What’s the Big Deal about Branding? (part 1!)

branding, business, design

In and among the fun, fine arts and out-of-the-proverbial-box installations and architecture posts, I like to remind myself why I’m in the design and marketing business. I love branding. Love it. Logos are my passion, and developing a branding system is a thrill for me. But I hate poorly used, poorly executed and ignored brands. Hate them. Well, maybe I don’t hate them, but I certainly feel sorry for them.

Image from SMPS Marketing Communication Awards 2012, Brand Constructors award winning piece.

So here’s where you are: You spent a bunch of money to have a fancy graphic designer make you a logo and create a website for your business where you can house that little beauty, and you probably ordered a bunch of business cards and new letterhead and you couldn’t wait to start shipping those lovely items off to your clients and colleagues. I bet most of your audience noticed the change and some of them probably even sent you a “congrats on the rebrand!” or a “lookin’ good!” But then the fanfare died down and you were back to business as usual.

Now what? Think your branding exercise is complete? Think again! Branding is so much more than a flashy logo and a killer tagline. Your brand is the face of your business when there are no human faces to be seen. Your brand speaks for and with your company personnel. Treat it as such! Your brand is an extension of your staff and probably speaks with more volume and to more clients than a lot of your technical staff. Would you take your most inexperienced CAD technician to a fancy industry dinner and leave him or her to fend for themself? No! You’d introduce them around and be sure they’re making friends, of course. You’d make sure they are meeting the right people and saying appropriate things about the company. Treat your brand like one of your employees. Promote it, sell it, live it and talk about it like the living thing it is.

If I can give you one piece of branding advice, it is to make sure your company is living your brand (who are you? what do you stand for? why are you here? and why should I care?) and that your brand message is being received. This applies to rebrands, new brands and long-standing brands. Periodically check in with your employees to make sure they are clear on what your company stands for and why it’s important for clients to know what that is. Even employees who never leave the office are business developers. They are on the phone and emailing with clients every day and you really have no idea what they are saying. And don’t forget to check in with clients from time to time to make sure they are receiving the appropriate delivery on the message you’re sending out. Is your company being heard? Are your employees living the brand?

I feel like there is so much to be said about branding, especially in the architecture/engineering/construction community where I spend so much of my day. This will absolutely be a multi-part series of a conversation. Tune in for more to come!

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