I’m often asked how I diagnose identities and brand health before I begin work with a client. Getting a quick impression isn’t as complex as some may think, there are a few key indicators to looks for.
This is the easy one. An identity is really just about the mechanics. Do you have the right pieces and do you use them consistently? If you’d like a basic idea of where you are at here’s what you can do:
- Put together a folder that contains a sample of documents that in some way touch your clients. Ex: invoices, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, business cards, promotional flyers, catalogues, promo/sales kits, product sheets, etcetera. Anything that when seen by a client or target audience connects them to you.
- Spread out the contents of your folder and check for the following:
- Is your logo the same on all the material? Shadowed on one and not on another, one is outlined another isn’t, or even two different logos from different eras.
- Do you use the same font in your formatting? Ex. same fonts for headers, same for body text in all the documents.
- Are your colours consistent? Certain colours are hard to reproduce, but if your blue looks green in one sample but purple in the other, it’s a hint that you don’t have established colours.
- Do you use your colours consistently? Ex. Your colours are used in graphs, headers all coloured the same, consistent graphics or lines in company colours, etcetera.
- Do your images match? This is harder to assess, but essentially you want them to look like they belong together. They can be tied together by colours, backgrouds, or subject matter. You want to avoid the cut and pasted look.
Brand is the impression an audience makes of you, so this is a little trickier to assess. What you want to do first is sit down and answer:
- Who is my target audience? Who do I want to attract?
(Note: People often make the mistake of being to general here. Be specific, the more specific the better. I for example look for growing companies around the 3-5 million dollar range that are family owned of have an admin person doing the marketing flyer that they find stressful. The admin person is usually valued therefore they are motivated to find support for them, while they have the money to pay my rates and see it as worth the value if it will give them a more professional appearance.)
- What do I promise to deliver? Tie in the emotional component in here as well. My flyer says ” We help you Stand Out at the show.” What does your service or product provide?
- How am I different from my competitors?
If you don’t have the ready answers for these questions, there’s a good chance that your brand message and target isn’t strong. I recommend solidifying the answers, it will give you direction on how to move forward.
If you have the questions answered, spread out your materials once again (particularly sales materials) and ask yourself:
- Would my materials attract my target audience, does it belong in the same arena they play in?
- Am I communicating what I promise to offer? Is it included?
- Am I presenting my unique selling features, benefits and differentiators in my materials?
This is by no means the full picture, a brand analysis goes further and includes all kinds of demographics and industry research. But on the visual end, a quick glance through this list should give you a pretty good indication of your brand health and if you should be looking at aligning your current business materials.