When I joined Gemini, I quickly learned there was one thing I loved most about this job and that is learning how brands communicate through design to their consumers and audiences. What’s more, I love how their story is laid out for everyone to see and is intrinsically linked to their branding.
Now, I don’t come from a branding background but I am a loyal follower of certain brands. When I looked at them and questioned why I will always choose one brand over another, it was because their story resonated with me and how it’s ingrained in the way it was built, their marketing strategies, their tone of voice and their ethos. I wanted to learn more about how brands tell their story through their design so I asked the experts.
I spoke with leaders in the industry who have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to branding, from Heads of Brand and Content, to Senior Branding Designers to an inspirational entrepreneur who is currently working on building her new brand’s identity, ready to be launched later this year.
From my little investigative adventure, it seems there are several core pillars that link storytelling and branding.
1) Who are you?
Paul Tidy is the brilliantly talented designer who re-branded Gemini People last year. As a business, our core values and goals had changed over the last 7 years and we needed to update how we are perceived by our candidates, clients and future Gemini employees. We needed to break down who we are, what we do, and where we want to go. Paul created an amazing brand with these goals in mind. Not just our look and feel but our tone of voice too. With a collaborative approach with our directors and marketing team, he built an identity that tells everyone what we are about, where we want to go and what is most important to us.
One of my favourite clients to work with is the DMA, who have recently gone through their own re-brand. I spoke with their Head of Brand and Content, Mike Giner to understand why the re-brand was needed in the first place. It was simple, their business had changed – not just the name but with the merging of their various brands, their wider business ambitions had evolved and their branding no longer reflected the core of who they are.
Having a consistent tone of voice and look and feel is key to a successful brand. Believe it or not, there are right and wrong ways to use a brand. When building a following, recognition and consistency are the most important things according to entrepreneur, Maria Nicolette. Figure out what it is you are trying to say and have those values at core of everything. Hammer the message home. Have something you are known for – prints, identifiable markers etc, a certain tone of voice or how you engage with your audience. Be the embodiment of your brand. Maria’s brand is all about empowering women, and this is reflective in her products, her look and feel and her collateral.
Both Mike and Paul spoke about the "right way to utilise your brand", ensuring that everyone involved is using it consistently. What's the point in having a brand book or identity if no one sticks to it? It makes your story inconsistent and gives mixed messages to your audience. The tone of voice is really important here and is often forgotten about when people think of branding - it's not just about how pretty you can be! Your brand voice is the same voice you tell stories with, the same one you communicate with and so it must be in line with your values and what you stand for. There are no arbitrary decisions in a well thought out re-brand!
Evaluate what has been successful, or unsuccessful, your brand perception, people’s experiences of it. Businesses; stories grow and their brand and identity need to reflect this. It’s a constant cycle of evaluating and learning how your brand is perceived in the market. Do people understand you? Do people still buy into your brand and most importantly, do they still get whatever message you are putting out there. If you evaluate this and any of these answers are no – back to the drawing board. Tweak it!
Questions and interactions from people who want to know more about you is a great way to understand how your brand/ re-brand is performing. Mike spoke about the feedback he and the team received when they launched the re-brand. From people commenting on the new slicker look, to people starting conversations about the new direction the business is heading is all great signs that engagement and perception is improving. People are getting it.
Businesses and brands are changing and evolving constantly and when looking at how to brand it you need to have something that is future proof, something that people can come back to and recognise you for you. When working with Paul, Gemini were conscious that we needed a brand that would grow with us. We have big plans and we needed something to reflect that. With our tagline “Where Talent Prospers”, we succinctly say what we are about – whether you are a candidate looking for the next step in your career, a client that is looking for the best talent to grow their team, or whether you are working in/ looking to join Gemini People itself (Do! Its fab)
This is especially the case for a start-up - Maria says the most important thing you can invest your money in is your brand. In a competitive start up market, she needs her brand to tell her new followers exactly who she is, where she is going and what journey she can take people on with her products.
Taking people along for the ride is key – make it an exciting journey, engage people in your story and you’ll find you have a brilliant brand, with a loyal following.