By Erin Ferree
“Brand identity” is the combination of consistent visual elements that are used in your marketing materials. A basic brand identity kit consists of a logo, business card, letterhead, and envelope. It can be extended to include a Web site, brochure, folder, flyer, or any other professionally designed pieces.
Having a brand identity is extremely important to your business’s success. However, many business owners have misconceptions about brand identities that can damage their businesses.
My cousin can design my brand identity
There are some very significant areas of your business that should be left to the professionals. First of all, while your cousin may have been “great in art class,” this does not mean that she has the knowledge and expertise required to create great graphic designs. Designing a logo, business card, or Web site is much different than painting a picture or making a collage. You must make a brand logo scalable, meaningful, and symbolic. Read more about the Top 10 Branding Mistakes.
Second, having a professional designer on your business marketing team ensures that your projects will be a top priority. I have many potential clients who start their designs with a friend or relative and are then “put on the back burner,” leaving their project to drag on for months. After much frustration, they hire a professional and are amazed at how quickly things are completed.
Finally, would you trust a friend to do something really important for your business? Would you ask her to do something that requires unique skills, like making a client presentation for you or giving a speech? Probably not, unless she is a sales professional or a professional speaker. Would you trust a friend who is “good with math” to do your corporate taxes? If you wouldn’t trust an amateur with an important business function, then why would you trust an amateur with your brand identity, the key to your marketing success?
Designing a custom brand identity is too expensive
It’s true that having your marketing materials designed is an expensive proposition. How Much Does a Brand Cost? But it may be even more expensive if you do not have a high-quality, custom brand identity professionally designed. There are many effects that will harm your business, including the possibility that your clients will not respect you or take you seriously, among others.
A strong brand identity quickly pays for itself. For most businesses, if just two or three new clients call you over the course of your lifespan because of the equity that your brand identity creates, your logo and brand identity design package would be paid for. When you have a top-notch brand identity, new customers will contact you because they remember your logo, have held on to your business card, or are impressed by your brochure. And it’s likely that many more clients than the required few will contact you and your business will grow and flourish from the (relatively) small initial investment in the brand identity.
Consider also that a brand identity is a sustainable expense. Once you have had a timeless logo and set of marketing materials designed, you can use them for years to come. And, once you have a strong logo, creating consistent, targeted marketing pieces and programs is an easy addition to your existing system.
I do not need a brand identity
If you are a professional in business, you need a brand identity. You wouldn’t consider being in business without other important business essentials — your own computer, perhaps, or a business name or bank account. A brand identity is another of these basic business essentials. It’s the central requirement for marketing and promoting your business.
There is nothing that looks less professional than not having a professional brand identity. If you do not establish a clean, high-quality, and consistent look and feel to your materials, you will have a much more difficult time gaining the trust of potential clients — and signing them on to use your services. All of the Fortune 500 companies have a logo, and for a good reason: it makes them look more professional. If you want to be perceived as offering a high-caliber service, you have to look polished and “put together.”
Erin Ferree is a logo, print, and Web designer who has been making it easy for small businesses to stand out and to be visible, credible, and memorable for the past nine years.