Standing out from the rest: How to create a unique brand for your business

Take a few moments to think about all of the major brands that you see on a daily basis. Unless you've taken steps to drastically reduce your intake of media, you'll probably be able to think of dozens. What's impressive, though, isn't the fact that an average individual can remember a number of different companies simply through brand recognition.

Rather, it's the fact that we're bombarded with an unbelievable amount of advertising material and end up forgetting most of it. People might see as many as 10,000 adverts in a single day, but it's highly doubtful that we remember very many of them at all.

Companies that want to ensure the success and staying power of their business need to make sure that they have a very unique brand image and a reason for customers to mentally separate them from all of the other various organisations that they might see spots for each and every day.

The importance of visual distinctiveness

A business' overall visual identity is of extreme importance, since it's what people will think of when they first think of a particular brand. Those who don't have a visually impressive look tend to fade so quickly into the background that they're often completely forgotten about by many consumers. You may remember what happened to Happy Shopper back in the early 2000s.

They dropped their original distinctive logo and adopted something that they felt was much more professional looking. Unfortunately, it was also a good bit more dull and shoppers weren't always sure whether they had a local Happy Shopper outlet in their local area. An overwhelming majority of stores have since rebranded.

Ironically, symbol group stores that trade under the Premier name certainly stand out from the background. The almost garish yellow and lavender signs you see at any Premier location can't be confused for anything else. Some Scottish locations feature that design on traditional waddle-and-daub buildings, which gives them a look that combines modern design with a bit of vintage fashion. Countless other retailers are now starting to copy this style.

Over the last ten years, we've seen any number of businesses attempt to stand out in the hopes of avoiding Happy Shopper's identity crisis. As the market for creative branding has grown, so has a new crop of companies likeDesignBro that offer both logo, brand identity and website design by world’s best 5% designers. These organisations work with professional pre-vetted freelance artists across the globe to produce unique graphic design concepts for their clients.

Startups and younger companies often have a tendency to miss out on this kind of creativity, which is somewhat ironic. Analysts believe that older firms might actually have more updated brand images, due in no small part to their constant wish to stay relevant in spite of a changing world. That's one of the reasons that you'll see firms suddenly come up with dramatically different signage and web design, though this is often unadvised as was the case with Happy Shopper.

Companies that do find a very unique visual style tend to have staying power, though, even if it's not the most colorful design. Think about the last time you saw a Harris + Hoole location. While it's sign might have been stark and minimal, that alone was probably enough to draw attention to it. Though the coffee chain never grew to as many locations as the original investors wanted it, the 39 that still remain seem to be doing strong. Their London-based ownership group, Caffè Nero, has over 1,000 independent locations of their own.

Branding has a lot to do with that. It isn't enough to have such a striking visual design language, however. You also need to incorporate it into the overall personality of your company as well.

Building a customer approach around your branding

Some of the most successful companies on the planet have been those that are able to put together a particular image and then built a personality around it. Perhaps some of the most dramatic examples are so-called lifestyle brands that sell their customers a supposed way of life and therefore connect with them. Countless fashion companies have long pioneered this kind of marketing approach.

You've probably noticed far more people wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the brands of skateboarding companies, motocross suppliers and various types of sporting goods than you've seen actually use these products. That's because all of these companies have been very good at promoting a certain lifestyle image in spite of the fact that a majority of their customers actually aren't involved in said lifestyle. Buying the products makes them feel as though they've been able to adopt at least some portion of the benefits that would have come from doing any of the things that these brands claim to represent.

Apple has been able to market itself this way more than any other face on the planet. While tech industry insiders might have spirited debates about the relative merits of different products, the fact remains that many of Apple's devices don't fill a niche that couldn't be filled by something from another manufacturer. However, they're able to charge a premium rate because of the fact that their retail locations espouse the same general design language that's promoted by the brand's image itself.

Nobody remembers bland and uninspired brands. If you're working on getting here, then make sure that you market what sort of emotions you want your brand to be associated with. Doing so these days means taking your efforts online.

Even fast-food chains like Wendy's and Nando's are working hard to constantly reinvent their public image online. Both companies have gone to great lengths to attract an online presence. At various times they've even tried to elicit more of an edgy style in the hopes of encouraging people to follow them. Naturally, they've had some help in doing so.

