When most of us think of brands, we think of logos and wordmarks: the golden arches of McDonald’s, for instance, or the iconic font of IBM. But brands aren’t just about colors and words and logos. There are other things at play: the shape of McDonald’s french fry containers, for instance, or the feel of their trays, or the look of their menus, their employee uniforms, and their restaurants themselves.
If you removed every golden M from the inside of a McDonald’s, it would still be immediately recognizable. Even if you changed the color scheme, it probably wouldn’t be that hard to tell where you were. That’s because every aspect of a McDonald’s restaurant is “on brand,” and because McDonald’s recognizes that a brand isn’t just a logo: it’s an experience, and it lives in everything that your customers see.
This is a lesson that you can take to heart when working on your own business. If you’re brand-savvy, you probably already have a logo, official colors, and a wordmark. But there are other ways to make your business more recognizable – and more a part of your customers’ lives and routines.
Branding in every medium
The sign out in front of your business (assuming you have a brick-and-mortar location) should have your name and logo, of course, but that’s not the only place where branding is important.
Great branding means getting everything just right: not just the logo but the colors, fonts, and image style, too. It also means getting all of those things right on every medium: not just on your sign but on your company’s website and social media pages, too. Consider outsourcing this work to a designer, so that you can be sure of getting pleasing and consistent results across all mediums.
The in-person experience
Then there’s the space that actually houses your business – your version of McDonald’s restuarants. Here, your brand encompasses not only your branded signage and products, but also the feel of the space. Do you hang photos on the wall, or oil paintings, or something? Look at online retailers like 1st Art Gallery for inspiration, and develop a style of decor that suits your existing brand and the customer experience you’re looking for. The things that hang on the wall – from large photos of fresh ingredients at fast food eateries to the busy wall-covering style of a TGI Fridays – define a brand.
Even if you don’t consciously remember off the top of your head what a given chain or business is hanging on their walls, you’d feel the difference if you walked in one day to find them all changed. They’re subtle, but important.
Finally, business owners with multiple locations will want to make sure that their locations match up stylistically, so that the brand remains consistent and identifiable to the customer.
If you recognize this broader definition of your company’s brand, you’ll be able to engineer a customer experience that spans web browsing, advertising, and in-person visits – creating a strong and recognizable brand for your business.