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Accidental Branding

Accidental Branding

 Are you a victim of accidental branding?

Is it possible to be in business for years without ever really branding? Strange as it sounds, the answer is yes. Many entrepreneurs and new business owners go quickly from brand strategy right to brand identity while completely skipping over this key step. We call this step in the process - distilling a brand. Some call it defining brand essence.

Quite simply, branding is the thoughtful analysis of a brand's core concepts and the strategic planning of how to best express its message.

If you’ve been in business for a while then you’re no stranger to brand strategy. You’ve created your product or service, then you've made it unique and desirable to a consumer audience, while influencing how it should be perceived. Sounds a lot like the first elements of a business plan, right? At its most basic this is positioning, differentiation - and brand. By short-cutting or eliminating the reflective step called branding, the choosing of a logo and brand identity can be a shot in the dark, a best guess or even a Hail Mary pass.

Accidental branding happens all the time, even to seasoned brand managers. Rushing to market, tight start up budgets, a talented family member, a student design project, a favor from a creative friend or simply a trust in your own gut instincts are all common reasons for a logo that now doesn't seem to fit your business well. You can blame it on not knowing how your business would evolve or the market taking a left turn. Those are all legitimate reasons for accidental, or unintentional branding.
In some cases an established business may have used an accidental logo for years yet still enjoyed a good share of the market place. The owners of those businesses should be aware that as new competitors enter the market and existing competitors update their brand identity your own image may fall under scrutiny from potential new clients. There is always the risk that by making a choice to not update your brand image, or to put it off, that you may be sending out negative subconscious brand cues.
If you're just beginning to think about a thoughtful brand update, don't worry, it’s just never too late to evolve your brand. Since businesses and the marketplace don’t stand still, you should review your brand every few years. You may even discover that much of what you are doing is on target and that your logo and marketing materials simply need an evolutionary update.  Whatever the outcome, the process will give you reason to pause and reflect on your brand and brand strategy. The bonus is that you’ll take comfort in knowing that your brand identity and messaging completely - and intentionally - support your business goals.
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The Opportunity in a Slow Market

Focus and strengthen your marketing message.

Spending money to make money is not a difficult concept for business people to accept. However, increasing a marketing budget when business slows is a much harder concept to grasp. When the entire market slows, the first budget that often gets cut or completely eliminated is marketing. This is the worst thing to do, for two reasons.

First, a business's exposure to potential customers will decrease with a cut in marketing, generating even less business. The second, and most important reason not to slash your marketing expenses is because your competitors are probably cutting theirs. If many of your competitors cut back on marketing and you increase yours, guess whose business will continue to grow despite the economy.

An economic downturn forces a company to evaluate the most efficient target audiences and the most effective marketing tools. Be smart and consistent. Look for ways to send a stronger and more focused message to hit your target markets effectively and gain the narrowing market share. Polishing your image and focusing your brand message makes good business sense now and will establish your footing as the market improves.

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Strategy For Updating a Brand Image

Honor a brand's past while moving a business forward.

With good reason, a business owner or brand manager can be hesitant to change a logo, brandmark or the style of their marketing design.  A smart business person knows that brands build strength through consistency and awareness, conveying the actual brand experience.  Consumers rely upon this security to make their purchasing decisions.

A successful brand face should exhilarate and inspire the target audience. Understandably, the desire always exists for the next new thing and the need to stay current. As a result, over time, the brand face might evolve, unintentionally, resulting in a "dated" look, or a mixed bag of marketing materials and branding without any coherent connection.  Careful stewardship is needed to get a brand back on track, honoring the past while still moving forward.

So how do you update your brand face without alienating your existing customer base? Strategy, experience and good graphic design is used to carry a brand's heritage into a new service or product offering while continuing to present a unified message. It is quite remarkable how much a design can be recalibrated. A brand face can be injected with fresh ideas, yet still retain its fundamental soul and still be very recognizable as the original face of the company's brand. When done well, the design confirms and strengthens the relationship with the customer, saying essentially, 'You can count on what you know and trust about this company'.

The core of our commitment as branding professionals is to understand how to identify the value of a company's past and new channels to move it forward. We know that a clear and strong design identity can represent what an organization wants their brand to stand for now and in the future. If requested we often create visual brand strategy or style guides for your businesses or brand that can provide a map in creating an external picture for customers and can act as the internal face of your business strategy. Contact us to discuss your brand.

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Intentional Branding. Creative Marketing. Strategic Design.