Branding For The People, the branding authority for small businesses. The leading branding agency for emerging and expanding entrepreneurs, small businesses and corporations with offices in San Diego and New York City.
How to stay on track and not go nuts when you work from home.
Something you might not know about us at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE is that like many entrepreneurs, freelancers, small business owners, and other similarly free-spirited folks, we work mostly virtually. It can seem like the ideal setup—but as any work from home veteran will tell you, it’s easy to go off the rails.
So we have a quick list of things to watch out for if you’re leaving the corporate world and it’s offices, rules, and structure behind. This post is for the individual—managing a team remotely is a whole other post.
Is working at home… good for my mental health? Is it bad? What gives?
If you do a basic Google search, you’ll find a lot of opinions out there on this topic. Not going into an office saves you the time and stress of a commute—but if you’ve grown accustomed to using that time to read, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, call family and friends—you might notice you miss having that outlet. Going into an office can sabotage your healthy eating efforts with office snacks and having to grab fast food because you forgot lunch—but being at home can mean sitting in front of a computer all day with endless access to your own snacks.
Ultimately, it depends on the individual. What it comes down to is identifying what positives you got from going into an office, and what you’ll need to be mindful of when those things are no longer built into your day. If most of your socialization is through work, you’ll need to figure out other ways to meet this need—Meetups, social media interaction (especially with groups and spaces oriented toward your interests), or reaching out to someone in your field to get lunch or coffee—these are all great ways to both socialize and network. What’s great about working from home is that sure, you have to put in some effort—but you can really curate your interactions to be the best for YOU.
Feeling… blah or uninspired
This happens to the best of us, office or not. The upside to being in an office? Lots of other folks around to talk through the blahs. The upside to work from home? The entire world is your inspiration. And so is your space.
Similar to socializing intentionally, when you’re at home, you can plan your space however is most inspiring to you. Even if you’re not likely to have clients or coworkers in your workspace, you don’t want to be stuck staring at institutional-looking walls all day, so be creative! The sky’s the limit, from painting everything Baker-Miller Pink to any number of sophisticated options. Try adding productivity-boosting music (check out this list from HubSpot). There’s no shortage of home office porn online, so have fun with it!
Watch out for time-suckers
Coworker chit-chat is almost definitely curbed when you can’t just walk into your neighbor’s office (although instant messaging can work similarly). We suggested social media for productive networking and socializing, but of course there’s the risk of finding yourself three years back in your cousin’s Instagram feed to find a picture of an impressively-sized squash for… reasons.
Have you moved today?
We all know that sitting in front of a computer for eight hours (or more) per day has major health drawbacks. There can be fewer “natural” interruptions when you’re in your own home, so if you’re feeling distractedly stir-crazy, get up and get out! A quick walk or a change of scenery can help reinvigorate you and improve focus.
There are lots of other strategies you can incorporate into your day to break up time AND get moving—the important part is that you do it.
S T R E S S
What stress? I work at home!
But of course some stress is unavoidable. A big source when you aren’t in an office can be time and project management—you have deadlines, timelines, etc., but the only person really monitoring progress is YOU. In fact, sometimes you can spend a TON of time on a project, only to scrap it and change direction—but if nobody sees the original work, did it even happen?
The solution, for the most part? You need to plan and track, and you need a strategy for checking in. We’ve all had the experience of being incredibly busy last week, and then trying to document what exactly you were busy doing. Which is stressful in itself! Do yourself a favor and investigate options for setting and tracking goals—whether using apps or manually with tools like Bullet Journal or or BestSelf.
And finally? Have fun! Enjoy the benefits your work from home setup offers.
Thoughts or insights? Let us know in the comments!
Feeling frustrated? We’ll help you avoid some common moodboard pitfalls.
We published “How To Make a Moodboard” about a year ago, but it’s such a popular topic, we thought we’d revisit it—this time with some pointers on how to get inspired, and some moodboard pitfalls to avoid.
As we discussed, moodboards aren’t intended to be a definitive, final look or identity for your brand. They’re a starting point, meant to give your ideas some physical characteristics and make sure it’s communicating ONE visual mood—not many interpretations of the same mood.
