Creating a clear and concise brand message —
To communicate clearly and confidently, you need to know who you are and what you believe in. In his TED talk ‘How great leaders inspire action’, Simon Sinek encourages his viewers to ‘start with why’. We believe this is hugely important in all areas of life, but particularly in business.
As designers working in branding, we’re lucky to be a part of the beginning stages of many businesses. It’s our responsibility to challenge clients to clarify their ‘why’ in the pre-design phase of the branding process. Defining values is a big part of developing brand character, dedicating time to this early on will ensure you communicate in a meaningful way. This needs to happen before logos are thought about, colour schemes considered or typography selected.
By and by, audiences are becoming more discerning and selective with brands they choose to invest in. If you expect a customer or client to partner with you or take interest in your journey, you need to devote time to growing and strengthening your ‘why’ and understanding how their values align with your own.
Going through this process early on will help you make confident design and business decisions swiftly. This knowledge removes personal opinion and gives you a benchmark for everything you do. From selecting a paper stock or printing technique to hiring and training staff, you will be able to tick off a checklist before proceeding. Does it represent our values? Does it speak to our audience’s values?
In our branding workshops, we work with our clients to pull apart the business – discussing and debating the why, what, who and how – putting it all back together in a return brief to be signed off on before the design phase begins. This helps us develop a clear and concise brand message and create considered design that audiences connect with. We strive for simplicity with substance and believe this can only be achieved through starting with why.
Watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk here.
Adding value to your business through design —
Good design is incredibly valuable to business, it can and does pique interest, shift perception and help people connect with brands. Founder of Penguin Books Sir Allen Lane said – “Good design is no more expensive than bad” – we couldn’t agree more. Bad design diminishes brand integrity and costs you greatly. The results and rewards of investing in good design speak for themselves.
It’s disheartening to see businesses with great potential represent themselves poorly because of budget concerns, lack of awareness or poor communication. Every designer has a responsibility to educate their clients about the value of design and to make considered decisions that align with the business’ vision and lead to growth. However there are things for you, the client, to consider also.
Develop a relationship with the right designer for you:
Rather than shopping on budget or style alone, search for a designer that shares your values and is excited to be a part of your business journey. It’s important to share your vision and ambitions in the early stages of the relationship and throughout, this will ensure you’re on the same page and are driven towards the same goal.
Designers are problem solvers and most are not inspired by the opening line ‘I already know what I want’, instead approach them with your goal, ideas and thoughts then develop the path forward together. The most successful creative solutions come from trusting relationships, designers and clients alike should place huge importance on working together cohesively.
Have a plan:
Many larger organisations set a schedule and budget for marketing and design at the beginning of the year and work within it, a planned approach like this can optimise budgets of all shapes and sizes. Discussing your goals and priorities with your designer openly will result in resourceful and more valuable solutions.
A considered and thoughtful approach to design needn’t require large budgets or a staff of hundreds, every individual has the capacity to think and plan. With clear and open communication, designers and clients can work together to build meaningful relationships that add genuine value to businesses.
To discover more about how we work with our clients at JAC&, email us for a copy of our process booklet.
Building a social media profile with integrity —
The world of social media can be confusing and for some it’s something they’d rather not get involved with. Many businesses choose to avoid it altogether or tackle it without proper education or commitment. Both may lead to missed opportunities and can be costly for brand integrity. For all its shortcomings, social media is a cost effective marketing tool that every good business knows should be taken seriously.
As a personal user it’s simple and quick to set up a profile on social media, just two steps to set up an account on Instagram and start posting. For a business, it’s different. Having a plan, clarifying purpose and developing a strategy that aligns with your brand character before your first post is crucial. Like any marketing approach, your communication on social media should be carefully considered. Post frequency and style should serve your purpose and help you reach your ambitions; a thoughtful strategy will ensure this.
You don’t need to be a social media ‘expert’ to manage your own accounts, what you do need though is time and thought. Interest, experience and knowledge go a long way too. Everything you say and do online should have a clear intention. Whether it is to amplify your values; show off your product in its best light, or help attract your ideal customer or client. With inconsistencies in your social media profile, cracks in your character could begin to show and your brand integrity is put at risk.
Many business owners realise the benefit of outsourcing their financial or legal commitments, understanding their time is better spent focussing on what they’re good at. This is no different for social media, if you don’t feel confident in your skills or lack the time to commit properly, partnering with a social media manager is the answer.
Through our social media client relationships, we bring value through a fresh set of brand focussed eyes. The ongoing nature of the work offers us the opportunity to continually refine brand character, clarify messages and help grow our clients’ businesses with integrity.
For more information on our social media campaign development and management plans, please get in touch.
Developing brand character and why it matters —
How much does it cost to design a logo? This frequently asked question concerns me for a few reasons. The biggest being that a logo is just one small (albeit important) part of a brand, it cannot communicate clearly on its own. I understand the thought process for a new business – start lean and expand on the brand as the business grows – however I can’t agree with the approach.
The most important part of a brand is what you can’t see, the things that define character (for example, values and vision, a defined target market, tone of voice). It’s these factors that dictate the visible design elements (typography, colour, imagery, etc) and help your audience connect with the business.
It shouldn’t be left up to potential clients or customers to guess who you are and what you stand for, this is an aspect of the business that you can (and should) take control of. A considered branding process provides a great deal of insight, clarifying brand values and developing character helps you make confident decisions and places your business in a better position for growth from the beginning.
In our branding process the top priority is to help people define and understand who they are, so their audience can too. In all studios, thorough discussion between designer and client before the creative phase begins should be non-negotiable. Uncovering the who, what and (the all important) why allows for the development of a strong brand character which ensures meaningful communication. When you understand who you are and who you’re talking to, the words come easier.
For further information on our branding process and costing, please get in touch.
The importance of review and reflection in design —
A recent visit to a premium Melbourne yoga studio prompted me to consider design process. The business had spared no expense on the branding and fit-out; a respected design studio developed the identity and the space was shaped by a very well-known interior designer. There’s no doubt that considerable thought went into the creation of this business.
Developing character is one of the most important stages of branding, it dictates design and helps your audience connect with the intangible parts of your business. I’m confident this would have been a key factor for all involved, however what I found troubling when I visited was the lack of attention to small details. There were a number of minor things that damaged the experience for me as a consumer – tattered posters stuck up with tape, chipped furniture and products within that didn’t seem to align with the business character – all which add up and devalue integrity.
Great branding can be undone or diluted when the day to day running of a business isn’t taken into account as a part of the original brief. Infrequent promotional material or activities can be left to non-design staff and urgent solutions often take over from considered brand consistent solutions with a negative result. Poor housekeeping can destroy branding intention.
This can be easily rectified. In all areas of life review and reflection are crucial to maintaining balance and order, design is no different. This experience forced me to reflect on my own processes and review them, as a result all JAC& projects now include a review phase. A time to sit down after a few months or a year and assess how the brand is serving its original intention. Through these meetings, we aim to add ongoing value and help our client’s businesses grow design integrity.