Branding means putting a cohesive face and personality on your business that connects to your customers emotionally. So when a client sees something from that company, he or she connects emotionally with it.”
– Darcy Flanders, founder of Baseline Group, a NY branding & design firm.
Interdisciplinary branding isn’t new. “You used to do it with printed collateral, advertising and direct mail,” says branding expert Darcy Flanders, founder and chief design officer at Baseline Group NY, which specializes in branding, interactive design and strategic marketing.
Flanders is also the founder of Metro Commuter Network, which connect New York’s Westchester County commuters with the businesses along their route.
These days, print is secondary to the internet, Flanders says. But a cross-disciplinary strategy among the various ways you reach your audience – from e-commerce and social media to mobile apps and eblasts – remains the heart of good branding.
Flanders says the biggest mistake a company can make is calling a design firm and saying, “I need a website” or “I need a brochure.” Strategy is the first step, before you spend a dime on design or content. “You have to understand who your clients are, where they find information, and what’s going to end up in their inbox that they will look at,” Flanders says. She adds, “A website isn’t going to help you if you haven’t done the research to see what your website needs to do to connect you with your audience.”
She adds, “There has to be a reason for everything you do now. You don’t want to build the wrong things – or build the right thing the wrong way.” For example, some companies need a facebook presence. “If you’re a cupcake company, it’s totally appropriate,” she says. Prospective clients are likely to find you there.
Facebook strategy for a services company is different. Her company is a case in point. Yes, Baseline Group NY has a facebook page to reinforce the company’s creditability, showcase its products and secure its status as a thought leader. So facebook is part of her branding strategy — but she doesn’t expect to win clients via that channel.
Flanders believes every company – no matter how small — should have a branding strategy. “If you are really small, you won’t get bigger if you don’t spend some money on marketing and branding,” she advises.