Indie business: When to look distinctive and when to fit in
Having a distinctive look and feel to your brand & communications will help to convey your unique selling point (if done well, of course). But being completely ‘out there’ can make your business, or your brand hard for people to understand and connect with. Finding the right balance between being unique and fitting in is essential.
It’s important to work out who you want to be distinctive from to get this bit right, as well as of course how & why you want to be distinctive from them. We do a ‘brand audit’ of a business’ competitors or near similar companies to get a snapshot of who else is out there and what their design is: Colours used? Motifs? Typefaces? Overall look, style, feel, atmosphere? This process gives you a digestible overview.
Then importantly you need to consider what’s at the core of your brand? What’s your brand’s personality? Comparing your own brand’s personality with the audit will tell you what is distinctive about your brand and how you can stand apart visually, and in ‘feel’ from others.
Fitting in, with the right crowd
However, there are some people you may want to fit in with. Let’s take an eco-brand as an easy example. I think most people could pick out an eco-brand quite easily off the shelf: green on the packaging, natural materials or pared-back packaging are some of the key symbols of being eco-friendly. That’s not to say this is always correct, but culturally we’ve built up these associations with eco-brands. A new independent eco-brand would be taking a big risk if they did not use a few of these references because they are so familiar with the consumer. So to some degree your brand & communications should be showing how you fit in with a certain type of business. The first step to this is to work out the conventions & symbols within your industry that convey the right messages about you.
Finding your balance
The hardest but most valuable part is to find a balance; when and where to be distinctive and when and where to fit it to communicate the right message to potential customers. This is where designers can really help. We’re used to playing with, and striking these balances. It can be down to subtleties so that these differences and similarities are expressed effectively.
To discuss how design can convey your business effectively, email me to arrange a free consultation.