steven powell

Branding: Not Just For the ‘Big Guys’

By Steven Powell

I keep hearing about the importance of branding our identity.  Isn’t that just important for the big consumer companies?

Branding your business, service, product or non-profit organization is definitely NOT just for the big consumer-oriented guys. For large and small organizations alike, the road to commanding the most impact recognition and good will possible from your marketing efforts is by branding your business consistently.

Why? Put simply, the smaller the advertising budget, the harder it is to get the word out and be remembered for that “word”. Nike can take a generic slogan (Just Do It) and a generic logo emblem (The Swoosh) and throw enough money at them to make you notice and remember them.

Smaller organizations and startups don’t have that option, and so, must be cleverer about positioning themselves correctly on their prospects’ radar screens and in their memories.

In marketing, we want to reach out to our potential market and “touch” them as often as possible. Generally speaking, a person needs to hear the same message 6 to 8 times before they react to it. If your brand usage is consistent (the look, feel and overall business message), your audience will be “touched” each time they hear your name, see your logo or hear your tag line.

It’s all about consistency. Here are some branding issues that should be kept in mind for all your communications materials.

Logo/Trademark: Is your logo prominently displayed and cleanly reproduced in everything you do? Be it emblem or logotype, nothing impacts your brand visually more than your logo. It’s on your card, your letterhead, your literature – even your corporate jet someday. Use it consistently and treat it with respect and others will do the same.

Graphic Identity: Did we mention consistency? Don’t change your color scheme just because you’re bored with it. If Hunter Green is the color on your brochure, then Hunter Green should be the dominant color in all of your materials.

Does your business card use an orange bar under your logo? Then that orange bar should also be on your letterhead, brochures and web site. Who knows? That orange bar could be just the trigger to remind someone that they’ve seen you before.

Tag Line: Nothing delivers the promise of your company to its potential customers like your tag line. In fact, many experts say that your tag line is just as important as your logo itself. So, if your business card says, “You’ve tried the rest. Now try the best!”, then that statement should travel everywhere your logo goes. (Please, please, please… don’t use anything that generic.) From the direct product claim to the incredibly sublime to the maddeningly generic, if you believed in it enough to put it on your business card, then own it. Believe it. Make sure it rolls off your employees’ respective tongues. And, most importantly, live up to its promise.


How Much Does a Brand Cost?

[Excerpt from NY Times Business Section — May, 2016]

How much you can expect to pay for the creation of your brand is the $64,000 question. The answer is that the fee doesn’t have to be astronomical, but it can be depending on who you decide to do business with.

Creating a brand is often a classic case of getting what you pay for. Your cousin may create a name and commensurate logo for $500, or you can pay an international identity and branding company $100,000. In theory, that $100,000 should buy you higher quality imagery and plenty of targeted branding theory, but that isn’t always the case.

Our recommendation is that emerging companies look for an in-between solution. Look for a company that is experienced in branding small or start-up businesses, and that understands your timing and budget constraints. Reputable firms charge anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 for a name and logo and even more for a full program that includes branded positioning materials like your web site, company brochure and product offerings. You should be thrilled with the product and get terrific results from a firm in this range.

Before choosing a branding, naming or identity company, scrutinize its portfolio to make sure their style matches your tastes. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for references—they should be proud to provide them. Call a couple of the references and find out whether they liked working with the firm.

Finally, remember that branding is a serious, long-term investment and your spending decisions need to respect that importance. If you’re going after or have received outside financing, it should be a significant line item in your budget. Building a brand is a core business activity, as important as leasing office space, recruiting the right people and developing your product or service.