10 Things to Know About Your Customers

As any successful business owner knows, the most important part of sustained business success is knowing your customers. No business can last long without its owner understanding the customers and what they want. After all, if a customer doesn’t feel appreciated, he or she isn’t going to stick around for long. Taking the current business world’s size into account, 100 competitors or more is a healthy number for a business.

With so many options available to consumers these days, it’s no longer enough for a business simply to offer the best product or service in its industry. It also has to connect with customers in a way that keeps them coming back consistently. No matter what you’re selling, you need to reach customers on their level. You need to know who they are, what matters to them and how your brand fits into that puzzle.

The best way to do that is by asking the right questions and constantly staying abreast of who your customers are and what they’re about. Here are a few things every business should know about their customer base.

1. How Old is Your Customer?

This might seem to be one of the most basic things to know about your customers, but it’s still worth saying because it’s an important part of developing your strategy to keep and obtain customers. If you don’t have a general idea of the age of your potential customer, you’re going to have a hard time knowing where you need to shift your advertising focus and strategy.

For example, a product typically used by people in their mid-50s would probably do very well if advertised in AARP Magazine, which is heavily circulated and enjoyed by the demographic you seek. But a product that’s mainly used by people in their late 20s wouldn’t find much of a market in AARP Magazine, making an advertising campaign there a complete waste of money.

The best way to find out the age of your customer is to conduct trustworthy research on your product and determine the types of people most likely to buy and engage with it. From there, you can craft your message accordingly to meet their needs.

2. Why Do They Buy Your Product or Service?

Consumers need to have a reason for what they purchase. Sometimes, the need is obvious, such as paying an HVAC repairman when the existing HVAC goes down, or buying new baking sheets to make cookies. Other times, the need isn’t quite as straightforward, but the product somehow appeals to something in the minds of customers and triggered their desires to own it. Decorative or specialty products, such as a welcome sign, fall into this category.

In some cases, their desire isn’t just to make their lives better with your product, but also to contribute to your business because they share your values. A great example is when a customer buys Girl Scout Cookies, which cost more than most cookies in the grocery store. The customer knows that the money from their purchase goes toward benefiting girls around the world; the money is going to a cause they care about.

In all these cases, the customer has decided that for whatever reason, they need to purchase the product in question, because it will make their lives better in some way. What you have to do is figure out how your product improves the lives of your customers and emphasize its benefits in a way that speaks to their needs. Once you figure out why someone chooses to purchase your product, you can decide whether to emphasize the rational or emotional benefits (logos vs. pathos) of buying from you, depending on what your research shows you.

3. How Did They Find Your Business?

In one early episode of Family Guy, when discussing his plan to help the struggling Quahog Theater attract customers, Peter Griffin pulls out the most simple strategy in history. “I’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and that’s like 10 people right there.”

Peter’s math might have been off, but for once, his reasoning skills were right on the money. People like to talk about things that make their lives better. Chances are, if your product has gone a long way toward improving someone’s life, that person is going to tell someone else, who might then spread the word to their own social circle and create even more chances for your business to gain revenue.

Or perhaps your business gets its customers through a robust social media campaign that turns likes and clicks into genuine leads, or maybe customers find you because you’ve got a strong internet presence and great SEO skills. There are many different ways for you to reach potential customers, and you’ve got to find out which ways reached the majority of your customers. Whatever the answer is, that’s where more of your customers are, and that’s where you can increase your market and your brand loyalty.

4. What Do They Like About Your Company?

As brands and companies start to establish themselves and their personality traits, they’re discovering that consumers like to feel good about the products they’re purchasing. For some customers, that means purchasing products that seem cool or popular and make them feel like they stand out from the crowd. These consumers value the benefits of your product and how it helps them live their lives, so their focus will likely be limited to the product itself.

Other customers might take a view of the social scene in the world and want to support companies that share their values. These customers might not view your product as being far superior to similar products, but they buy your product anyway because they like what you stand for and want to support you. These consumers are likely to be very brand-loyal because they view your company as more than just the purchased product. Instead, they support what you represent, and they’re going to do everything they can to help you succeed because they share your values. That’s a great situation for any business owner to have.

Whatever the reason your customers choose to purchase from you, you need to emphasize when crafting your marketing message. Remember, when one customer finds your company to be one that they can trust, it bodes well for developing future interactions with customers of the same mindset.

5. What Do They Expect From Your Brand?

Consumers don’t like to be lied to in any situation. Even when your brand is upfront and honest about who and what it is, consumers will depart if they feel that they’ve not received what they were promised.

