By Gregor MacKenzie

You may not like the journey we are going to go on in the next 10 minutes, but you really need to come with me. On the other side you will either realise that you are in a good place with your visual branding basics, or that you are in desperate need of support in this area.

We are going to look at ten basic signs, which clearly scream out like a banshee with a freshly stubbed toe, that your visual branding needs an overhaul.

Come take my hand and we will make it through this in one piece.

  1. pepsiYour logo was designed in Microsoft Word… 95… in 1995
    Firstly, the logo that you have on file should never end with a .doc file extension. If you send a .doc version to a printing company they will point and laugh at your email, which really isn’t a nice position to be in. For most logo usage, always default to supplying an EPS logo. As your company grows over the years, morphing from one version of a flagship product or service to another, don’t forget to take your branding with you – avoid leaving it stuck in the mid-90s or even mid-00s. Allow it to develop alongside your company, to grow and mature.
  2. Your website is unresponsive
    This may seem to be repetitive, worn out advice, but there are still websites out there that look truly terrible when visited on a mobile device. Then there are those that respond with ease, presenting your website in a customised way dependent on the device being used. With seemingly every device and their granny now being connected, this responsive issue is not going away. Bite the bullet and make the change before it is too late.
  3. Your social media accounts are way off brand
    Great! You have signed up for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, along with a raft of other platforms. You are actively using them and growing your interactions daily on a exponential scale. Super! Hold on though… your logo is squished, the blues aren’t right and surely you have a more professional profile photo than a pixelated selfie from what looks like a rather enjoyable trip to the Costa Brava? Everything you produce should follow your brand guidelines. Decide on a brand, be consistent and stick to it, even if it means having to design a new banner for your Facebook page.
  4. RIP_flashOne word: Flash (*shudder*)
    Once upon a time, in a land far far away, an application was developed for web-based vector animation. Macromedia acquired the company and renamed the app ‘Flash’. Webmasters (an original rare breed now only found in captivity under the pompous collective of ‘full stack developers’) were wary of the new technology, but gradually its use snowballed. Eventually many sites were entirely built using Flash and very little HTML. While beautiful, interactive and, well, ‘flashy’, in an ocean of boring Comic Sans websites, this would prove to be as much of a dead end for web design as 3D televisions were for video production. Modern developers, browsers and devices fell out of love with the once mighty Flash due to its lack of battery efficiency and security, and they quickly fell in love with HTML5. It is believed that there are still some websites stuck in this ‘Bermuda Triangle’, with brave designers venturing into the past to rescue the lost souls.
  5. You only have one layout or version of your logo
    Did you really believe that the small JPG version of your logo that was grabbed from your website will really replicate well for your two metre-wide wall decal? What happens to your logo when shown in a really tight spot, such as a favicon or on a responsive menu? Your logo needs to be flexible enough that it can be applied in multiple positions, shapes, colours and sizes. Otherwise it is only going to hold you back in ways only describable as ‘naff’.
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  7. Your website was built by a friend’s offspring, who you’ve now lost touch with
    Can you edit your website? Okay, but without accessing it via FTP? The reason companies invest in their web presence comes down to access in my opinion. Available 24/7 to a global audience, your site never closes. It never stops pushing your messaging or selling your product or service. Why would you neglect this tool? It should be nurtured, looked after and loved to allow the benefits to flow. If the spawn of your high school buddy has since moved on, and is currently finding themselves on the other side of the globe, chances are your website is not feeling the love!
  8. Your email marketing is stale
    Stale or non-existent? This can be a valuable area to develop depending on your target audience. It requires a sound strategy, along with plenty of time and patience. Hopefully your database of subscribers has been hooked into contact forms, order forms, web shops and popups on your site since it was launched and most of your work will now be simplified. No?… What are you waiting for?
  9. Your logo doesn’t work in monochrome
    Perhaps this ties in with sign five, but is definitely worthy of its own spot on the list. An obvious step that many fail to consider when developing a logo is what happens when printing, or being viewed, in greyscale? *Thud*… that was the sound of your logo being dropped for a better version that also looks good without colour. As well as being workable in mono, also consider whiteout versions to take advantage of the fashionable style of using your brand colours as full block backgrounds, with the white version of your logo overlayed over the top.
  10. Your website has used the same design since the year 2000
    As with all industries, the web industry grows at an incredibly rapid pace. If your site has used the same layout, content and structure for over three years at the most, then you probably need a revamp. If it has been the same for nearly 15 years, put away the ‘under construction’ animated GIFs, remove the ‘best viewed at 800×600’ statement, ditch the marching ‘marquee’ text and come join us in the present day, where we have the joy of Grumpy Cat (@RealGrumpyCat).
  11. envyYou are jealous of competitors’ designs
    It’s easily understandable. You see your competitor’s polished stand design at an exhibition surrounded by a flock of visitors. You see your competitor’s latest video marketing campaign with an incredible play count. Inevitably, envy will rear its ugly mug. Fear not a jot! This can quickly and easily be rectified to bring you back to the top of the pile, once again becoming the alpha of the species. Envy is too heavy a load to carry with you when growing your company. Fix the issues today by refreshing your brand, and be ready to be more agile in future.

