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  • Identity Branding for smaller companies: is it necessary?

    I've read several internet sources that swear that identity advertising is a waste of money. So, how important is brand recognition - and why?

    When I say "identity advertising," I mean branding and things like awareness campaigns.

    For example, say I'm a carpet cleaner. Would a brand help me get more business or is it just an expensive illusion that doesn't yield more business?

    What do you guys think?
    Give what you can't keep and keep what you can't lose. It sure takes the worry out of life.

  • #2
    I think it's one of the key factors...honestly, if you are flat out phenomenal and the rest of the competition simply blows, then yeah it's probably irrelevant. But how often is a sole business the dominant local empire? Chances are you've got competition, who may be just as good as you if not better or worse, depending on whether you're having a good day or bad day. You need to stand out, differentiate. I can't elaborate much further, I got another call, dammit.

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    • #3
      One word, Nike.

      Seriously though if you are a carpet cleaner and you are fighting for business with several other local carpet cleaners and you spend the money to have your logo advertised all over town and the other guys do not. You will most likely get more business and they will not. That is why having something like a logo that people will identify with you is very important.
      How about a chain pickerel in your bath tub?

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      • #4
        If I saw an ad or an envelope with a company name on it and either a Microsoft Clipart logo or just text as a logo, I might toss it out. However, if I saw an ad or envelope with a "real" logo on it I would look deeper into teh ad or open the envelope.

        A whole identity leads to a greater acceptance of a legit business. When you see a letterhead, envelope with a good looking logo on it, it will appear more professional, whether or not it really is a good company or not.

        A small company need not spend a fortune on an identity but should spend a worthwile amount. Compare it to any other part of the business, if you need to spend $5,000 on tools, $20,000 on a vehicle, $3,500 on computer and software, it makes sense to spend more than $50 on an identity but not spend $250,000 on the identity.

        Identity advertising where you only have a nice header, a great photo and your logo will not work well for many businesses, especially small and start-up ones. Usually star-up businesses are offering a product or service where you need to explain the product/service in some form of detail to get the idea of what the company has to offer. An ad for a Pepperdge Farm cookies might just show a cookie the logo and "Indulge yourself tonight." and it would work well because the consumers already have an idea about their cookies. they have already built a brand image where people associate rich/good tasting cookies with PF.

        hope that helps a bit. People judge a book and most things by their cover first.
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        • #5
          I think that a lot of it depends on the competition out there for similar types of companies. For example, someone mentioned Nike. Good example, there are tons of people making sneakers out there, but Nike took their brand and made it instantly recognizable and memorable with their branding and identity. Someone else mentioned carpet cleaning. Well, heck, in my phonebook, if I go to the entry for carpet cleaning, there are lots of entries. What distinguishes one from the other? Your recognition odds are probably higher with more niche industries like say, for example, Dead Fly Cremation Services, but if you're surrounded by lots of competition, whatever you can do to make your company stand out from all the rest is probably worth it.
          "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!" - Ricky Ricardo

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          • #6
            You want to be seen and remebered, therefore brand away!
            Purity and simplicity... and ubuntu.

            If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
            - Bishop Desmond Tutu

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            • #7
              put it this way... we've just moved into a new house and we've been under a deluge of flyers for local indian/italian/oriental food take aways... the ones we have stuck on our fridge are the ones with a nice, professional, clean, easy to navigate, design to them... all the others with clipart of chefs and 'zany' moped delivery people are in the bin. Maybe i shouldn't but i equate shitty flyers with shitty food in this instance.

              Depending on the company, part of my head will always think,'if they can't spend a bit of time and effort on presenting a good image for their business, what makes me think they will do the same for their service/product?'
              The beginning is always today.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by captain spanky
                ...Maybe i shouldn't but i equate shitty flyers with shitty food in this instance.

                Depending on the company, part of my head will always think,'if they can't spend a bit of time and effort on presenting a good image for their business, what makes me think they will do the same for their service/product?'
                Well put Spanky
                Purity and simplicity... and ubuntu.

                If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
                - Bishop Desmond Tutu

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by huckfinn
                  When I say "identity advertising," I mean branding and things like awareness campaigns.
                  I've had a lot of these same discussions here at work and have done endless hours of research to convince the owner of our company not to waste money on brand awareness and "identity advertising".

                  When you are a small business branding, awareness, identity campaigns are totally useless. This doesn't mean you don't put the money into having a good logo and well designed ads, business cards, etc but the kind of advertising you're talking about is totally useless for a small business.