A great example is the case of Nissan Computers. If you visit Nissan.com, you’re not going to find the car company’s stylish website or its fleet of vehicles. Instead, you find a bare-bones website with a few buttons related to computer services. That’s because nissan.com isn’t owned by the car company, but by Uzi Nissan, the owner of Nissan Computers. However, this can be a major backfire for Nissan Computers, because many of its visitors come in looking for the more famous car company. When they don’t get it, they’re often gone and they don’t come back.

That’s a bit of an extreme example, but it emphasizes the larger point: Customers come in with expectations, and if those expectations aren’t met, they’re going to go elsewhere. Whether your brand is built on luxury and fails to make consumers feel like they’re getting the best in the business or simply doesn’t live up to its tagline, your brand is often acknowledged as an unwritten contract with the customer to meet a certain expectation. When you fall short, your entire relationship with your customer can fall into a precarious position, and it can make them look elsewhere.

6. What Do They Think of Your Competition?

No business is without competitors for long, and that’s especially true in this day and age, when consumers can easily purchase products from across the country or even from around the globe. In order to stay a step ahead of your competition, you have to know what your customers think about the other options on the market.

The best way to stand out is to offer products whose quality outshines that of your competition.  Is there something that your product has that makes consumers gravitate toward it, or does their product have a feature that yours needs to add? It’s a good idea to keep your ear to the ground and constantly monitor what your competitors are doing to give yourself as much of an advantage over them as possible.

You’ll also want to consider the values of your competitors and how you differ from them. Perhaps you’re able to get customers to pay slightly higher prices for your products because you use a vendor located an hour away, while your competition uses a supplier who’s cheaper but in another state. Or maybe you supported a local charity that touches a lot of lives in your community. These things matter to consumers, and often mean more than you think. If you have a way to separate yourself from the competition with your community work, that’s not something to overlook.

7. Where Does Your Customer Like to Buy?

E-commerce is growing every year. As millennials and Generation Z gain a greater share of the market, the market will have to adjust to their expectations. Millennials now do 60 percent of their shopping online, and that number is likely to keep increasing as they continue to become the driving force in the market.

You need to make sure that you’re offering your customers as many options as possible to purchase your product. Is your website set up to maximize sales, or is it just a place to get information? If you’re seeking millennial buyers, you would be wise to make sure that your site is set up to turn leads into sales. Even if millennials aren’t your target market, older generations are becoming more comfortable with buying online and getting a product shipped to them, and businesses who only offer one way to buy risk getting left behind.

8. How Does Your Customer Like to Buy?

Millennials might prefer buying online with their laptops, but Generation Z has grown up on their mobile phones and has gotten used to doing just about everything with their phones. Send money to a friend, pay for dinner, check their bank statement: it’s all right there on their phone, and it’s always been that way for as long as they’ve had any purchasing power.

When designing your site to maximize web traffic and convert it into sales, you need to remember your mobile site as well. The mobile version of a website is often drastically different from the computer version, and a mobile site that’s commerce-friendly goes a long way toward sales.

You’ll also want to consider alternative forms of payment. Gen Z and millennials have grown up with PayPal, Venmo and other electronic payment options, and offering these services can make it even easier for these customers to make a purchase when they spot a product they want on your site.

9. How Much Does Your Customer Like to Buy?

Some products are designed to be purchased one at a time and last for a while, while others are meant to be bought in packs or purchased on a fairly regular basis. As a business, you need to understand how much a customer is likely to buy so that you can set your bottom line and price point accordingly. If your goal is to make $10,000 in profit each month, you need to figure out how to allocate your resources and set your prices to make that possible. If you don’t know how much of your product your customer likes to buy at once, that work becomes nothing more than an uneducated guess, possibly the worst thing you can do in business.

10. Why Don’t They Buy More?

There could be a number of reasons why your customers buy only a certain amount of your product at any given time. If you sell the kind of product that only needs to be purchased once, that’s not a worry. But if your product is designed to be bought repeatedly, you need to find out why your customers aren’t buying as much of it as you’d like.

Maybe the price point is simply too high to justify a regular purchase. In that case, you can figure out how you can your manufacturing costs lowered. Or perhaps your website isn’t set up to generate sales. That’s a problem that you can have your team address, and in doing so, you can make your company even better.

