suggests, in a custom photo shoot of your team or location because customers value authenticity over a stock image.
- Make templates for staff to use for all areas, from a standard email signature to a receipt, Dawson says.
- Never let up on the consistency. ‘‘Being able to share consistent and compelling key messages about your product or service is key,’’ Dawson says. Check whether the language, messages, tone and style of your marketing materials are congruent.
Natasha says: this is all good "brand application" advice, much more practical that Hans' rave. Imminent can help with all of the above, give us a call or email to find out how we can assist you in your quest for branding know-how, from logos to templates and everything in between. We will be much cheaper than Hans.