Because now, more than ever, your business needs to stand out. Gone are the days where all you needed to look professional was an online presence with a decent website. Or any website, actually.
That was the goal of every freelance professional and small business up until a few years ago: it was expensive to hire a web designer, it immediately said to your clients “Look! I just spent three grand on this, I’m a solid business, you can trust me”.
Enter subscription web templates, drag and drop, cheap logos and royalty free stock. The playground is levelled, and the only companies to stand out now are the ones with a branding budget.
Big branding budget, we may add.
Because a logo and a template do not a brand make, and the vast majority of small businesses can’t communicate their level of quality and service through their online presence and marketing materials.
We want to change the game. Weunderstand the limitations of smaller businesses when it comes to investments. We also understand that your clients are looking for something more, something they can relate to and connect with. And we know exactly how to create this for you.
However good your work is, sometimes you need to help prospective clients understand how you can help their business.
Brilliant branding, smart social media campaigns and a stunning website may impress, but step back and try to look at it from a client’s perspective: do you explain how your work can be relevant for them?
Creatives live in rarified virtual communities of like-minded specialists which can often lead to tunnel vision. Photographers may understand the benefits of targeting specific clients based on their own favoured areas of specialism – wedding, families, etc – but in some markets they need to work harder to demonstrate their practical applications.
When Maura Cesolini wanted to refocus her career from sports photography to branding shoots, she came to us to ask how we could help target her marketing more effectively. She had an incredible portfolio of sports photography, but this wouldn’t necessarily win her business in her new field.
We decided to build a custom pdf for Maura that clearly demonstrated the commercial benefits of brand photography, with examples from some of her recent shoots. Instead of a more traditional portfolio of photographs, Maura’s editorial-style flyer shows her brand photography at work.
Existing and prospective clients know straight away what Maura’s work is about and how they might use her. And as well as acting as a neat calling card and price list, this direct targeting technique demonstrates that Maura is smart and tenacious enough to get out there and find who she wants to work with.
When your new-look website and social media go live, it’s easy to sit back and consider the hard work done. What is there to do except sit back and wait for emails of congratulations flood your inbox?
Quite a lot.
Going live with your rebrand is just one more stage in a continually evolving process, a springboard to increased activity and more interaction. Clients may admire your new look, but what does it matter to them if the content and delivery system isn’t improved?
Rebrands are not ‘before’ and ‘after’ points of time. For small businesses in particular, a rebrand should be an opportunity to re-ignite enthusiasm from existing customers and use that hot zone to grow your audience.
When Floriane Letulle relaunched her life coach website florianeletulle.comshe used her increased visibility to promote harder on all her social media. She posted a higher than usual number of instagram posts and stories that showed her new look, but more importantly, doubled down on promotions for existing and new customers.
Within two weeks, Floriane had sold out of her latest course with an increased take up of 500% (seriously!!) and she attributed much of this to the revitalising impact of her rebrand experience.
“It’s not just about having a fancy logo and pretty colours. It is about putting you and your business on track to achieve your BIG vision. It felt like I shared what was important to me and they did their magic which blew me away. I felt it was my DNA in design.”
Watching one of our clients take a new look and run with it is the most thrilling part of every rebrand we complete, and Floriane is a perfect example of how the intense strategical thinking behind the scenes of a rebrand can lead to gigantic shifts that can propel your business forward, faster.
Branding doesn’t need to end once your business cards, website and social media are redesigned. The more total your reinvention, the better if you want to guarantee total brand immersion for your customers. Apple are undisputed masters of branding – tone of voice and visual consistency are everything in their marketing and presentation – and their world-famous stores take this brand enhancement to a whole new level. Walking into one of them anywhere in the world is like entering an Apple advert – their brand in 3 dimensions – and it’s easy to see why this 360 degree immersion is so effective in building loyalty.
This kind of total experience doesn’t have to be exclusive to giant corporations. When we rebranded Fenaroli, a key objective was applying their new values and aesthetics to their existing offices in a very cost effective but dramatic refit. From the colour of the walls and furnishings to bespoke decorations (including a custom built, beautiful gold logo) we made sure that Fenaroli’s office felt friendly, professional and luxurious, with no disconnect between brand and content.
Similarly, Valeria Lobbia's intimate studio space offered the perfect opportunity to reinforce her values as a photographer. We designed Valeria’s studio from the outside in, to help create an environment that would be unique and that her clients would love.
And branding in three dimensions isn’t just for your customers. Fenaroli were totally energised by their new-look studio, eager to share it with new and existing customers, and Valeria’s studio refit is enabling her to refocus her business in a dramatic new direction.
We all know how important our working environment is to our mental health. What could be more rewarding than taking part in the creation of your own work space?
Look out for the photos of both of these office refits in the coming weeks.
Whenever we start designing logos, we make sure to keep saving and moving on to a fresh page rather than editing and evolving one design until we find “the one”. Coming back after a cooling off period, or sharing the process with someone else, it’s often much easier to see where a false trail may have led away from the best treatment.
Design legend Paula Scher has been quoted as claiming that her first idea is always her best idea, but for ordinary mortals, the process of logo design is usually more convoluted. There are times when we immediately "see" it and start designing exactly what's in our head, and others when we start somewhere and end up in a completely different place.
One design will lead to another, experimenting with shapes and fonts is what pushes you forward, and eventually you just "know" you've nailed it. In between... some good ideas, a lot of rubbish, but it's important to keep it all: an uninhibited graphic brainstorm will bring the right one out.
For our rebrand of photographer Maura Cesolini, early iterations with lowercase serifs gave little hint of what was to come. And once we did catch sight of the radically simplified rectangles that would make her final logo, we continued trying different variations to make sure we’d hit the right idea. Far from imagining the design straight away, the process of investigation helped us find our way to a simple yet endlessly flexible solution: the logo rectangles becoming frames that held Maura’s dynamic photographs. You may hit upon a great idea immediately, but you won’t know for sure unless you design past it and test it to destruction.
And then, you can do some cool and very satisfactory little things like this:
When we talk to new clients, they are always curious to learn: what definesgood branding?
There are some great books about branding (we are working on an Amazon wishlist for you now) and even better, there’s plenty of iconic companies that demonstrate best practices, but every creative will likely give you a different answer to this question. With so many projects launching the last few weeks, and new brand identities in progress, we’ve been reflecting on this question more than usual.
The initial qualifications we came up with?
Good branding is not the destination – it’s a set of directions so compelling that people instinctively want to go there.
Good branding is what makes someone want you even if they don’t need you.
Good branding can level the playing field between different sized companies.
Good branding is more intuition than logic.
Good branding is 99% attitude.
Good branding is not marketing: it’s the gift wrap that conceals it.
With several of our most recent projects now revealed – an 8-month rebrand of Italian photostudio Fenaroli, major relaunch of photographer Valeria Lobbiaand a new look for life coach Floriane Letulle - the time feels right to launch our blog. Blogs can often be the ugly runt of a website... where small scale stories or off-brand messages can be delivered without causing much fuss. Or a dumping ground for ‘content’ ordered to satisfy a social media marketing strategy.
From the start, we knew our blog would be an essential component of our mission here: to celebrate, demistify and promote branding design. Just as our case studies carefully describe the development and execution of individual projects to explain the process, so these posts will focus on mindset and practical execution to reveal insights you might be able to apply to your company.
The business of branding can often seem abstract, expensive, intimidating, out of reach... something that only larger companies do. We hope to show that the principles of branding are simple to understand and easy to implement.
That by finding out how best to present yourself, you’ll understand your business better.
That good branding levels the playing field between small and big companies.