In all cases, your customers are the lifeblood of your business, and without them, you don’t have much of a business for very long. The best way to keep them around is to listen to them and try to understand them as best as you can. By getting to know who your customers are and what they think, you’ll put yourself ahead of the competition and set yourself up for real success.

Defining Your Target Audience

Target Audience is a well-worn concept and a commonly cited reason for a rebrand. It’s also the foundation for your brand to create its position, which helps guide decision-making going forward.

Why Is Defining Your Target Audience Important?

How could it not be? Your target audience is central to everything you do, say, and create. You have to understand who you’re speaking to in order to make your message resonate or even matter.

If you’re not doing that, or not being specific enough, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to really connect with the people who will not only buy your product but participate in your brand’s idea, development, and overall journey.

This isn’t limited to your buying public, either: placing yourself in a landscape of other companies helps you create valuable partnerships.

How Do You Define Your Target Audience?

Defining target audience is really about starting somewhere, observing, and reporting than it is about getting it perfect the first time around. Your audience will inevitably evolve. You might realize you’ve been trying to target the wrong people. You might find you’re using the wrong language to speak to them.

In other words, there’s no rigid way of getting this “right”. Your approach needs to be nimble enough to adapt when you take steps to assess.

How you decide to assess can be based on metrics like social media data and analytics. But it should also reflect your company’s stated goals and what really drives you. For instance, you may have started as a young company working with a much younger audience, but as you grow and change you might find your audience grows and changes with you. Their interests and passions will likely evolve, too.

Our Audience

Our own target audience has undergone a change to reflect our evolution as a company. Where we once engaged with entrepreneurs broadly, we’re making an effort to narrow our focus to entrepreneurs in certain industries. This will allow us to better engage with our own specific niche – something we’ve been working toward over the last few years.

Articulating Our Brand Values

With a rebrand comes a reimagining of Brand Values. Along with Brand Promise, Brand Attributes, Brand Voice, Value Propositions, and other characteristics, your organization’s values guide how your brand behaves, the goals it sets, and how you work.

What Are Brand Values?

Basically, Brand Values are guiding principles of behavior that deliver on your brand.  You’ll often hear conceptual language like transparency, humanity, or accessibility. These concepts are then illustrated with more language expanding on what these specific principles mean to their brand and why they were chosen.

We’ve seen a trend of brands placing their values front and center. For example, Everlane provides their values on their website as part of their overall presence.

Other brands typically use Brand Values to guide internal organizational culture, create policy, make hiring decisions, measure employee performance, and define the brand experience for customers. Brand Values are considered fundamental to the brand’s DNA. In a competitive marketplace, they help companies retain talent, make tough decisions, and allocate resources.

In other words, if you value everything, you value nothing.

Our Brand Values

In redefining our Brand Promise, it became clear we needed to realign our values to match. Shifting our focus from “Performance Fueled by Creativity” to “Simplify + Elevate” means our own DNA needs to shift. In order to deliver on the new promise, we needed to refresh our own fundamental language.

With this in mind, we arrived at three guiding principles of behavior: clarityrelationships, and kaizen. 

Clarity

Clarity is pretty, well, clear for a brand that promises to simplify. But clarity as a concept for BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE also imagines the client’s response to finally seeing their own vision clearly. Of course, we want to be clear and easy to understand. Because we want business owners to take action when they’re clear on the direction they’re heading. In addition, we also want to inspire that specific a-ha moment for our clients when they are crystal clear on who they are…and who they’re not.

Relationships

Every business values relationships, but how does BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE value relationships? By placing this as part of the value system that defines us, we make people and relationships central to everything we do. We want to work with you, not over or under. We don’t just take on more projects for the sake of it. We value long-term, collaborative relationships in which it’s a win-win for both parties. We are truly for the people — both in the sense of accessibility and in elevating those we work with through thriving connections.

Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning continuous improvement within business culture and practice. It’s a concept that is a sum of its parts, not a static condition. We value incremental change at every step as a commitment to overall improvement. If you’re not continually growing, your business will suffer. Simply by the very fact we’re evolving our brand is an indicator that we value continuous improvement. The market changes. People change. And, our business (and yours) will also change.

If you don’t have Brand Values guiding your internal culture and the brand experience for your clients or customers, it might be time to get clear on them. Of course, if you need help uncovering your Brand Values, schedule a call with our team today to explore how we can help.

Rebranding: the “Should you / Shouldn’t you” guide

Rebranding can revitalize a company… But should you do it?

 

Have you ever thought about rebranding?

If you’re like many business owners, the answer is a resounding yes.

