Does your business have a brand

Does Your Business Have a Brand?

Just Do It.
Think Different.
I’m Lovin’ It.

Based on just those slogans, we’re willing to bet you know exactly which three companies we’re referencing. These phrases are so strongly associated with those companies that you will be able to conjure up their name, their logo and what they sell before you’ve even finished reading it. And there’s one simple reason for that – great branding.

We all see examples of branding every day. When we’re shopping, watching TV, reading the news, or searching the internet for a product or service we want to know more about.

So, the question to ask yourself is, do you have a brand?

This might seem like an odd question but bear with us for a second. Because, you see, not all businesses have brands, but all brands belong to successful businesses. Today, we wanted to share with you what a brand is, why it’s important, and what you need to create your own successful brand.

What Is a Brand?

By definition, branding is a marketing practice that includes everything from creating your logo, symbols and other design elements that make it easy to identify your products or services. But at Clever Marketing we think it’s much more than that.

Your brand is the overall experience a customer has of your business – from your name and logo to your website, your social media, the way you answer the phone and even the level of service they receive from you. It’s how you make them feel, what they remember you for and how they pick your business out of a crowd next time. At its core, branding is all about making a memorable impression on consumers and allowing your customers and clients to know exactly what to expect from your company. It’s the way you distinguish yourself from the competition – how you stand out and why you are the better choice. It’s different for each and every company, and while most businesses will have all of that information in their heads, many don’t turn it into a brand on paper.

Why is Having a Brand Important? 

Imagine you’re standing in the condiment’s aisle at the supermarket, looking for ketchup. On the shelves there are hundreds of bottles, all of which contain the same red liquid, most of which were probably made in the same factory. The only difference is the name on the label. Which one do you choose? Most of you would probably go for Heinz. That decision, that impulse is why branding is important.

Branding can change how people view your products and services, or your business as a whole. It can drive new business, increase brand awareness and help you differentiate from your competitors. The most successful companies will leverage their branding to promote loyalty in their customers, with big brands even becoming household names. On top of that, good branding can also:

Create Recognition: This is maybe the most important function of branding – to make people recognise your business and become known to consumers. For this, you need a powerful, easily memorable logo that can make an impression at first glance and stay at the front of people’s minds.

Increase Business Value: Branding is important when trying to generate future business, and a strongly established brand can increase a business’ value by giving the company more leverage in the industry. This makes it a more appealing investment opportunity because of its firmly established place in the marketplace.

Generate New Customers: A good brand will have no problem drumming up new business through referrals and directly. Strong branding generally means customers get a much more positive impression of your company, and if you’re familiar to them then they are more likely to do business with you over others.

Build Trust: Customers need to trust your business before they will buy from you. But having a professional appearance and well-thought through branding will help establish and build trust in you and what you do. Being properly branded also gives the impression that you’re an industry expert, making the public feel as though they can trust you.

Improve Employee Satisfaction: Many employees need more than just work — they need something to work toward. When employees understand the mission of a business and its reason for being, they are more likely to feel that same pride and work in the same direction to achieve the goals the business owner has set. Having a strong brand is like turning the company logo into a flag the rest of the company can rally around.

What Makes a Good Brand? 

So, after all that, how do you create a brand for your business?

A few characteristics of successful branding include:

  • Audience segmentation– if you try to appeal to everyone, your message will be diluted and ineffective.
  • Exposure – You need to be able to reach customers through multiple channels and mediums.
  • Unique approach – Being the same as another brand only means you will be mistaken for them. You need something distinctive and unique to your business.
  • Leadership – Whether it’s the CEO, the owner or the marketing manager, successful branding always has a champion behind it.
  • Passion –While you can build a brand in the short-term without passion, you need it to sustain and grow your brand in the long-run.
  • Unified approach to service – ultimately all parts of your business are part of the branding exercise, so your approach needs to reflect your brand values.

You will also need:

  • A good logo.
  • Strong and consistent brand identity (including colours, fonts, format, communication style and tone)
  • Consistent visual elements.
  • A great website.
  • A marketing, advertising and outreach plan.

But most of all, you need a great marketing team to help you create and implement all of those things.

At Clever Marketing, we provide a full suite of design and marketing services to help you create and maintain a great brand. Our services include everything from initial logo design and developing your brand identity (including colours, typography and other creating visual assets), to refreshing your branding and helping you roll out your new brand company-wide on everything from stationery to signage. Not only that, but once we’ve created your exciting new brand, we can help you write a set of brand guidelines for your business, so you know everything you produce will be consistent and match the brand you’ve worked hard to create.