When is it time to make a moodboard?
Once your brand’s messaging has been determined, you’re probably ready to get into visual identity. It’s a good place to start before you begin logo explorations, fonts, or other more tangible aspects of your visual identity. Your moodboard will help define what the whole brand looks like. Without this in place, you run the risk of haphazard or mismatched ideas (which will come back to haunt you later on).
Sometimes this can seem like a fluffy activity when you already have a logo in mind, you know your colors—maybe a couple of colors, and you have your font picked out. But similar to really pausing to spend time on your messaging, truly visualizing each element together will help you avoid annoying conflict further down the road. We’re going to go over some pointers and common moodboard pitfalls to help you along the way!
Be fearless! This is a time to be creative behind the scenes, so nothing is off-limits. Do you have a logo you absolutely love? Here’s your chance to see what about it might fit into your brand image without worrying about copyright.
Think outside the box (the box is a Google Image search). Again, nothing is off-limits. Do you have a favorite Instagram account, an image on your phone, a famous photograph, a statue, an exhibit? Is there a person or place that evokes your brand’s message? No matter how disparate, any of these can serve as inspiration.
It’s not just color. The term “moodboard” might bring to mind carefully curated, monochromatic Pinterest boards. We get it—pink, pink, pink. This is also a place where you can play with something that can be overlooked: pattern. Some of the most famous brands in fashion make exquisite use of pattern—think of a brand like Burberry’s iconic check pattern. You don’t need any more visual information than that pattern to know exactly what you’re looking at (and they’re aiming to keep it that way).
Being overly detailed. Sure, you want to capture as much as you can—but this isn’t the final, definitive iteration of your brand’s image. True to its name, the moodboard is helping establish you brand’s mood—not its technical intricacies. That comes later.
Speaking of technical… this isn’t the stage where you want to take your brand platform and create a literal visual interpretation. Your goal is to try to capture “attributes”—things like “wise” or “graceful” as opposed to, say, a Caretaker avatar. This is an abstract process—what does “wise” look like? You can see how this is easily open to interpretation, which makes solidifying that image all the more important.
Limiting your scope. There are lots of tools out there (we mentioned some in the previous article) for creating moodboards, and they can be helpful tools – but recognize they have limitations. You can easily assemble something on a site like Canva or Pinterest, but to truly put it together, you may be best off enlisting the help of a professional. In the same vein, you want to be aware of your target market and competitors—but you don’t want to mimic them too closely.
Moodboards are an essential place to get creative juices flowing, but not at all a final product. They may even surprise you—when you begin to put your ideas together, It might not look like what you expect
We hope you found this helpful! As always, let us know in the comments.
Here’s something we sometimes hear when working with clients on verbal identity: “I can’t say that”. Those three little words might be rattling around in your head, too, when thinking about your brand’s voice. And they need to chill out!
This is bigger than just your brand, of course, but for the sake of this article, we want to try to shake “I can’t” from your vocabulary when talking about your brand.
Obviously, there are some topics you would be best-served to avoid, and we all know what they are. But there’s so much people avoid saying out of a sense of “is this appropriate”, “Is this professional”, or “will I lose customers”.
If you’re hesitating, hemming and hawing, or otherwise feeling like you’re walking on eggshells when speaking in your brand voice—you’re in the right place.
Once you’re able to answer questions like “who is my brand speaking to” and “how do I speak to them”, this becomes an easier task.
Don’t make it weird.
You know those moments when you’re at dinner with new people, and you’re not saying a whole lot because you’re going over all the ways you could accidentally offend someone? Your brand does the same thing. It avoids interacting, and sounds stilted when it does try. And your audience picks up on this! Knowing who you’re speaking to and what kind of messaging (from the world, from other brands) they’re used to will help you avoid situations like this.
Don’t contain multitudes.
This is the uncomfortable sense you get when your brand has grown in a direction that feels like a giant, fire breathing amalgamation of every voice that’s ever been involved in your brand, EVER. Your brand feels like an oversized Katamari ball. And when you’re trying to say everything, your message is diluted down to nothing. This leaves your audience feeling confused, overwhelmed… generally uncomfortable. If they’re not moving away from you exactly, it’s only a matter of time before something calm and soothing that feels like it’s speaking directly to them sweeps them off their feet – and they’re gone.