After all, in the face of stagnant sales, incessant competition and changing markets, the idea of becoming a new, “different” company can be alluring.

But rebranding isn’t a walk in the park—and if you do it wrong, the consequences to your business can be dire.

Should you consider rebranding?

Here are some scenarios where overhauling your brand might make sense.

  • New product. If you’ve recently launched a new product or service that has the potential to confuse your customers, you might think about rebranding that part of the business. We don’t often recommend this approach, though. At BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE, we feel it makes sense most of the time to create one Master Brand and then roll out sub-brands underneath it.
  • New mission. A shift in your most basic reason for being definitely merits a rebranding conversation. For example, if you’ve been providing services to clients and now want to focus exclusively on teaching them, a rebrand is probably in order.
  • New image. If you’ve had a PR disaster—or an actual one—and you’re trying to distance yourself from it, rebranding may help you achieve your goal. This is difficult to do though, especially in a world where the internet can help even the least savvy customers see through your efforts. Witness tobacco giant Philip Morris and their attempt to rebrand as Altria.
  • New customers. If you’ve managed to attract a new market—whether by choice or by accident—rebranding may make sense. In the early 2000s, for example, Andersen Consulting split from its parent because its best clients wanted only consulting services. It then rebranded to Accenture to further distance itself from the accounting giant. (Good thing, too, as Andersen collapsed over its ties to Enron.)
  • New needs from current customers. The Canadian arm of Radio Shack, after being bought out in a consumer electronics deal, initially rebranded as The Source by Circuit City. But when its new owner began to falter, it became simply The Source—a move whose timing couldn’t have been better. Circuits and radios are things of the past, and the new name suggests that no matter where electronics go in the future, The Source will be there to provide that tech to its customers. (And both Circuit City and Radio Shack are now distant memories.)
  • New competition. To say things were different in the 90s than they were in the 50s is an understatement. But through that whole time, Kentucky Fried Chicken had the word “fried” right there in its name. 1991 saw a move to KFC, however, in a move away from that F-word. Too many healthy restaurants were giving the chicken giant a run for its money—so the move made sense. (Unfortunately, they handled the rebranding poorly; rumors persist to this day that they switched to KFC because they were no longer legally allowed to claim their product was “chicken.”)

When shouldn’t you rebrand?

Occasionally, businesses undertake a rebranding for the wrong reasons. Here are three.

  • New management. If all you’ve changed about your company is the management group—and the same problems you’ve always had continue to exist—your rebranding will never work.
  • New whims. Department store Macy’s lost a staggering amount of brand equity when it moved to a “one-brand” policy and renamed iconic brands like Chicago’s Marshall Field’s and Memphis’ Goldsmith’s. At the time, the decision was seen as foolish; Macy’s seemed to have recovered by the beginning of this decade but is struggling again.
  • New internal issues. If you’ve identified that you’re having trouble connecting with your market, is that a branding problem? Or is it because your marketing is horrible, or your customer service is poor, or your services aren’t delivered well? Be careful—not every issue is one that rebranding can solve.

Takeaway

In a perfect world, your competition would never change their strategy, your customers would stay loyal forever, and you’d see exponential growth year after year. This is obviously not the case—and while you don’t want to be too hasty with a rebranding exercise, don’t discount the power of reinventing your brand, either.

 

 

Is the latest Uber rebranding enough?

If you follow branding trends, you undoubtedly heard about the most recent Uber rebranding. They’ve replaced 2016’s odd, blue circuit board pattern with a simple, clean font, and in doing so, invited the opinion of every branding professional, designer, and enthusiast.
According to Fast Company, one of Wolff Olins’ primary goals was legibility. The old logo had caused problems both being viewed at higher rates of speed and distance and across languages. They wanted something clear and visible. They developed a typeface for the brand with this in mind. It’s worth reading into the thought that went into its creation with respect for these points.
But it’s difficult to see this rebrand as separate from the controversy the company is already well-known for. From “Boober” to spying on Beyoncè, to Trump ties, to sexual harassment, to a Google lawsuit, to Travis Kalanick, Uber has a significant reputation problem.
The question is, is yet another Uber rebranding—this rebranding—enough to help Uber move past it’s short, dramatic life? Maybe.

It’s a strategy.

It may appear like simply a bid to shed an old persona when the old one no longer serves, but there is a method to it.

