• SJ Huntley - My Office Fairy

A brand is.....

You may have noticed, The Office Fairy has recently had a makeover which I’m very excited about, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about branding.

Now, I am in no way a designer or a marketing guru but I think I get branding. In fact, I love it! It's fascinating and as I'm a bit of a neat freak having everything visually branded correctly to me, is very satisfying.

Everything and everyone seems to need a brand, but why is it so important?

Branding makes a product/person/organisation/item instantly recognisable. Your brand defines you and sets your business apart from your competitors. It tells your customers who you are and what you're about. This information is stored way down in your customers subconscious somewhere, to be recalled when your "brand" is seen or heard again.

From a marketing point of view, people tend to do business with entities they are familiar with, so getting your brand recognised is key to this. So that you can gain a competitive advantage, your brand needs to stand out and be recognised above all the others in a very crowded room (saturated market).

"Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room" - unknown

Whilst branding isn't just a logo, this is what customers will see and identify most frequently, Branding includes the way you answer your phone, how you conduct yourself and your after sales technique. All of these things leave an impression of your business on your customer – and that impression is your brand. That impression is what will ultimately increases your sales.

Branding isn't limited to being outward facing. I believe that when your internal documents for example, follow your brand guidelines, using the same fonts, colours and logo etc, your internal image is recognised and becomes significant to your employees. Branded templates present your consistent professional image, instilling pride and encouraging those positive behaviours that again, all form part of your brand.

I once worked in a department that had a terrible (and I mean terrible!) reputation throughout the rest of the organisation. One of the first things I did was brand EVERYTHING in sight, from file notes to policies. It helped shape the new perception of the department - that it was professional, cohesive and it meant business. This image was impressed upon team members, external customers and of course all the existing employees at all levels of the company. People started to take notice of my team, responding to us in a positive way and the brand was a contributing factor to their ongoing success. Of course, there was a whole host of other things in the mix that made that particular team successful, but branding was an important part of communicating who we were and gaining recognition.

It's relatively inexpensive to create branded templates for your business using your company logo for all your external and internal documents. Setting up templates in Word is not too difficult if you have the skills. Alternatively, you can employ the services of a VA to do this for you. If you don't have a logo you can either design one yourself, using a tool such as Canva (again, the right VA can do this for you), or you can hire a graphic designer who will get into the detail of your values and ethos, and design something that truly reflects who you are. Whichever option you choose - make sure the finished product makes you proud.

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