Choosing a branding company is one of the most critical decisions any company can make.
Branding is one of those things that most businesses don’t spend enough time focusing on. But it actually plays a huge role in the enterprise’s long-term success or failure.
Collaborating with a successful branding company that knows what it’s doing can have powerful, immediate impact on things like market share, sales figures, and profitability.
But all too often, business owners either pick a branding partner from among the affordable yet unproven random freelancers currently peddling their wares online or – worse yet – think they can do their branding themselves.
Before you choose a branding partner, consider the three essential elements of successful branding and how they play into your overall business strategy:
- Visual Branding
- Brand Messaging
- Brand Positioning
Some branding partners are good at one of these things but aren’t experienced in the other two. Or perhaps they can be successful on two of these elements but can’t close the deal on the third.
But your business will only have a successful overall branding strategy if your branding partner can hit for the cycle and deliver on all three (more on that in a moment).
So let’s take a look at what role each of these three elements play.
Visual branding is the element most people are familiar with. When you think of big, successful brands the first thing that typically comes to mind is something visual: the Ford logo, Apple’s iconic symbol of the apple with the bite taken out of it, the US Marine Corps’ symbol that features an anchor, a globe, and an eagle.
These are instant, immediate symbols that can call a brand to mind visually. And while they aren’t exactly easy to create, they don’t generally require as much work or effort to sustain once you land on a visual logo or branding symbol you like.
Yet visual branding designers are available by the boatload online. Freelance designers, artists, and branding “agents” compete ferociously with each other for the opportunity to draw your brand logo or symbol. While this can often lead to competitive pricing, it can also be a time trap.
You see, the symbol of your brand – while important – isn’t as critical to your overall success as the other two branding elements we are about to describe. Yet so many business owners spend so much time pouring over dozens of logo proposals or spin their wheels working with artists and freelancers when they could be doing something much more profitable – such as working on their brand messaging or positioning.
There are plenty of great companies with less-than-perfect visual branding elements. And there are even more businesses with knockout logos or symbols that can’t get off the ground on the more important elements of branding. Speaking of which …
The easiest way to describe brand messaging is: Words more than pictures. Brand messaging can include things like a tagline – such as the US Marines’ “Semper Fidelis” or “Semper Fi”, McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It”, or Mercedes-Benz’s “The Best or Nothing” – as well as other words, phrases, or even the overall tone they use to describe their company or products.
The way Pepsi talks about its products is quite a bit different than how brokerage firm Merrill Lynch describes theirs. Yet both are the product of brand messaging specialists who focus their skills and talents on communicating to prospective customers through words and phrasing rather than logos or visual images.
While some branding agencies are adept at integrating design with messaging, it’s a good bet that the art school graduate pitching their visual branding skills on Craigslist, Upwork, or another freelance marketplace isn’t going to have the writing experience or skills needed to succeed at brand messaging.
Finally, there’s …
Today, it’s not enough to have a great logo, amazing ad copy, or print or video ads that combine the two. Your business needs to get its message TO its prospective customers first. Otherwise, all the time and money invested in developing visual branding and brand messaging will be squandered.
That’s where brand positioning comes into play. Its also where experienced branding agencies excel in the 21st Century.
You see, all the old paradigms of business marketing were shattered about a decade ago. Traditional marketing platforms like TV, radio, print media, and direct mail don’t have the value they once had.
New media such as social media platforms, podcasting, streaming video, and other technologically advanced models are now the best way to reach consumers regardless of how you have positioned your brand with visual images or ad copy.
The successful branding agency can do all three: Create or improve existing successful visual branding, develop effective and consistent brand messaging that genuinely connects with targeted audiences, and then deliver both of those things on the platforms people actually use today.
As our name implies, Lytron Design originated as a design firm. But we quickly came to realize that if we were going to successfully deliver the kinds of measurables our clients demanded, we were going to have to expand our offerings to include all three branding pillars.
Currently, we are one of the fastest-growing branding agencies in North America, creating highly effective, hugely successful visual branding, brand messaging, AND brand positioning for small- and mid-sized businesses worldwide.
It’s not enough to pick a branding partner that can do only one or two of these branding pillars well. If you want to truly reach people and expand the size and scope of your offering, you need to collaborate one that can do all three. And that branding agency is Lytron Design.