Heading up KEEN Creative for the past 12 years, I find myself often sitting with clients discussing their marketing, advertising, online, and branding initiatives. After so much time and experience in the trenches, I’d consider myself an expert in what I do. I have no problem looking over design, marketing, or branding work and providing clients or prospects with my open and honest opinion. Good or bad, it’s largely part of my job.
The thing is, although I’m an expert in the advertising, design, web and marketing fields, I’d consider 90% of you to be experts in branding. -“What did he just say? This guy’s on drugs” is likely what you’re thinking right now. Truth be told, whether you think it or not, you are a branding expert.
Branding is something that unknowingly is bred into us from a young age. Brands have been pushed, pulled, prodded, and put on us from birth. Your Dad was a Chevy guy, so to you, Chev is the only real truck out there. As a kid, Michael Jackson and Tina Turner told you that Pepsi was “simply the best”, so it’s your favorite soda. Levi’s or Calvin’s, Nikon or Canon, Mac or PC, Michael Kors or Tom Ford, Tim’s or Starbucks, we associate ourselves with these brands in some way. We not only associate ourselves with these brands but we also make assumptions based on them as well. Don’t believe me? Just ask yourself, if you saw me driving a Mercedes, how would you perceive me vs. if you saw me driving a Toyota? Or if you saw me wearing Nike sweatpants with a hole in the knee to a work meeting vs. a sharp tailored Armani suit? Regardless if you think it or not, we instantly make assumptions about people based on their look or the brands that they’re wearing, driving, holding, etc. Your business is absolutely no different then this.
When it comes to your business’ brand, branding image, and look, it’s exactly the same. People make the same assumptions based on what they see and their first impressions. Is your image modern, stuffy, approachable, trusting, professional, lacking, old, mom and pop or just plain wrong? I’m always amazed to see large companies with brands that position them as mom and pop or unprofessional. They’ll spend buckets of money on promotional items, hats, golf balls, shirts, key chains, etc. but don’t or won’t invest the dollars to ensure they’re building a proper and lasting brand that reflects them and their audience.
Often when we talk to clients or prospect about a rebrand, the response is typically, “Well I have no problem with it, and people are still buying from us, so why bother.” That’s all good, but you have no idea about the business you’re missing based on that consumer impression. There could be a substantial portion of the market that doesn’t buy from you because they feel your brand is weak, outdated, or generic. They don’t feel a connection to it, and don’t want to associate themselves with it. Good branding is something that evokes a feeling in people, they relate to it, they want to wear it, work with it, be a part of it, and tell people with pride that they use it. Hopefully your business is not missing out on sales based around a mismatch in branding. Often the benefits and investment of rebranding or refreshing your brand properly, have major impact on solidifying your business longterm. So the question to ask yourself is, What does your brand truly say about you?
Here’s an interesting little chart on brand colours and what our perception is based on colour. It’s funny that something so small as colour can make a big difference in how we view things.