As we go about our daily business, we often get people looking for advice, and asking questions around what we do. So we thought we’d share some of the highlights with you. Here’s hoping you learn something new.
Your brand is how people perceive you – not just in a marketing sense, but in a total sense. It’s what people think and feel when they see your business, and is influenced by every experience people have with you. From customer service, to purchasing experiences, to social media posts, every action taken by your company is connected back to your brand and contributes to it.
Branding (or a brand/visual identity) is then the visual representation of your brand and makes up the elements people see in marketing – logos, colours, typefaces, and a brand voice. This identity plays a central role in shaping the perception of your brand, allowing you to define the experience you convey to customers. It enables your company to control how you tell your story, instead of others telling the story for you.
Being consistent in using this brand identity then creates a unified persona for audiences to engage with and get to know, and this drives the perception of the brand in general.
A brand identity, then, is how you communicate the story and the values of your brand visually. It takes the DNA of your company, and consistently communicates it to the world. It’s a crucial part of the overall brand, but not the entire thing. The overall brand is influenced by more than just the visual identity, touching every interaction a company can have (from staff training, to events, to customer support, to internal communications).
Quality branding brings some incredible advantages, and we wanted to highlight some of the most important.
Firstly, it elevates your image and changes how people perceive you for the better. Thoughtful, considered branding adds credibility, legitimacy, and trustworthiness to a business because people can sense the care that has been put into how that brand presents itself.
This also means that great branding is your chance at the best possible first impression. People make many assumptions about a business on appearance alone, and investing time and effort into branding is something customers will notice, and it will inspire trust and confidence from the very first interaction.
The more effort you put into how you present yourself, the better the assumptions people will make.
Secondly, branding enables clear and consistent communication every time your business speaks. It allows every piece of marketing to be recognisable and on-message, and this helps people to remember you. A consistent voice and message brings clarity to what you do, and helps people understand what you can offer them. Inconsistency brings confusion, which puts people off from wanting to engage with you.
Importantly, this consistency also enables better relationships with audiences. By creating a single, unified identity through branding, customers will start to feel like they know your company. If you communicate consistently, it’s so much easier for customers to have a connection with you because there is a single ‘personality’ for them to build a relationship with.
These relationships are then what drive customer loyalty. And once you establish those relationships, people trust you, listen to you, and keep coming back for more.
So, in summary, branding means better first impressions, more memorable marketing, and deeper connections with people. Therefore, investing in branding is crucial to long-term growth. It gets customers through the door, and keeps them there.
Generally, there are 4 key elements to a brand identity – a logo, colour palette, typeface(s), and brand voice. Each of these elements should be carefully matched to give cohesive branding. There is often a misconception that a logo is the brand identity, but the reality is it’s only part of it.
In terms of how to make these elements match, this all comes down to making sure they all pull in the same direction. In our own process, we first work to thoroughly understand the story, values, culture, and vision of a brand, then create an identity where each of the visual elements is inspired by that background.
Giving every part of an identity purpose and a common root enables cohesive branding with depth and substance. By choosing elements that complement each other, it ensures branding that works and that lasts, and also that makes sense.
When there is clarity and direction to a brand identity, it engages people and makes them listen. A lack of clarity and cohesion, on the other hand, leads to confusion and branding that doesn’t entice people.
The key part in establishing a brand identity is defining the visual elements within your branding – a logo, colour palette, typeface(s), and brand voice. Each of these elements should be carefully created and matched to give a cohesive brand image.
But to get this cohesion, before you create these elements you should understand the story you are trying to tell, and the brand experience you are trying to communicate. No part of a brand identity should be chosen simply because it ‘looks nice’ or ‘feels good’. There must be purpose behind every choice.
So, understand the story, values, culture, and vision of your brand, then create a brand identity that is inspired by this background. Every part of the identity should pull in the same direction and share a common inspiration.
