With the economy being what it is and many seeking to start their own businesses, we are seeing more and more instances of skimping on Branding. Sure, people are having logos or identities created – whether they are done professionally or built by the owner from one of the many free sites – but that is only half of it, at most. If you’re talking about a company with one or a few people running a consultancy or a production company that takes its name from something whimsical in your past, the following might not ring true. But, for any company that is consumer facing, requires the selling of a product or a service to businesses or consumers, or just has a large number of employees (or just a few working together from remote locations), the following is absolutely true:
Branding is not only for the benefit for those outside the company, it is essential to those working within. It keys everything from employee communication, team expectations, personality, work style and standards to strategy, growth, employee retention, client relations, and more.
Lack of clear branding is not just limited to new companies. What I perceive as two sides of this spectrum were seen at two sporting goods stores in Los Angeles. One of them is Sport Chalet – they’re known by the tag line of “We’ll Take You To The Limit” and Big 5. With Sport Chalet, there is consistency across the stores with space to move around, sections clearly marked, employees wearing the red Sports Chalet shirt and an attentive willingness to help out. At the Big 5s that I’ve been to recently, they are somewhat dark, cluttered with limited and messy inventory, and staf that was wearing non-descript clothing and hanging around chatting – it felt awkward for me to even ask a question about a product, or who I should even ask it of. I couldn’t even sense their corporate guideline as there is no real consistency across stores.
While the example above might over-simplify – and without real knowledge of internal communications at each – it leads me to believe the branding at Big 5 is not as solid as at Sports Chalet. Big 5 has been around for over 55 years with nearly 300 stores and if you do a search, you’ll see that they have loyal customers, so they must be doing something well enough to get by. But, it begs the question of how much more revenue they could generate if the branding was clearer.
Your logo/identity only gets you so far. Its the full, thoughtful Branding that will provide the solid foundation for growth and longevity both inside and out.