By Black Ink
Branding is one of Black Ink Creative Partners’ core verticals. We understand the importance of creating an effective and memorable brand. People often misunderstand what a brand is. There is confusion between a ‘brand identity’ and a ‘brand.’ A brand identity cannot exist if there is no overall brand. The brand identity is merely a logo, logotype, wordmark or pretty picture to represent your company and/or what your company may do. This would suffice if you have not perfected your brand yet. Having an identifiable mark helps both government agencies and the general public recognize your company, but a brand is a bit different.
Brand identity is the signifier, the iconography, the identifying mark that triggers your customer to remember their good or negative experience with your company. A company brand is the combination of various elements that establishes your business, but the client experience stands out as one of the most important elements. That experience is defined by the company’s values, culture, mission and customer care. This customer experience becomes synonymous with your brand experience, and this brand experience must be consistent for every new client, existing customers, contracts and employee. Your goal is to maintain this consistency year over year and therefore, can be the foundation of the company’s handbook for customer service.
So why brand? Our advice is actually do not brand…yet. If you’re a small start-up or have only been in business a few years, we then recommend not to put your focus on creating a brand plan. This is money wasted. You should develop your overall business and your business’ customer service. In addition, you should concentrate all your resources to build your profits, to create your brand culture and the brand experience. Once your business has become stable and financially secure, you can then begin to identify what the brand experience is. It may be time to convey this into visual triggers and a strategic branding plan.
This is not to say don’t have some kind of identifying mark to set you apart from your competitors. The identifying mark can have exactly what you do in the name. It can be an image of a product or a service you offer, or it can be a combination of things. Studies have shown that abstract symbols and marks are often misunderstood, mistrusted and not entirely appealing. You may want to avoid creating and introducing a standalone abstract symbol or using the initials of your company. We recommend using either the initials or the identifying mark, but don’t combine both, it becomes confusing and is not informative. Also avoid redundancy. As an example, if you have the word “security” in your name, choose a visual element that represents security, safety or comfort to add the message of being secure and comfortable, or safe. Keep it simple.
If you’re a small business and need creative services, and you have a limited budget, think about what is most important, a logo or a new website. It may make the most sense to use your limited budget to build a website that can help you display products and capture leads, and simply use text as your logo, at least for a short period of time.