Once the core brand identity is established, you then need to build discipline around how that identity is used in every piece of communication that comes from your brand.
This is achieved in a brand guideline, or brand manual, that explains how your business should be represented in marketing and any communication materials. A good brand guideline will clearly lay out your visual identity and your tone of voice, so that anyone working on behalf of your brand can maintain consistency.
By consistently executing on a brand guideline, your business can establish a unique and recognisable ‘personality’, and a brand image that people know and understand.
In short, no – a logo alone does not create a brand. A logo is just part of a brand identity, and a brand identity is part of a brand.
A brand is everything that someone thinks and feels when they interact with a business. It is influenced not just by marketing, but by every interaction people have with that company.
A brand identity is then the visual representation of that brand, conveyed through a careful choice of logo, colour, and typeface(s).
Simply having a good logo is not enough to create good branding. Instead, that logo needs to be cohesively designed along with the colours, fonts, and voice that a brand uses.
Effective and impactful branding is holistic, and tells a consistent story in all of its visual elements.
Branding is the foundation to marketing. Establishing a clear brand identity defines how every piece of marketing should look and sound.
Essentially, branding sets out the story a company wants to tell and the rules around how it communicates, and then marketing is used to deliver this message consistently. Marketing is the vessel which brings a brand experience into the world.
This depends on your business type, and your goals.
Well, to an extent. For almost any business, a website or a landing page is a necessity. To increase organic (i.e. unpaid) traffic to that website, that site should also be Search Engine Optimised (more on that later…). A website is crucial for clearly communicating your business and your goals, pushing traffic down your sales/conversion funnel, and providing that all-important first impression to many of your site visitors.
A clear social media presence is also critical, as a place for people to engage with your brand and keep up to date with your offering. Properly managed social media channels can massively increase awareness and consideration in your brand, and push people further down the sales funnel, with zero advertising budget. It also offers numerous ways to target a specific audience, to ensure you are speaking to people who are likely to be interested in what you have to say.
Beyond this, marketing needs generally vary. From explainer videos, to printed brochures, to email campaigns, other communication pieces and their priority depends on your industry and your aims.
This difference is pretty simple. Advertising is trying to sell to customers something directly, with a call-to-action attached, whereas content marketing is trying to help customers, answer questions, and develop brand loyalty as a means of generating revenue.
Content marketing is a way of tying customers to your brand, and getting them to buy into your company consistently by becoming a reliable source of information and product that customers want to return to.
Typically, a landing page is a single web page which drives towards a specific action. Converting visitors into leads is often the main goal of a landing page, and so a landing page is structured to drive towards a call-to-action such as “sign up”.
A website, on the other hand, serves multiple purposes and is more complex. Rather than driving towards a specific action, it is there to allow visitors to fully explore your company, discover your story, buy your products, learn about your service, and so on. A website usually has many pages, with a menu system to navigate the site.
The reasons here are plentiful, but we’ll boil it down to 3 key reasons.
Firstly, a custom website gives you complete control over your brand and your appearance. Your website becomes a full brand experience, unique to you and your business.
By making a customised website that precisely executes your brand’s visual identity, your company is displayed in exactly the way you want it to be, and can incorporate functionality in exactly the way you want it to.
And if you’re still not convinced, put it this way, the best brands in the world don’t use templates. If you value your brand, and want that brand to grow and engage people, your website should be custom-made to the exact vision of your business.
Secondly, a custom-coded site is far more competitive than one that uses a cheap builder. Quick-and-easy site builders just don’t compete when it comes to ranking on search engines. If your competitors have a better site than you, they will appear on Google and other search engines ahead of your business.
Third, a custom-site is speedier. One of the issues with web-builders is they often host hundreds of sites on the same server, and this impacts the speed of your site.
Instead, your website can be hosted through us, on a fast server, giving the best possible user experience. Slow websites can frustrate customers, meaning they have a bad association with your brand.
