There’s a great deal of discussion these days in regard to branding and re-branding. Typically branding is seen to be the domain of the big players in the marketplace. But what was formerly thought to be only available to them is now available to the rest of us—small and medium size enterprises (SME’s) who wish to use strategy to win. They are intrigued that they can absolutely succeed through taking a leadership position. SME’s turn to graphic designers to facilitate their “branding.”
It’s this writer’s opinion that a good percentage of graphic designers see branding or re-branding as nothing more than changing the logo and marketing materials—visual solution. The reasons SME’s have for needing branding typically have very little to do with visuals per se. Many are searching for a solution to flat sales, low moral, changing culture, up-dating of positioning, expansion, succession and any number of business issues. If you’re looking to have branding done properly, I’d recommend working with a firm that has a proven branding process that strategically looks at your brand and can develop strategies that position it as the leader in its category. If the graphic designers you’re speaking to only mention logo and marketing materials, hike up your britches and run like hell.
Avoiding these designers is imperative because they simply don’t “get” branding. They think it’s too complicated and frankly don’t have the confidence and expertise to deliver the real article so they deliver what they do have confidence in—a visual solution only. The unqualified designer will view a strategic, process-driven approach as counter-intuitive. I’m guessing it won’t to you when you understand that strategy is what the visual solution is based on. An experienced branding expert will deliver a strategic and visual solution together as an overall deliverable. Experiencing this properly allows you the customer to appreciate the value delivered. When delivered to your branding team, a qualified designer now becomes an integral strategic partner to your business. They will be able to assist you in not only developing a leading brand but also assist and facilitate launching it effectively.
Look for and demand that a branding process be utilized. A branding process allows everyone on your team to easily understand what is taking place. Your team may not be used to things like branding, design and strategic brainstorming. A process allows everyone to see the deliverables as they emerge. They get that something comes next and over time builds into something very powerful and motivating. If you as an SME have experience in things like compliances, ISO and industry standards then a branding process with its validation components will make perfect sense to you with you.
As with anything an SME does to improve their business, it’s important to get it right the first time. Branding is no different. If you find it daunting to walk yourself through it, then it will benefit you to bring in qualified assistance. I’ve been branding companies for a while now and every time i facilitate the process with a business’s branding team, establishing a dominate position in their category has more impact than a slogan or a new logo. It reaches deep into the culture of the company and reflects the core values in it boldness. If branding is something you’re investigating but would enjoy some research in the matter, I’d recommend the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” to help understand why positioning is the key deliverable from any certified branding expert.
For more information on how designers can work with a branding process, or for designers wanting to up their game and deliver a genuine branding experience, check out these two comprehensive brand training programs: “How to Talk About Branding,” at http://www.howtotalkaboutbranding.com and the Brand Academy Certification Workshop at http://www.brandacademyworkshop.com.
Designers should also catch the no-cost webinar, “How to Make $20,000 to $50,000 on Your Next Branding Project” at http://www.buildingbrandsforclients.com.
Published: June 10, 2014