If you're a loyal follower of all things HUGHESANDCO, you know that we proudly unveiled our new branding a few weeks ago. We spent months mulling over who we are and what we offer, and here we are.
And so, with the launch of our newly branded site and the hours upon hours of thought, work and strategy sessions that went into developing the all new HUGHESANDCO, I want to share some insight on creating a brand identity and why it matters.
WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE SAY 'BRAND STRATEGY'
Technically speaking, brand strategy is a long-term plan that develops branding that will work to achieve your specific goals. Branding strategy is not your product, services, logo, website or name. Branding is much more than that — it's that intangible feeling that separates you from your competition. It's what will play a vital role in keeping your business around for years.
FIND YOUR PURPOSE
Today's consumers are researchers by nature, which leads to widespread skepticism and the ability to be much more vigilant with their budget. It's not enough to make a promise to your ideal buyer, you have to define your purpose for them. Get specific — your promises are not only necessary in defining your brand positioning in a sea of competition, but also give your team an understanding of why what you are doing matters.
Consider your purpose either functionally — meaning you are focusing on successes in terms of immediate, commercial reasons (making money) — or intentionally — focusing on success both as the ability to make money and make a difference. When finding your purpose, remember that while making money is a definite priority, that goal alone doesn't set you apart from your competitors. Here at HUGHESANDCO, we dig a little deeper to find the inspiration that drive your mission and vision for your company.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY...
When it comes to consistency in branding, think of it this way: if it doesn't relate to or enhance your brand, it's confusing for your audience. Consistent messaging, imagery and voice gives your brand a solid platform to stand on to distribute content and boost brand engagement. Ultimately, a cohesive message builds your brand's recognition and fuels customer loyalty.
We don't want your potential customers to have to work to put the pieces of your business together, which is why we recommend establishing a branding style guide that covers everything from voice, to brand colour allowances, to font choices.
...BUT BE FLEXIBLE, TOO
Here's where brand consistency gets tricky: you have to be flexible to stay relevant while maintaining a consistent standard for your brand. Sounds a little complicated, doesn't it? Basically, you need to maintain a level of consistency that allows your audience to always recognize you, but allow the flexibility to keep things fresh.
If your old tactics aren't working anymore, change is totally acceptable — in fact, it's necessary. Engage with your audience in fresh, new ways that are true to your brand. You'll find yourself connecting with new customers and reminding your existing customers why they find your so delightful.
KNOW YOUR COMPETITION
Competitive awareness will help you to improve your own strategy, enabling you to showcase why your overall brand is more valuable than your competition. You and your competitors are working in the same industry, going after the same customers — it only makes sense to watch what they are doing and improve based on their branding successes and failures.
But don't get too focused on what your competition is up to — while staying in touch with their strategies is important in the enhancement of your own brand, you can't let that dictate everything you do. Your business is unique and your branding strategy should reflect that; if you make a change every time your competitor does, it will become very evident very quickly.