What aspects go into your business’s brand, why business cards are important, how to brand your social accounts and how to tell if your brand is working for you
Covered in this episode;
- When most people hear the word ‘branding’ they probably think of a logo. Is that all there is to it, or is there more…?
- Business cards and why they are an often undervalued branding tool
- What benefits can good branding bring to a business?
- Has the internet and websites changed the way that businesses should think about branding?
- Should you outsource your logo design or branding to people on a site like freelancer.com or 99designs ?
- Should you brand your social accounts with your business, a person or a hybrid of the two?
- How can business owners tell if their current branding is working for them?
- Are there dangers with changing the branding of an established business, even if they feel their current brand is lacking?
- Is there anything that businesses can do to revitalise, improve or better leverage their existing brand without doing a full overhaul?
- Damian’s business Sage Visual Solutions
- Sage Visual Solutions on Twitter & Facebook
- McDonalds Australia re-branding as ‘Maccas’ for Australia Day
- Damian’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
How did you come up with your logo & brand?
Leave your response in the comments below, via the feedback form or send a voicemail by clicking the microphone over on the far right hand side of the screen.
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Intro: You are listening to the Web Marketing Adelaide Broadcast. We give you the tips and strategy to help you utilize the web to get more traffic laid and sales to your business, now here is your host Nick Morris.
Nick: Welcome back to episode number 25 of the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast. This week, I’m joined by my special guest Damian Hamilton from Sage Visuals Solutions. So, we’re gonna be talking a bit about branding for small businesses. Welcome to the show Damian.
Damian: Hi Nick, thanks for having me.
Nick: No problem Sir, Happy New year.
Damian: Yeah Cheers! Happy New Year!
Nick: Great! I think we’ll get started with this question. I think when most people think about or hear the word branding, they probably think the logo. Is this all there is to branding or is there more?
Damian: No. Branding is basically the visual communication, something you visually communicate or is a voice for your business. It is a visual representation of a business’s identity or your identity or your product’s identity.
Nick: Right. So going beyond the logo, what are the things that contribute to the brand?
Damian: Every sort of, every touch point that a consumer touches I guess, is in contact with, is encompasses the brand. So, your uniforms, your business card, which is a very important marketing tool, pretty undervalued actually, letter heads, signage at the front of your business, product packaging if you sell fascinating consumer goods, wine labels for example, posters, events and marketing collateral for events versus websites.
Nick: You are right, so everything. It’s interesting you mentioned business cards. I have now various networking events and things I’ve often discussed, business cards with people I’m meeting and collecting their business cards, giving out mine, and usually and I don’t, I think it’s fairly innocuous but you’re saying that you think that business cards are important and they’re often undervalued. How, can you expand on that a little bit?
Damian: Yeah, absolutely. I think personal branding sort of comes into it as well. I think when you first meet and greet someone, you as an individual, your brand, you’re a brand, you’re representing your business by the way you dress and the way you communicate. And I guess your manner, your mannerisms, when you’re communicating with them, with the person you meet is representing your business and also one of the first things they see, they might see at a networking event for example, when you hand over your business card.
Although it’s not good to – people do judge a book by its cover, so they may judge you by your appearance, what you’re wearing, how you communicate and then by your business card. On your business card, you have your identity your logo and color schemes or whatever else may be used to identify, some distinct kind of graphic that may be used to identify your business. The way that it’s being designed considered with, for the way that it’s printed. So, if you’ve taken some, you’ve invested in decent embellishments or taking care in the quality of the production of the business card.
That all adds value to representing your business and to your brand, so, I guess when I don’t want to over invest – if you’re selling products like flowers, you may, because they are products that aren’t of great value, in terms of monetary value, you don’t want to spend too much money and over capitalize on your business cards. But you still need to represent your business, whereas, if you’re in the lottery sector and you are selling a multimillion dollar property for example, your business card should be sophisticated, should reflect that value more in the product and services that you are offering.
Nick: Great, great. That makes sense and I think probably it’s especially relevant to smaller businesses where all the time, the business owner might be the one that’s going out to these events and meeting with people and their personal branding’s gonna be closely tied with the business and then make sort of the head of the business over there. So yeah, that’s really interesting.
Nick: Let’s move on with the questions after that little detour with the business cards.
Nick: I was just saying, let’s move on. What benefits can good branding bring to a business, broadly speaking? If you really nail the branding for your business, what kind of benefits can you see over top of somewhat, sort of average branding?
