Brian Copeland elaborates on why brand is nothing to be feared by small businesses.

    For the last two decades, at least, the big worldwide marketing and design groups – like Ogilvy, Interbrand and WPP – have been espousing the virtues and powers of the brand and charging handsomely for their wisdom. The list of multi-million pound rebrands is as endless as the figures quoted for the work. The resulting feeling among the rest of the business world (outside the FTSE 250) is that branding is big bucks stuff. That your marketing budget needs to be as bloated as Mr Creosote to even consider uttering that fabled five-letter word.

    Branding for all

    You can almost feel the vibrations when marketing directors and business owners across the country shudder in fear when their new designer asks them for a copy of their ‘brand guidelines’. How could they ever afford to have such a weighty tome prepared for them? Surely to do so would require a grovelling trip to the bank manager with an embarrassing retreat as they are laughed from the building?

    I’m here to tell you that that fear is a load of rubbish. The fact is that branding shouldn’t cost the equivalent of an African dictator’s golf buggy. It is affordable, surprisingly affordable.

    "Seek out a graphic designer who has experience dealing with big brands but who now works for a small firm, or themselves."

    Here’s why. Brand strategists work hand in hand with graphic designers to build a brand. They do much of the initial thinking and the designer does the rest. He or she is then the one that pulls together these biblical guidelines. They are the ones who work on the colour relationships, the typefaces, the tonal variations, the uses in varying territories, the image style banks and so on. As such, they become strategists themselves, able to advise the client in the absence of their colleague on a whole host of related issues. But these minds don’t always stay at the big firms forever, they get restless and move on, or better still – set up on their own.

    The price is right

    Of course there is a reason the big agencies can charge such high fees. It’s because getting a brand right and applying it well across all customer channels can add noughts onto a company’s bottom line. Coca-Cola, for example, through consistently excellent application of its brand to its product, has grown to have a brand value of £70.4bn (source: Interbrand Best Global Brands Report 2010). That’s some serious numbers.

    So here’s the tip. Seek out a graphic designer who has experience dealing with big ‘brands’ but who now works for a small firm, or themselves. Then you can get all the big thinking for an affordable price. And remember, don’t fear the word; embrace it and your company will be much better off for the investment.

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