“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”– COCO CHANEL
Restraint. It’s one of the hardest things to practice in a competitive and fast paced world. When it comes to branding, it’s a great principle to apply in order to elevate your brand in an authentic way. We’re continuing our Building a Brand series by highlighting how you can improve your brand by clarifying different elements.
Branding is challenging for financial brands. Past history, years of partnerships, the logo the founding brand president made (yeah… we see you). There is a lot of baggage brands collect over time and, odds are, there will be more things you need to remove and edit within your brand rather than add to it. There is a level of vulnerability in this process you have to embrace, but the outcome will be a clear brand story and a fresh new perspective.
Identify Your Hero Elements
It’s important to start by identifying the hero elements within your brand. These can be strategic elements such as your brand purpose, vision, or mission. It can also be your brand’s unique or competitive advantages. Brand hero elements can also be visual; the unique style of your buildings, your historic logo or maybe an identifying color or symbol.
There will be at least one existing element in your brand that deserves a spotlight.
Still stuck? Try asking some of these questions:
- Why should customers choose us over our competitors?
- What is iconic about our brand that makes us recognizable?
- If our brand could be known for one thing, what would we want it to be?
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Once you have identified your hero elements, determine what takes away from those elements and prevents them from being at the forefront of your story. Don’t underestimate the details here. This where it’s important to get honest and vulnerable in the process. Research, exploration, and conversations with key stakeholders are vital. Do you have too many conflicting messages or taglines? Maybe your brand is muddled visually with too many colors or patterns.
Whatever it is, it’s time to edit. A good reminder is when everything is bold, nothing is bold. When you’re saying ten different things, you’re not communicating anything. It’s a simple way to put restraint in practice. When you make everything the hero, nothing will stand out about your brand.
Not sure where to start? Consider these methods to evaluating certain areas of your brand:
- Ask ten employees to state your brand purpose or to explain your brand in three words. If it isn’t a consistent message across your team, there is an opportunity to clarify your brand voice, purpose, and mission – not by adding to it, but by simplifying it!
- Catalog all the colors you use in your brand. If you have more than two primary colors you use, remove some so those colors can shine. Adding in neutrals or shades can also help make your colors stand out.
Reinforce Your Heroes
Time to let your brand hero elements take center stage. Consistency is key here and can be achieved through reinforcement. Looking for ways to repeat subtle elements, words or visuals help to point back to your heroes and reinforces your brand.
Always remember, your brand is only going to be as strong as your execution. Employees play a vital part in building consistency and reinforcement throughout all aspects of your brand. That is why building a strong internal understanding of your brand will produce a strong and consistent external brand message.
Opportunities to reinforce your brand is often in the details. Don’t overlook these areas:
- Use elements in your logo such as line-weight, curves or size as inspiration for additional brand designs such as iconography, patterns, and illustration styles.
- Take keywords from your tagline and use them in product messaging and headings. The subtle insertion of your brand messaging creates authenticity and consistency.
The best way to start mapping out all these elements in a brand is by creating brand guidelines. Download our free brand guidelines template to get started now!