Damian: Good branding should clearly, should have a focused message and clearly communicate the objectives of the company in a nutshell.
Nick: Great. So, a business that has good branding, their customers, will they sort of, would that set them apart from their competitors in the eyes of the customers? Is that a goal of branding?
Damian: A good branding solution would certainly reflect, would have unique selling points or they’d be some distinction within the design and visual communication that sets them apart from their competitors and that distinction should tell their unique brand story.
Nick: Great! Has the internet and websites, you know, that kind of thing, has this changed the way that businesses should be thinking about branding?
Damian: I think they should consider the wed as part of a holistic branding exercise, absolutely. So, a logical step would be to come up with an effective name for the business and then create a logo or identity which can encompass color schemes and graphic patterns or imagery and that should then be rolled across to, carried across to the design of the website.
Nick: Interesting. I think one thing or semi-related to just the internet in general and the effect it’s having on many different industries, particularly in branding or on the lines of logo design. I’m sure many of my listeners or small businesses who are bit strapped for cash have considered going down the route of getting their logo design through an overseas company or something like freelance.com or 99 Designs. Do you have any sort of ideas related to that or advice for people who are thinking of going that down that route?
Damian: Yeah. I’m pretty biased but I’m opposed to, I wouldn’t advise anyone to head down in that direction. I don’t think it’s a valuable investment. It’s sort of a massive monetary investment. The process that you go through in order to reach a solution isn’t a very effective process because there isn’t generally a very clear, well defined problem to solve. The many designers that get involved, generally don’t have answers to the right questions or they can’t communicate or ask the right questions. So, they have constraints in order to solve the problem. Yeah, I just think it’s a very impersonal relationship.
Nick: Yeah. It sounds, certainly from what you’re saying and stuff that I’ve heard from other businesses who have maybe done that in the beginning and then further down the track, they’re finding that it’s easy to make that investment early but once your several months, years into a business and you sort of got this logo, you’re kind of stuck with it. In a sense, it’s a probably good idea to invest the money upfront, I would think and make sure you get it right to begin with, so you don’t have to go changing things later on or making do with something that’s not right.
Damian: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. The 99 Designs and Elance or what is it, Crowd Sourcing, its more about quantity rather than quality. It’s not a quality relationship and a quality process, it’s a bit like free pitching or submitting a tender to win a project. Often a problem isn’t defined properly and it’s like selling your soul. You shouldn’t have to come up with concepts before you’re paid. It’s just recognizing the value in that investment.
Nick: Great. My next question here actually relates back to what we were talking about before with business cards. I’m thinking that talking to social media marketers on the Podcast and also offline, networking events and whatnot, I hear a lot or, sort of a debate between particularly with just social media profiles, Twitter being the main one I guess, where it’s kind of a very personal channel Twitter, and a little bit of a debate about whether you should be using your own face and your own name within your Twitter and also Facebook as well.
How does that relate to branding? Should people be branding their Twitter accounts or their social media accounts for their business under themselves, under their business or some sort of hybrid of the two, maybe like their name and their logo or their business name and their face?
Damian: Yeah, I’m still divided about that. I’ve heard mixed messages as well. I think, our current – this is where, I guess you need to think about your strategy and have a clear message or focus for your brand or your business, your marketing. Our current Facebook account it is Sage and our Twitter account has a Sage name but I am, me as the Director of the company and the face and the person that’s writing the tweets. I’m more inclined – it really depends on the nature of your business. We’re a BT, brand agency and I prefer for my clients to know that I am here as a point of contact, rather than being a faceless organization. I don’t want to be seen as small, necessarily, if I would like to work for some of the bigger companies, but I don’t want to be intimidating to the smaller businesses and just be seen as a massive organization and if anyone wants to get in contact with us, you know, there is no point of contact, it’s just info or email or its very impersonal. So, I’m all for being represented by one of the personnel or one of the staff, I think. It makes it more genuine and honest.
Nick: Yeah, I definitely agree with you there and it seems to make sense and I agree with a lot of stuff I’m hearing from some of my other guests, particularly along the lines of, one way that small business can really compete with bigger business is by being personal because bigger businesses have lots of problem with so many different people and no one’s as closely aligned with the marketing and the social stuff as a small business owner would be. So, perhaps that’s a good idea as, you’re saying with your true to cam, that’s a good idea that business owners should sort of take the personal approach to try and get the leg up over the bigger businesses without personal interaction.
Damian: Absolutely. I think personalization and tailoring, tailoring your device or your service is something that smaller businesses can have the advantage over larger businesses, which can be seen as factories, I guess sometimes.