Focus on the positive
In some cases, there are things your brand simply cannot say. In this situation, it’s best to acknowledge them, take them off the table, and focus on what you CAN say. It can be tempting to comment on every trending topic, but it’s just not always appropriate. So rather than focus on what your children’s book company has to say about Stormy Daniels, save it for your personal conversations, and keep
Sometimes it’s just a matter of feeling like you have permission to, say, use expletives in your marketing, or permission to take a pass on politics when you’re just not a political company. If your audience is younger, or you’re a company like Cards Against Humanity—hell yeah, you absolutely should be swearing!
Do any of these scenarios ring true to you? If you’re struggling with questions of voice and audience, we can help. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
How to be creative at work, at play, and every day.
“Be creative”, they say. It sounds so simple, but It’s is a much larger topic than we can cover in a single blog post, of course. In this post, we’re going to start at the beginning—harnessing the creativity you already have.
There’s a long-standing narrative about creative genius happening almost magically—behind the scenes, when nobody’s looking, and arriving in its final, polished form to an adoring public.
None of this is true, and the sooner you embrace that that magical creative moment is a myth, the sooner you can get to work!
Generate, generate, generate.
In other words: start. Don’t wait for that elusive flash of inspiration. Rather than trying to be creative as a state, try to do creative—every day.
Try keeping a journal for a month, and commit to writing in it for at least fifteen minutes a day. Don’t think about it too hard—just get in there and do your best James Joyce impression. Write about what inspires you, imitate something brilliant, or even just the same word over and over until you inevitably start really thinking about that word—and write that down.
Ever had a brilliant idea—that doesn’t work for the project at hand? Save it! Keep a “junk” file and save these moments until it’s their time.
And sure, we opened saying inspiration is elusive, but we’ve all experienced those moments. When they do hit, be prepared—carry a notebook if you’re the analog type, or open up your Notes or Voice Memo app.
Go off the path.
We’re used to clear, linear explanations, but in reality, problems don’t tend to solve themselves in such an organized way. Think about what you know—and write it down. Where does it fit? Is it a problem to solve, a solution to provide? Is it a feeling you want to inspire? Is it something about who you want to be?
So for example: let’s say you know you have a great solution for
Now that you know what you know, you need to discover what you don’t know. Make a list of possibilities and variables, or try to create a narrative. Really delve into your topic and continue asking questions—become as much of an expert
Talk to people, even if they’re completely removed—you might be surprised what a fresh pair of non-expert eyes can see or imagine. Do you have a mentor or another expert in your life? Reach out to them!
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be an endless font of creative wisdom—put in time and practice.
Time and space.
Sometimes it feels like we have to sit still and focus on a problem until it’s resolved. But in practice, how many times have you finally gotten up out of sheer frustration and returned with a clearer head—and a solution?
There’s a reason famous creative people walk so much. Plan for these kinds of walls to happen, because they will. Planning breaks helps save time and frustration, and it’s far more effective than multitasking.
Honestly? You probably already know this – but if you’re not doing it, the reminder doesn’t hurt.
What of strategies help you be creative in your work, play, and everyday? Let us know in the comments!
What do college writing and branding have in common? More than you’d think.
Do you remember sitting in a college writing class and thinking “WHAT is the point, I’m never going to USE this”? That’s ok. Writing isn’t everybody’s thing. But writing and branding have more overlap than you might have thought at the time.
I should probably introduce myself! I’m Liz Maliga, the new Director of Content Marketing at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE. At times in my career, I have taught college-level writing, and I wanted to share some of the surprisingly relevant things I’ve learned from both perspectives.
You HAVE to know who you’re talking to.
When students write papers, they tend to write as if the teacher is their only audience. In branding, if you don’t define who your audience is, it can be very much the same. As an instructor, I tried to de-center myself as the audience and encourage students to write to a familiar scenario or audience.
