Bill Cunningham, the late New York Times fashion photographer, once said, “Fashion is the armor to survive everyday life.” That’s true of good branding, too. Developing a powerful brand is a lot like assembling a great wardrobe. You should wear what brings out your best attributes. But finding your style can be tough.
This happens constantly with branding and rebranding. When indecision hits, we choose comfort, like a pair of tennis shoes or an old college t-shirt. But, as another fashion icon once said, “dress like you’re going to visit your worst enemy.” Because when it comes to your business, the stakes are now higher and the returns are far greater.
We recently refreshed our own brand after a simple audit of what should stay and what should go. We weeded through our closet, creating space for new colors, tailored fits and a few stylish pieces. The result is a brand now more uniquely G&S. It wasn’t the easiest process, or always fun, but it was critical to get right.
It’s a simple fact: Good branding means good business. Here are a few reasons to dress your brand up for success.
It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day details of a business. Time or budget constraints can drive leaders to take shortcuts. Often, this reveals itself in convoluted branding. Fonts selected randomly, colors applied without theory or patterns, and tone shifting from output to output.
Taking the time to connect these dots upfront can make all the difference. Applying your brand consistently helps everything move more quickly, allows a team to make decisions more confidently, and helps businesses balance multiple needs at the same time. Style guides, templates, even a brand touchstone, like a sticky-note cube, can help define a brand that everyone understands. The strongest brands spark instant recognition because they don’t deviate – and that makes them unmistakable.
There’s no greater disappointment than slaving away on an ad, white paper, or timely piece of collateral, only to launch it, share it, distribute it – and hear nothing back. It happens all the time. It’s the age-old problem of putting all your eggs in one basket.
When a brand is well-established and flexible, you’ll see a difference in the outputs. Brand-compliant versions of your big idea will captivate audiences longer. We’re so inundated by competing messages these days that it’s easy to forget something you only saw once. A boldly branded piece of content, on the other hand, arrives with a presence that audiences are less likely to overlook.
Campaigns that tailor messages to personas, to selling points, even to regional differences, will always be more successful. But what makes that achievable is a strong, well-understood brand that can be implemented across those channels.
Great brands are so familiar to us that they’ve become almost human. We treat strong brands like friends, even family. We’re loyal to them because we recognize the values we prize in them. Being associated with a brand that thinks like we do is a point of pride. Apple, Ford, Starbucks, Whole Foods – all boast fiercely loyal brand advocates that wouldn’t desert them for the world.
Businesses that invest in their branding, evangelize their brand, and encourage personal ownership of that brand can create human-first brands. A business that stands for something, that you can identify by the people that work there, shop there, and promote without being asked, will outlast and outperform a brand that’s faceless and impersonal.
Like good style, a good brand is recognizable by its selectiveness in how it portrays itself to the world. While there are endless tips for making your brand great, following these three simple rules will set your brand ahead of the pack. A consistent, versatile and humanized brand is more than possible – and it’s a must-have for business today.