Questionnaire – 15 questions you should ask yourself when building your brand identity

For a new or growing business, developing a brand is often overlooked as its value is either thought to be immeasurable in results and the last thing a company wants to spend its money on.

I used to think building a brand was a task strictly left for graphic designers, but the truth is branding is for marketers and business owners.

Branding takes place at every touch point and every time a customer interacts or even thinks about your brand. Branding is ultimately controlled by the customers, and not by you, the marketer.

A Logo is not a brand

Your business has a name and logo and you advertise, but do you have a brand? Successful companies know that branding goes deeper than a name and logo and that by defining and establishing their brand helps them drive their marketing strategy, supporting lead generation and creating customer loyalty.

A strong brand can give you the competitive edge you need.

Strong brands can:

• create greater customer loyalty

• make you less sensitive to competitive pricing

• increase trial of new products

• increase support from trade partners

• provide focus to marketing efforts

• allow you to attract the resources you need such as talent and capital

• are instrumental in developing strategic partnerships

• act as a powerful tool for guiding internal decision making.

To begin a branding process you need a clear direction. From how your brand values affect the way you create effective messages to design preferences for your logo. Its also easier to work with designers, copywriters and strategists when you know what you want.

To get you started we are offering you this small questionnaire to help you through the discovery phase. As part of a full discovery process this questionnaire will begin to inform how any company should begin a branding project.

Brand Values

1. Company mission statement: A written declaration of a company or organisation’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly crafted, a mission statement will serve as a filter to separate what is important from what is not, will clearly state which markets will be served and how, and communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire company/organisation.

2. Product/services positioning statement: A positioning statement explains what your brand does, the benefits of it, and who you target, helping to keep marketing efforts focused and aligned.

3. What benefits do your services or products bring? Do those benefits increase a return in investment? Do they save your customers money? Think about how exactly you’re helping your target audience.

4. What five words represent your brand: Think about your brand’s personality. How would you describe it?

5. What three messages must your brand communicate:These messages should be relevant to your target audience.

6. Value proposition: How do you solve your customers’ problems? This should summarise why someone should buy your product or invest in your services.

Brand Attributes

The following questions will help identify the personality and characteristics of your brand.

7.   How does your brand’s image fall between these opposing characteristics?

Necessity Luxury
Expensive Economical
Light Serious
Formal Casual
Exotic Commonplace
Discreet Aggressive
Hi-tech industrial Homemade
Heritage Groundbreaking
Modern Classic
Quiet Loud
Simple Complex
Subdued Bright
Black/white Colourful
Feminine Masculine
Raw Refined

8. What colours represent your brand?

9. What colours do not represent your brand?

10. What words would you use to describe your brand?

11. What words would you not use to describe your brand?

12. What attributes and/or emotions do you want associated with your brand?

13. What attributes and/or emotions would you not want associated with your brand?

14. People seldom but rationally, they invariably buy emotionally. What are the emotional benefits that only you deliver to our customers?

15. Personality and Voice – How do you present yourself? Do you have a sense of fun; are you honest to a fault? Are you a casual brand or have a “suit and tie” mentality?

What your company does, what you do and say affects how your customers feel about you. Managing their expectations is delivering the right brand experience for your business.

Whether or not your business has put effort into defining a brand identity in the past, you have some identity if you have an online presence. It may not be cohesive or well-defined, but you have an identity in some form.

If your company is considering a rebranding or brand definition project, it may be important to consider why you're initiating this effort. Is your existing brand poorly-defined to the point that it's almost non-existent? Is it a poor fit with who you really are? Have you introduced a new leader or ownership team that's drastically changed your culture?

Understanding the reason you need to define your brand can reveal some important room for improvement. Use this knowledge to inspire the right kind of change.

And of course, if you would like to explore any of the answers that you have come up with to any of our questions please feel free to have an exploratory chat.

