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.