Welcome to my monthly blog – where I will be sharing my thoughts and ideas, as well as hopefully educating you about my favourite topic – marketing!
As this is my first blog I thought I would introduce the basics of branding. As many of my customers are small businesses, it is vital that when they come to me for their packaging needs that they have a thorough understanding of their brand before they invest in designing and purchasing their packaging.
Branding – a (very) brief overview:
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers." 
A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, colour combination or slogan.
The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity—it affects the personality of a product, company or service. It is defined by a perception, good or bad, that your customers or prospects have about you.
10 basics of branding:
Before creating your brand it’s always a good idea to look at what other brands on your ‘level’ are doing. For example if you are a luxury product or service, you should start looking at the logos, slogans, images and colours other luxury brands are using. You will start to see a pattern of the fonts, language and colours used for example. Use a mood board if necessary. If on the other hand, your brand is targeted towards the discount/value market, you should look at what other successful discount brands are doing in their marketing efforts. The last thing you want to do, is to look expensive by creating a logo or branding that evokes luxury when you’re trying to attract bargain hunters!
When developing and maintaining a brand you need to consider:
1. Your Personality: your product / service’s personality that you want to portray to your audience (target market): if your product or service was a person, what personality would they have? Would they be young, fun and outrageous? Would they be smart, confident, or sophisticated and mature? If you are a family Lawyer for example, you would probably want your brand personality to be smart, mature and noble.
2. Your logo needs to invoke a particular feeling / idea to your target audience. As already discussed above, if you are a luxury product / service, you would have a completely different logo as a discount product / service would have. Think about the Versace logo compared to the Paul’s Warehouse logo. These companies are going after different target markets, and have therefore invested time and effort into their logo to symbolise what their customer can expect.
3. Your slogan / tag line should be very short in length, concise, meaningful and in line with your brand image. Think about how you explain your business to potential customers in a brief way. Then try to shorten it into a small sentence or even a few words. Use this on your business cards, website and other marketing materials along with your logo.
4. Your images: the images you use in your marketing communications (website, brochures, letterheads etc) should reflect the image you want to portray to your audience. Look at the pictures that brands like Gucci have on their website, compared to Payless Shoes. Both have great photographs of their products, but Gucci will use background images to create a luxury feel, whereas Payless shoes will show the product on a plain, practical background.
5. Messaging: your key messages and brand attributes- think about what your product or service’s unique selling point is or what your key message is.
6. Everything you do in business is branding! From how you answer your phone or write emails, your email signature to your staff uniforms. Think about Jetstar and how they behave on a flight compared to Qantas. I’ve been on flights where Jetstar flight attendants make jokes over the intercom about each other, the weather or the latest sporting achievement or failure whilst the guests are boarding the plane. They are smiling and jovial as people enter, and wear bright uniforms. On the other hand, Qantas staff act formal and pleasant. Their uniforms are classic, demure colours. You wouldn’t expect to see them horsing around as people take their seats!
7. Consistency: use the same colours, font, logo placement position and look all the time. Unless you embark on a brand re-launch, at all times, you should have the same look and feel to your brand. If you have differing logos or colours it can confuse your customers. If you meet a potential client at a networking event, and give over your bright red business card, with gold italic lettering and logo, if they then search for you online, they will be confused and even turn away from your site, thinking they are on the wrong page, if they land on your logo is different and if website if it is blue, with silver Times New Roman font for example.
8. Ensure your brand speaks to (and attracts) your audience / target market. If you have developed a new environmentally friendly soap – you would be best to go with eco-friendly packaging in earth colours with images or words that would attract your target market. There’s no use having a bright pink plastic packaging with fluoro writing that might attract 13 year olds. (Unless that is your target market!). Remember research is vital – you need to carry out research with people from your target market to find out which images, words or colours attract them.
9. Advertise via the appropriate vehicles for your brand. Make sure you fully understand why you are advertising in certain magazines / newspapers / websites and if they fit your brand personality. Always think about what ROI you would expect. Make sure you research who the audience is of the people that consume the magazine, newspaper or website and ensure it matches your target market.
10. Location: where you sell your product / or carry out your service is vital to brand imaging. A luxury sleepwear brand would not distribute their pyjamas in any shop in any suburb. They would only sell in upmarket boutiques in upmarket areas. On the other hand, a t-shirt brand targeting gothic teenagers would also need to research and sell in handpicked boutiques or shops selling similar wares in areas that are frequented by teenagers.
A packaging quote to finish off:
“It's important to realize that packaging always either has a negative or positive influence on the purchaser. A negative impression can detour a potential customer, just as a positive reaction can influence a customer to buy. A time to pay special attention to your packaging is when you are in the launch of a "new" brand.” Laura Lake
In next month’s blog, I will discuss how to create great packaging.
A special thanks to John Williams whose ideas have broadened my ideas and have made the bones for this blog: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/77408
American Marketing AssociationDictionary. Retrieved 2011-06-29. The Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) endorses this definition as part of its ongoing Common Language: Marketing Activities and Metrics Project.
Clara Cassidy, Founder and Marketing Manager of Custom Printed Bags & Boxes, is a marketing professional with years of experience in branding, promotions and events.