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What can small businesses learn about branding from large corporations

You would think a longstanding brand like Wilko would be safe in the market, having graced our high streets for nearly 100 years. However, while many budget chains are doing well in our current climate, as consumers are searching for cheaper options, there is also the problem of mass competition. Even the big brands are finding the competition tougher than ever before. This shift means that to survive, brands need to change and adapt in order to be seen.

Obviously, there are lots of reasons behind the unfortunate demise of the high street favourite, but it does highlight the fact that when it comes to any business, how you position yourself is vital to success, and the more you can differentiate against the competition, the better success you’re likely to see. But differentiation has to be more than words. If you’re going to do it right, then it needs to infiltrate through every part of your business.

Brand Guidelines

Brand Guidelines are a great place to start here, and many businesses have these in place. But the problem is that they aren’t always shared effectively or adhered to enough. When you have a really strong brand you can afford to be more playful with it. Look at Barbie. The pink girly brand has managed to hit the big screens with a more adult appeal, but what the brand stands for hasn’t changed at all. Likewise, Mastercard slyly removed the word Mastercard from its logo and no one seemed to notice, so strong was its red and yellow circle icon.

But until you have that incredible brand recognition, you need to build awareness through consistency.

An example we often see is that, even with brand guidelines in place, companies will try to twist their brands to fit different materials. This is especially the case for workwear or branded merchandise.

If your brand colours are yellow, then having a yellow pen might seem like the best option. But the yellow is unlikely to be completely matched to your brand yellow, and if you then opt for the black and white version of your logo, your brand won’t be instantly recognisable to your customers. Unless you already have huge brand recognition, sticking to the core colours in your logo when you print it will improve your level of brand consistency and will help people to connect with it better.

With 55% of brand first impressions being visual, you have to make sure that your brand is always recognisable so people can connect with it. The sooner people connect with it, the sooner you’ll be earning that brand trust and selling more. Think of the Barbie pink again. Brand recognition is powerful.

Brand Up Everything

Whatever you are producing, if it’s going to be seen by clients then brand it up. This will really help to strengthen how your brand is recognised. Companies like Apple and Nike do this really well. Everything these brands touch is marked with their logo, and they’ve made sure it’s simple yet effective.

Do choose your products wisely though. Not all branded merchandise is right for every company. If you’re a budget brand, then you won’t want gold trimmed items and calligraphy fonts on bone china mugs. Equally, if you’re a high end brand, cheap, throw away plastic pens won’t send out the right message. Think about what you stand for and how you can use your marketing materials to support that position.

It’s the same with paper quality. A brochure that showcases expensive products shouldn’t be produced on flimsy paper, and it should probably have a nice gloss finish. But if you’re selling budget ranges then you need it to feel just that. Think of Aldi versus Waitrose. The whole experience and everything you touch mirrors the position of the companies. And this is deliberate as it helps customers to connect with what you do far more easily.

Because of how easy it is to share your brand digitally in our modern world, it ends up being a prime focus for many businesses. But don't overlook your offline materials too. People need to see your brand in as many places as possible before they will really get to know and like you, so make sure you share it on as many materials as possible. There are many cost effective offline solutions today that could offer a great return on investment. We really do mean it – brand up everything!

Next Steps

If you’re not sure if your marketing materials are really reflecting your brand position in the right way, or you’d like to explore some different options, we offer a free audit that can review your print and can look at how you could make savings or find improvements.

Whatever you’re producing, from stationery to branded materials to workwear, having one supplier who truly understands your brand and who can sort everything out for you offers massive benefits. At LG Davis, we offer our clients a one stop shop for all their branded and office requirements, and with one contact, one invoice and one supplier that has taken the time to get to know you and what you need, the results will always be better.

However we can help, please get in touch and let’s have a chat.


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