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    Sarah is co-director of Malvolio. She brings her creative skills to the business, and loves concept development in commercial projects, illustration, and working on various self-initiated paper craft projects in her spare time.

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    A brand used to be a promise…

    “A brand used to be a promise but as we move forward, a brand is a relationship, a living thing.”

    I was trawling through old essays I wrote while I was at university, and stumbled across this. A lot of the essay is a bit naive and misguided, but to be fair, it was written 13 years ago. However, this simple quote stood out to me again. The timing is a bit quirky, as I was only having this same conversation with a client last week.

    The way brands are perceived today influences how businesses promote themselves – and it is vastly different than 30 years ago. For new businesses who come to us wanting their logo and promotional material designed, this is not as much of an issue. The businesses they look to for inspiration generally have that human connection that customers are looking for today. This makes it already familiar to new businesses.

    I find that some well-established businesses struggle with the differences in how potential customers search and interact with a business today. What worked 20 or more years ago doesn’t work the same anymore.  A refresh of an existing business is more than just a logo change. So fundamentally, what on earth has changed?

    A business used to be able to build a reputation on a brand name. The promise that brand name brought to a customer gave enough confidence. You didn’t need to know who ran the business, their process, or anything “behind the scenes” – what was presented as a polished product was ample. So what I find is that well-established businesses like to still hide behind their logo and branding, thinking that’s enough.

    With the rise of social media, as customers we’ve become far more inquisitive. We always want to learn more, know more. A logo and brand is still uber important, yet it’s not everything. Who runs the business, what the processes are, what’s happening day-to-day have importance now. Customers want to feel a personal connection to a business they are planning to use – they want to feel like they know them, that they are approachable and friendly. That a customer can relate to them.

    The ongoing transactions or use of services of a business then become a relationship. It’s not just a brand that is chosen, it’s a connection your customer feels. Not just to the logo, or the product – but the business as a whole, and the people behind it. Customers want to know about you. So don’t be shy to step out of your comfort zone and be proud of your business. Treat your business promotion as a living thing, not just an image. You’ll be surprised by the changes it brings.