Brand consultants – what are they and what can they do for you?

Brand consultants – what are they and what can they do for you?

Brand consultants – what are they and what can they do for you?

Brand Consultants

Your brand is everything your company stands for – so wouldn’t you want to trust the right people to take care of it? But with so many creative agency choices from branding consultants, brand designers, graphic designers – what’s the difference between them, and which services should you go to or which?

 

Let’s start with branding – what is it really?

Branding can be anything to do with your business: from the basics like its name, logo, colour scheme and service offering, to the ever-evolving marketing activities like its website, digital media presence, print advertising in magazines and leaflets, email marketing campaigns, event presence and much more. Your brand isn’t just the look and feel of your company, but also its unquantifiable uniqueness – that ‘x-factor’ that makes you competitive and secures longevity in the marketplace.

 

What is a brand consultancy?

A brand consultancy is an agency that creates and develops brands, working with business owners to translate the concept of the company into a marketable proposition. Brand consultants are experts in figuring out how to make your brand valuable to customers and shareholders in a sustainable way: this could be as simple as designing a marketing campaign to increase brand awareness, or as complex as redesigning the entire brand identity and structure to appeal to new markets and keep trade alive.

 

Who works in a brand consultancy?

Branding agencies employ staff of many disciplines, helping to translate business goals into tangible creative applications. A consultancy might be started by experienced graphic designers who’ve worked on high-profile projects and overseen rebrands for household names. On their team will be other designers, copywriters, strategists, developers and marketers from many backgrounds: some will have led startups to their first instances of success, whilst others may come from in-house teams at large organisations where they’ve followed the entire journey of the branding process from a client’s perspective. This mix of skills and experiences is essential for brand consultancies to service clients of different sizes and sectors.

 

Why should businesses work with brand consultants?

As a business owner, you naturally want the best for your company. Doing things on your own can seem like the right idea, and even make sense for many startups in the interest of keeping costs to a minimum – but, at some stage, all businesses need to evolve into a brand in order to secure more investment, more custom, and generate healthier profits. Even the most seasoned companies can lack a recognisable brand that allows them to effectively compete – a risk that’s particularly important in today’s marketplace, where savvy startups and disruptor companies are eager to steal market share from established firms, often wielding strong brand propositions engineered to catch the attention of their target clients.

This potential threat is crucially relevant for any business, in any sector. Consumer-facing high-street names are famous for their strong brands and well-publicised rebrands, but a small manufacturing company with two or three loyal clients – although considered a world away from the high street – needs a strong brand for the very same reasons: to secure sustainable business and prosper, especially in unexpectedly challenging market conditions like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whatever stage you find yourself, it’s never too late to consider what your brand says about your business – and how, with help, you can do more with your company.

 

Contact us if you would like to see more of what we do.

Think! Associates Limited
Victoria House, Victoria Street, Taunton TA1 3FZ
+44 (0)1823 423212
studio@thinkassociates.co.uk

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

Ten ways to prepare for the new normal

Ten ways to prepare for the new normal

Ten ways to prepare for the new normal

Alan

Over the past year, trade may have plummeted or you may have had to cease trading for a while. But most businesses will survive the chaos, just as they have through previous downturns – wartime, recessions and pandemics. Here are 10 ways to prepare your business for the return to normal.

 

1 – Prepare today, for tomorrow

There is plenty of data to show that businesses which continue to invest in marketing during difficult times, are the ones that continue to thrive – not just through those tough times, but long afterwards.

So even if your sales pipeline had dried up and you needed to claim government assistance, you still need to keep your business visible and in people’s minds now that normal life has resumed. Otherwise you’ll find that your competitors rode the waves and were ready for the comeback!

 

2 – Keep existing customers with you – and happy!

Out of sight means out of mind – it’s important to keep in touch with your customers. It will always be cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one! Keep your messaging going out as normal. Share advice and share business innovations. Let them know you are there, that you care, and that you are running a business that genuinely wants to deliver value and solve their problems.

 

3 – Stay connected

During lockdown, social media was one of the most significant forms of communication for business. People used their social media accounts more than ever: a) because it’s effective; and b) because it doesn’t cost you anything more than your time.

Now is the time to make full use of social media to stay in touch with your customers and reach new ones. People are increasingly scanning the social media platforms to keep up to date. That means they will take particular notice of useful, engaging content you may share, and are likely to remember your name, even if they have never used your services in the past.

 

4 – Take opportunities to help

One of the best forms of marketing is when you create goodwill. Marketing may not be foremost in people’s minds after the past year, but they will recall the good thing your company has done when they start to do business again.

 

5 – Be seen – improve your online presence

In the past, you may have devoted a significant part of your marketing budget to trade shows, exhibitions, and events. One thing that’s been noticeable since the lockdown is the number of companies that are making more use of digital marketing.

This is the perfect opportunity to consider your online presence. Do you need to update your website? Do you need to engage more directly with customers?

 

6 – Be found – improve website SEO

It’s all very well having an improved online presence, but that is worth little if people can’t find their way to your website. So make sure you work on your SEO too. This isn’t likely to lead to a short term sales boost, but it’s a wise long term strategy that will help keep you in the search results and keep your brand visible.

 

7 – Be prepared to do things differently

For some firms it’s business as usual, but for many it has been a time to adapt. For small businesses, being flexible and nimble and, where necessary, adapting to meet new customer needs, means that we can trade out of a downturn.

 

8 – Experiment, test and learn

What previously may have worked for you, may no longer continue to be as effective. If previously successful marketing currently lacks impact, reduce or stop this for a while and consider what new actions might be more relevant.

And measure everything. You need to know what is working and what is not, ensuring that your marketing activity is giving you the highest possible return for the energy and attention you put into it.

