If there is one piece of advice I can give about branding, it’s to focus. To create a successful brand, don’t lose sight of who you are and what you stand for, who your ideal clients are, and how you want them to feel when they come across your work.
At its core, branding is about connection. The real power of your brand lies in the deeper layers of your work that exist beyond the visual elements. Branding is about tapping into the emotional experience of your audience. It includes the message you seek to share, the language and tone you use to voice your values, knowing your clients’ needs, and what helps you connect with others in the most intangible and magical of ways.
Ideally, how you choose to use your brand and what you communicate through it will match up with how it all lands on your audience. That’s brand integrity.
Keep these points in mind when working with a designer for your branding:
- What are you really trying to say to your audience/clients?
- Who are the people you’re serving? What are their needs?
- How would you like them to feel when they come in contact with your brand (whether through your website, social media profiles, or in person)?
When you think thoroughly through those questions, and keep your focus on one single and clear vision for your business and the people you serve, reflecting your brand visually gets a lot easier.
When I was working with new clients and would discuss possible visual directions for their brand, my clients often got caught up in what type of images, colours, and personal touches they wanted to include on their sites and in their logos. To be honest, I did too, as a new and inexperienced designer. This is understandable.
It’s easy to get pulled into the lure of wanting to express who you are and what you love. You want the world to know what you’re all about, so it’s only natural that you might think the more you say and the more you show, the better accomplished your objective. This is especially true if you are a solo service-based business because so much of what you do is tied up in who you are as an individual.
It is important to remember that while your business and brand are meant to reflect who you are, the impact you desire to make relies on reaching your audience…so your branding efforts have to focus on what your clients need and what they respond to.
It’s a delicate balance.
One of the best things you as a business owner can do to serve your audience is create a brand that has focus. You wish to communicate your unique values and services, and knowing what you’d like to communicate and who you’re speaking to makes all the difference in how you communicate those values. You see, whether you have a heart in your logo or polka dots on your business card isn’t what really matters even though they communicate specific clues about your personality (these are random examples of things that past clients have asked for). When too much attention is placed on the visual elements rather than the underlying message of your brand, the message gets diluted and lost.
Remember, keep it simple. The more you add, the less clarity there is.
Whether you’re starting out with your business or if you’re re-branding, don’t get hung up on the visuals and the little personal details. Focus on the message you’re trying to communicate and what your business stands for. What are you trying to communicate? Don’t lose sight of your ultimate message. You will best serve yourself by keeping things simple and best serve your clients by keeping things focused. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, focus is the most important word in branding.
“Focus, focus, focus. These are the three most important words in branding. The danger is rarely too much focus but too little. An unfocused brand is one that’s so broad that it doesn’t stand for anything. A focused brand, by contrast, knows exactly what it is, why it’s different, and why people want it.”marty neumeier, the brand gap