When it comes to deciding if a company is trustworthy, we usually judge it by its cover – or in other words, its branding. When you stumble upon a website of a company you’ve never heard of, it only takes a split second to decide if you’ll stick around, or bounce.
That’s why investing in your brand is super important. It’s all about making a good impression and winning over potential customers in that first blink of an eye.
Now, I’m not here to tell you to hand over all your branding to a marketing agency like us (although that would be nice), but rather to guide you in creating a strong, recognisable brand identity.
Elastic, Consistent, Simple and Distinct makes a lousy acronym when it comes to pronounceability, but consider them the four sturdy legs of a tail-wagging brand identity…
Make sure your brand can say “I can bend, twist, and contort to fit any market trend!” Give it room to adapt and evolve without losing its essence. A great brand is versatile, allowing its logo, packaging, and overall visual identity to be easily adjusted and scaled for different contexts.
A stellar brand is capable of seamlessly adjusting to different contexts. Volkswagen, for example, has mastered the art of versatility. Their logo, packaging, and overall visual identity can be effortlessly tweaked and scaled to suit various market demands. Whether it’s a sleek and modern design for a futuristic electric vehicle or a classic and timeless aesthetic for their iconic Beetle, Volkswagen knows how to maintain brand consistency while embracing new trends.
Great brand identity adapts over time whilst keeping its core brand essence.
Make sure your brand is consistently excellent everywhere it shows up. It’s a major bummer if your branding looks top-notch on one platform but lacks that same tender loving care on another.
To avoid such mishaps, it’s absolutely essential to create a brand bible. This magical document lays down the law on exactly how your brand assets should be used. When you pass your precious branding off to a designer or marketing agency, there should be zero confusion about how it should be handled.
Think of your brand bible as the ultimate guidebook that leaves no room for guesswork. It ensures that every person who interacts with your brand understands the dos and don’ts, maintaining consistency and preserving the integrity of your brand. Don’t skimp on this step- invest the time to create a brand bible that sets clear guidelines and safeguards your brand’s awesomeness across all platforms.
LM Radio is a great example of how a thorough brand guideline ensures that your branding is used correctly.
In a world filled with noise, simplicity is the true language of clarity. A logo, for example, decked up with all sorts of fancy frills might catch your eye when you examine it in isolation. But remember, no logo exists in a vacuum. You have to consider how your logo (and the rest of your brand identity) will stand out in the real world, where a horde of competitors is vying for attention. And that’s where simplicity becomes your secret weapon, enabling your logo to convey its message effectively.
In a world filled with noise, simplicity is the true language of clarity.
Close your eyes and conjure up a mental image of what you’d expect to see in a Google image search for “luxury perfume brand advertisements”. No need to actually conduct the search, just trust your imagination. Did visions of opulent gold print ads with alluring models gazing seductively come to mind? Well, guess what? That’s precisely what you’ll find when you actually perform the search. This is precisely what distinct branding is NOT. A unique brand, even when seen for just a moment, will more likely be memorable. So, even if a customer isn’t ready to buy from you yet, they’ll remember you when they are ready.
This is precisely what distinct branding is NOT.
Having a strong visual brand is essential for making a lasting impression and being taken seriously by your audience. Your brand identity is made up of different visual elements that show what your brand stands for and sounds like. This includes your logo, colours, fonts, pictures, packaging, website, and more. It’s key to make sure these things are designed in a way that connects with your target audience and sets you apart from the competition.
To create a strong brand presence, here’s a 5-step process you can follow:
Get to Know Your Brand: Clearly define what your brand values, purpose, target audience, and goals are. Give lots of info to your designer so they can understand what your brand is all about.
Do Some Brand Research: Check out your competition and learn about your target audience. Collect visuals and make mood boards to figure out the style and vibe you want for your brand.
Design Your Brand: Put effort into creating elements that complement and enhance your brand. This includes your logo, colours, fonts, patterns, pictures, and more. Keep the design simple and adaptable to different places.
Create a Brand Style Guide: Make a guide that shows others how to use your design elements consistently across different places. This helps keep your brand looking the same and avoids any weird changes.
Put Your Brand Out There: Use your visual brand everywhere you are marketing, like your website, online ads, social media, product packaging, and print ads. Find designers who can follow your brand style guide to make sure everything looks good and works together.
Stylescape for Skydive Mossel Bay
When it comes to developing your brand, you have several options. Let’s explore five common approaches:
Design it yourself: If you have a knack for design and understand your brand vision, you can create your brand identity yourself. This option gives you complete creative control, but it requires a good understanding of design principles and brand strategy. If you feel confident going this route, it’s still not a bad idea to get some input and feedback from an experienced outsider. They’ve fallen into unforeseen traps before; let them point it out to you.
Hiring someone from a freelancing platform: Freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer provide a convenient way to find a designer who can do the job for you. By browsing through portfolios, you can identify someone you are comfortable with. This approach is not only convenient but also cost-effective. But a word of caution – since you may not have the opportunity to meet the designer in person and discuss your brand vision, there is a greater potential for miscommunication. There may also be a language barrier and a time difference, as most inexpensive designers are from countries in a different time zone that are not English speaking. Make sure the designer you choose receives a comprehensive brief and fully understands the precise requirements for the project.
Hire a local freelancer: Local is always lekker. Hiring a local freelancer allows for more face-to-face interaction and potentially faster turnaround times. Remember, branding is (or should be) an ongoing process, not just a one-and-done deal. By establishing a closer working relationship with a freelancer, you make sure that your brand evolves and keeps up with the times. Just be careful that you select the right person for the job, as it’s one person, with set skills and qualifications, who will need to align well with your brand vision.
Hire a local design agency: This option is more expensive compared to freelancers, but you are more likely to have a team with a diverse skillset working on your brand identity. An experienced marketing team should know the pitfalls of the industry and they can point out the blind spots in the vision you have for your brand.
Outsource to a South African Design Agency:
You get all the skills and qualifications of a local design team, and dare we say it… more. One of the things that makes me super proud to be South African is our “boer maak ‘n plan” (Google it) work ethic. We hustle hard and get things done, well within the timescales. When it comes to creative problem-solving, we have a no-nonsense attitude that quickly finds solutions. Our country’s currency might be a bit of a mess, but here’s the silver lining: if you find yourself in a first-world country, chances are the exchange rate is really going to be in your favour, making our services quite affordable. Oh, and did we mention that our entire team is fluent in English, or speak it as a first language, plus our time zone is GMT+2?
Check out some of our branding work here
Absolutely! Building a brand is a long-term investment that pays off in many ways. A strong brand helps build trust with customers, sets you apart from competitors, and creates loyal fans. It can also bring in new customers, and get people talking about you. When you invest in your brand, you’re investing in the future success and growth of your business.
Investing in your brand isn’t just something you can skip; it’s a must-do strategy. Whether you decide to build your brand yourself, hire freelancers or agencies, or even get help from an advertising agency, it’s important to make developing a strong visual brand a top priority. Remember, your brand is an asset that can help you reach more customers, inspire loyalty, and ultimately make your business a success. And if we can’t convince you, maybe these cringy logo fails can:
Nicolaas is a graphic designer, developer, photographer, musician and writer. After he received a BA degree in Creative Brand Communications in 2014, he worked as a graphic designer, translator and Afrikaans copywriter at various corporate groups. In his free-time he enjoys summiting all the peaks of the Outeniqua Mountain range or attempting to break his PB on a half-marathon.