                  Lets say you're company is called JohnnyCake and you sell purified water in those big containers to offices, homes, etc. & Let's say you drop all of your ad budget on getting just your logo (which mind you is a very good logo) on the side of your 5 delivery trucks. People aren't going to care or even know what your company does etc so they will immediately dismiss it. If you were Culligan and did the same thing it would make sense since you associate the brand Culligan with delicious water because of their reputation so seeing Culligan on a truck makes you aware of their brand .

                  As a small business you first need a fan base (strong list of clients) something about you that sets you apart that you can distinguish and relay to current and potential clients and to have everything they are seeing be visually pleasing and very attractive so that the design only enhances rather than takes away from their experience of taking the time to look at your ad, literature, business card, website, etc. Your logo alone won't do much if anything if your company isn't common knowledge to the majority of people.

                  Too many small business owners put their money in the wrong places when it comes to logos, design, advertising, marketing, etc. Their initial thoughts are "well if Culligan did it this way they must know what's going on because their company is so successful" they don't think through the fact that the company is 100 times bigger than they are and therefore require different marketing strategies.

                  I could continue this response and propably write a whole paper but I'll stop for now.
                  You see, whenever I start feeling sick, I just stop being sick and be awesome instead. True story.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by colonel5
                    When you are a small business branding, awareness, identity campaigns are totally useless.
                    That is such a small minded statement. It holds as much water as saying that accurate accounting or efficient operations don't matter until you are a big company. The fact of the matter is that is you want to be a big & successful business, you have to conduct business as such. You can't wait until you are successful and then start doing things right - you will never get there that way.
                    Marketing tips

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                    • #11
                      If you are content to be found by your customers by "luck of the draw" and the chance that they simply find you on their own... then branding is not necessary.

                      If you want to create a playing field where you are standing above your competition, the chance that you will be "found" by your customer is significantly better. Branding is creating that playing field.

                      There is no company large or small that cannot gain from being on the high ground of the playing field. Effective branding is not a waste of money if it accomplishes that goal.

                      Not all branding is effective. Ineffective branding is a waste of money and should be avoided. How do you know if you are creating effective branding? Now that takes some real thought...beyond design. That takes a different skill...marketing.

                      You can create the best identity in the world and if it is not marketed correctly, placed where it will create that playing field to your advantage, it will be insignificant and lose the ability to be effective as an identity. Effective branding is creating a market in your customer's mind for your identity to exist and standout from your competition. It has the ability to make your customer relate to you and "feel" they know you (good or bad). Effective branding will retain that aura whenever the customer encounters your identity.
                      Last edited by Vikia; 09-06-2006, 03:03 PM.
                      Viki Anderson Graphics & Design on Demand
                      Through the Looking Glass



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                      • #12
                        I think it depends. Do you want to stay a small company? Do you want to struggle? Wouldn't it be nice when someone thinks it's time to clean their carpets, that it's time to call you? But how are they going to think of you? They won't. Because you thought, gee it's stoopid and expensive to brand myself, that only works on tennis shoes and in the movies.

                        Now, if you had been working hard and spending the money it takes to get your name out there, consistently and with a "brand" that is professional (which makes people trust you, and not make you look like a fly by night operation), and what not,... then when people need carpets clean, they'll instantly think of you.

                        Quick test.

                        Think in one word quickly:

                        Fast food.
                        Shoes.
                        Car.

                        Did you think major operations? Say, McDonalds, Nike, Ford? You weren't thinking hole in the wall restaraunt, generic shoes, a kia?
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                        • #13
                          I work in the promotional products industry for my fulltime and they do alot of studies in branding and identity as you can imagine. I remeber reading a statistic that went something like a potential customer has to see your name 12 times before it sticks. I would imagine no company started out large and successful, but they sure would not have gotten that way without successful branding and advertising.
                          How about a chain pickerel in your bath tub?

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                          • #14
                            Just for clarification, I'm a copywriter with a little tiny bit of a design background. I'm asking this question because I want to give my small clients thoughtful advice on branding. I know it's not as simple as "This company's large, so they need branding. This company's small, so they don't." But I kinda wanted to understand what you guys thought (and "why") so I could understand the need for branding better. Your comments have been really helpful.
                            Give what you can't keep and keep what you can't lose. It sure takes the worry out of life.

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                            • #15
                              There are good points on both sides. No matter what size your company you must have a WRITTEN, THOUGHT OUT PLAN! Whether this plan is going to cost you $200 or $200,000 there needs to be a plan to get or brand or identity to the customer in a positive way. It's about telling your story. I REPEAT: "IT IS ABOUT TELLING YOUR STORY!" When a person opens up the yellowbook for the first time and sees four ads for carpet cleaners it is the story (or the feeling) you are selling to the customer, not the service. They know all four companies offer close to the same services, but it's the story, the feeling, the brand, the image that they are making a choice about (and paying for).
                              Less talkin, MORE ROCKIN!!!

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