All-in-all, a website built using a cheap web builder is a bad long-term investment. If you are serious about building your business, you will very quickly outgrow what a web builder provides, and the limitations will impact your company.
Ultimately, the time you spend creating a website using templates will have to be re-invested in a new website in the not-too-distant future. Save the time, and equip yourself and your business to grow by investing in a custom-made site.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Search engines such as Google have algorithms that determine the rankings of their search results, and if you optimise your sight for these algorithms, you will rank higher in those results.
For example, if you run a business selling stuffed elephant toys (why not?), you would want Google to rank you highly for search terms like “toy elephant”, “elephant toys”, etc. By ranking highly for these searches, you massively increase the amount of organic traffic to your website.
Essentially, a good SEO strategy for your online presence can get you tons of free marketing and exposure through people clicking through from search engine results. Plus, ranking highly on Google for your key search terms is huge in terms of adding credibility and authority to your business.
This depends on your business. It is not necessarily true nor desirable that every business needs to be putting effort into all of the big social channels, and it might instead be more prudent to focus strategically on a few.
Your precise industry, and your target audience, will have a big impact on where you should be focusing. For example, with a 40+ audience, there might be little point in investing in a Snapchat advertising campaign (as this platform is skewed towards younger demographics).
In terms of industry, let’s say someone runs a restaurant, then investment in Instagram would be advisable for such a photo-friendly business. Furthermore, your social media goals with impact the platforms you use.
If a big part of what you do involves sharing videos, you should consider a proper YouTube strategy. If you primarily share blogs or information, Facebook and Twitter could be more appropriate. For sharing images, Instagram and Facebook are the obvious choices.
Or for business-to-business content, or content meant for specialised career skills, LinkedIn might be best.
In this context, “organic” is a fancy way of saying “free”.
Paid traffic is when you attract web or social visitors through paid ad campaigns. Organic traffic is anyone visiting your website or social channels who got there without an advert.
For example, if you posted some great content on Instagram and it was discovered by someone through hashtag searching, if they then went to your profile or your website, this would count as organic traffic.
Like a properly built website, an active social media presence can get you a lot of free advertising and exposure.
Building awareness and consideration can be done with zero advertising budget if your social platforms are properly managed.
By creating quality content, optimising that content for your precise audience, posting at optimal times, using the most effective hashtags for your specific industry, among many more factors, you can get a big social following and engage people in your brand with no paid adverts.
An active social media presence, when properly integrated into a website, can also improve search engine rankings and thus be part of a good SEO strategy to generate higher organic traffic to your website (see our question “What is SEO and why do I need it?” for more on that).
In summary, when used regularly and effectively, social media can popularise your brand and get you customers and leads for free. And when you have an advertising budget, it allows you to target adverts at very specific audiences with relevant interests who have a higher chance of converting into customers, meaning a better return on investment.
Social media is inundated with marketing. Most businesses are now posting content and creating advertising campaigns, and so standing out from the crowd is becoming harder.
Good content adds value to your audience’s social media experience, and so should have a clear purpose and be presented thoughtfully. Something well written, carefully designed, or beautifully photographed will already stand out and catch the eye against the noise of social media.
Aesthetics are also crucial. With people scrolling through social feeds, you might have 1 or 2 seconds to grab someone’s attention, so you need to make an impact in this tiny window of time. Carefully considering the look-and-feel of your social content is important here, and having things like consistent, branded templates for certain posts, or a defined photographic direction, can go a long way. Creating good content is also about knowing your audience and strategising. Tracking and analysing the performance of each post is a great way of understanding the kind of content you should be posting, as you can then optimise and plan for what your audience is engaging with.
The platform you use will also have a big influence on the type of content you should be posting, and what counts as “good content” might vary from platform to platform.
For example, on Instagram, stories and highlights should be used properly, and image quality needs to be outstanding. Or on YouTube, you might want to post longer videos, whereas shorter videos generally engage better on Facebook or Instagram.