“We tried to kick out all the micro-moments where trust was eroded,” says Forest Young, Creative Director at Wolff Olins, the agency who did the rebrand. This meant every moment where a rider couldn’t reconcile the old, atomic logo with the vehicle in front of them had to go. They had to re-create trust with customers in a tangible way, not from a high tower.

It’s not immune to criticism.

Our own creative team had mixed reactions. Some felt the changes were too safe and even safe to the point of disingenuous.  “The logo seems to get safer as their reputation gets worse”, one person said. “Design saves, but not if your vision and purpose are polluted by your actions” was another.  Some felt exasperation over the frequency leading to customer confusion, and some were disappointed they abandoned the old design. At the end of the day, it’s indisputably well-done. But whether or not it changes minds or eases suspicion is hard to predict.
Uber has an uphill challenge to undo the damage to their reputation. This rebrand may represent a step in that direction. It’s certainly clearer, less confusing, and more visible. But at the same time, rebranding too frequently may raise questions of credibility and instability.

Our 7 most popular branding blog posts

Fonts, mood boards, touchpoints, attributes: branding can be a complex process. If you’re new to branding, we’ve put together a list of some of our most popular branding blogs from the recent past to help you on your way.

How to make a mood board

Mood boards can be elusive. Most people more or less understand what they are, but are less clear on why they need one and what they can look forward to in the process. This post explains what a mood board is and what it does, when you should make a mood board, and how you can do so. This is a great starting point for those who are looking to crystallize the “mood” of their brand and a reference for those who are starting the Visual Identity process.

How to find a font that matches your personality

This is a fun, visual post breaking down 23 fonts you may or may not know. Fonts are critical to brand identity, and you need to know what kind of message your fonts might send. If you want to create an effective brand, you need to create a cohesive, comprehensive experience for your audience. Knowing fonts is a key element.

Building a brand of affordable luxury

This post both explains the concept of affordable luxury and teaches you how to achieve it. Michael Kors, Tory Burch, and other fashion names used the concept to propel them toward massive profit from slumping sales. We detail some of the key takeaways you can use in your own branding and brand messaging.

Branding vs Design

These two concepts can be easily confused, especially if neither is what you do. This post helps to break down the finer distinctions between the two. Think of the brand strategist as the architect of the brand, and the designer as the contractor who puts that design into physical being. Learn more about why it matters to you.

Are you using your archetype?

Jungian archetypes come up frequently when we talk about branding. They help provide a framework for bringing your brand to visually, in writing, and in presence. They’re an essential part of branding, plus… they’re fun!

Here a touchpoint, there a touchpoint, everywhere a touchpoint!

A branding touchpoint is more or less exactly what it sounds like: the points where you come in contact with your target audience. This post outlines strategies for both making those points happen, and what to do at those points.

Brand Attributes

This post has everything to do with the perception of quality. Brands of similar or equal value need to set up ways of differentiating themselves, or risk being seen as the inferior product despite the raw quality. Learn more about what you can do to create a perception of high quality.

Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!

“Does my brand need work?” Five simple ways to tell.

Are you feeling like you’re surrounded by support and encouragement for your brand, but can’t help but feel like something’s… off? Are you waking up sweating from a dead sleep asking yourself… Is my brand actually terrible? Does my brand need work?

How to tell.

Sure, anybody in branding can and probably will tell you where your brand could use some work. It’s their job, after all. But if you’re wondering “does my brand need work” and want to do some testing on your own, here are six simple ways to tell:

  1. Put it on a t-shirt and give them out to all your friends. If they wear it, you’re a winner, baby! If they don’t… it’s time to take a long hard look at what is going on with the Audit from BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE.
  2. Make a new friend at the airport, but keep your career mysterious. Email them the next day with links to your website, and a few of your competitors, and ask them which one they would choose and why.
  3. Wrap your car in your brand’s logo and marketing message, almost like it is a bus and then go pick up your kids, your neighbors’ kids, nieces and nephews (anybody young enough to be pretty unfiltered) from school and see how embarrassed they are.
  4. The cell phone case is the modern billboard, so get yourself a case custom-made with your branding. If you’re feeling brave, leave it somewhere “by accident” and see what happens when someone picks it up. Do they keep the case? Score! (Disclaimer: don’t actually do this.)
  5. Bake and decorate cookies using your branding and bring them to the next dinner or event you’re attending. See how many are leftover at the end. If you’re going home with a plateful of cookies (or trying to hand them off and not getting any takers), that’s a sign.

Make them love you!

