At Puur we spend a lot of time talking about branding elements and branding in general (we also call it visual and verbal identity). You’ll even hear some people even call it brand, but that’s something slightly different. Branding or visual and verbal identity is what our business revolves around here at Puur. However, unless we’re sat in front of you we don’t really get much of a chance (until now) to clarify what that actually means.
Spoiler – branding is not your logo. Your logo is just one part of your branding. It’s a significant part, but there is so much more to branding than a single element. Really, you should be able to cover the logo on any design and sill have a recognisable brand.
In very simple terms it is all the visual and verbal elements that you can control that go together to create the picture of you, the picture that you want the outside world to see
In very simple terms, branding is all the visual and verbal elements that you can control that go together to create a picture of you. Branding creates (ideally) the picture that you want the outside world to see. It can be a positive vehicle to engage your internal audience, which in turn engages in a much stronger way with your external audience. It’s a big influence on your ‘brand’, but unlike your brand it’s something you can and should completely manage (we’ll talk about the difference between ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ another time).
An organisations identity is much the same as a person’s identity. Just the same way people you meet will build an immediate (maybe subconscious) opinion of you from how you’re dressed, what you say, even the way you deliver what you say will have an impact. Yes, people will build an opinion of you from your accent.
Friendships are built up over time. Your friends know your history, your good points and accept your not so good ones, it’s a balancing act. They are friends because they know enough about you and have common histories, likes, dislikes, opinions and connect with you. So what was it that got you to become friends?
New friends have to take you at face value, until they build this connection too. All the visual and verbal cues (your branding elements) you deliver to the outside world: your reputation (justified or not), what common friends have said about you are all the factors that attract you to others (brand… oops, that’s for another time). These are the things that started that first conversation, that gave the small seed of a connection which built a friendship. These are same ‘processes’ that work for businesses and organisations.
So what are branding elements?
For a company, identity is evident in anything and everything. From the way the phones are answered to the signage on the outside of the building. It is the business card you give to someone you’ve just met and the website that everyone looks at when they first hear about you. It’s the brochure you sent out, it’s even the style of language it’s written in. Branding or visual and verbal identity is all the elements of your business that you can effect.
A great visual and verbal identity is consistent and cohesive. It reflects your values and focuses on your audience. It talks to them in an aspirational or inspirational way, a way that says to them ‘we want to be your friend, we’re your kind of people’.
A strong visual and verbal identity can help you make valuable connections.
This all takes effort though, great identities deliver ROI, they build lasting opinions and keep you top of mind with your chosen audience. Twin this with a great product or service and you have an offer that people remember, that is both recognisable and hopefully, differentiated.
Does maintaining a strong visual identity mean constant change?
If you’ve got it right you rarely need to change, but just like people, change can sometimes be a positive force. For instance, branding can go out of fashion. The greatest identities are pretty much timeless, but some organisations need to be ‘of the moment’, to keep up with what is graphically ‘trending’. These businesses or organisations are the ones that need to ‘look’ like they are of the moment – Fashion outlets could be in this category.
Other reasons for change could be because you may need to consolidate the look of you business because of growth through acquisition or because your business is at a stage where you want to sell it.
Luckily, as we’ve pointed out branding is way more than just a logo, so it could be that an update could take the form of a ‘look and feel’ refresh rather than a whole new identity. There are times when you want to keep some connection with the past.
At the end of the day, business life is pretty much just like normal everyday life, it changes. Your organisation may need a change of direction, a change of focus or a bit of both. However, changing your identity should always be driven by a business need. Do it properly and your identity will work for you. But it should be a conscious decision with clear objectives and buy-in from everyone (internal brand engagement – we’ll talk about this another time), otherwise your identity will just be colours and words and have little impact on your business.
How can we help in all this?
Puur is a branding agency, we specialise in the development of visual and verbal identity. All our work is borne from consumer insight, market appraisal and decades of experience. We know that our work is a business tool, it answers a need. We take our work very seriously, delivering both graphic solutions and advice. Give us a zero obligation call today to chat over your needs and how we can help. Talking to us is FREE!