Top 3 tips when branding or re-branding your business

By Neil Corrigan, Creative Lakes

Over the years, I’ve worked a lot with different organisations on their branding. Whether its been a start-up, an established corporate, a completely new name and new brand or a brand evolution, there are some key considerations to make in order to get the most out of the process.

The aim of this article is to share my experiences and knowledge in successfully delivering brands that have helped my clients to effectively promote and position themselves in their respective market places.

 1. The Designer

It sounds obvious, but you need to find yourself a really good graphic designer. Lots of people call themselves designers, but as with many professions, some specialise in certain areas of design. What you need is a designer who specialises in business branding. You may want to go a step further and identify a designer who works predominantly with B2B or B2C clients.

If you’re unsure, ask for a recommendation. Seek out similar businesses to your own or that you respect, and ask them who designed their brand. 

When you think you’ve found a good designer that you can work with, ask to see their portfolio. All good designers have past work that they are proud of and willing to share with a prospective client. It’s worth nothing that the best designers don’t design for free, so don’t expect them to present ideas to you without some form of commitment.

Your designer should ask questions, and ideally run through a briefing document with you. This will get you to think about things like your target audiences, your values, your tone of voice, plus how and where the new branding will be used in the future.

In my experience, the best designers always start in black and white, as this is the lowest common denominator test for any new brand. For example, if a branded document is photocopied or printed only in black and white, does it retain all of its integrity?

Most important of all, your designer should take the time to understand you and your business, and be permitted to challenge you both in discussions and the designs presented. For example, if you want your new brand to look ‘whizzy’, be prepared to a) qualify what you mean by ‘whizzy’, perhaps by way of examples, and b) be able to demonstrate what elements and values of your business are ‘whizzy’. There’s little point trying to pretend to be something that you’re not. Customers are much more sophisticated and able to spot a fake. 

A good designer doesn’t need to talk jargon to you. If you start to hear phrases like ‘joining up the dots, turning up the dial, etc’, you should probably just walk away.

 2. Separation

This can be one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of developing a brand. After all, your business is your creation, your baby. To a degree, it represents a version of you, your values and philosophy. 

But remember – it’s about what and how others on the outside will see, not what you see.  In my experience of presenting new brand concepts to clients, I’ve had every reaction you can imagine. I’ve had immediate rejection as well as immediate selection, plus everything in between. It is such a subjective area, and armed with all the rationale in the world, sometimes it is difficult to get past the gut feel that a client has to a particular concept. Happily, in every eventuality we have been able to work with the client to deliver a brand that has gone on to work successfully for their business.

There are a few things to be aware of at this stage of the branding process. Firstly, try not to over-analyse each concept. Most external eyes will only glance at your new brand, so it needs to be memorable but try not to read too much into it. Similarly, be mindful that everyone you show concepts too will have an opinion, and trying to accommodate all that feedback into updates can quickly become a fool’s errand. You can’t please all the people, all of the time. Remember that when presented with new branding concepts, this is the only time you’ll see them on their own. 

Once you’ve selected a brand and start to work with, it will always be applied to something. One top tip I’ve found in helping clients to select a preferred concept is to ask them to put them in a drawer and leave it there for at least 24 hours (preferably 48 hours if possible). Then, take them out and put them all in front of you. The one that stands out the most to you is the one to go for. 

If you’re still unsure, rather than trying to tweak and change concepts (which can ultimately result in their dilution), ask your designer to put together some everyday applications of the preferred concept (e.g. letterhead, business card, etc) so you can see how it works. You may be surprised just how good it can look when applied properly. Don’t be tempted to have a go yourself, as this can do just the opposite. Professional design is also about professional and considered application. Which leads nicely on to the next topic.

 3. Guidelines

 So you’ve invested time and money into developing your new brand. Therefore, it makes sense to protect your investment by ensuring each and every application is consistent and correct. Your designer should supply you with your brand artwork, plus a set of simple guidelines which inform you and any of your suppliers and agencies about the correct colours, sizing and spacing when working with your brand. Protecting your brand’s integrity is critical to ensuring you make the most of your investment.

About Neil Corrigan
Neil has worked in full mix marketing management for over 18 years, successfully developing and implementing strategies and campaigns that have generated tangible, measurable results for a wide range of organisations, from small enterprises to large corporates. Often referred to by his clients as the ‘Marketing Jedi’, Neil’s methodical, process-driven approach has helped him to deliver positive business results for each organisation he has worked with.


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