Looking after your brand

Last night I blitzed my patio with weed killer. It’s a war against the weeds. We’ve lived here for about three years and I’ve only just got excited about the garden – this is due to our daughter, who obviously has a great time running about. I’ve already tackled the patio and won before – it was looking great, and I was surprised that I actually enjoyed it. We were about to get a table and chairs so we could actually sit out there while I tackled the borders (I hadn’t quite got that far) and then it started raining and it felt like every time I had the time to go and do some gardening it was too wet.

Now, a few weeks later, the weeds are back. How dare they?! Ok, so they aren’t as bad as they were before, but they are sticking up through the gaps taunting me. “Ner ner ne ner ner, we’ve won this round!”, so last night, while it was looking drier and with a hope that it wouldn’t rain today (there can’t be any more rain left up there surely?) I grabbed the weed killer and had my revenge. Fingers crossed.

Your business image is a bit like a garden. I’m no gardener, this weed removal thing is a whole new thing on me, I haven’t got round to nice things like planting lavender and getting pots to put herbs in. That will come – but branding I can do.

According to Alan Titchmarsh, the aim of a garden is to create a “variety show that lasts a long time, offers year-round interest and alleviates boredom”. Ideally your branding should last a long time – you don’t want to have a rebrand every few months, your brand is something that should hang around for a while so that people see it and immediately associate it with your business. You need to be using your brand all the time in order to enforce it and so that people will come to recognise it. You need your brand to stand out so that you are noticed. Be interesting, attract people, and don’t be boring.

Planting

Where are you going to use your newly created materials? Do you need to plant leaflets in a visitor centre or just give people a business card when you see them? (a cutting perhaps) Are you attending a tradeshow so you need to order something with impact? Do you use social media? It’s important to choose the right places to promote your business.

Caring for your plants

Plants need water, food and pruning. What does your business image need? You need to give it some attention. People talk to plants to help them grow don’t they? It’s always a good idea to chat to your graphic designer about your plans and about any changes in the business that may affect your communication materials. It might be that you need to feed your brochure with a new section, or that you can prune your website by getting rid of an irrelevant page. Review your materials from time to time to make sure that they are up to date.

Weeding

Weeds aren’t very popular. They appear randomly just where you don’t want them, almost without you noticing, and they spoil the view from your window. Sometimes things happen that can spoil the business image. In an emergency a new leaflet is rushed off and photocopies are handed to people, you move offices and just place a sticker over the contact information on your leaflets, or there’s an unfortunate incident involving a banner and some PVA glue. It’s important to weed out the things that don’t look quite right and make sure that your image remains professional, communicates your values well and is consistent across all applications.

Harvest

Fantastic! You get to eat your runner beans, pick some flowers to put in a vase, or admire the violets that are smiling at you from the flowerbed. If you’ve made sure that your business image is attention grabbing and communicates effectively, you’ve planted it in relevant places and you’ve looked after it, then you should see a return on it. The Design Council states that for every £100 a design alert business spends on design, turnover increases by £225, so make sure that you put in the effort to look after that investment and you should find that it will be well worth it.

Mini Series: Five steps to grow your brand
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