At the end of the day, as a small business owner or entrepreneur, you intuitively KNOW the audience you’re speaking to. Sometimes the concern for getting things “right” or being everything to everyone gets in the way of doing what YOU do and know best. Give yourself permission to do this!
So you can know how to talk to them.
In classical rhetoric, Aristotle established three means of persuading an audience. You might remember the rhetorical triangle from high school or college writing—ethos, pathos, logos. These are the strategies a speaker uses to inform or persuade an audience or motivate them to action.
Here’s a quick refresher: ethos is an appeal to your credibility. Why should your audience believe you? In branding, we call these proof points—items in your arsenal that will convince your audience you’re trustworthy. Logos, the appeal to logic and reason, relies on facts and rationale as well as their complicated sibling—logical fallacies.
Pathos, an appeal to emotion, is the one most commonly used in advertising. Humans, no matter how rational, are easily and reliably swayed by emotion. For example, in Apple’s iconic 1984 “Think Different” commercial never once mentions the machine’s specs or provides any other baldly logical rationale for buying their product. The commercial gives a powerful emotional narrative, moving the viewer to action almost entirely on emotion. When you really think about that for a second, it’s wild.
Sound familiar? You see these concepts all the time. Being able to identify and name them when you see them helps you to clearly articulate your brand’s position.
Telling a story is infinitely more interesting than just checking boxes.
I’ve seen countless first drafts that carefully address each question in a prompt. Great! You passed. What will truly differentiate you from the crowd is simple, compelling, relevant storytelling. Nobody’s going to care if you check every single box if there’s nothing in it for them. Writing and branding have this in common.
Simple is a hug from a loved one. Complicated is the reunion you’re dreading.
In the same vein as storytelling, I’ve seen so many situations where the person who needs to communicate is barreling toward their audience with EVERY. POSSIBLE. ANGLE. AND PIECE OF INFORMATION. EVER. What does this accomplish?
In short? Anxiety. It’s just too much to take in. And it’s something I’ve seen both brands and students do. What it doesn’t do is inspire confidence.
Think about the relative metaphor: We’ve all had an event we’re dreading due to that one person who is just Too Much.
But have you ever felt relief at finally understanding something that eluded you for a long time? It’s a favor. And it makes you want to engage more. And that’s the feeling your brand should inspire.
I know how to take an audience from unaware to totally engaged.
Have you ever stood up in front of a room full of college freshmen? I have. Numerous times. Which brings me to the last skill my experience gave me: I know how to convert an audience from vaguely knowledgeable to evangelical. If you can get college freshmen to spend time out of class explaining rhetorical appeals to people in their lives, you can convince people who love your brand to tell everyone they know about how amazing you are.
What do you think? Would you have thought writing and branding would overlap back when you were in college?
Are there ways something unique about your background truly set you apart from your peers? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter!
Is your brand using social media as effectively as it could?
Facebook has long been the juggernaut of social media advertising, but if you feel like you’re not seeing the growth you want, it may be time to re-evaluate your brand’s relationship with social media.
You probably have an idea of who your target audience is already (and by the time you’ve completed our Branding Intensive, you know exactly who your audience is). With this information, you can make more informed decisions about how you use the social media options available to you and your brand.
But, as humans we often stick with the biggest and most familiar, which is and has been Facebook. We’re not advocating for a mass exodus from the platform, but encouraging you to branch out while keeping your audience in mind.
Here are some of your alternatives, and reasons to give them a shot:
If you’re new to Twitter or do not use it personally, it can be intimidating. What do you even say in 280 characters? (Turns out, not much more than when the limit was 140 characters.)
What Twitter truly excels at, especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs, is engagement. There’s nothing quite like getting a notification that one of your favorite personalities or brands liked or even replied to a tweet. Think about this from a customer perspective: how much more loyal does personal attention make you feel, especially when the internet can feel like an endless void?
The same principal goes for customer service. Twitter presents an opportunity to address customer complaints publicly, rather than one-on-one. Sound scary? Your bravery will be rewarded with a reputation for strong customer satisfaction.
Instagram has over 800 million active monthly users you could be getting your brand in front of. Even better, they’ve added the ability for users to follow specific hashtags the way they would follow individuals. Plus, with expanded geo tagging, users who posted using locations saw 79% more engagement than without.
