When competing with other brands for your target audiences’ business, it’s imperative that you portray the image of professionalism in order to even be considered.
Even if you have a superior product or service at the same price point as your competitors, they will likely win the business ahead of you if their brand image and message are clear, concise and professional, and yours isn’t.
Here are 4 points that highlight your brands need for a little love. If you find that any one of these points is true, then you are likely loosing market share to your competition as you read this.
#1 Your Brand Identity is a Logo
If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. It’s an oldie but a goodie because there’s truth in it. If you have paid bottom dollar for your logo then that is the message you are inadvertently sending out. We’re bottom dollar territory.
You may be trying to convince yourself that ‘nobody knows’ but that’s far from the truth. So many startups today take the lean approach (which makes sense for many) but most of them, once they establish themselves anywhere past 6-12 months, never bother really investing in this important area and never break free from the bottom-dollar shackles.
When you’re trying to attract new customers, one of the first messages you want them to understand is that you don’t cut corners, you’re the real deal, you can be trusted, you’re the brand to do business with. A cheap startup logo advertises the opposite and is likely holding your brand back from real traction.
If you are using a representative (Logo) that looks cheap and thrown together, then you essentially advertise that that is how you do business. That might seem harsh but think about it. Likely, you wouldn’t be caught dead in a $5 suit, but you’re prepared to dress your number one income-generating vehicle in one?
Maybe your brand needs a new wardrobe.
#2 You’re visually confusing
If you’re brand identity has been created without any strategic forethought, chances are, your identity is not saying what you think it does. A consistent visual presence stemming from where your brand is going and who it is trying to appeal to is a non-negotiable.
The statistics of visual vs non-visual posts on social are an eye-opener, to say the least. When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.
If you are not representing your brand, social presence, website, collateral visually, you are not appealing to your audience. That’s not opinion, that’s fact and the stats don’t lie.
Here are 42 Visual content marketing stats you should know
Your brand simply will not stand out from the noise and clutter without being visual. Even if your brand is visual, you need for those visuals to be distinctive and have their own style and flair.
When you brand your business, you will likely receive an image library of styled images and brand guidelines to ensure any designers you engage in the future know how to replicate your brand style.
Be Visual But Not Cheesy
The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have one. Whether you’re a dentist, a layer, a barista or a broker, if you’re guilty of using cheesy stock photo, of random people smiling vaguely at nothing, just stop it… right now.
We all know the images we’re referring to because we all feel the same way about them. As soon as you see them, a little place inside us contracts and says “ooooohhhhhhh”.
I would definitely say that images like these hurt your brand because of their lack of originality, uniqueness and authenticity. I would go so far as to say that if I felt I needed to represent my brand visually and my only choice was a cheesy stock image, I would choose to not represent my brand visually because it would likely have the opposite of my intended effect (to be remembered)
This point is not to suggest that there is no place for stock images, just not THOSE stock images. If your budget doesn’t allow for a photographer to get truly authentic images of the inner workings of your business, then stock images are a viable alternative. The right designer can drastically improve the appeal of stock images by using blends and graphics.
#3 You’re Blending In
We must always remember why we are branding our business. It’s not to copy, it’s not to keep up, it’s not to be forgotten, it’s to stand out and be noticed to your intended audience.
So many small businesses forget this crucial point and tip toe into the market nearly hoping that They’re not noticed. They look at the brands that have staked their claim in the market and use these brands as somewhat of a mentor. They look at how they package their services, how they present their business, how their brand and website looks, and do everything they can to look as close as possible to these brands.
There is logic in that idea when you consider how we are as people. We want to survive and if we stick close to the herd and follow what they’re doing we might just make it. Many business owners take this basic human survival instinct into their business and apply this safety in numbers idea to their brand.
By doing this, they go against the point we made earlier. Branding is about standing out, not blending in. As humans, we increase our chances of survival by blending into the environment and this survival instinct is in our DNA. Within branding, however, the opposite is true. Blending in is where the danger lies. Standing up, screaming loud, being noticed and remembered is a brands best chance for survival. The audience, therefore, is the brand sanctuary, not the environment itself.
#4 Your website is an afterthought
Try not to be offended by this one but if your website was designed on or before 2013, it’s time to consider whether or not it helps or hinders your brand. If the background of your website isn’t white or a very light neutral colour and you have chunks of text that you expect your audience to read, you’re likely giving them a headache.
We have moved on (well most of us have) from an age of dark backgrounds with light text, spinning Icons, flashing button and elements on the same page competing with each other and screaming for your attention.
If you want your audience to read some content then you need a light background. Each element must have its own piece of real estate with a bounding garden around it so it can breathe. There should only be one (two at most) call to action on a single page and although it should be obvious, it shouldn’t cause an instant migraine.
If your website is that old then it is not likely responsive. If after all these years you still expect your visitors to use their fingers to zoom in and out of your site by pinching their mobile screens, consider this statistic. 8 out of 10 people would stop engaging with a site if it didn’t display well on their screen – I will go out on a limb here and suggest that the other 2 out of 10 would be likely attacking their screens.
It’s easy to forget, especially within some industries, that your website, if harnessed correctly, can be the single most influential tool to drive leads and sales for your business. Many business owners see it as an inconvenience. They are unconvinced it can have much impact and simply invest in one because of the expectation to have one. We are in a digital age today however and regardless of the industry you’re in, most people do their research online before making purchasing decisions.
If your audience has the choice between your business and a business who has taken the time to harness their website and make the experience as enjoyable as possible for their audience, their choice is made for them.
If your business delivers a quality product or service then you need to be communicating that. In cutting corners in your communication (Visual, Witten or verbal) you are not putting your best foot forward and it’s likely that others notice.
Take some time to pay a little attention to your brand. You might find that in focusing on improving your brand, the increase in traction and attention in the market will be the natural by-product.
Stephen is a passionate Brand Creator and Founder of Iconic Fox Brand Agency. With a background in both financial markets and design, he is well positioned on brand strategy and creative and is passionate about both. Stephen has been featured on Marketo, Hubspot, Inside Small Business, Creative Bloq and more for his expertise on brand strategy and creative.
He’s also a friendly chap so if there’s something you want to know about brand, he’d be happy to get into it with you