Helix Design Ltd

Call Raymond : 020 8567 5816 | +44 788 1958 290 or email ray@helix-design.co.uk

Branding for the web logo
Branding for the Web

Whether you are launching a new website or developing an existing one, making sure that its design aptly presents and communicates your business can be a daunting prospect. The look and feel of a website, the way it reads, its tone, all add up to presenting your company presence online as a brand. By developing a unique style and applying it consistently throughout your website, its 'look' is what people will begin to remember when they revisit.

In an overcrowded market place where every area of specialisation is deftly positioned to draw our attention to new services and products, businesses are seeking new and more effective ways to increase their brand awareness and stimulate brand loyalty. To ensure a brand's success on the world wide web, even more so than in a local market place, you'll need to develop an effective brand strategy.

You must try to develop a brand proposition that when conveyed on the web, will provide an attractive, unique, and relevant message to current and potential customers. It is equally important that once realised, this proposition should be echoed and reinforced by all communications and response mechanisms coming directly via the website, emails, members of the company from senior executives down to marketing and sales staff.

So why is successful branding so important today?

Companies seeking to experience long-term success will have to create the most compelling, relevant, and consistent brand experiences for their customers. You can't escape your brand. Either you make the customer experience, or it gets made without you.

In order to successfully develop the most effective branding strategy, a firm understanding of what a brand is must first be answered.

What is a Brand?

In marketing, a brand is the symbolic embodiment of all the information connected with a company, product or service. A brand typically includes a name, logo, and other visual elements such as images, fonts, colour schemes, or symbols. It also encompasses the set of expectations associated with a product or service, which typically arise in the minds of people. Such people include employees of the brand owner, people involved with distribution, sale or supply of the product or service, and ultimately customers.

Core values

The development of a branding strategy must begin with identifying the brand's (the business) core values. These are qualities an organisation deems most important eg: honesty, integrity, excellent communication, client satisfaction.

Though these values are usually never revealed to the public, they are evident in every aspect of the organisations' business routine, from customer service, to direct marketing, to website design, to the treatment of its employees and strategic partners. This conveys a consistent perception to the target audience in every medium of communication that is used.

Consideration for these values should not be taken lightly for they represent the 'principals' for the business and become the cornerstone for developing the brand's proposition. And though the brand's proposition may change from time to time, the brand's core values should never change.

Invest in a strategical approach to understanding and positioning your Brand

Once the brand's core values have been identified, effective brand proposition development begins. To ensure a successful outcome, comprehensive and objective research involving at the minimum, the brand's strengths and weaknesses, the target audience, and the competition will be conducted. If the resources are available, research should also involve extensive observation into the brand's industry, its history, the current market picture, and potential growth and direction.

Know your Target Audience, they hold the keys to your Brand's success

If I had to choose only one area of research to focus my efforts on, it would be to identify first who the target audience is and second, what their needs and desires are. This information should be as comprehensive and exact as possible. Applicable factors such as; age, gender, income, and shopping habits (online and off) are good places to start. Of course if your target audience is another business, your research will involve different factors.

Developing a Brand Statement (Brand Proposition)

From the research, development of the brand statement, often referred to as a brand proposition, commences. The brand statement is a promise.

The brand proposition must be clearly understood, engaging, presented in the right context for relevancy, and offer a solution to the target audience's current wants and needs.

Providing a Brand Proposition that is engaging, is easily understood, and offers an emotionally positive solution to needs and desires only serves to enhance the current customers' perception of the brand and will get new customers to look your way. Following through with an excellent product/service and customer support will put an indelible mark in the memory of your existing customers; one that will create brand loyalty through good and bad times; a sure sign of a brand's strength.

Deliver the Unexpected

When developing a brand proposition, never let your brand's promise be one that is already expected; this is a sure way to NOT stand out from your competitors. Advertising efforts that utilise adjectives like 'good', or 'nice' are sure to fail when seeking to be both engaging and unique.

An Emotional Attachment

An important aspect of brand development is to create a positive emotional attachment to the brand, which creates a response in its audience without the audience seeing the product or directly experiencing the service.

Positive emotional bonding comes from a mutually beneficial relationship built on intrigue, trust, understanding, and support. And of course, these qualities will be dictated by the current needs and desires of your target audience.