The bottom line is that your brand should be making people want to be seen holding a mug, wearing a shirt, and singing your praises. Children should smile. Nobody should cringe.

So if you’re imagining any of these scenarios where your branding is creating avoidance and not advocacy, the first step to branding people will love enough to flaunt, steal, and/or gush about is an Audit!

Is Your Brand Proactive—or Reactive?

When we say “proactive” and “reactive”, what does that mean—and what does it mean for your brand’s positioning and longevity? 

When we talk to clients about branding, we talk about a brand’s position—how your brand differentiates itself in its market. No matter what your product or service is, you can be sure you’re not the only one doing what you’re doing. You’re part of a history (even if very short). It’s impossible to exist in a vacuum. But is your brand’s position proactive or reactive?

A proactive brand is, basically, a brand with a plan. It knows itself, it knows its place in the market, and it knows how to occupy that position effectively through what it does—and doesn’t—do. A reactive brand, by contrast, is one that does just that—reacts to whatever is going on around it at the time. With modern consumers ‘trained’ to see organized, cohesive, consistent brands, being more reactive can come off as erratic and alienate your customer base. Equally worrying, being too reactive can rely on consumer awareness of what you’re responding to. Let’s look at a recent example: Pepsi’s entry into the sparkling water market, bubly, vs seltzer juggernaut LaCroix’s long game.

bubly’s parent company, Pepsi, knows their market and their competitor—and they should. Despite the fact that you’ll be hard-pressed to find an article that mentions bubly without mentioning LaCroix, they have managed to differentiate themselves. Here are some key takeaways for your small business:

 

 

Knowing your audience is critical

A quick Google search will tell you that bubly (that ‘b’ is lower-case on purpose) hits the millennial market HARD: cute, all-lowercase messages on the can’s tab, bright colors, simple, clean, minimalist packaging, omitted vowels. Every box is checked and ready for consumption in a market where cans are a significant part of the experience—and your consumer’s identity. Everything is on point, and poised to bring in a projected $100 million.

The trick? Knowing both what you are and what you aren’t as a brand, and a crystal-clear vision of the position your brand occupies in its market.

 

 

“I don’t want to talk about authenticity”

‘Authenticity’ is, notoriously, a moving target. bubly doesn’t try to hide what it is: Pepsi’s well-funded entry into the sparkling water market. Will this turn some people off? Sure. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily (we’ll see if, longer-term, bubly goes the way of Crystal Pepsi).

For a small business, an “authentic” identity can actually prove counterproductive to your goals. That grassroots feeling can be a part of your brand’s identity. But, just like “professional”, “authentic” is not a personality.

 

 

Your brand’s identity only exists in relation to another brand

Reactionary branding is bold—in the short term, this could be a good thing. It could allow for short-term recognition—but longer-term, it’s difficult to sustain and may limit your brand’s ability to develop its own identity. But with growth comes change—and, especially in small business, change without a plan can be disastrous.

Your takeaway? A strong brand identity grows and changes over time. A solid identity is agile—able to seamlessly adapt and respond to current events or changes in its own voice—rather than just responding and making things up as you go.

The bottom line is that your brand needs to be proactive in developing its identity in order to maintain the trust you’ve cultivated with your customers. Big-name brands may look like they’re making things up on the fly, but behind the scenes, there’s a clear plan in place. If any of this sounds familiar, we’re here to help!

Is your font stolen?

Owning your fonts is every bit as important as owning your images.


Do I need to own the fonts in my brand?

To answer this question simply, Yes. Font ownership for small business is something that needs to be addressed in every rebrand.

Picture this: You just completed the creative process, and decided on your final unique logo that will be the visual interpretation of your brand. What’s next? You might have already received a magical brand bible that holds all the necessary information about your brand, also known as your brand guidelines. One of the most important but often overlooked pages in your brand guidelines is the Typography page. But What is Typography exactly and Why is it important? Typography is the art and technique of arranging letterforms and transforming them from verbal language to visual language. Typography is important because it helps readers to visually perceive the information they are reading. With the correct choice of color, font, messaging etc. it can be a vital tool to attract your ideal target audience. Think about it, the typography that The New York Times uses is very different from the typography that USA Today uses. It helps each of their readers know where the info that they are reading is coming from, and reinforces each brand.

Once you’ve chosen a font that matches your brands, the next step towards finalizing your brand identity is owning your font. To the unfamiliar, font ownership for small business websites may be a little scary, often people are very confused and unaware what they are doing or what they’re looking at… some people are so overwhelmed or even surprised at the costs of some fonts that they begin to ponder…Do I REALLY need to own these fonts??