Professional social media management has become something of an inexact science that's practised by a diverse group of individuals who all focus on doing what they can to promote your brand even when you wouldn't otherwise be able to do so yourself. As your company grows, you'll more than likely need to spend an increasingly large percentage of your time working on promoting a certain image on social media.

Don't try to do it yourself. Eventually, you'll get to the point where you'd need to be authoring and posting so much content that one person would simply never be able to do so. While you don't necessarily need to hire a dedicated social media expert, you will want to delegate at least some portion of this work to somebody other than yourself.

Physical branding shouldn't be neglected either, especially among companies that hope to sell at least some portion of their products directly to consumers.

The importance of a visible logo

Considering that you probably look at countless logos on a daily basis, you more than likely ignore the vast majority of them. However, you'd still recognize those that are designed well. Even the seal of national agencies, like HM Revenue & Customs, are recognizable to the point that you couldn't mistake them for anything else.

This helps to alleviate the risk that someone might ever impersonate you while also ensuring that potential consumers know where to look when they're searching for the same experience, they got from you in the past. While there's a chance that you may wish to come up with your own logo, working with a commercial brand logo design service is normally your best bet.

If nothing else, then at least hire a freelance graphic artist to come up with a design that could be easily reproduced. Not everything has to be overengineered or look like it was put together by a fashion designer. When it was customary for new companies in the London metro to put together more of a punk image, these firms certainly didn't try to have the look of a bespoke tailor. However, they did still need to invest in large pieces of artwork that could then be shrunk down to put on all of their products.

Some entrepreneurs may think that they're entering into a market where physical brand images aren't all that important. While companies that focus mostly on B2B sales usually don't have to invest as much into branding as those that market directly to consumers, there's no reason to think that your visual style isn't important. Someone in a position to make a large purchasing decision is still going to look at your letterhead at some point. You'll want to be sure that whatever they see is flashy enough to help you make that sale.

Ancillary benefits might even be around the corner for those who market their brands as an experience more than a product line.

How to position your brand as an attractive experience

You probably don't see very many people driving a Lotus, but chances are that you've seen plenty wearing shirts with their famous logo on it. More than likely, not one of these people could even afford to buy a real Lotus, but the brand has so much prestige that they might subconsciously associate some of the same feelings with their shirts as they might a high-end car. Considering that the Lotus logo has been around since 1952, it's developed a certain degree of staying power.

Companies that have this level of prestige are able to bring in a tight second income as a result. Assuming that your firm is new, you might want to present yourself in a casual way, showcasing images of warm beaches, challenging mountains or whatever other locale someone might associate with your company. A few fashion brands have done so on Instagram, and they've been able to attract some non-traditional clients as a result. Even high-end artists likeMarko Stout have tapped into the zeitgeist of the time they work in to draw more feeling into their work.

In one case, a manager of a Cardiff-based firm made it look as though his company was selling fashions that were inspired by beachwear from the sunny surf spots of California. Note that not once did the individual in question lie. In fact, he never said anything. Rather, he simply shared images that had a certain aesthetic and potential consumers decided that they felt the lifestyle depicted in them really resonated with them.

Over time, athletic trainers have become popular for the same reason. People associate them with a sporty lifestyle, and marketers have built on that aesthetic. You'll want to be sure that your company can build on the same sort of image.

Building an aesthetic brand image like no other

Aesthetics have been a hot topic among those on social media as of late. While a great deal of posts related to the issue tend to be ironic or comedic, there's a good reason that people have taken such an interest in the issue. In a world where people are increasingly separated into different groups, a certain tribe mentality has taken hold.

Those who remember the original Shoegaze fad probably recall how fans wanted to adopt the aesthetic of their favorite artist but were normally unable to figure out just what that aesthetic was. It's not an easy decision to make, especially if you're a marketer who wants to create legitimate organic buzz and doesn't know how to push things in a certain direction.

Perhaps the best advice is to keep your aesthetics consistent without worrying too much about the message itself. Around 60-70 percent of consumers show some bias toward visual thinking. Some even think entirely in images. To reach these consumers, you'll want to feed them a diet of steady images even if the actual information you're giving them doesn't always match up.

Marketing experts have long promoted the idea that companies should identify some sort of fear or pain that their consumers have and provide them with a solution. While this is still sound advice, you may want to instead identify the kind of lifestyle they want and associate your brand image with it. That should help you to stand out from anyone else who might be giving them a similar selection of goods and services bundled with a different set of images and feelings.

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