To begin, let's define "Brand Identity," which is the combination of consistent visual elements that are used in your marketing materials. A basic Brand Identity Kit consists of a logo, business card, letterhead, and envelope. It can be extended to include a website, brochure, folder, flyer, or any other professionally designed pieces.
Having a Brand Identity is incredibly important to your business's success. However, many business owners have some misconceptions about brand identities that can damage their businesses, and I've discussed those below:
My cousin can design my brand identity (logo, website, and marketing materials)
There are some very significant areas of your business that should be left to the professionals.
First of all, while your cousin may have been "great in art class," this doesn't mean that they have the knowledge and expertise required to create great graphic designs. Designing a logo, business card, or website is much different than painting a picture or making a collage. You must make a brand logo scalable, meaningful, and symbolic. See my article on the "9 Keys to an Effective Logo" for more information on what factors to consider when creating a great logo.
Second, by having a professional designer on your business marketing team, your projects will be a top priority. I have many potential clients who start their designs with a friend or relative, who are then "put on the back burner", and then have their project drag on for months. After much frustration, they come to me and are amazed at how quickly things are completed. As a professional, I make your projects the most important items on my to-do list.
Finally, would you trust a friend to do something really important requiring unique skills for your business? Make an important client presentation for you, or give a speech? You probably would not, unless they're a sales professional or a professional speaker. Would you trust a friend who's "good with math" to do your corporate taxes? If you wouldn't trust an amateur with an important business function, then why would you trust an amateur with your brand identity ? the key to your marketing success?
Designing a custom brand identity is too expensive
It's true that having your marketing materials designed is an expensive proposition. But, it may be even more expensive not having a high-quality, custom brand identity professionally designed ? in terms of lost business, lack of respect from your clients, not being taken seriously in business. The list continues.
A strong brand identity quickly pays for itself. For most businesses, if just a few ? two or three ? new clients call you over the course of your business because of the equity that your brand identity develops, this new business would pay for your logo and brand identity design package. New customers will contact you because they remember your logo, hold on to your business card, or are impressed by your brochure. It's likely that many more clients than the required few will contact you, and your business will grow from the (relatively) small initial investment in the brand identity.
Consider also that a brand identity is a sustainable expense. Once you've had a timeless logo and set of marketing materials designed, you can use them for years to come. And, once you have a strong logo, then creating consistent, targeted marketing pieces and programs is an easy addition to your existing system.
I don't need a brand identity
If you are a professional in business, you need a brand identity. You wouldn't imagine being in business without other important business essentials ? your own computer, perhaps, or a business name or bank account. A brand identity is another of these basic business essentials ? it's the central piece to the marketing and promoting of your business.
My professional experience has taught me that there is nothing that looks less professional than not having a professional brand identity. If you don't establish a clean, high-quality, and consistent look and feel to your materials, you'll have a much more difficult time gaining the trust of a potential client ? and signing them on to use your services. All of the Fortune 500 companies have a logo, and for a good reason ? it makes them look more professional. If you want to be perceived as offering a high-caliber service, you have to look polished and "put together."
About the Author
Erin Ferree, Founder and Lead Designer of elf design, is a brand identity and graphic
design expert. She has been helping small businesses grow with bold, clean and
effective logo and marketing material designs for over a decade. elf design offers
the comprehensive graphic and web design services of a large agency, with the one-
on-one, personalized attention of an independent design specialist. Erin works
closely in partnership with her clients to create designs that are visible, credible and
memorable ? and that tell their unique business stories in a clear and consistent
way. For more information about elf design, please visit:
Logo design at http://www.elf-design.com