Yes! In the long run, these fonts are going to help you generate revenue. They are a piece in the puzzle that attracts the clients you want by effectively transforming your verbal language into a visual language to peak the interests of your target audience. Why not give credit where credit is due? Fonts are made possible by Type Foundries (companies that design or distribute typefaces) and Font designers who spend countless hours over a course of months, or even years developing fonts that have several weights, styles and thousands of glyphs. These artists are often overlooked and taken for granted, even though Type is EVERYWHERE.


What is a font license?

A font license is a type of font ownership for small business that grants the purchaser, a certain right/freedom to use the font/typeface as they see fit, for both commercial and non-commercial works.

 

Some variables to look out for:

  • Some fonts come with 1 license, and others come with 5 or 10. licenses. A font that comes with only one license means that you could only install that font on one of your computers. If a font comes with a 1-5 licenses, then this allows you to install the font on five computers. If there are additional members of your team that need the font, then you would need to purchase another instance of the font that allows more than five users to install the font on their computer.
  • Who should purchase the font? The designer or client? The answer is the client. If the designer were to purchase the font, and the client uses it for commercial use, then the client is at risk of legal issues for using fonts that they do not have legal rights to.
  • If the designer is using the font for the sole purpose of the project, and is not intending to produce work in a commercial environment with said font/typeface, then it is not crucial for the designer to have licensing to the font.
  • What about Free Fonts? We’ve all come across websites that allow you to download fonts for free. But just like in life, nothing is ever really free. Oftentimes, these free font resources have restrictions that allow you to use the font privately but are not allowed to be used for commercial purposes, some may even only allow permission unless you get permission from the designer.

 

Are you hesitant to believe that companies have faced legal issues for font licensing? Well, in 2009, one of America’s leading type foundries, The Font Bureau, sued NBC Universal for failing to secure the rights to several trademarked fonts- which were used to promote programs such as The Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. To read more about this legal dispute, read the article here.


Takeaway

The lesson here is, just buy the font! It’s better to be safe than sorry. You’ll save yourself the headache, the hole in your wallet from legal fees, and you’ll sleep better at night knowing that you have a solid visual identity system.

Below is a list of resources of some of the best type foundries to choose from if you are on the hunt for a great font:

You don’t NEED a Personal Brand

IS BUILDING A PERSONAL BRAND THE MOST PROFITABLE STRATEGY FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

 

Building a personal brand seems to be an increasingly growing hot topic for entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and employees, particularly because it’s commonplace to find well-heeled articles online, including Entrepreneur’s 5 Reasons Personal Branding is Non-Negotiable for 2018 or Inc. Magazine’’s How to Build a Personal Brand (and Why You Need One)! And, even this Forbes article that teaches 7 Things You Can Do To Build An Awesome Personal Brand.

As a branding agency, with a name like ours, we often get asked if we specialize in personal branding (perhaps the term ‘people’ signals this perception). The truth of the matter is that we build brands. To be technical, we build business brands.

Here’s the thing. You don’t NEED to start building a personal brand.

You may WANT a personal brand, but this post is about helping you decide whether or not you NEED one.

Let’s explain. Since we primarily speak to entrepreneurs and small business owners, we will address this in the context of these audiences.

Below are 4 important and strategic questions to ask yourself BEFORE drinking the Kool-Aid that you MUST build a personal brand — and certainly before you hire someone who claims to help you build your personal brand.

 

Question #1: WHY do you want to create a personal brand?

Let’s get crystal clear on the motivation to create a personal brand. Has anyone ever asked you WHY you want a personal brand in the first place? Or have you fully clarified what you want a Personal Brand to do for you? Here are some questions to explore:

Do you want a personal brand to help you:

  • Launch a new business or expand an existing one?
  • Get booked on speaking gigs?
  • Sell your services to new clients?
  • Sell your books or products to new customers?
  • Position yourself as an expert or thought leader?


If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, the good news is you’re already off to a good start to potentially needing a personal brand. If you answered “no” to most or all of these questions — and you simply want to have a personal brand just for the fame and glory, we’ll caution you right now, your personal branding efforts will have a short shelf life.

That said, we have more questions to explore…

 

Question #2: Are you willing to invest time AND money into building a personal brand (at the expense of building your business brand?)

This question is vital because oftentimes people embark on building a personal brand and don’t really think through the various costs to do so. Personal branding is an ongoing process and journey that takes time, money, and energy — daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.

