Orme Design Blog

Orme Design are based in Oxfordshire & Herefordshire and provide visual marketing solutions.

Branding your Business

Nick Orme - Thursday, June 04, 2015

A mere whiff of the word branding is enough to drive fear into the hearts of many business people. News stories come to mind of global corporations blowing the GDP of a third world country on redesigning their logo only to have it look just like the old one, or to change the colour of their store fronts because, “green is so ‘90s”. However, branding’s bad press is largely undeserved. In fact, it’s a vital element of any business.

Branding might sound a bit vague, but it’s not rocket science. The term originates from the days when farmers would brand their livestock with a red hot iron to let them and everyone else know which animals were theirs. In some ways not much has changed. Today businesses brand any visible element of their company so that their customers, partners and suppliers recognise them instantly, and half the hard work is already done. Think of any successful company and the chances are you’ll know what their logo looks like, what their corporate colours are, and probably a bit about what they stand for (or what they would like you to think they stand for, anyway). In today’s competitive environment, without a consistent brand it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to succeed.

So how do you go about building a brand that works? Here are 10 tips to help you.

Keep it simple. Focus on a small number of your key selling points and values and stick to them.

Be consistent. Make sure every aspect of your business has one look and feel.

Think about your customers. Make sure your branding matches what your customers are looking for.

Take control. A brand can lose its focus if too many people are involved. Assign a person or team to manage the brand.

Communicate your brand. Every time you get in touch with your customers, by post, email or face to face, make sure your branding is consistent.

Be honest. Branding can be useful for focusing on certain elements of your business but stay true to your core values.

Think beyond the logo. Branding is more than putting your logo on all your marketing materials (although this is important). Think about how your communications with your customers reflect your company and what it has to offer.

Be flexible. Your brand should be versatile enough to evolve with your business, while still being recognisable.

Involve employees. A brand only works if the whole company understands it and believes in it.

Live up to your brand. Every time you don’t, your brand becomes weaker.

Above all, make sure your brand reflects how you want your business to be perceived. If you know your company’s selling points and understand what it is your customers really want, you’re already halfway there. The rest comes down to good design.

Creating a Logo

Nick Orme - Friday, May 15, 2015

When it comes to building a strong brand for your business, getting your logo right is essential. A good logo should be both instantly recognisable and evoke the right associations and feelings in your stakeholders. Ideally, anyone looking at your logo for the first time should have a fair idea of what you do and what you stand for. It really is that integral to your brand.

So, you know you need to get it right. But where to start? One of the first things you need to do is to decide on a brand strategy (See the last entry of Better By Design). Unless you have a clear idea of your company’s core strengths and values, it will be virtually impossible to come up with a logo that represents your business accurately.

Once you have a firm idea of your brand, you need to find a logo that fits it. Keep it simple. Your logo should work in any medium - on your letterhead, brochures, website, corporate uniforms, company blimp… you get the idea. If you create a logo with elaborate images and patterns, it’s unlikely to look good when it’s been reduced to fit on your business card, for example. So, keeping it simple is important.

Carefully consider the fonts and colours you use. Some fonts will make you look corporate and serious, while others will carry a whiff of a homemade poster for the village fete. Likewise, colours can have associations too. For instance, orange can suggest value for money and budget services – think Easyjet or Happy Shopper – while dark colours can appear conservative and dependable – look at Marks & Spencers or British Airways. The colour, or colours, you choose for your logo should be in line with how you want people to feel about your company.

Finally, once you have your logo, keep control of it. It should be consistent throughout your business to present a unified and focussed message to you customers. If the Accounts department thinks it looks better in blue for the annual report, while Marketing choose pink for the website, you’re fighting a losing battle. Create guidelines for using the logo, and make sure everyone in the company knows what they are.

If you want to find out more about logo design, or would like to have your logo reviewed by our designers, please get in touch.

Direct Mail doesnt have to be junk

Nick Orme - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Direct mail, which is essentially promotional material such as letters, postcards or flyers sent through the post, can be an effective way to promote your business if done properly.

Over the last few years there has been a move towards email marketing rather than sending information through the post. This has a number of benefits, including saving you time and money licking and stamping envelopes, reducing your environmental impact, and ensuring your message goes directly to the intended recipient (without having to first negotiate the person who opens the post).

However, with the increasing volume of email traffic and the growing use of spam filters, email marketing does have its own problems. Many of us are now inundated with more emails than we can really cope with. More often than not, marketing messages are the first to be relegated to the trash.