That’s Clever Marketing

Clever Marketing - Surrey Digital Agency

Find out  how we can help you with your brand and set your business apart from your competition. Just  call us on 01276 534 680 or fill in the simple form with your details and we will get back to you.

Web Design Trends 2017

Five Web Design Trends to Look for in 2017

Web Design Trends. 2017 is an exciting time for the web industry with technology and customer needs moving at pace. Of course, the digital landscape is continually changing so we all need to evolve with it to ensure we remain ahead of the curve. With this in mind, we take a look at the top five web design trends we think you should be looking out for in 2017.

1. Content remains significant

Focusing on content is nothing new, after all, the old adage that content is king is still true. Content is an essential part of the marketing mix and your content marketing strategy enables your company to show they are experts in their field but more importantly drive web traffic. While social sharing, sign-ups and pop-ups remain a key way to drive leads, content will continue to be significant.

2. Animation will have greater importance

Similarly, animation is being used more regularly on websites these days. It’s of particular importance when there’s a need to show meaningful content or demonstrate how to do something. Video is a great way to communicate and it’s easily shareable across platforms such as YouTube. GIFs are also becoming more sophisticated so we anticipate an increase in these over the coming months also. However, don’t overuse GIFs: they are good up to a point but we don’t want to go back to the crazy GIFs of the late 1990s!

3. Less emphasis on home pages

With content becoming more refined and ultimately more shareable, it’s likely we’ll see a rise in landing page design. Of course, all websites need a home page but there is a need to provide visitors with pages that are more targeted and best meet their search query. Content marketing is a great way to drive traffic to a website with tailored pages created to increase those conversions, feeding your social media output.

4. Simplified navigation

With so many users accessing web content via mobile and smartphones, there’s a need for navigation techniques that provide a good user experience (UX). Gone are the days of complicated navigation with the majority simplifying their content. Keeping navigation to a minimum also helps put the focus back on content relevant to the visitor’s needs.

5. Trends in creativity

Creativity is all about showing a brand’s personality and more imaginative techniques may result in the end of flat designs. Shapes, lines and patterns certainly took off last year and it’s likely we’ll see this trend continue in 2017. Equally, basic heading styles are being replaced with more innovative options like overlapping text and images or bold typography. More experimentation is taking place and some are even going back to basics with simple, straightforward text. There’s also been an increase in illustrations and hand-drawn elements such as icons, fonts and graphics. Again this is bringing a unique look and feel to website content.

Clever Marketing - Digital Agency, Hampshire SEO, PPC, consultancy.With the industry changing at such a quick pace, we cannot wait to see these (and other) web trends develop over the course of 2017.

If you’d like to speak to someone about your website design, please contact the Digital Marketing team at Clever Marketing on 01276 534 680 or feel free to fill in our contact form.

The Importance of Branding Consistency - Clever, your brand agency, can help

The Importance of Branding Consistency

When a company visits your website, do they get the same brand experience as they would across your other digital channels? What about offline – is the branding of your brochure or print campaign consistent with your online branding? Brands never want to be predictable but when it comes to marketing strategy, consistency really is essential.

It raises brand awareness giving your company a personality and identity. It reinforces your position in the marketplace, therefore driving authority. It helps attract new customers. An inconsistent message can create confusion and could be seen as a sign a company cannot be trusted. Companies are often time short so how can you ensure brand consistency internally and externally across all touch points all of the time?

The building blocks of a consistent brand identity include messaging, tone of voice and design guidelines. While these must be specific to your company, these are the main elements that should be considered.

Logotype and brand message

A brand message should clearly define your positioning. Think about your logo and rules for using it with or without a tagline too. Consider how it will be applied and if you need different versions (ie; a logo with a transparent background might be a requirement). If your branding agency is designing a new brand identity, consider how it will translate across all touch points. Will one logo suffice or does it need to be scalable?

Design guidelines

Brand design is not just about a logo, design guidelines are a fundamental part of the mix. Typically these should include a colour palette, font type and weight, photography and illustration styles as well as other visual elements. Consider how the colour palette will work online and offline, checking colour matches in programmes such as PowerPoint. It’s worthwhile including guidelines for your website (ie; banners, buttons, web fonts) and print (ie; specifications for the most used collateral). Your brand design agency can help with this.

Tone of voice

As well as the look and feel, tonal values are just as important. Consider how your tone of voice will be applied on your website and in print but also across your social media channels. Think about the personality of your company, what kind of impression you want to give and how should you communicate. Cover off best practices like grammar, punctuation and spelling with your branding agency as well.

