Monthly Archives: October 2010

Why is Branding Important for a Small Business?

Is your sales cycle like a roller coaster ride? It could be because you don’t have a solid brand identity. Many small businesses don’t consider branding important, but I believe it’s one of the most important parts of your marketing efforts.

As small business owners you want to sell your products or services. Who doesn’t. So to avoid the roller coaster effect, consider adding some branding into the mix.

Investing in branding is a longer term strategy. It makes sales easier because the prospective client or customer already knows what the brand stands for, the quality, features and benefits, and has a level of expectation of service.

It’s also less expensive to roll out new products and services when you already have a strong brand umbrella. It’s like the difference between a job and a career. Branding is a commitment.

Why should b2b companies use a branding strategy?
It’s actually less expensive in the long run. Every product doesn’t have to have it’s own promotional program and stand like a silo. A well developed brand is the thread that ties everything together.

I hate to use Nike as an example but they do have branding down to a science. They have expanded beyond just athletic shoes into apparel and sports equipment and have been accepted into those markets with open arms, because they have a sold brand umbrella and a consistent visual identity.

What makes up your brand?
Your brand is more than a series of words; it is your identity. Your name and logo should tell people something about you. Your brand should be strong enough to convey a message and a feeling in an instant. When you run a small newspaper ad, besides a Website, phone number and address, your logo may be all someone has by which to judge your business. If your logo design looks professional, it alone may be the reason that someone decides to buy your product or to hire you. Branding also includes clearly defined messaging, with words that connect with your target market. A set of design elements such as photos, color pallet, typefaces and illustrations are also integral parts in creating a dynamic brand.

Where to begin when developing your brand

  1. What are your business’s values? What does your business stand for? What do you bring to your client relationships?
  2. What’s your business’s personality?
  3. Come up 5 feelings or thoughts that you would like your business to evoke for your clients and prospects. Keep in mind that these feelings or thoughts should be in-line with the way you perform your service.
  4. Describe the services or products your company provides.
  5. Which small businesses are your competitors?
  6. Figure our what makes you truly unique and different?
  7. Define your target or niche market and make sure your branding speaks to those groups.
  8. Last but not least…What are some of the qualities that a client has to have to be a great client for you? Remember not everyone is a good client for you. It has to be a good fit on both sides of the coin.

Become the most recognized Brand in your market
Properly executed branding can set small businesses apart from their larger counterparts and get them noticed. Many small businesses think that they can’t compete, that their “market” is dominated by big business. When you do the steps above and define your target market you can compete with anyone.


New Gap Logo Take Two…

I can’t help myself but to comment again on the new Gap logo. Now that the company has responded to the negative public outcry, I must follow up.

They have released some statements that caught my attention.

First they said they have been working on this rebrand for two years. Wow, really I find that really hard to believe. They missed the mark in so many ways, how could that have happened with a two-years or discovery and development?

Second, they said the new logo was created to “connect with their millennial target market.” Again I find that to be a strange comment because they clearly did not “connect with their millennial target market.”

So I decided to do some research myself and here is what I found, in about 10 minutes.

  1. I did a two second Google search and found this article on USA from earlier this year. It had some great insight on this generation. Based on what I read, if I were designing this logo I would have created something a bit more sophisticated instead of dumbing it down as they have. This was just one of many articles about the Millennial generation.
  2. Then I conducted a quick focus group with my son and a group of his friends, who are Millennials. They were, conveniently for me, hanging out and eating everything at my house. I showed them the logo and asked them “what does this logo say to you?” They had various reactions, none of which were good. They all said that the logo looked like “they sell boring clothes.” Most of them said they have never spent any of their “own” money in a Gap store.
  3. That comment made me pick up the phone and call a friend of mine who is the manager at a very large local mall. She said that their findings show that right now teens and young 20’s are the biggest spenders because they have money and no bills. Hmmm.

I’m not trying to make light of the discovery process. I know that if I were the one to do the rebrand I would dig deeper than just the three things I mentioned above. However, I do want to point out that I gained some valuable information from doing some simple research. Maybe they should have dug a little deeper.

So either Gap, Inc. is totally off on who their target market is, or they don’t understand the market they want to attract. Or both. It seems to me that they have completely lost touch of who they are and who their market is.

The last thing I will comment on is their invitation for a crowd-sourcing project. A representative was quoted saying “We love our version, but we’d like to… see other ideas.” There are two-things wrong with that statement. “We love,” tells me that this brand was created with an internal mindset. Yes, as a company you want to like your logo and be proud to promote it. It does make marketing a lot easier. However, you don’t start there, you end there. If you are a consumer products company you have to start with an external mindset. What does our market want, how do they feel, what emotion do we want them to feel when they interact with our brand? Gap has it all backwards.

The second thing wrong with their statement is the “invitation for a crowd-sourcing project” Are they aware that crowd-sourcing is the same thing as asking a professional to do spec work? This is a big no no as any professional designer knows. In case the folks at Gap don’t know what that means here is AIGA’s position on spec work. Basically they paid big money for a logo that doesn’t work, and now they are looking to the design community to bail them out, for free. Maybe they’ll give out some free chino’s if they like what you do. The design community should stand together and not participate. It’s an insult. Shame on Gap, Inc.

All of this has been disappointing and amusing all at the same time. I’ll be waiting to hear what they have to say next.


New Gap Logo – Branding Gone Wrong

OK really what were they thinking. The original Gap logo was an icon in American fashion. Whether you liked the clothes or not is another issue, but  pretty much everyone knows the gap logo. It’s right up there with Nike.

This is big branding mistake and clearly a display of corporate suits messing where they shouldn’t. I’m sure they thought since sales were down that they needed to rebrand themselves. A company with the brand equity they have does not need to do that. They can wade out the economic storm in tact if they stay strong to their brand. But they decided to make a change and now I think they will lose even more market share with this rinky dink, mess of a logo.

I’ve seen high school design students do better. The gradient of the logo really cheapens the overall identity and it lacks any sort of strength or visual interest. The font says nothing, well it does say something… boring.

I’m struggling to understand how this new logo came about, what’s its purpose and why it fails miserably. Even the original gap logo created in 1969 has more character than this new one.

I’m really hoping this is some kind of joke they are playing to get everyone to talk about them.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.