Step 1: Research & Planning
While many may think that simply throwing together a nice logo can make or break a product or service, in today’s competitive market it’s simply not enough. Consumers are now recognizing the nuances of well-built brands, and continue to come back to those brands’ services and products. As technology continues to progress, allowing more and more people to launch new brands each year, a more thorough knowledge of marketing and branding has become a necessity—even for mom-and-pop shops. (And yes, a well-designed logo is a piece of the puzzle.)
In fact, many people don’t know that the term “brand” actually refers to the emotional response that a consumer has regarding a company’s products and services, including their expectations, memories, and relationships to whatever the company has to offer. A business’ “identity” has to do with the visuals that a company uses to attract customers—the whole package of what they experience aesthetically: the colors, the fonts/typography, the package design, the advertisement banners and posters, the website, and the logo, among other business design elements.
When planning your brand’s identity, it’s important that you ask yourself a number of questions that will set the foundation for what’s to come. For example, “What benefits will my product or service provide to consumers that they cannot already get from my competitors?” or “How do I want my company to stand out from my competitors—how am I different from them in mood or tone?”
This isn’t always a simple process depending on the size of your company and the extent of your target market. While some products may cater to the general population, others serve a more niche crowd. Of course, the latter may seem easier to create copy and designs for; however, without properly researching one’s market and asking the right questions large and small businesses can easily fall by the wayside.
Interestingly, researching subjective data about your brand can come in handy during this part of the process, rather than looking to objective data on your product’s/service’s effectiveness. Consumers don’t always make conscious decisions while walking down the aisles at the supermarket or scrolling through hundreds of products online, but wouldn’t it be nice if you knew what made them choose to purchase the things they did? Well, lucky you! There’s a way to find out! Branding and marketing analysts have ways of utilizing qualitative and quantities methodologies in order to hone in on the best and most efficient ways to present your product. For example, if you’ve got a new brand of soft drink that you want to make fly off the shelves, professional branding analysts can test a subset of your market too see what drives them to buy their favorite soft drinks. While some may say they have memories of drinking the soda during their childhood, or that they simply like the taste, variables that may impact your company’s brand – for example, your market’s preferred color scheme or logo design style – can be assessed as well if the right questions are asked.
Market research and planning for your brand can seem harrowing, but a good place to start is to come up with your mission statement, a statement that formally summarizes the values of your business. Whether you’re designing a line of beauty products or a new software program, a mission statement can help guide your entire branding process and will always be a good place to turn to when you think you’ve hit a creative wall.
Coming soon: Creating the Perfect Brand Identity—Step 2: Your Own Aesthetic
Written by: ©2014 Elevate Creative, LLC.