So is posted direct mail the way forward? It can be, but only if it’s done intelligently. The merest whiff of junk mail and it is likely to end up in the nearest bin, so the first thing you need to ensure is that your sales material is relevant. It’s no good sending your latest men’s clothing catalogue to your female customers for example. At best you’ll look incompetent and at worst you’ll cause offense. Are you sending your messages to a targeted group of people or companies, or are you sending out thousands of flyers to names plucked from a directory and hoping for the best? If the answer is the latter, you need to have a re-think to get positive results.

Like most marketing initiatives, direct mail works most effectively if it is part of a larger integrated campaign. It can be a great way to drip feed information to your customers or prospects so that when they see an advert or promotion elsewhere, they are more likely to recognise it and be receptive to it.

Design can play a big part in making this work, as a consistent look and feel can really help to tie a campaign together. We have bags of experience in creating direct mail campaigns that really work, so if you’re planning a campaign, get in touch!

Communicating with your customers

Nick Orme - Sunday, February 15, 2015

Communicating effectively with your clients is vital, from the moment you begin to do business together. It’s well known that it takes much more time, effort and money to win new business than to develop your existing accounts, so keeping in close contact with your customers can help you save money as well as grow your business!

Okay, so you know you need to communicate, but how to go about it. Newsletters can be a great way to start, giving your customers regular updates on your products and services as well as the latest industry news. By far the biggest mistake companies make when putting together their newsletters is to forget to make it interesting. Okay, so you’ve built an extension on the warehouse and changed the colour of the blinds in reception, but are your customers really going to care? Put yourself in their shoes. You get a newsletter through the post or by email. What would you want to see in it? Try to make it interesting and exciting to receive.

From a design perspective, your newsletter should be in line with your corporate branding, with a consistent look and feel. Don’t try to cram too much in. You can create something much more readable by using big, high quality pictures and lots of white space. If you’re sending the newsletter by email, this is even more important. You have seconds to get their attention and make them want to read. Keep it short and keep it relevant!

As well as the tried and tested newsletter, there are so many other engaging ways to keep in contact with your customers today, from podcasts to online videos. The important thing is to use the right medium for what you want to achieve. There’s little point taking the time to record a podcast of your latest product release as who wants to listen to a sales pitch on the morning commute? Much better would be an industry update or a discussion between two experts on the future of your sector. Similarly, videos by their nature need to be visual. A clip of one of your team sat in the office reading from a script is unlikely to get noticed, but if you’re demonstrating how to use your latest product or acting out a scenario it can be very effective. Have fun with it, be creative and you’re more likely to get results.

As well as being able to help you put together an attractive and effective newsletter, we can help you experiment in new ways to keep at the forefront of your clients’ minds. If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch.

Building a Website

Nick Orme - Friday, January 23, 2015

Building a website can be a daunting task. Even if you’re after something simple, there is a lot to think about and many decisions that need to be made. Who is the website aimed at? What information will they want to know? What is the best way to categorise your products and services? What are the key messages you want to get across? How do you want visitors to your website to contact you?

It can be made easier by keeping a few things in mind. Your website is essentially your online shop window. You should put your best offers, products and services on the homepage so that potential customers are drawn in, and then provide more detailed information around the site for those that want to know more.

Just about any website should contain the following pages:

• Home – Your shop window. Just by glancing at your homepage, your prospects and customers should know what you do and why you’re different to the competition.
• About us – More information about your company for people that want to find out a bit more about you. With so many companies on the web it’s important to reassure potential clients that you’re established and trustworthy.
• Products and services – You can go into some depth here, with pages for specific products and services.
• Contact us – So that at any point your customers can call or email you to do business. After all, your website is really just a way for you to generate sales!

There are countless other types of pages that can be added and these will depend on the kind of organisation you have and what information you need to put online. The main thing is you make it easy for people to navigate around your site. You can do this using tabs and links, which act as virtual signposts around the site.

It’s vital that the design of your website is integrated with the look and feel of the rest of your business; that is, your signage, business cards, brochures, etc. That way, just by looking at the homepage, your customers will recognise you and make the right associations (value, quality, expertise, etc.).

It’s also important to use high quality images on the site. No matter how well structured your website is, if the images are of poor resolution your website will more than likely put more people off than it attracts! Conversely, high quality images have a professional feel that will help you stand out from the competition.

With more and more people using the web to research companies and buy products and services, it is essential to the success of your business that you get your website right. By having your site professionally built and investing in good design, you can let your website do a lot of the work for you!