Due to the nature of my work, in the last few years I’ve had a chance to meet a lot of people, who sadly knew too little about the importance of branding, nor did they care to know more. They are all business owners and have money to spend on marketing materials, but their brand is non-existent. I know if I don’t say something about it, they will be wasting their money on brochures, signs, banners and gain no return on their investment.
Money is not made easily, and most people tend to see graphic design and branding as a skill that shouldn’t be paid for. It saddens me that they are constantly spending money on goods that people won’t look twice at and their names will be forgotten among the many who didn’t keep up with the technological revolution.
Let’s face it, not all of us grew up with computers or the Internet. Computing and technology doesn’t advance slowly anymore, and it’s hard to keep up unless you are in the industry or were born after the internet made its way into every home. I’m very proud of my parents who have conquered Google like champs and send me emails all the time (A LOT of forwards).
Think about this: When you are searching for a service or product, what do you do? Do you go shuffle through the phonebook or just “google” it? So does everyone else.
Guess what happens if you haven’t done your homework and built a strong online presence, brand identity and Google ranks? You don’t show up anywhere near the top of that page. Maybe you do. Then what happens, if your website looks like a million bucks, I may contact you or click that “buy” button. If looks like crap, I will click on another Google link.
The Internet is the future of business. Whether you like it or not.
Your brand is as important as wearing a suit to a corporate meeting. It's the face of your business. If your brand creates a certain emotion in people, it's good, if it repulses them, or you have no brand, no one will remember you. You need customers and clearly there are peeps out there who need your services. Don't just let them find you; make sure they think of you before your competitors.
The appearance of your business, shallow as it may sound reflects the way you run your business and someone who is dedicated to what they do (and you must be, because you probably stay up late every night doing something or another) would be willing to invest some money into creating what I call (apparently somebody else coined this, damn it) brand unity:
Your logo is where your brand unity starts, the emotion and image it conveys is related to the target market you want to reach. Don't cheap out on it. Also, don't pretend to have artistic vision if you don't. Learn to take advice, criticism and suggestions. Too many people are stuck with an idea and don't care for the ideas of the designer. The best solution is to make sure you explain to them what your business is all about. Let them create a few concepts BEFORE you direct them.
Unless you are an art director, you're not an art director. Let people grow your ideas instead of limiting their creativity.
All of your materials, including your signage, stationary, promotional materials, website and even store front must follow the trend your logo will set, unifying your brand and clearly representing your business identity.
Last, but not least:
Hire an agency or an experienced designer who understands what branding is and how it is applied when non-print materials and marketing campaigns are produced. You get what you pay for in the branding world, so keep that in mind. A brand doesn't come free; so stop bugging your friend, wife, or whomever to make you a logo, just because they can use Photoshop.