Where Facebook and Twitter and feel like a wall of text, Instagram is a more curated, inviting experience—and its user base is growing. 65% of the best-performing posts feature products. If your target audience is women or between 18 and 64 and you’re not on Instagram, you’re leaving money on the table.
Maybe you’ve written off Pinterest as too limited—it’s just moms and brides-to-be, right?—but chances are, it’s more diverse than you think. More importantly, it’s an effective way to drive traffic to your site, even if you’re not selling a physical product (although it’s a great way to market physical products, too).
While it falls under the heading of social networking, unlike Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Pinterest is really more of a search engine. If you have a blog with valuable, niche-targeted content, there’s a good chance there’s an audience for it on Pinterest. Additionally, it’s a good way to conduct market research on who’s pinning and re-pinning your content.
If you’re an entrepreneur or thought leader, there’s a good chance you as an individual are already on LinkedIn. The platform was at one time much more utilitarian— essentially an online resume that people might only log onto to update.
If you have a personal profile, you might have logged in recently and noticed some of the changes the platform has made, specifically with respect to helping small business grow. It offers a level of transparency beyond what you might have on your own website. Things that didn’t necessarily have a home before, such as insight into individual employees and company culture are at home in this new format.
Some key things you can use these new features for: really highlighting your company’s brand and culture in a public way, attracting business, giving or providing advice, driving traffic, and, unlike most other networks, hiring talent. If you are in any way a thought leader in your field or if you’re looking for talent, LinkedIn is essential.
If you’ve been ignoring these social media platforms, it’s time to take a closer look! Your audience might be hiding in plain sight. If you’re unsure where to start, we can help you identify your brand’s position and audience—what you need to make your online presence as effective as possible.
Shocking, we know. We get this question all the time. What is the meaning of purple? Or blue? How about CERULEAN blue? Is periwinkle even blue?
Like fonts. graphic design, writing, photography, and other creative aspects of branding, there’s just enough information on brand color on the internet to make anyone, well, somewhat dangerous.
You have probably found yourself in a conversations where someone wants to tell you all about fonts after seeing Helvetica once, or who recently bought their first DSLR camera and suddenly has a watermark on their Instagram photos.
Maybe you know this person. Maybe this person is actually a Google search, and you’re overwhelmed by results like:
Avoid! Red means anger and danger. Sometimes it means warmth. Sometimes it means TOO HOT! Sometimes it means passion. You don’t want to be too passionate, though. And sometimes red makes you hungry. But how can you be hungry when you’ve got so many conflicting feelings?
VERDICT: Avoid red at all costs, it’s too difficult. Except when it’s not. Are you hot? I’m hot.
Bright! Fun! Energetic! Enthusiastic! Childlike! …you don’t want to seem like a child, do you? Or the Home Depot? Also “healing” I guess?
VERDICT: Only use if your brand is childlike, but proficient in home improvement.
It’s the color of sunshine. Bright, warm, inviting, hope, fun, happiness, optimism. Yellow’s a winner! Let’s all use yellow. (5 minutes later) Nobody can read this.
VERDICT: Yellow’s a winner, especially when you don’t want anyone to actually read any of your copy.
Green has to be a safe bet. That’s the color of nature. And money. Prosperity and abundance! And… banking. Fertility?
VERDICT: I’m tired.
And so on. But we at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE implore you to think about this in context. For example, if you saw a beautifully painted baby pink rhinoceros running at you at 34 miles per hour, would you think it’s cute?
If someone handed you a ratty forest-green sweatshirt, would your first thought be “Ah… money”?
How about a dyed-red ice cube (hey, stranger things have happened). Could you think about heat and passion while it’s melting in your hand?
Let’s look at a few examples of brand color that have flipped the script:
Thomas Pink: Would baby pink be the expected choice for masculine clothing? Maybe not, but it works!
Hermès: There’s nothing childlike about this luxury brand’s bold, brash orange.
Vans: Using bold red, black, and white, this brand is breaking out of its skateboarder stage.
