Branding basics: by Simon Taylor, freelance Graphic Designer

Feb 25, 2016
In a world where effective marketing can be the difference between success and failure, branding is a key element, and it's only likely to become more important.
Business branding

Branding is how a business distinguishes itself from its competitors. It communicates the core values, business ethos, heritage and other key elements that make up its personality. One of the key ways in which a brand is communicated is through the visual identity. The visual identity comprises graphic elements, such as the logo, corporate colours, company typefaces and key marketing messages, such as advertisement straplines.

These elements need to be applied in a consistent way across relevant media including the website, advertising, company stationery, workwear and vehicle livery if the brand's integrity is to be maintained. A well applied visual identity will help to create an impression of efficiency and professionalism which will build confidence with the public. If a brand isn't applied consistently, its effect is reduced. If it appears a company isn't organised enough to manage its own appearance, then people may not be confident when it comes to trusting it with their worldly possessions.

Like other industries, the moving industry has its big name players that everyone has heard of. They are able to maintain a high profile because they have the dedicated resources to fully exploit the value of effective branding. Then there are the smaller, regional, rather than national companies. They have lower profiles and generally fewer resources than the big boys. For example, a typical family-run business usually won't have a marketing department. The marketing will be the responsibility of someone who has numerous other duties that make up their job description, and consequently issues like branding will not be near the top of their list of priorities. This doesn't mean that they can't benefit though. Branding is scaleable. Selecting a few key elements to which a company applies its visual identity, and ensuring that the application is consistent, will still improve its perception with the public.

The company logo is the heart of the visual identity, and it's vital that it is fit for purpose. If resources are limited when it comes to branding, getting the logo right will always be money well spent. There appears to persist in the moving industry an impression that a company name, signwritten onto the side of a truck or van, and reproduced on, for example, printed stationery and workwear, will serve as a logo. Only extensive market research can establish if this approach provides effective branding or not, but it's doubtful. The big players certainly don't seem to think so. Today's brand-conscious consumer is far more likely to be persuaded by a design that's the result of a considered process to create a device that communicates the ethos and personality of the company.

Once the logo is in place, other elements will need to be established. Colours and typefaces that also reflect the company's personality and are congruous with the logo are elements that are simple to apply consistently. Vehicle livery provides a great opportunity to promote a brand, as ­every truck or van is a potential mobile billboard. Other elements that are primarily customer-facing, such as workwear, printed promotional material and the website, are also cost-effective means of promoting the brand. The list of elements suitable for visual branding is long, and budgets are often small, but getting the basics right is always good business.

Of course good branding isn't always visual and remote. It can be in the way the phone is always answered politely and within a given space of time, the way a crew arrives for a job looking smart and behaving in a courteous and helpful manner or the efficient way an estimator gathers information and prepares an estimate using a smartphone app. It's as easy for a small mover to implement these practices as it is for a very large one ­Рeasier in some cases.

Whatever form it may take, the key thing to remember about branding is that consistency is paramount. It helps to build confidence in the mind of the public because it's an easily understood way of demonstrating a company's professionalism and helps generate an impression of trustworthiness and reliability.

Simon Taylor can be contacted on: talk2ilike@btopenworld.com