 

9 – Keep calm and carry on

Now is not the time to rest on your laurels. Now is the time to plan your future marketing and how you will come back stronger. Your customers are still out there, and even if they’re not buying from you right now, they still want and need to see you. Stay visible and maybe use this time to sketch out plans and think about what your business will look like next year, in 2 years, or 5 years from now.

 

10 – Engage!

We are always stronger when we join together. So cultivate new partnerships where you can share opportunities and resources that will support you and your business, and build bonds that will help you through any future crisis.

 

What can we do for you?

If you would like to connect with us to share your experiences, your concerns, your ideas, your plans for the future, or if you would just like some help or information about how to keep on marketing and stay visible, we’d love to hear from you.

Think! Associates Limited
Victoria House, Victoria Street, Taunton TA1 3FZ
+44 (0)1823 423212
studio@thinkassociates.co.uk

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

Four reasons expert bias could be hurting your brand

Four reasons expert bias could be hurting your brand

Four reasons expert bias could be hurting your brand

Why it doesn’t make sense to hire experts to help with your brand and then not take their advice.

For many owner-founders, who’ve worked tirelessly to launch a business from scratch, knowing their brand inside out is what keeps cash flowing. Being in the know means being in total control – not a problem per se, but when it comes to brand design and how that’s used across the business, guidance from others could be the advice you can’t afford to ignore. Here are four primary reasons why good creative advice matters to your business.

 

1 – Expert bias is tunnel vision by another name

Expert Bias or Expertise Bias. Call it what you want, but the effect is the same: you’re so knowledgeable about a certain subject or sector, you can’t see anyone else’s perspective. This is true of anyone, from any sector: the doctor who can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t look after their health, forgetting that the majority of the population have no medical training and seek the advice of doctors precisely for this reason. Similarly, a manufacturing firm are experts in their field but may well have little knowledge of the basics of PR and communications – we’ve seen famous examples of this, frustratingly even when a firm’s own PR teams are involved.

Tunnel vision accomplishes little, because it reduces the scope of potential so drastically. This is the reason why outside help is so important: an objective view that doesn’t share a sector bias with the companies they’re working with, thus bringing new and often abstract views to the table – often prompting brands to recognise tunnel vision they didn’t realise was there.

 

2 – Control stifles creative risk

Brands live and die on the people who rely on them, so unless your business offers a service that’s been all but made obsolete by the coronavirus pandemic, someone somewhere still wants what you have to offer. That’s something to treasure, and a pivot in marketing or product strategy could make your current customers value you even more, as well as giving you the edge over your competitors.

Remember, innovation isn’t just about designing a new product or changing your branding: a new content strategy, showing how customers are using your product or service during the crisis and encouraging them to provide and share their content with the world, can increase your visibility and importance in the market without costing the earth.

 

3 – A serious brand audit takes serious focus

As brand consultants and designers, we frequently work with clients who either have no idea what they want, or know exactly what they want. It’s what makes the job varied and exciting: collaborating with others to realise their dream, or having someone put their full trust in you to create something with total autonomy.

The latter is commonly the preference for a brand consultant, especially when it comes to creative fields like design and writing, undoubtedly because the implementation of strategic creative processes doesn’t work when it’s being blocked. One of the most common obstacles is business leaders refusing to sign off on creative ideas – perhaps because they don’t think it’ll work, or because the market won’t respond to it. Any good brand consultancy will do deep research before making any suggestions to ensure their ideas are as informed and, in essence, risk-free as possible. Of course, nobody can know whether even the most over-engineered branding will actually work – in the last five years alone, some of the world’s biggest brands have fallen victim to a misguided rebrand (see this blog post).

Conversely, sometimes it’s unengineered ideas that are the blockages: countless businesses spend millions on social media strategies because they think they should, not because it makes sense for the business, and then end up lamenting a poor return on investment. By stepping back and letting expert advice guide parts of the business strategy, you’re able to mitigate potential losses.

 

4 – Effective brand strategy should be unbiased

Brand consultancy has a broad reach, incorporating everything from commercial roadmaps and product design to video content and social media posts. It ties all these elements together into a cohesive strategy that embodies what the brand stands for. Crucially, this strategy is decided by the movements of the marketplace and the place of the client’s business within it, hinging on rationale that should be unbiased because it’s based on the demands of the consumer rather than the wants of the business. Of course, this isn’t to suggest that graphic designers don’t do their research, but the reality is that graphic design is a function rather than a process – most graphic designers don’t need to present in-depth analysis justifying their design decisions.

Expert bias collides with brand rationale when owners are so close to their business they can’t see it from an outside perspective. You wouldn’t paint the walls of your house orange before putting it on the market – even if you really, really love the colour orange – because data shows potential house buyers respond best to neutral palettes against which they can imagine their possessions. Here, the objective – to sell your house – trumps your desire to have orange walls, even if orange walls are on-trend. Of course, a house might be so desirable that it sells even with orange walls: brand consultants would examine why the house is so desirable regardless of wall colour and use those lessons to sell less desirable houses.

 

Expert help produces exceptional results

The world of branding is constantly changing, defined by the shifts in consumer demand and availability of resources. What your brand says about you isn’t limited to colours, shapes and textures but set deep in company values and propositions. Branding experts can help you identify the principles your business needs to attract and retain new customers, tying together key messaging with the words and visuals needed to tell your story.

Sometimes, the determination a founder needs to start a business is the same drive that makes them overlook the details needed to make a brand excel. Even though they know exactly how their business works, establishing the product or service as a valuable, sellable brand is a precise process that needs the support of experts who know what makes branding tick.

Think! Associates Limited
Victoria House, Victoria Street, Taunton TA1 3FZ
+44 (0)1823 423212
studio@thinkassociates.co.uk

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!