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It’s something everyone wants, especially when you add ‘recognition’ or ‘loyalty’ on the end. Those two things are powerful additions to  growing business, with the stats showing that both brand recognition and brand loyalty have extremely healthy benefits to sales and ROI.

So how can you create an incredible brand, keep it consistent and make your name and logo known far and wide? James sits down with our Head of Design Justin Mitchell to discuss exactly that.


JAMES: Justin, awesome to have the chance to properly talk to you and find out a little bit more about yourself, and what your role is at SBM. So what DO you do at SBM?

JUSTIN: So I’m the Head of Design – it’s a small team, five or six people. I look after everyone, make sure they’re all happy, keep the work flowing, do a bit when I can myself.

JAMES: Keeping happy is always important.

JUSTIN: It is, it is…I like to have happy workers.

JAMES: So we’ve got a cool topic we wanted to chat between is today; we wanted to talk about brand. First of all, what is brand to you? What does that mean?

JUSTIN: So brand, in the simplest sense, is the public face of your company. It’s how you present yourself to the exterior world and how customers form impressions of you based on how you present yourself.

And that can be done in lots of ways. At one level it’s your website and your logo. In other ways it’s how you talk to your customers, what your shops look like, tone of voice, how you engage on social media, which is obviously increasingly important.

It’s a many-faceted thing but there’s no need to be scared of it, because each little element is easy to get to grips with.

JAMES: So as a company is growing and I’m starting to employ more people, and I’ve got a marketing manager, I’m working with maybe a different agency as well for some of my creative.

How do I make sure that they GET my brand, and that they’re putting the brand out there the way that I see it in my head? What can I do?

JUSTIN: Well, one really good thing to create is called a ‘style guide’. It’s like a ‘Bible’ if you like, for your company. It has your logo in there, your colours, your fonts, any brand language you use, any key messages, and that is like a source of truth. And so as you get bigger and you operate in more channels- typically larger companies will have a writing style guide, a print style guide, a digital style guide, social media- and what that does is set some conventions for things you use internally, but also for third-parties you have.

It’s a good way to get consistency, whoever is producing your material.

JAMES: Fantastic. So how important would you say a style guide is for a small business? When you’re starting up, and you’re starting to hone in on that brand and you’re starting to employ more people to manage your brand in a certain aspect…how important is a style guide?

JUSTIN: If you’re just starting out, it’s something you need to think about. Even when you’re starting from day one, you need to communicate consistently, because as soon as your brand goes into the marketplace, people will start to recognise you and form associations, and if that’s changing all the time based on your whim or not briefing people properly, it actually waters down your brand, waters down your message.

There’s a thing called brand loyalty, and that only comes from communicating consistently with your customers. So a style guide is something that grows in importance as you become bigger, certainly as ou employ people outside your organisation to do your creative.

JAMES: I also think one of the things you mentioned there was brand loyalty, and that was a really interesting thing. We did one of the blogs just a couple of weeks ago on brand, and brand loyalty. It has a huge impact on e-commerce transactions, on the average transaction value per customer, IF someone knows that brand.

So brand is clearly very important, not just from the view of memory, but also over transaction value increasing and the authority behind a name and a brand. So I whole-heartedly agree with that! We’ve gone on that journey as well, starting off seven years ago with a very basic brand, slowly developing into what it is today.

When it comes to maybe the different types of brand marks- let’s say logos in particular- a lot of the people listening and watching are startups, or they’re people who’ve had a business for a couple of years and they’re starting to hone in their opportunities around their brand and their logo…what’s the difference between a logo-mark brand and a word-based brand?

JUSTIN: So a word mark is typically something like IKEA. Their brand is basically just a word in an oval. So it’s very simple and it has a lot of power simply through repetition.

To use Apple again, or Nike, they just use a graphic. Particularly, Nike is interesting because what they’ve done over the years is that their brand has become more and more recognised. You can now drop Nike completely from their brand, just show people the ‘swoosh’, and you still get that it’s Nike.

Likewise with Apple: you don’t need to see A-P-P-L-E to know what it is.

JAMES: For a startup…how can you attack that decision-making? Do you go icon-mark or do you go word-based?

JUSTIN: You can have both, then as you grow, and as people become more aware of your brand, you can drop one or the other. It’s not something that happens overnight, it’s not something that happens in six months. Nike has been around since the sixties or seventies and they’ve only been able to drop the word Nike in the last ten years or so.

JAMES: And I suppose that goes back to the style guide again. If you are going to do that, then making sure everything is consistent, so that if someone’s on your messaging- whether it’s a print, if it’s digital, and that logo mark is there- they’re always consistently associating the logo or that word with your brand.

JUSTIN: Yep, and it’s also worth remembering that the logo is only a small part of your brand. Going back to IKEA: the layout of their shops is a huge part of their brand. People will talk about the maze that you walk through, the way they make such a virtue of the flat-pack thing, because after all it’s creating extra work for the customer. You have to buy this stuff, get it home yourself, build it yourself…but part of the magic of their brand is the way they make it into a virtue, like you’re engaging with the product properly. And obviously pricing; it’s cheaper. It’s still good quality, even though you’re building it yourself.

When you build a piece of IKEA furniture it’s almost like you’ve done it yourself, even though obviously you haven’t.

JAMES: There’s a sense of achievement with it. IKEA, like you said, it’s flat-pack, DIY, low-cost, but it’s quality. Does what it says on the tin, but by changing their method.



Want to know how to create an incredible brand and get the most out of your marketing? Contact Smith Brothers Media for a business discovery session today!

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