You have been in business a while, you have a logo, a website, you have some people on social media following you and you have a clear idea in your head what you do. Ok, time to audit your brand.
Wait, what? Why?… I’ll tell you why, it doesn’t matter what you think you do, it only matters what everyone else thinks you do. And if your branding doesn’t tell everyone what you do and what you stand for, then you are going to get less work from the people you should be working with and waste a lot of time with people you don’t want to work with.
Let break it down in to bite sized chunks of goodness for you to digest.
Part 1 - Your customer
Who are you working with at the moment?
Write out a list of your clients and assess who they are.
- Are they the people you wanted to be working with?
- Are they working in the industries you wanted to be working in?
- Are they all in one industry, or lots of different ones.
- Are you interested in what they do?
Take a moment to think about these questions and build up an idea of who your current clients are. Then…
Who do you want to be working with?
Write out the traits of an ‘ideal client’.
- What industry are they in?
- Are they a Sole trader, a small company, or a large company?
- How old are they?
- What are their interests?
- What’s their favourite tv show?
- What is your ideal project and who would be able to give it to you?
Think of a dozen questions to ask about your client and then answer them. They may seem stupid, but you are trying to build up a picture of the person you are aiming your brand at. It doesn’t matter if you are B2C or B2B, you are always selling to a person in the end. If they work for a bigger company, it is still relevant to ask who they are, as the company does not make the end choice to work with you, Bob in accounts, or Sue in HR does.
So you have a idea of who you would like to be working with and an outline of who you actually work with. Great. Are they the same? If so well done. But the likelihood is there is a gap between where you are and where you want to be. That’s where you need to put the work in.
Part 2 - Your Brand
Write down what you think your business is and what you want people to think about it. Now, take a look at you logo, your website, any printed material and your social media post. Does it match up? What does it say about your business? Is it in keeping with what you want it to say about your business? Does it reflect what you want people to think about when they are talking about your business?
Most importantly, does it communicate what you want to say to the people you want to work with. Remember them from the last part? They are the ones you need to convince, so if your branding and marketing doesn’t men anything to them, its next to useless.
Now this is the interesting bit. Pick 3 or 4 people you trust the opinion of and show them your Site, logo and so on and ask them what it says to them. You don’t want Yes Men for this, you need people who will be honest, and the less familiar with your business they are they better, as they won’t have preconceived ideas about what you do. And if they match some of the qualities of your ‘ideal client’, all the better.
Part 3 – Truth Time
Take what they say and note it down and then compare it to what you came up with after the self-audit. Does it match up? If not there is some work to do.
You also need to take what they say and compare it to the hypothetical ‘ideal client’. Is the brand that is being described appealing to your ideal client? Would they give you a second look if they were looking for someone in your field? Would they even know what you do from your output?
If you find that you are working with the people you want to work with, and they, in turn, understand you and your company already, then congratulations, you’re a branding master and you can stop listening to me.
But, if there is a gap between your current client base and your ideal client, and your outside auditors didn’t quite get your brand on first inspection, then you need to have a serious thing about what you can do to change the message you are sending out into the world.
Your company will change over time, and in doing, so will your client base, and your branding will need to reflect that. Its probably a good idea to do this exercise once a year or so to see where you stand. You don’t need to change your website or get a new logo made every time you do this, but it may mean subtly changing the language you use in social post, or getting a new business card printed with a new tag line, or perhaps some new headshots because you have had a hair cut since the last ones (something I did myself this very week) and want to show the world the new face of your brand.
Ultimately its about taking some time to just check that everything is working as it should be and changing anything that isn’t. It may seem obvious, but many people don’t bother with it, and it can mean the difference between battling through peaks and troughs and consistent sustainable success.
I’m Alex Dyett
I am a freelance Graphic Designer and Photographer, and Flickering Light Studio is my company. I live in York, UK, with my wife and daughter.
Hopefully, this blog post has given you some inspiration to go out and tell your businesses story with great design and eye-catching images. Take a look at the other blog posts to get some more ideas, and if there is anything that you feel I could help you with, please feel free to contact me, and I will be happy to work on a project with you.