Are you considering using design templates, ready-made logos or do-it-yourself websites to help position and market your business or organization? Don’t do it!
In an attempt to save money on necessary design assets, businesses and non-profits will often elect to purchase non-custom graphics instead of investing in tailored design solutions. The use of crowd-sourcing, design “contests”, and prowling online “superstores” of existing logos may be a popular avenue, but fast and cheap graphics do nothing to position and differentiate. In going with these cheaper options, two key elements of branding – positioning and differentiation – cannot be addressed. By not addressing these elements, the organization or business will suffer in the long run from lack of identity. So in the long run, is it worth it?
These two concepts – position and differentiation – are foundational to branding and marketing strategy, and should be addressed prior to commencing with any design development.
Position is essentially location and placement – it’s what your organization does. Every enterprise is positioned by what it does. For example, both World Vision and Compassion International are humanitarian organizations that focus on the welfare of children throughout the world and are funded through sponsors and donors. They are positionally the same. How do they differ? World Vision addresses the needs of the children, their families and their communities at large, while Compassion International focuses on individual children. Differentiation is what distinguishes one from another within the same category.
Your business or organization holds a position in the marketplace but approaches it differently than others in the same position. The design that helps a business establish its position also serves to differentiate it. In order to develop your brand assets, a designer needs to know not just what you do, but how you do it.
The design that helps a business establish its position also serves to differentiate it.
Three of my clients are financial planners. All three are in the business of helping people increase and manage their wealth, making them positionally the same. They differentiate in that one focuses on helping divorced women re-establish themselves financially, one helps retirees and the soon-to-retire plan for their futures, and the third focuses on education and analysis, acting as a trustworthy resource for individuals who need to make financial decisions. One design solution will not fit all three. Each requires their own brand assets to effectively market and communicate.
Include in your marketing strategy a description of your position and differentiation from your competitors. Five areas to address are:
- Your product or service description
- Your Audience
- Specific benefits you provide that set you apart from similar providers
- How you provide those benefits and services
- Why your audience should trust/rely on you as the source of those benefits and services.
Once you have these described and written, your designer has something to work with in developing effective graphic assets and guidelines for deploying them.
Branding is not simply having a logo, a website and a brochure or app. There needs to be cohesion, uniqueness and consistency between all graphic elements that represent an organization. Non-descript design that lacks distinction will do nothing to add distinction and value to an organization, but instead will only present a copy-cat image that cannot hold up among competitors.
Non-descript design that lacks distinction will do nothing to add distinction and value to an organization
Make the investment to stand out and properly differentiate. You need to look, act and feel different from others in your same position. Work directly with a graphic designer who will create unique graphic assets specifically . Don’t crowd source to unseen faces with questionable expertise and experience. Templates, copied and stolen designs will not enable you to do this. Spend $50 on a pair of shoes, but make a substantial investment in your logo and branding.