When you’re running a startup or small business, it can be frustrating to receive conflicting business advice – especially when it comes to your branding.
Should you build a personal brand or focus on branding your company? Should you listen to Designer A who thinks your logo should be black and white, or Designer B who has a more bright and flashy vision? How do you know what social media platform will be most effective?
Here are three guidelines to keep in mind when you receive opposing opinions about your branding:
1. Consider the source of the advice
Your best friend, wife, stepfather, hairdresser, and opinionated Uncle Carl might all be rooting for you to succeed… but unless these people are branding experts, do not ask them for branding advice.
They can still love you and be proud of your work. They can still share your social media posts and tell all their friends about your startup.
But at the end of the day, a confusing or unprofessional brand will sabotage your entire business – so it’s critical that you craft your brand identity alongside an expert rather than relying on the sea of amateur advice.
Many startups and entrepreneurs consult with a brand strategist to establish the basics of their brand colors, voice, logo, website, target customer profiles, and content strategy. To find the right brand strategist for you, research branding studios to see if they have examples of their past work to review. Some brand strategists share educational blog posts that will give you a sense of their style and process.
Note that if you ask 10 different branding experts for guidance, you will still find yourself with conflicting branding advice because everyone has a slightly different creative vision. Find one or two experts that feel like the right fit for your brand and move forward from there.
2. Refer to your brand attributes
First, define your brand attributes if you haven’t done so already. Brand attributes are a few words that describe the core essence of your brand, and these attributes will anchor and direct all of your branding decisions.
In any situation where you face conflicting branding advice, you can compare the opposing recommendations against your brand attributes to determine the next appropriate steps.
As an example: Let’s say your business is an art supply company targeted towards children, and three of your brand attributes are colorful, imaginative, and family-focused.
Your social media manager wants to experiment with posting classic photography of your products on your Instagram because that approach is working well for your competitor; however, your marketing director wants to focus more on cartoon-styled art and animation.
To resolve these different opinions, look at how each approach fits into your brand attributes. Cartoon-like animation would fit the brand attributes of colorful and imaginative, but not necessarily family-focused. Classic photography might fit the family-focused attribute if you take photos of families, but this approach would likely be too elegant for your target audience of kids, parents, and teachers.
Rather than product photography, you could consider utilizing vibrant photos of families laughing, making messes together, playing with chalk, using your products, or holding objects like balloons and confetti to fit your colorful and family-focused brand attributes. You could then add in some animations with cartoon elements to demonstrate the imaginative aspects of your company.
3. Test, tweak, and repeat.
Once you have the basics of your brand in place, you can have fun and experiment with your branding as long as you stay within your established brand guidelines.
If you aren’t sure what Facebook posts your audience likes best, test a few different formats and find out! Share a variety of product photos, customer testimonials, informational articles, memes, and behind-the-scenes content, and observe which posts receive the most engagement.
What subject lines entice the people on your list to open your emails? You can find out by A/B testing the exact same e-newsletter with two different subject lines and comparing their open rates.
The more you interact with your audience, the more clearly you will understand what they prefer – and their preferences will point you in the right direction if you’re receiving conflicting branding advice. As your audience and business offerings evolve, your brand will evolve alongside them.
At Aventive Studio, we can help you create a powerful brand that attracts your ideal customers and scales your business. Our expert team can guide you through the process of identifying your brand attributes, designing a remarkable visual identity, creating an effective content strategy, and more.
Drop us a line here to speak with our Creative Director and catapult your brand to the next level.