Once your brand guidelines have been finalised by your brand design agency, it’s worthwhile considering a cheat sheet featuring the most used elements too. It’s a great way to have a quick point of reference while ensuring brand consistency. Clear brand guidelines should provide everyone internally with a framework to implement activity across all channels.

Clever Marketing, Hampshire Digital Agency - The Importance of Branding ConsistencyHave you seen the examples in our portoflio of branding work?

If you require help with your brand identity or brand guidelines, feel free to contact us on 01276 534 680 today.

Brand Collaboration: Is it Right for your Business?

Forming strategic alliances with other brands can be a cost-effective and mutually beneficial way to both market your business and produce content. Brand collaboration can take many forms; from actively promoting each other on social media, to co-branding and launching a new product.

Given its many benefits, it’s no wonder this idea is becoming more and more popular. In fact, more than 60% of start-ups and small businesses are now working together to find new customers.

Are you considering brand collaboration? If so, make sure you read our five top tips first to find out if it’s right for your business, and how you might benefit.

Be True To Your Brand…

Say you’re a health foods company. You’re approached by a large confectionery manufacturer who is interested in working with you. The exposure and brand awareness you’d receive off the back of the project would be significant. Do you start a brand collaboration?

In this instance, the partnership would most likely be ineffective due to a lack of brand fit. The values and image of a health foods company and those of a confectionery company are probably not closely aligned, making content creation and marketing difficult. A real life example of this was when McDonald’s was announced as a partner for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. With such different brand values, many found the partnership confusing and inauthentic (the fast food chain was accused of misleading people into thinking their food was healthy by public health advocates. Read more at Olympic Sponsors Were Warned About Sochi; Now McDonald’s and Coca-Cola Are Having a PR Nightmare )

The most effective brand collaborations occur when the brands in question naturally complement each other, but are not direct competitors. This way you are likely to have the same demographic, a similar tone of voice and desire to project the same message. The partnership between Innocent Drinks and vegetable box company Rocket Gardens is an example of good brand fit – they worked together to help teach children about eating healthily in 2012.

…But Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold

While it’s important to stay true to your brand and work with partners who both you and your customers see as a natural brand fit, don’t let that restrict your potential candidates to a just a few companies. It’s worthwhile to think about the future of your brand and the direction you’d like it to take five years down the line, as well as the image it has now.

Bottled water manufacturer Evian represents a brand who was bold enough to think out of the box – and it paid off. They collaborated with French designer Courreges to promote the label’s 50th anniversary. Although fashion and water aren’t a pairing that immediately springs to mind, the partnership worked to enhance Evian’s image as sophisticated and classic.

Identify Your Weaknesses

Brand fit isn’t the only thing you need to consider before choosing a brand to partner with. You’ll also want to audit your marketing and content activity to identify any areas where you’re weak, or haven’t managed to garner a huge following.

For example, you may have been concentrating on a select number of social media outlets and as a result, don’t have a presence on Pinterest. Identifying a brand who has a lot of activity and followers on this platform would be beneficial in widening your reach and getting your name out to new audiences. The impact on your marketing here would be much more effective than simply shouting again into an arena where you are already making a lot of noise.

Similarly, you may also choose to associate yourself with a brand who has certain values you would like to market yourself as having; but that you don’t necessarily have already. Think back to the health foods example – this brand could partner with a sportswear manufacturer, benefitting from the association with fitness as well as good nutrition.

Keep Your Customer Front of Mind

To help guide your decisions on what might be a good brand fit for you, always try to keep the best interests of your customers’ as your top priority. Looking through their eyes will help you filter what is a good fit and what isn’t.

Consider what other brands your customers may interact with or show interest in. Social media is a great place to research this, and surveys are also an informative route to take.

Invest Time Into Your Collaboration

For your partnership to be successful, you need to build a strong and profitable relationship with your brand partner. A collaboration is not something to be left simmering away in the background of your marketing landscape; you’re likely to get out exactly what you put in.

It’s key to spend some time at the beginning of your agreement fleshing out exactly what both parties stand to gain from the partnership, as well as the expectations you may have. Make sure you’re both clear on how success will be measured, so you can track how you are doing at any given time.

Agree who will be responsible for what. If you are creating a lot of content, both brands need to be clear whose remit certain tasks fall under in order to avoid any disputes (and delays) further down the line. A successful partnership is one that has been effectively and extensively planned; not one that has popped up overnight.

Clever Marketing - Surrey Digital AgencyIf you’re looking to get involved in brand collaboration but you think your brand needs a review and rework then get in touch with Clever Marketing now.

You can call us straight away on 01276 534 680 or fill in our easy contact form.

We’re quite happy to look at your brand, redesign your logo, create a consistent identity across all your marketing material.