Remember, the truest indicator of a real business brand is that a business can generate revenue with AND without the founder (who is typically appointed the personal brand). If your business CAN’T do that, then maybe what you’ve been doing all this time is actually building a personal brand!

If your business can operate, grow and scale without you, and you’re still weighing the idea of building a personal brand, ask yourself if your business will benefit by having a personal brand MORE than it will benefit by focusing on building the business brand. Where is your time most profitably spent? As a branding agency committed to inspiring you to create a memorable AND profitable brand, we advise you to focus your energy on that which will best meet your business goals and your ultimate end-game. Why? Because building a personal brand takes patience, endurance, and intention. Your time is limited, so you should choose wisely.

Another question to ask yourself…

“Is a personal brand more important to me than a business brand?”

How can you tell? Well you can always tell what’s important to you when you look at two things: your calendar and your bank statements. Look at where you’re spending your time and money and that will give you insight as to what’s most important to you.

If you’re not willing to put the time in AND put your money where your mouth is to build a personal brand, you might want to rethink personal branding as your long-term strategy in your playbook.

A third option (there is always another option, right?) is to do what our private client Malorie Tadimi of Tadimi.com did. She built a personal brand in the context of her business brand. In other words, she built a business, while also making sure her services and methodologies could be delivered by her team, and not her. Even though her business name caries her last name, her brand isn’t about her per se. Similar to the likes of Ford or Chanel. Once Malorie created the business (and the business brand to support it), it then made sense for her to express her personal brand by hiring a stylist and photographer to capture images of her that best expresses her credibility and personality.

 

Question #3: How much do you want your personal brand to be the reason your client or customer buys your product or service?

It is no doubt that we buy from people we trust, like and respect. And, there are many personal brands such as Steve Jobs, Oprah, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, or Elon Musk who can influence and impact our buying decisions. However, while aspirational, not every entrepreneur will achieve the same level of these extraordinary powerhouses.

For the majority of entrepreneurs and small business owners, it’s more important to build a business brand — a brand that is centered around a business, product, program, or service. If you use this approach, you’ll establish a precedent that your clients and customers are buying your products, programs or services because of the trust you’ve build in the brand itself, not just because of you. This is far more long-term thinking and transcends the power of personal branding in it of itself.

So, ask yourself, how much do you really want your sales to be predicated on the strength of your personal brand (as opposed to the strength of your business brand)?

 

Question #4: Will your personal brand help you scale or eventually sell your business?

This question is similar to #3. However, the distinction here is about scaling or selling your business (not just about generating sales or revenue).

If your brand relies primarily on you, the ability to scale or sell your business will always be correlated with the strength (and weaknesses) of the attributes of your personal brand. And, the degree to which your values are aligned with the values of the personal brand. We all know that we’re likely to buy from companies who have CEOs that admire, respect and love. Conversely, we may not buy from companies who have CEOs we strongly disrespect and hate (we know that’s a strong word, but think about it, have you ever discontinued buying from a company because you hated the CEO or founder — or what he or she represented or stood for?

Another angle to think about is whether or not your company would fall apart without you at the helm? If you get sick, will your company be ill as well? If you want other leaders in your company to be part of your company’s growth plan, then it would better serve you to have a brand that’s not just about you. Instead, build a brand that is about a bigger mission, purpose, or movement.

For example, our friend and client, Tucker Max, a New York Times Best-Selling Author of several controversial and entertaining non-fiction books including I Hope they Serve Beer in Hell and Assholes Finish First, strategically launched and scaled an entirely new business and brand (Book in a Box) which has nothing to do with his own personal brand as Tucker Max.

Rather than relying on the positive and/or negatives of his personal brand, Tucker created Book in a Box with a bigger purpose and mission —  to unlock the world’s wisdom through a new book creation process that avoids the time-consuming and painful nature of traditional writing and publishing.

Tucker can’t sell his personal brand as an author, unless it is just the royalties, which probably won’t continue to grow unless he authors another book, but he can certainly sell Book in a Box if he chooses to. And that business brand can certainly grow with or without Tucker Max, the personal brand.

 

TAKEAWAY

Personal branding can be an important and game-changing strategy to grow your business, but it comes with some pros and cons. Before embarking upon building a personal brand, take a step back and determine whether or not building one will help or hurt your long-term business strategy, scaling strategy, or exit strategy.

 

If you want to explore how we can help you build either a business or personal brand, let’s have a conversation.