Welcome! We have made it safely to the other side. Hopefully you are now in the proud position of having a brand that negated all of these signs. Your brand is a valuable piece right in the centre of your jigsaw.

However, if we hit a nail on the head with any of the 10 signs, get moving straight away! Your brand will forever be missing that key puzzle piece until you do.

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Gregor MacKenzie

Gregor MacKenzie

Design and Digital Manager
Born and reared in the wild Highlands of bonnie Scotland, Gregor started his working life as a 13‑year‑old “Saturday boy” for a local retailer bagging tatties into 3lb bags. From this strong foothold he decided to follow his heart rather than his “further-education” head and Gregor invested 14 years into the business, growing with it as he grew up himself. As the previous owners stood back into retirement Gregor moved forward and picked up the reins. A normal working day started at midnight leaving for Glasgow Fruit Market, working through the night, morning, afternoon and into the evening. Gregor was involved in every aspect of running a business including development, personnel management and client relations. He loved growing the business and steering it into new markets, networking with many small artisan family businesses as well as multinational suppliers. After many years of hard work invested, national economic pressures made the decision easy to close down the business before it was too late, but it lives on in his heart as the high standard of work he aims to output on a daily basis.

Alongside his daily work Gregor has spent most of his life surrounded by technology. He is at one with IT, specialising in web design and development, IT support and training, programming, coding, photography, stage lighting and sound, video production, IT hardware installation, maintenance and repair to name a few areas of expertise… he can even change the wee square battery in a smoke alarm at a push. Gregor relishes a challenge and will take on any uncharted hi‑tech projects with unmatched enthusiasm and a keen watchful eye.
A little about Gregor:
  • After a childhood stained by being a stubborn fussy eater, Gregor has flourished as a home cook and can now happily talk about produce, seasonality, trends, techniques and taste combinations until the cows come home. This is an excellent way to distract Gregor if the need arises, or if the cows are late.
  • Since the mid 90s Gregor signed off his e-mails with a casual ‘G’ in place of his full name. This allowed Gregor to garner the monikers ‘Big G’ and ‘G’. Gregor takes it as a compliment when referred to by these names.
  • Gregor’s first ‘proper’ PC was a Packard Bell desktop featuring a Pentium II 233MHz processor, 200Mb hard disk, 32Mb RAM, CD-ROM drive, 3½” floppy drive, 15" CRT monitor, 1 USB, 1 Serial and 1 Parallel port, running Windows 95.
  • There is a local legend in the glen that on certain nights of the year, when the moon is full and the stars are out, between the clocks falling back and the first cuckoo of Spring, then and only then, Gregor will casually but gracefully pick up his guitar and enjoy a night of heartfelt sing‑song‑ing with a room full of chums. Certainly a night etched with fondness into the annals of their memories, adorned with a post-it note marked “golden”.
  • Gregor enjoys DIY. His most recent project has been the design, evolution, redesign, building and completion of a stoater of a bar-be-cue, with an integrated spit-roast, giant chopping board, magnetic knife rail and an adorable handy wee shelf.

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