Nick: Yep, yep. Definitely agree. Next question here, how can small businesses know if their kind of branding is working for them? Are there any sort of signs or measurements they can make to sort of know or look at the business as a whole, as to how the business is going?
Damian: I guess these days, if they invested in, how about he can, via Google and Lily, she can monitor both online and offline campaigns now, quite cleverly so. Sometimes, it is a bit of trial and error. In terms of branding, I guess feedback from them, from clients as to whether they find it effective, whether they – we do a brand order for Rum Company. So, we have a list of questions that we might asked to analyze their current branding to find out whether it’s actually ticking all the boxes you know, is it communicating to their core audience, is it representing the price points of their products or services?
Just various questions like that and if that can be conducted they can sort of work out whether they’re on the right track or if they want to do a bit of trial and error and invest in some marketing campaigns and monitor them to see whether their return on that investment is paying off. Is that a long winded answer?
Nick: No, that sounds good. I think I picked out sort of three different points within that. We’ll just get of them eventually. So, you mentioned Google Analytics, so is that looking at perhaps brand searches and maybe direct traffic to your website for instance. Is that what you meant there or…?
Damian: It can be effective for both online and offline campaigns. So, for example we’ve got advertising within a particular sector on a database or a directory and we’ve also got printed ads within a publication or a magazine. We can monitor where the traffic is coming from, either of those investments, as advertising investments via Google Analytics to work out whether it’s effective. That’s probably more marketing than branding though, I guess.
Nick: That’s interesting. It’s interesting how closely aligned marketing and branding seems to be from talking to you, whereas, previously I thought of them more as separate discipline, I guess but since there many different ways they overlap and interconnect, well…
Damian: This message is, the consistency and clear voice or clear message, so throughout your branding or your branded material, your marketing materials and advertising, you should have a consistent voice, consistent message and a consistent visual appearance or visual communication. That just kind of give you, your brand leverage and help with your recognition and credibility.
Nick: Great! And the other point that you mentioned is talking to your customers. Is that something you can do in a structured way or is it more something you might just do as the customers come in to shop or, as you see customers, just ask them or is there a more structured, maybe sort of micro research type you can do there?
Damian: Yeah, I think it depends on the relationship you have with your customers and the scale of your business. It could be just impersonal, how sorry I am, personal chat over coffee. I think you should structure a bit of questionnaire and then gauge that data, carry that data and work out what – because your clients are your audience. So, your market, you can work out whether they believe brand, your identity, your logo, everything that encompasses your brand is clearly communicating the message and the objectives that you wanted to.
Nick: Great! Yeah, that seems makes sense. I’ve seen with putting feedback forms on websites, you can get some interesting insights by just letting people kind of speak. You ask them sort of an open question and they just speak and then you can learn things that you would not expected if you’re really asking narrow questions. I can really see how this way of talking to customers could be helpful.
Damian: Yeah, absolutely. You only just have to be, not be afraid of honesty, people being honest you know. You want them to give you their honest opinions, otherwise, you’re not going to have the value, value out of the feedback.
Nick: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s actually not another key that I’ll just drill on, you know, for a second. I think I see, also notice this in myself a little bit. I have to sort of slap myself on the wrist when you become sort of invested in something you’ve done, within your business, whether it be some sort of marketing initiative or bring some money towards the logo or branding or whatever and then you feel sort of invested, like you have to defend it against – customers are telling you, I don’t like this and I don’t like, you feel like you have to defend it, when you really should be saying, hey, tell me more, I want to learn more, so you can improve, basically.
Damian: Yeah. The only down side about asking your clients what they think is, unlike engaging a professional, such as ourselves, they don’t have an educated opinion, I guess, so speak. Their opinions are just really subjective or based on their experiences, so they might think your logo for example is effective based on their likes or preferences but they need to know the criteria of you know, is it truly representing your business. It represents the value of what you’re offering and whereas a professional who understands, once involved in the process, they can give you a better analysis, I guess.
Nick: Yeah, absolutely! I think that makes sense as well. I think it brings back to me the whole adage of sample size of one or like a small sample size. You don’t want to be talking to just a few customers and making a big decision based on just a little bit of feedback because really, you want to be looking at the aggregate. Another way of doing it, I guess, is by going to a professional like you guys, a professional business who has the experience of dealing with lots of different businesses and looking at the trends and keeping up with the market research etc.
