Get Tuned. Like a musical instrument, our business skills need continuous adjustments in order to stay in tune with our fast paced world.
My Stay Tuned blog series will help you stay current on the latest trends and brush up on tried-and-true strategies.
In the Stay Tuned blog series, I interview experts in the fields of marketing, PR, social media, design, and so much more. Their best insights come to you. These interviews are a quick ‘tune-up’ sent directly to your email box and Twitter feed.
For the first edition of Stay Tuned, I interviewed Ashley Howard Goltz, the Design Stylist, about branding. What follows is nothing short of inspiring, reenergizing, and useful information about how to approach branding, rebranding, and delivering on your brand’s promise.
1) What is Branding? What are the key elements of a Brand?
Branding is much more than an image or a logo. It is a promise to your customers and target audience. It is the feeling your customers get when they think of you. It is the finished puzzle of your business.
The key elements of a brand include a strong personality and a sense of place. A strong visual identity is important but a good brand will inform all aspects of business, including your policies and procedures.
2) How does a company choose a logo? A color scheme?
There are a multitude of factors that come into play when choosing a logo and color scheme. Some business owners have an idea in mind. That is okay. Businesses can be very personal and your brand should speak to you.
It is also important to look at trend research on impact of colors on people. A
good designer will help you incorporate that information and will help you
express your visual identity throughout all of your materials, not just on a
logo. A good designer will do research to ensure your new logo isn’t already being used by another company.
It is important to remember that a logo isn’t permanent. It can and often should
change as you grow.
3) What is your process for designing a logo?
First, I like to learn about the personal styles of the key decision makers, the overall business goals of the company, and see if there are any predetermined ideas about the logo. I also look at the overall market and try to design something that resonates with all ages, unless – of course – there is a specific age
demographic in the target market.
I draft ideas in black and white first. Unfortunately many designers don’t start with black and white and instead begin with complex color images. The personality of those logos can get lost when it is translated into black and white.
4) Finish these sentences. . .
You know you have the right logo when . . . it hits me like a brick. The stars align and I feel it. With design work, I’ll come up with lots of ideas and won’t be happy with most of them; but when the right one comes, that is it. Another way I know I have the right logo is when I begin to see how it will be used on other collateral material. The complete visual identity of the company begins to come together.
A logo is not a . . . brand. A logo is a brandmark of what your actual brand is. You have to have the high quality product and follow through on the brand promise.
Above all else, remember. . . important for business owners to be true to themselves and, at the same time, be open to the vision of a graphic designer. Some designers have great ideas but because they don’t fully understand the audience, their logo falls flat. Business owners should know they have a voice and have the right to talk things through. A good designer won’t get upset. It is through communication amazing designs are born.
5) What are some of the key misconceptions about branding and logos?
Having a strong business identity doesn’t mean that business will come to you. You still have to have a marketing plan. You still have do the advertising and marketing campaigns that introduce customers with your brand.
6) How has the influx of social media affected branding? What are the new strategies companies and organizations employ as a result?
Social media provides the opportunity to follow through on your brand promise and to create community around your brand.
Social media allows your audience to find you more easily and to find you on their turf. It is a backwards engagement. Before, companies searched for clients. Now customers are searching for you. They want to share ideas or to say they enjoy your product. This opens up opportunity for out of the box marketing and advertising campaigns.
7) When is it appropriate to rebrand? What would be involved in this process?
If your business is starting to suffer or if you are changing your core promise, it is a great time to rebrand. If you are no longer accomplishing your original goals, it’s time to revisit the original promise. I tell my clients to go beyond the logo and color scheme. Look at the short and long term business goals, work with a business expert, and then work with a design expert.
Surround yourself with a solid team. Ask what didn’t work the first time. Ask your customers. All of this is a part of rebranding. The process is reenergizing for the business owner and ultimately reengaging for the consumer.
8) What is the one piece of advice you’d give to a company looking at redesigning their brand?
It is important to start with background research. Start on the positive. Find
inspiration. Look at other companies, your competitors, and find other pieces
that speak to you. Share those pieces with your team. Set everyone on the same
path early on.
It is also important to establish clear goals for end result. This includes business goals and branding goals. Again, the entire team should be signed on to the same agenda.
9) Are there any tips you can offer about working with designers?
Good designers spend more time listening than talking. If your designer is only excited about showing you what they did for another client, you probably shouldn’t work with them. First and foremost, they need to listen to you and to formulate a solid understanding of your goals.
Good designers will also have references. I recommend checking up on references.
10) Is there anything else you’d like to add?
An engaging mission ultimately drives the success of any brand.
Want more information? Find Ashley online:
- Twitter: @designstylist
- Website: http://thedesignstylist.com/
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Special thanks to seriousbri for the beautiful photo.