Milk Makeup: “You can’t use the whole rainbow”, they said, but Milk paired it with clean grey and white for a surprisingly understated look.
by Chloe: Stark black and white allows the rainbow of colors to shine at this vegan eatery.
So now you know: your brand’s color can’t be decided out of its visual context. A color isn’t a “concept” all on its own.
To over-sell or under sell? That is the question—right? We want to get our brand to the widest audience humanly possible, but we don’t want contort our brand so much that it’s unrecognizable. Or worse—that it looks like something it’s not. Properly branding your company helps you avoid what we’re calling “brand baiting”, or, bluntly, branding lies.
Here’s the thing: have you ever bought something that you THOUGHT was cashmere, only to get home and discover that it was polyester? Have you ever bought something from a company that LOOKED like your favorite brand, only to discover later on that it was a cheap knock-off?
Think for a second about how you feel when you realize you were duped. Mad, sad, evaluating whether or not it’s worth trying to get your money back. The company got the sale, right? Right. Are you going to spend another penny with that company?
A b s o l u t e l y not. And you’re probably not going to stay quiet about it—what might have once been a low-key gripe to your friends and family can now be broadcast instantly and LOUDLY across social media.
You could go viral for all the wrong reasons.
This practice is the exact opposite of brand building. We call it brand baiting, and it’s a terrible idea for anyone that wants more than a one-night-stand with their customers.
So, how do you know if you are doing it? Here are the top 5 ways to figure it out…
Your sales jump then slump. Did you start out strong and full of promise, only to see your revenue dwindle? That could mean you’re promising something people really want, and not delivering. Which leads to the second point.
Your social media is full of complaints. Social media is a goldmine of information—people do not hold back. They’ll let you know through poor ratings, and will often detail their experiences with the product itself, their experience with customer service, billing problems, you name it. If you’re seeing a lot of “NOT what I expected!” or “LIES!”, it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.
Your top Google results are poor reviews.Similar to social media, if your product is on Amazon with poor reviews or any other third-party site, pay attention. People might be buying into one thing but dealing with branding lies.
You’re kind of a one-trick pony. Imitation and deception aren’t long-term strategies – you will be discovered. Even if not, the zeitgeist will change, and you’ll have to change too.
Customer service is overburdened with confusion and complaints. Your customer service will be hit HARD with complaints if your brand is pulling a bait and switch. Customers are incredibly savvy, and, similar to social media, they’ll make their voice known. Listen!
If you suspect you might be dealing with branding lies, accidentally, on purpose, or in-between, it’s time to take control of your message. Discover what you can do to make sure you’re putting the right message into the world.
When we say “proactive” and “reactive”, what does that mean—and what does it mean for your brand’s positioning and longevity?
When we talk to clients about branding, we talk about a brand’s position—how your brand differentiates itself in its market. No matter what your product or service is, you can be sure you’re not the only one doing what you’re doing. You’re part of a history (even if very short). It’s impossible to exist in a vacuum. But is your brand’s position proactive or reactive?
A proactive brand is, basically, a brand with a plan. It knows itself, it knows its place in the market, and it knows how to occupy that position effectively through what it does—and doesn’t—do. A reactive brand, by contrast, is one that does just that—reacts to whatever is going on around it at the time. With modern consumers ‘trained’ to see organized, cohesive, consistent brands, being more reactive can come off as erratic and alienate your customer base. Equally worrying, being too reactive can rely on consumer awareness of what you’re responding to. Let’s look at a recent example: Pepsi’s entry into the sparkling water market, bubly, vs seltzer juggernaut LaCroix’s long game.
bubly’s parent company, Pepsi, knows their market and their competitor—and they should. Despite the fact that you’ll be hard-pressed to find an article that mentions bubly without mentioning LaCroix, they have managed to differentiate themselves. Here are some key takeaways for your small business:
Knowing your audience is critical
A quick Google search will tell you that bubly (that ‘b’ is lower-case on purpose) hits the millennial market HARD: cute, all-lowercase messages on the can’s tab, bright colors, simple, clean, minimalist packaging, omitted vowels. Every box is checked and ready for consumption in a market where cans are a significant part of the experience—and your consumer’s identity. Everything is on point, and poised to bring in a projected $100 million.
