The Importance of Branding Research

The Importance of Branding Research

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The Importance of Branding Research

Loughborough University’s new branding has come under deep scrutiny in the past week, with students, staff and alumni not favouring the new visual identity. Many feel that it doesn’t represent the university’s values and heritage and this has lead to the Director of Marketing and Advancement releasing a statement saying that the roll-out of the new identity will be paused to take stock and to listen to concerns.

We are not in any way implying that the agency involved with Loughborough University did not carry out research, nor are we suggesting that research can take into account every person’s opinion, but it does highlight the importance of research when creating a new or refreshed brand.

Before a major rebrand, it is essential to carry out a full brand analysis, to find out where you are now, in order to develop a strategy to show where you are going.

This can include a review of your current strategy, a SWOT analysis and a look at your target markets, customers and competitors. It is also very useful to ask a cross section of your customers, staff and other key stakeholders what they think about your current brand and what they believe are the important values to represent moving forwards.

This then enables a detailed brand strategy to be developed to point you in the right direction, specifying:

  • Your vision (what do you want to be)
  • Your brand promise (what can you offer and deliver to your customers)
  • Your brand personality (how your company should interact with customers)
  • Your market position (where you should sit amongst your competitors)
  • Your proposition (what you offer and how it benefits your customers)
  • Your brand values (how you operate internally and interact externally)

As stated above, you can never please everyone with a new look, and sometimes it just takes a bit of educating those concerned about the strategy and the reasons behind the rebrand.

It is just as important to motivate the internal audience, i.e. those within your business, as well as  your customers with your new branding. So to aid with a launch and repositioning it’s always best to involve those inside and outside your company when carrying out your research.

But all in all, when your visual identity is backed by solid research, your brand has much more substance and meaning and therefore gives you a more complete and consistent overall brand.

Brand analysis is one of our areas of expertise at Hyphen, so if you need some advice, please contact us.

Until next time,
Gemma

Branding Myths

Branding Myths

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Branding Myths

One of the reasons that branding is such a minefield for businesses is that there are so many branding myths out there. So we thought it would be good to try to dispel some of these, to help you understand how to build a powerful brand for your business.

Myth #1: A brand is just a logo

This is probably the biggest misconception about branding. A logo is a visual representation of your company, but your brand is everything to do with your company, such as:

  • Who you are
  • What you stand for
  • The products and services you offer
  • The way your staff interacts with customers
  • What your customers think about you
  • Your position in the market
  • Your goals & values
  • Your internal culture
  • Your personality and promise to customers

Everyone and everything associated with your company should work towards the same common goals and all communications between your company and its customers should deliver consistent messages. This is the way that a brand truly becomes memorable and builds brand loyalty.

Myth #2: Branding is just for the big boys.

Many people believe branding is expensive and not worth the time or money for a small business. But they are mistaken for thinking it is not as important…all businesses start out as small entities and a good brand helps them to grow.

The word ‘branding’ is perhaps what confuses people, so based on the above point that covers what branding actually is, small businesses are encouraged to think about reputation and creating a good impression, as that is essentially what branding is.

And you don’t need a big budget to create a brand. Simply spend some time to sit down and think who you are, who your customers are and how you can offer them what them want in a way that suits you both.

Myth #3: “I don’t need a brand”

Branding is not optional. If you think you don’t need a brand, or don’t have a brand, well actually, you already have one.

Again, this comes back to the misconception that your brand is your logo. But even if you have no logo, no website, no business cards…you still have a brand, because your brand is what your customers think about you and your products or services, and what they tell their friends.

Your customers will build an impression of your company by the way you answer the phone, the way you interact in person and even by your company name. All of these things build your brand. You can either just let people think what they want to think, or you can try to control it by creating brand messages that your customers can relate to.

Myth #4: Your brand is determined by you/your company

This statement is only partly a myth, because, yes, you decide what messages to put out to your customers, but a major part of your brand is what your customers think.

Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon once said:

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room

No matter what your brand represents and no matter how much control you have over your brand as a company, you can never predict what people will say or think. And that is why you can only do so much as to define your brand. An individual will always have their own opinion on your brand and perceptions can change all the time.

As a business, you don’t own your brand…you just look after it.

Myth #5: Branding and marketing are the same

This one is simple…branding is who you are, marketing is what you do.

Your brand is who you are, what you do, your personality and your values.

Marketing is what you do to get your messages to your customers.

Your brand should be in place before any marketing is carried out…but it is your brand that will be left in a person’s mind, long after the marketing communication has left.

 

If any of the above myths have left you feeling confused about your brand and you’d like some advice, please contact us to see what we can do to help.

Until next time,
Gemma

We are hiring for a Mid-Weight Graphic Designer

We are hiring for a Mid-Weight Graphic Designer

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We are hiring for a Mid-Weight Graphic Designer

Update: This position has now been filled. You can however keep up to date with any future vacancies on our careers page, or you can send us your CV and portfolio and we will keep it on file for future reference.

Mid-Weight Graphic Designer

Hyphen is a lively, creative branding and design agency based in Groby, Leicester. We are looking for a seriously talented, highly experienced graphic designer with strong branding and industry knowledge to join our studio. The role available will be a full time, temporary 12 month contract for maternity cover, however a permanent contract may be offered at the end if the studio continues to grow at it’s current rate.

You will be working within our friendly and passionate team of designers and brand strategists to develop and style brands for a range of clients from a variety of industries. You’ll be an integral part of a talented team of like-minded people, whose main goal is to provide beautiful brands that are commercially savvy, strategically driven, and hand crafted.

We are looking for an exciting, stylistically adaptable and keen artistic eye with the necessary technical competence to bring a clients brief to life. This will require active involvement within creative meetings, both internally and externally with clients, managing clients expectations through the design process, and finally the ability to present your creative designs in a professional manner to clients.

You must have an exceptionally high standard of conceptual thinking, impressive design and typography skills, as well as the ability to deliver work with strong discipline. Speed and experience with managing a variety of projects simultaneously is a must. You must also have extensive knowledge of InDesign and Illustrator and a good knowledge of Photoshop. Experience with designing for online medias would be preferred, and basic HTML, CSS3 and PHP would also be beneficial, although not a necessity.

The ideal candidate will also be technically competent in finalising all designs for both online and offline requirements. Knowledge of the print process would be beneficial.

Starting salary will be up to £24,000 per annum (depending on experience and quality of applicant, at our discretion).  This salary range will not be negotiated and candidates are obligated to be aware of the salary range when applying for the position.

So do you have min 3 years experience working in a creative agency on clients rebrands and creative briefs? Are you looking to move to a small but growing team where your input really makes a difference? If so, we might be just what you’re looking for.

If this sounds like the opportunity for you, please send your CV with covering letter and examples of work to jason@yourhyphen.co.uk. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview and if successful to complete a technical design test.

Position Start Date: March 2015

Position End Date: March 2016 (TBC)

Brand Strategy – What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Brand Strategy – What Is It and Why Is It Important?

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Brand Strategy – What Is It and Why Is It Important?

The word ‘strategy’ is one which can cause confusion and sometimes scare people because they don’t really understand what it is.

Brand strategy (not to be confused with marketing strategy) is important for every business, as it identifies all of the elements that are important for your customers.

And it is just as important for small businesses as it is for large businesses. Whatever your size, your customers need to know who you are, how you interact, what you deliver and what benefits you offer to them.

A well defined brand strategy not only benefits your customers, but also your employees and any other stakeholders in the business. It makes sure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet (as the saying goes)!

So what should your strategy consist of?

+   Your vision – what do you want to be?

+   Your brand promise – what commitment do you make to your customers and promise to deliver?

+   Your brand personality – if your company was a person, how would you describe it?