Your brand proposition should convey a message that is:

  1. Aligned with the brand's core values
  2. Clear, engaging, unique, and relevant to your target audience
  3. Able to incorporate an element of positive emotional attachment that is better than just 'good'
  4. Echoed within your business, internally and externally
  5. Consistent across multiple marketing and advertising mediums (print, online presence, etc)
  6. Continually reinforced within the organisation so that your employees consistently deliver what is promised
  7. Able to adapt to a changing marketplace.

The next stage of development will be to begin communicating what the brand is. Through design the brand will take on a visual presence - it will take on personality and having gone through the processes above you'll be in a good position to begin to prepare a design brief.

Design

Design for the web can be a hit or miss affair. Often, a web design company or designer is chosen based solely on an ability to build a website. Website design often the whim of the designer, not through a process with the client.

Finding an experienced company that can help to promote and develop a company's online proposition and marketing strategy may be a little harder. Presenting a brand online is a subtle business, navigating through a website, being non-linear, means that communicating core messages effectively requires an approach that lets you come across information regularly and intuitively.

Having found a suitable design company, the first thing to be discussed will be your brief. You should be prepared to communicate exactly to the design company what your core values are; who your prospective audience/customers/consumers may be; you may already have a logo together with a clear brand statement that can be handed over. Together with what you want to say and an attitude you want to be reflected in the design, all this will become integral in the conversation you'll have with the designer to achieve the best possible results. Good graphic design is the perfect marriage between type and image to communicate effective and memorable messages and never truer than in good website design.

Good brand management insists on consistency across all media, if you look one way in print you should appear similar online. If you have invested in a corporate identity and are keen to adhere to the identity guidelines, these rules should also be submitted to the designer. The designer will then have to consider these guidelines within the parameters of designing the website.

After a brief has been taken the designer will begin to formulate a series of concepts that best communicate the clients thoughts. As a client you can expect to be shown these initial concepts - often delivered as flat visuals that will allow a conversation to happen between client and designer. At this early stage the designs may trigger ideas not already thought of. It is important to see a range of options so that in the development and the fine tuning phase of co-ordinating a final design all best possible routes have been considered.

Through the course of developing a final design, options and suggestions will have been discussed and incorporated before building working web pages. These pages will continue to be developed - adding content and images until a final website is ready to be launched. Consider using the launch of a new website as a strong PR opportunity.

All websites need to be promoted - indeed website promotion; including code within the make-up of the web pages is important to be regarded by search engines like Google or Yahoo. Any different and interesting ways of promoting the website through Social Media, printed marketing and PR campaigns can also draw traffic to your new site.

Maintaining a good website

Having launched a new website, the job of maintaining it, encouraging people to re-visit regularly has just begun and is an ongoing task. The design of the website should accommodate for new pages to be added easily. Whether you have invested in incorporating a Content Management System (CMS ) on your site or build pages locally and update manually to a server- content that can be time specific to events, special offers or news provide regular opportunities to update a website. You may consider changing key imagery to reinvigorate prime pages. There's a host of things that can be done to keep a website appearing fresh and up-to-date.

The important message though in handling new content is to remain vigilant in maintaining core brand principals. Try to avoid upsetting the carefully planned design by adding content out of keeping with what has gone before. Reinvestment in design that remains true to core brand values will only strengthen your presence online.

Closing thoughts

A website is a powerful marketing tool, however, unlike one to one sales experiences where you can judge how your audience or clients react; a website has to be able to communicate alone. Investigate site statistics to see what pages are most popular - be prepared to re-evaluate your ideas and re-align your online strategy based on what works.

But most importantly invest in building your brand online - look into ways of promoting your website to get better search engine ranking. Ensure that printed marketing draws attention to your website as a call to action. Strive to make your website the most visited in your area of business.

Good luck.

Helix Branding logo
If you’re starting up in business – Where to begin with Branding and Design

You have taken a big leap of faith and decided to set yourself up in business. You have the ‘Big Idea’, you’ve prepared your business plan, you’re ready to go! The next step, “I need a name, a logo, a business card and a website”; but stop. Think.

