branding and brand consistency

What is Branding?

Branding is a often discussed by individuals in the marketing, advertising and design industries, but it is something that is rarely thought about by many small business owners. This is quite unfortunate since branding, if done properly, is one of the most important things a company can do to reach their target market, build recognition and develop customer relationships. Mistakenly, many businesses look no further than a logo when thinking about branding. The issue with this is that a logo cannot and does not exist on its own.  Rather, it is a core piece of the puzzle that also includes a wide range of other factors, including colors, patterns, typefaces, imagery, packaging, taglines, wording and more, all of which combine to create your company’s image.  The same attention devoted to your logo must be given to these other elements as well if a truly effective brand is to be achieved.

To demonstrate the power of branding, let’s change some popular and effective brands a bit and see if you can still recognize them.

Can you tell what products these are?

candy example 1

candy example 2

candy example 3

Even without their names, it should be easy to recognize the packaging of Snickers, Reese’s and Hershey’s.  This is the power of thorough and cohesive branding.  There is nothing earth-shattering about the Reese’s logo; in fact, it’s exceptionally simple and understated.  But when combined with other elements like the bright orange wrapper and the iconic shape of the candy, the Reese’s brand becomes immediately recognizable.  Ultimately, the goal is that all of these things become associated with your company to the point that they identify you equally as well as your name or logo.

So how does this translate to a small business? Surely this branding thing takes lots of money and effort, right? Wrong.  It is as simple as being consistent.

Brand consistency is not just for the big boys.  It is something that you can do in any stage of a business to define your identity and begin to build recognition. Let’s say you use a red line on your invoices to show a division between the top and bottom of the page.  In the future, if you use that same red line on other documents and keep its thickness, color and positioning consistent, it can become part of your branding.  This is a small detail, but the same principle applies across the board: choose carefully how you present your business, pay attention to the details and keep it consistent.

Effective branding can be invaluable for the growth and success of a business.  And it is something that can be as intensive and complex as your resources allow; the millions of dollars spent by large companies on industry research, consultants, focus groups, and so on demonstrate this.  However, at its core, it is really very simple, and it is something that businesses of any size can achieve.  At the end of the day, it comes back to one rule: be consistent.

J Ivy
Graphic Designer at Key Web Concepts

Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations.
–Paul Rand