+   Your market position – where should you sit amongst your competitors?

+   Your proposition – what do you offer and how does it benefit your customers?

+   Your brand values – how do you operate internally and how do you interact with customers externally?

A well-defined strategy helps everything to run smoothly within a company as both employees and customers know what to expect from the brand. If executed effectively, the elements of the brand strategy become second nature in day-to-day business.

If you need help with your brand strategy, take a look at our branding packages, call me on 0116 232 5931 or email me.

Until next time,
Gemma

What Should Your Brand Be Saying This Christmas?

What Should Your Brand Be Saying This Christmas?

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What Should Your Brand Be Saying This Christmas?

Sending Christmas cards or emails to your customers is not about generating business, but about positioning your brand in their mind as kind and thoughtful.

Whilst it does have benefits for you, the sender, in helping to maintain customer relationships, a Christmas card should have a genuine ‘seasons greetings’ message with minimal branding so it does not appear like a selling tool.

Although the festive season is a time for joviality and getting in the Christmas spirit, you must still ensure that your Christmas card represents your brand personality.

As an example, here are some sample personalities and how they might translate to a style of Christmas card.

Traditional card

Brand Personality – Professional, corporate

Design Style – Traditional, simple

 

 

10-5395

Brand Personality – Fun, exciting, spirited

Design Style – Funny

 

 

Friendly Christmas card

Brand Personality – Family-orientated, personal, real

Design Style – Photographic

 

 

Design

Whatever your brand personality, a bespoke design will make the best impression on your customers. A design that has been developed around your brand will show your customers that a great deal of thought has gone into their seasons greetings message and therefore enhances the feeling that they are valued. Whilst your card should include your branding, it should be subtle so as not to be misconstrued as a selling opportunity, otherwise it completely takes away from the sincere message.

Format

The decision between printed cards or email depends on many factors such as budget and  number of recipients. However, if your brand promise is to be environmentally friendly, then printed cards are a no-no and if your brand personality is personal/friendly, then printed cards are the more personal option.

Whatever your choice of style, Hyphen can help you design and print your Christmas cards and calendars.

Contact us now to discuss how your brand personality can be delivered to your customers this festive season.

Your competitors…what are they doing and what makes you different from them?

Your competitors…what are they doing and what makes you different from them?

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Your competitors…what are they doing and what makes you different from them?

Most companies know that they need to differentiate themselves from their competitors, in order to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.

But how often do you take a look at what your competitors are doing and what their brand represents?

We have come across examples very recently whilst carrying out a competitor analysis for two clients, where we have revealed some information that they weren’t aware of.

The first example is a client who had suggested a new tagline he was keen to use with his brand refresh. Whilst carrying out our analysis, we discovered that one of his competitors had recently started using that exact tagline.

The second example is a client who said “we don’t have any direct competitors because we are so unique”. On further investigation it was found that their business was unique when it was established, but as they hadn’t reviewed the market recently, they were not aware of competition that had emerged in the last few years. And they had also not considered other companies as competition, who offer a different type of product but for the same need in the same market.

So the first two rules when trying to stay ahead of your competition are:

  1. Know who your competitors are
  2. Make sure you review them regularly so you know any changes they have made

The next thing to look at is what makes you different to them?

Obvious differences are the products and services offered, but what also makes a difference to customers is the brand as a whole and what benefits it gives to them.

Assuming you know what your brand says about you (as discussed in a previous blog post), you can then compare it by carrying out competitor analysis and answering the following questions:

  • What are your competitors’ perceived brand images?
  • What impression do their visual identities (logos) give?
  • What do their websites and other promotional materials represent?
  • What are their brand values, brand personality and brand promise?

If you think there are too many similarities between you and any of your competitors, it may be a good idea to look at your brand strategy and perhaps refresh your branding. If you think this may be beneficial for you, please call me on 0116 232 5931.

Until next time,
Gemma