Why you (as a small business) shouldn’t be scared of the word “Brand”

For the last two decades, at least, the big worldwide marketing and design groups – like Ogilvy, Interbrand and WPP – have been espousing the virtues and powers of the brand and charging handsomely for their wisdom. The list of multi-million pound rebrands is as endless and the figures quoted for the work. The resulting feeling amongst the rest of the business world (outside the FTSE250) is that branding is big bucks stuff. That your marketing budget needs to be as bloated as Mr Creosote to even consider uttering that fabled 5 letter word. You can almost feel the vibrations when marketing directors and business owners across the country shudder in fear when their new designer asks them for a copy of their “brand guidelines”. How could they ever afford to have such a weighty tome prepared for them? Surely to do so would require a grovelling trip to the bank manager with an embarrassing retreat as they are laughed from the building?

I’m here to tell you that that fear is a load of tosh. The fact is that branding shouldn’t cost the equivalent of an African dictators golf buggy. It is affordable, surprisingly affordable.

Here’s why. Brand strategists work hand in hand with graphic designers to build a brand. They do much of the initial thinking and the designer does the rest. He or she is then the one that pulls together these biblical “guidelines” documents. They are the ones who work on the colour relationships, the typefaces, the tonal variations, the uses in varying territories, the image style banks and so on. As such they become strategists themselves, able to advise the client in the absence of their colleague on a whole host of related issues. But these minds don’t always stay at the big firms forever, the get restless and move on, or better still – set up on their own.

Of course there is a reason the big agencies can charge such high fee’s. It’s because getting a brand right and applying it well across all customer channels can add noughts onto a companies bottom line. Coca-Cola, for example, through consistently excellent application of it’s brand to it’s product has grown to have a brand value of £70.4bn (src: Interbrand “Best Global Brands Report 2010). That’s some serious numbers!

So here’s the tip. Seek out a graphic designer who has experience dealing with big “brands” but who now works for a small firm, or themselves. Then you can get all the big thinking for an affordable price. And remember, don’t fear the word; embrace it and your company will be much better off for the investment.

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