Last week I treated my three boys to lunch at the food court in a local shopping centre. Not being one to pass up an opportunity to teach them something about the world, I gave them a conundrum to solve.
In the food court there was an array of food outlets, but there was one that had no customers. I noticed that it was relatively new to the food court, as it wasn’t there the last time we visited, and as I sat there, puzzling over why people were passing it by, I put the question to my boys: “Why do you think no one is buying from that shop (the shop was a homestyle burger outlet)?”
These were our collective observations
- “McDonalds is 2 shops down, Mum.”
- “There’s too many words.”
- “They use the word ‘real’ a little too much.”
- “There’s no big pictures of juicy burgers.”
- “Their colour scheme is dull compared to the other shops.” (that all featured primary colours in their branding)
- “They’re not fun enough.”
- “Their main colour looks like spew.” (actually mustard)
Okay, I could go on, but you get the picture.
While, I could see what this outlet was trying to achieve with it’s vintage-coloured branding, it wasn’t working. From what I could see, a lot of it boiled down to the colour-scheme used, but I also felt that it didn’t fit with a food court primarily aimed at families and young people.
Even the dodgy sandwich joint was getting orders over this neat and clean operation.
It’s true that there could have been other factors at play for this food outlet. Their burgers could have failed to live up to the wordy promises on their notice board, Their pricing could have also been a factor (they were next door to some well known, inexpensive fast food outlets). However, watching the sad performance of this outlet was a lesson on how important branding is to the success of a small business.
So, what are the two most important considerations when it comes to branding your small business or budding enterprise?
1. Your ideal client
If you’re trying to reach everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one. The more you narrow down your target audience, the easier it will be for you to establish branding that appeals to them.
In the Find Your Ideal Client workshop that I run with clients one-on-one and in my group programs, I ask my clients to build a picture of who their ideal client is, give them a name and an address, hobbies, dreams and struggles. This then informs their branding.
It’s not an easy exercise because it requires you to zero in on who you ideally want to work with and in what capacity. For businesses that have more than one target market, this can be a tricky process, but once they break through that barrier of trying to appeal to everyone, they start to come up with brilliant ideas for their branding and their marketing.
2. Your brand personality and story
Your unique story and brand personality is an important consideration. Branding is not a solo dance. You need to inject your motivations and personality into your brand so that you can present an authentic image to your ideal clients. If your brand personality matches your ideal client’s needs and preferences, you’ll find it easy to market your products and services. However, if you’re targeting the wrong people with the wrong branding, in the wrong way, you’ll struggle.
Where brand imagery and design comes in
Brand imagery and design is the by product of your brand personality and story, but a lot of businesses will come up with a name first and then try and fit the brand to the name, rather than the other way around. When I started Content Marketing Cardiology, the brand name actually came out of my signature system.
When I developed the system, it was in the shape of a heart. Having a heart-centered business was important to me and part of my brand personality and story, and working with heart-centred businesses and people who were in fields that made a difference to the world was what I wanted to do. So the name and branding followed suit.
I wanted to use simple colours that evoked passion and life. I wanted to inject some humour into the brand through the use of cartoons, to attract people who did not take themselves too seriously and who were looking for something a little different and outside the box.
What does your branding say about you?
If your business is struggling, there could be many factors working against you, from gaps in your marketing system to poor customer service. Branding is just one of them, but it can impact on everything else you do. Good design will be informed by your ideal client’s preferences, your personality and your story (your reasons for starting up, your motivations and your unique perspective).
Does your branding attract the right people to your business, or like the burger joint, does it sit there as a less appealing option amongst a pool of competitors?