A business brand encompasses everything your company says to customers and potential customers. Put simply, it's how your business is being judged by anyone and everyone that comes across your business online or off.
You need a brand for many reasons, if nothing else just to separate your company from everyone else's in this huge global crowd we all work within nowadays. Local business you maybe but if you're online then your company is competing on a global stage.
Your brand is a perception. It will, if done right align everything you do with your "perfect" customers emotions. A hell of a lot of business owners think their brand is their logo. While a good logo is essential it isn't the brand as a whole. The brand is in every part of your business, from why you might receive complaints to the way your staff talk about the company outside of work.
Before you even think about designing a logo you should be looking at who your audience might be. Build a picture of the kind of person you want to attract to your business or buy your products. What age range, what sex, interests, careers might they have. dig deep then dig again until you are clear the kind of person they are.
Once you're armed with this information you can start deciding on how you might attract this demographic with a logo design, colours etc, also start thinking about the culture of you think would interest this demographic ie, fun, young, playful, friendly rather than traditional, high end, older? This is also a good place to consider positioning your business in the market place, dirt cheap, pile em high and sell fast or traditionally expensive quality at the top end? It's worth drawing out a good plan of all these things and keep going back to it. The plan doesn't have to be static, it can change and develop but it needs to keep you focused on the goal and who you're offering services/products to.
Graphic design, should you do it yourself or talk to a pro? Well, I'm a little biased here obviously but I really do suggest getting the brand mark (logo) right first time. Good design involves a hell of a lot more than most people think...having a computer with a desktop publishing software loaded does not make you a designer. I won't go into it deeply here but there are so many considerations to take in when designing even a few lines of copy.
Sometimes I see work that business owners have done that is really quite good but they usually have spent time learning about kerning, leading and colour theory, rarely do I see grids used or proper paid for typeface use, glyphs, or good typography and all this is just the text on a document or website! So, my advice is do what you are best at, and get in professionals to help with identity design. Even if it's just to take advice or perhaps the best way to tackle a problem.
So, use the logo and be consistent with typefaces and colour throughout your messages, print, website and premises signage. The experience your customer gets should be the same online while going through your website as it is when they walk through the door of your premises. Don't spend fortunes on your website making it all singing all dancing if your shop space is a dump and vice versa.
It can be yes, however, there are different levels for different budgets. In terms of skill you can usually find students still in college if money is tight or there are mid-weight and senior designers that commission bigger budgets. Another thing to be wary of is flash agency studios , nothing wrong with having a nice place to meet your designer but be aware that you are partly paying for that space which then brings you to freelance designers like me, we generally work from home offices or clients offices on bigger jobs but you are only ever paying for the time spent working on your jobs, not my lease on an office, my rates or anything else, just my experience and skills.
Branding jobs are best broken down into smaller pieces once the end vision is agreed. That way it gives a small business time to make money and not affect cashflow so much while improving, building or rebranding a brand idea.
So to round up this little inside glimpse about identity branding design why not have a look at every level of your business from a fresh pair of eyes, like a customer would and see if you would be happy with the way you serve clients.