Yeah, now I just have two more quick question. One is, are there any dangers of changing your branding part way through your business? Have you seen or know of examples of businesses really losing out by changing the brand and all of a sudden no one knows who they are anymore? Is thing a big thing that could be a problem to businesses or is changing a fairly easy thing to do?
Damian: It’s a problem if it isn’t enough thought for a strategic change. The change needs to have a reason, it needs to be because the business has changed direction, it has grown dramatically, their identity is no longer communicating what they’re offering or what they’re communicating or their products or services. You know, Nike and Coca Cola or McDonalds is probably a relevant one at the moment. How in Australia, they are trying to drop MacDonald’s and call it McKinns. That’s some, that’s the sort of revolution of the McDonalds brand.
Nick: That’s interesting.
Damian: Yeah. So, if it is strategic and if there’s a reason behind it, then it can definitely be effective. Did that answer your question?
Nick: Yeah, no. Definitely, that makes perfect sense! So, sort of following on from that. If business owners feel like the kind of branding is not matching their messaging as you say, and they need to change, what are some sort of initial steps they should be taking to know which direction to go or if it’s even the right choice of them changing their brand? What are some of the initial step they can take?
Damian: Engage someone like us, I guess, to be honest. Well, I mean they can engage someone who specializes in market research or they can run focus groups and they might be able to help with questionnaires to ask their idea or demographic of market, their audience but often, I think it’s best whether it’s a collaborative effort. I think a brand design or a branding agency that specializes in a particular core subject would be better equipped to do that, to help and provide advice.
Nick: Absolutely! That makes perfect sense and I guess also the things we’ve talked about, we’ll be asking our customers and trial and error, looking at you your results are going and making decisions based on that. Well, that basically brings me to the end of my questions. So, thanks very much for joining us Damian on this call to talk about branding. It’s been really insightful, with some interesting answers and stuff in there. Before I let you go, could you just tell us a little bit about Sage Solutions, your business and a bit about yourself and the background behind of it all.
Damian: Yes, sure. So, I established Sage in London in 2006. My past experience is from different walks of life, from corporate branding for small, medium and large businesses in Adelaide, in particular. I guess Government is, varying Government Arts organizations, through wine branding and packaging and when I moved to London, you know through with my wife, I worked in the fashion luxury, beauty sectors and was working on campaigns and luxury brochures for global brands. So, very up end of the spectrum you know. In Adelaide, I guess where there is limited budget, there’s constraints, monetary constraints and we’re forced to think of solutions based on very strong concept and not necessarily lavish designs that I guess the fashion – my experience in the fashion industry was lots of money to a beautiful work but it kind of lack substance.
Anyway, Sage is a combination of all my passions and past experience. So, our current clientele range from local bed and breakfast in right up to American express, and Jimmy Chue through, a large global fashion lifestyle brand, have a few employees and mainly specializes in branding. So, we’re brand our own studio, I guess we use visual communication through high and graphic design to a unique brand story.
Nick: Great, and how can people get in contact with you or find out more about your business, a website or…?
Damian: Yeah. They can email me directly, damianhamilton [at] sagedesign.com.au or the website is sagedesign.com.au
Nick: Great, I’ll put those links in the show notes for anyone who wants to contact Damian or go to at the website. Thanks again for joining us on the show. It’s been great having you.
Damian: Thanks for having me.
Nick: Fantastic! I hope my listeners, I’m sure my listeners will get some interesting insights out of this to sort of improve their businesses, especially if they’re happening to be starting up soon or planning on starting their business, I think this is really a helpful chat for them.
Nick: Thanks again to Damian for that great interview. He was a really great guest to have. Now, this week starting this week, we’re starting an actually new thing on the show, trying it out and it’s gonna be called Question Of The Week and the question for this week is How Did You Come Up With Your Logo or brand or both for your business? And basically, I’m gonna get people to submit answers to that question on our website and I will make selection of the best answers or selections of the answers to feature in next week’s show. I will read them out or you can actually leave a voice comment on the website and I will play that on the show. So, there’s three different ways of contributing.
You can do it using the voice mail, leave a voice mail on the widget that that’s on the website, that’s on the far right hand side when you go at the website. You can leave a comment in the show notes underneath this episode.
So, go to our website, www.webmarketingadelaide.com.au and leave a comment in the comments underneath this, the show notes for this episode, episode #25 or you can use the feedback link on the website as well. So the question again is, How Did You Come Up With Your Brand Or Logo Or Both For Your Business and I’ll give you the answers next week.
Cheers! Have a good one!