Whether you are aspiring to create a large or small business, it is essential to build your brand from the onset. Your brand immediately reflects to your potential customers who and what you are about, a form of identity. Therefore, when you put your brand out there, you better have a clear understanding of the market you are targeting, what appeals to them and how to reach them.
When my business partner Fiona Ericcson and I first started our business Sticks & Stones we both agreed that before actively marketing ourselves, we wanted to spend time on developing a strategically defined brand. In an industry such as ours (Landscape Design) we immediately recognised that there were many talented designers out there, but very few had an inviting, complementary website.
Considering we were in an industry of design, we both thought that was very interesting. So, we decided to use this to our advantage and ensure that our website, logo and image was a stand-out; a reflection of our talent and abilities. In return, we have found that clients and other designers in the industry have taken us more seriously. They instantly recognise that what we are offering is a clean, professional and contemporary design that comes from a reputable business. Then we took this brand and our business and proved it.
Below are 6 ways we think are necessary to help build your brand:
1. Define your brand
Before getting too excited, you need to start with the basics, such as defining what your brand is. It is important to review your product or service and understand the customers you will be targeting. Without understanding your market and customer base, you will not be able to connect your business with your target audience.
Sticks & Stones understood that the market we were targeting instantly were home-owners, aged around 30-50 years old and earning a decent salary, as landscape design is a luxury, not a necessity. This meant we needed to make our branding appealing to this target audience. Stylish and professional, but still approachable, is what we decided on. From here, we had a clear understanding of the direction we were heading with our brand.
2. Colour your brand
Something important to consider is the colour of your brand. Once this is chosen, it will be reflected across your website, business cards and logo. Sometimes it can be the difference between someone spending more time on your website, scrolling through your products and services, or leaving instantly.
Most people don’t realise, but colours and combinations can have a strong impact on your reaction. The Sticks & Stones colour scheme is a soft brown and deep soft green. Both of these colours blended well together and were a reflection of the materials we worked with, soil and plants.
3. Create a memorable logo
Following naturally behind your brand colour is the creation of your logo. The logo identifies a business by using a symbol, mark, or icon. It is not necessarily used to describe anything about your business, or what you do, (although sometimes that works well too) but it simply allows your customers to recognize your business. So, it is even more important to make the symbol or icon stand out, so your potential customer can recognize your logo instantly.
4. Develop a tagline
Create a short, captivating statement that encompasses your vision and brand. This allows your customer to understand what you are about and what you represent. At Sticks & Stones we used the statement, “Bringing the outdoors in.” It was a clean, simple and straightforward sentence that provided the potential customer with insight into the industry we are in.
5. Be consistent
Overall, it is very important to be consistent. This relates back to establishing the foundations of your brand. If you have consistency in your colour scheme, brand, the product and service you offer, then your customer will learn to recognise you as a reliable and referable source. Spending time on templates, your website, business cards and any other promotional products will ensure your brand is seamlessly consistent.
Although it feels overwhelming when you are starting out, working through the above process will ensure that you will have a strong and memorable brand identity; one that customers and clients will choose to refer time and time again.
6. Prove it
Now this should be the easy part. You know your business, you know your product. So work hard to provide a good product or service and people will hear about it. Word of mouth is one of the best methods to building a positive brand identity, so get your name out there. Market yourselves, get testimonials and enter industry competitions like we did to build up your profile and get your brand out there.
Fiona and I have the benefit of being female in a male dominated industry. Similar to Sass & Bide, we are recognised and remembered as the female duo in the landscape design industry. This has worked in our favour and we strive to uphold the brand we have created, through ourselves and our work. This is something our competitors cannot offer and as we are new, targeting and utilising our stand out strengths was very important.
Our focus on branding has paid off, as we become a more well known name in the industry. From networking events to joining industry associations, we have been provided opportunities we would not normally have access to. Recently we presented at a Landscape Forum on our business structure which provided us with further networking opportunities and led to additional jobs. We have also entered an industry competition to build a show garden at a major event in our industry – Grand Designs Live. We were successful and are still using the images we captured from the garden today! Spread the word about you and your brand. We were also noted as “Ones to watch” in popular magazine House & Garden’s ‘Women in Design’ special after being put forward by another networking contact. Every opportunity that has been presented to us, we have accepted. In doing so, we have more potential for our brand and name to be mentioned, spoken about and marketed.
Now it’s your turn!
How does your brand stand out from the crowd? Tell us in the comments below!
Julia Thomas is a skilled Landscape Designer and one half of the duo behind Sydney-based landscape design business Sticks & Stones Landscape Design. She was recently featured in House & Garden as ‘Ones to Watch’ in Landscape Design. Julia also writes feature blogs for the online website Garden Drum.
Photo credit: Sticks & Stones