I recently attended the Gwent Business Women’s Network where they had a great design agency (Dirty Little Serifs) come in to talk to us about branding. There was a big mixture of businesses in the room; those with a lot of experience, those with only a few months worth, but we all had our issues when it came to branding.

The newer businesses were definitely focused more on the logo side of things, what it should look like, how many colours etc, where as those who were longer established seemed to focus on branding as a whole. ‘How do I get my brand to be the same throughout my whole business?’. ‘Should I have branding guidelines written down, or be more informal and it be the culture of the business?’.

DLS went on to show us that branding isn’t just your logo, it’s everything from the smell, taste, shape, tone of your business. An example which I think will stick with all of us is that of Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants. If you’ve not been there, it’s a very trendy place with food served on wooden boards, an open bar and kitchen so you can watch talented people make your food and drinks. All staff wear dark blue jeans, black shoes and a white shirt. Having a uniform and ‘style’ of restaurant isn’t a new thing, but apparently, all staff members actually have to talk in a way that the man himself would. Adding in ‘dollops of sauce’, ‘pucker puddings’ etc. This is an example of just how far a company will go to keep their branding consistent.

On a side note – the smell side of branding puzzled us all, but we were then told that companies like Hollister use a very distinct smell to help people remember them. You can smell it before you even enter the store and apparently what they want is for that smell to be transferred to people, so when they leave the store people walking past will smell, recognise and then be more likely to go to the shop.

During the talk, DLS used a really cool video to help us understand how powerful branding is for a company. This (very cute) 5 year old is shown some major brands and is asked to see if they know who they are. This sparked a conversation in the room, that this could be an amazing way to use other people to get to know your own brand, how people perceive you and how you can take it forward.