The trick? Knowing both what you are and what you aren’t as a brand, and a crystal-clear vision of the position your brand occupies in its market.
“I don’t want to talk about authenticity”
‘Authenticity’ is, notoriously, a moving target. bubly doesn’t try to hide what it is: Pepsi’s well-funded entry into the sparkling water market. Will this turn some people off? Sure. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily (we’ll see if, longer-term, bubly goes the way of Crystal Pepsi).
For a small business, an “authentic” identity can actually prove counterproductive to your goals. That grassroots feeling can be a part of your brand’s identity. But, just like “professional”, “authentic” is not a personality.
Your brand’s identity only exists in relation to another brand
Reactionary branding is bold—in the short term, this could be a good thing. It could allow for short-term recognition—but longer-term, it’s difficult to sustain and may limit your brand’s ability to develop its own identity. But with growth comes change—and, especially in small business, change without a plan can be disastrous.
Your takeaway? A strong brand identity grows and changes over time. A solid identity is agile—able to seamlessly adapt and respond to current events or changes in its own voice—rather than just responding and making things up as you go.
The bottom line is that your brand needs to be proactive in developing its identity in order to maintain the trust you’ve cultivated with your customers. Big-name brands may look like they’re making things up on the fly, but behind the scenes, there’s a clear plan in place. If any of this sounds familiar, we’re here to help!
“Your brand is your company’s most valuable assets”. You hear it so often it almost feels cliche—because it’s true. However, a strong brand does more than just define your place in the market – there are some surprising benefits to having a strong, clearly defined brand.
When we start working on a branding intensive with a client, we ask what their goals are for the intensive. Answers range from things like “we need a plan, because we’re all over the place” to “we want to increase customer retention” to “this is part of a broader plan to reach $xxx in revenue by the end of 2018”.
Clients’ goals are often customer-facing—targeting the right audience, making you stand out in your market, creating loyalty and buzz, increasing revenue. But having a strong brand has other, equally important benefits that, when done right, further increase your brand’s value.
GREAT EMPLOYEE ATTRACTION AND RETENTION
Having a brand that’s clear, credible, and loyalty-inspiring is just as important to your past, present, and future employees as it is to your customers. Think about it: If your brand can’t clearly articulate a vision, your employees will struggle in conversations about what it is they do and what the company does. On the other hand, a strong brand is not only easy for them to talk about—it’s easy for prospective employees to know if your company is a good long-term match for their talents and values, saving you time and effort in the long run. The other caveat? Your company’s brand needs to be more than just a veneer – with sites like Glassdoor giving employees a platform, if your company’s environment doesn’t match their stated values and goals, it becomes a matter of public record much more quickly than it might have even a couple of years ago.
INSPIRES BRAND CONFIDENCE
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth detailing exactly how this benefits your small business or startup. If you’re a newer, smaller business, you may have to contend with biases toward older, more established businesses. It could be the difference between a client going with your business, or going with an older, more established company. The bottom line? Strong branding helps convey that your business is established, that it takes itself seriously, inspires confidence in your skills or products—all of which helps funnel business your way, when those things might have led them in the other direction.
CUSTOMER TRUST IN THE EVENT OF CONTROVERSY
We hope to avoid controversy or negative attention as much as possible, but when it does happen, a recognized, likeable brand with a loyal following will fare far better than a brand that comes off as uneven, maybe has a troubled workplace, or comes off as unkind or unlikeable. A strong brand helps create an impression of your company that people want to side with and defend. For instance, back in April 2017, Adidas tweeted “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”, inadvertently reminding people of the 2013 bombing. They received backlash for this and quickly issued an apology. This incident sank into the background for them, but other brands that dealt with controversy in 2017 haven’t bounced back so easily. Uber has been dealing with one controversy after another. Both Kendall Jenner and Pepsi are still dealing with the fallout from that controversial ad.
If you feel a pang of worry reading through this article, it’s worth taking action now to keep your brand’s value intact later. A great place to start this process is with our 7-POINT BRAND AUDIT – find out what’s helping and what could be holding you back.