A logo alone is not a brand and if you want to create interest in and around your business, you have to create a compelling story, an identity attached to it, to draw interest away from your competitors towards you.

As a new business, your story needs to be fresh – you’re the new kid on the block and you have an opportunity to show how your business is different, to make that all important best, first impression – to create a splash!

To be able to do that, you need to imagine fully what your business is, by reviewing the products or services that you offer, pinpointing the areas in the market they occupy and research the rational and emotive reasons and needs of your customers. By beginning to paint a detailed profile of your products or services, how you deliver them and by understanding your customers, you can begin to form a brand identity that will help promote your business, by differentiating you in the market place and connecting positively with your customers.

To understand what a brand is, look at it, as if it were a person, a projection of yourself – your beliefs, your passion, your unique story. When you are not around to sell your products or services personally, it’s up to your branding and design to do that for you.

Every element of design and points of communication that you produce need to be as relevant and compelling as you are. Each element has to be able to tell its story alone, each part of the identity of your business feeds into and supports the whole.

So, where to begin.

Choose a designer who can design an identity, build a story around your business, who can create a personality for it.

A brand is made up of many elements that all work together to reinforce its identity. This includes a name, a tagline, a logo, colour, typography, images, surfaces and textures, environments, tone of voice and writing style. These elements all come together and inform a point of view, and begin to define your business personality.

Once the identity of your business has been established, the design will be informed by the profile of that identity – like a person, you’ll begin to know and recognise their tastes, their ethical code, their friends and interests that inspire them, their desires and aspirations. Knowing how they will act, and what they like, will guide you to meaningful authentic communication.

With many small businesses I have talked to, they already know, it’s their brand that drives their business forward and brings customers to them. They may not know why, but they recognise the link between having a strong brand at the core of their business that make their business successful.

What would a typical branding exercise consist of for a small company starting up?

In order to begin to create the all important ‘brand’, in-depth conversations around the business and a profile of its potential customers is vital. The beginning of a picture, a personality, will begin to form and the designer will be able to go away and by means of a concepts exercise, start to bring together elements that reflect the essence of the business. 

A presentation of broad strokes; ‘mood’ boards, logo ideas, a positioning statement, business card designs, web banners will be presented to show initial design possibilities. The first presentation is pivotal in demonstrating how the business personality comes across. Are the designs too bright? Too sombre? Is the tone too playful? Are the designs engaging enough? There should be plenty in the concepts presentation to enable you on the best way to move forward.

The next presentation is a distilling and fine-tuning exercise that develops the preferred ideas and that worked and incorporate aspects of the concepts that were deemed useful to investigate further. The development stage of the process will show how the elements of the new identity and story begin to fit together and support each other as a complete solution.

In a third part of a process, chosen developed designs will be produced as artwork and made ready for production.

I believe that a design exercise should be conducted within a clear and mutually beneficial process, a process that allows the client to be in control – that the client has choice and can clearly see a path through the process. A process allows for fewer misunderstandings – design is often seen as being subjective – and better solutions are arrived at together.

Good design is puzzle solving – if certain ingredients are put into the mix, a particular solution will manifest itself.

Design is a bespoke service, so being able to enjoy good rapport and mutual understanding with a designer is vital. A good designer will draw out the best from a project and breath life into an identity and to help make a brand.

 

Helix Design, a London based Branding and Design Consultancy, founded by Raymond Patmore, specialises in high profile design for business to business communication.

Helix Design works with companies and organisations to develop and strengthen brand image, gaining greater marketing visibility.

As a 'full service' consultancy, Helix Design is able to pool the talents of designers, writers and other skill-sets, to create a brighter corporate vision.

Above all, Helix Design realises and manages the relationship between words and images, ensuring vivid communication of your marketing message.

Our services include:

Branding, Corporate identity, Brand development, Art direction, Illustration, Typography, Design for print, Brochures, Advertising, Social Media, Website design, Exhibition environments, Design consultancy