Nathan Sandhu has two decades’ experience helping clients create effective brand identities. He has worked with companies big and small, transforming existing brands and creating brand identities from scratch. And he has done all this in multiple sectors – travel, tourism, retail, manufacturing, property, care and charity.
We met Nathan to find out more about him, his business and the key to successful branding.
When did your interest in branding and design begin?
At school I was always drawing and sketching things, I would spend hours working on illustrations and design pieces, using traditional skills of pencil and ink pens. I always knew that I wanted to do something creative and having a job I really enjoyed was very important for me. I first started my career in a small print shop which then lead me to work in a marketing agency in Old Town, Swindon. It was at this agency I first really understood the power of good design and marketing. Here I used my knowledge of print and design to bring to life campaigns for Watson Petroleum, Vicaima Doors and Age Concern.
What made you setup Jazzbones?
At first setting up Jazzbones was very much a lifestyle choice, I had young twin daughters and wanted the flexibility of the ‘work-life balance’. I also knew that I could really help make a difference to businesses though my branding and creative skills which would offer clients great service that didn’t break the bank.
What’s been the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
With over 20 years in the business, there have been heaps of projects that have been really exciting and I’m really proud of. Every project is an exciting opportunity to work with great people and provide great design work that makes a real difference to their businesses, from start-ups like Holidays In The Cotswolds to global companies like Honda. What really excites me is building lasting partnerships with these companies and some of these relationships are now over ten years old with clients like Miele and Anglo Welsh Waterway Holidays.
Let’s say I’ve got a start-up that has built up its business through word of mouth with no real marketing plan or conscious branding. Where do I begin when it comes to professional branding?
You need to begin by thinking strategically, that’s non-negotiable. I always tell Jazzbones clients that you can’t begin to build a strong brand identity until you know exactly what you stand for. That means asking yourself the big ‘W’ questions. Who are we and what are our goals? What are we selling? Where are we selling it? Who are we selling it to? What makes our company different from competitors? Which is the most effective way to transmit our company DNA and company ethos? Answer those questions and you can tackle branding.
Do I really need to do all of that just to come up with a fancy new logo?
Branding is not just about your logo, it’s about every single piece of communication between you and your customers or potential customers; that means everything they see and hear about your company. Yes, it’s your name, sign, slogan, symbol and design, but it’s not just visual identity that’s important, tone of voice and message can be equally crucial. If you’re talking to your audience in the wrong language you will never get your message across. Your brand is all the elements that distinguish you from your competition. It’s the perception that a consumer has when they hear or think of your company name, service or product. When consumers see the McDonalds or Apple logo they don’t think about arches or a piece fruit, they immediately think of what those companies stand for: tasty, reliable and economic fast food and cutting-edge technology.
So what makes great branding?
There is no one template for great branding, but it begins with focusing on your company values and ethos and deciding how you want to be portrayed visually? Your logo is like your signature. It needs to be memorable and it needs to reflect you and your business. The way the public sees you is important – are you corporate, playful, or green? Think of witty and eye-catching ways to show off your personality. Every detail of a brand identity reflects the personality of a business, from professional font choice, colour palette and even hero imagery. Think carefully about your image choice as this can really boost a great narrative.
But that kind of branding and consumer recognition takes years to build up.
Great branding doesn’t happen in one day, but it doesn’t have to take decades. If you look at the world’s top brands, for every General Electric or Coca Cola there is a relatively new kid on the block. According to a recent survey the top 5 brands in the world are Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung and Facebook. Of those, only Samsung is a long-established company. Closer to home, Jazzbones’ award-winning branding for Imagine Cruising has helped them become a huge player in a highly competitive field in less than a decade
What else do I need to make sure of when launching or developing a brand?
Never forget that consistency is key, don’t confuse consumers by chopping and changing. Make sure your image and message are consistent throughout your promotion and marketing. Make sure to set some rules and have effective brand guidelines. If people see consistency, they will sense you are an effective professional company that stands by what they offer. Make sure your brand works in both print and web media and looks consistent. Make sure colours that work well on the web also print perfectly. And make sure all supporting graphics work in the same fashion across all media and formats.
Does that mean all change is bad when it comes to branding?
No, brand guidelines are important, but sometimes you need to keep it fresh and shake things up to really grab the attention of your audience. We suggest freshening up a brand once a year, even if it’s a subtle direction change. Change can help bring in new customers and show old ones you are progressing. Be bold. When it comes to branding and marketing, fortune favours the brave. And keep asking yourself key questions. Does your brand relate to your target audience? Will they instantly ‘get it’ without too much thought? Does your brand share the uniqueness of what you offer and why it’s important? Does it reflect the brand promise that you are making to who you are targeting? Does your brand reflect the values that you want to represent as a customer?
What do you love most about being based in Swindon?
I’m Swindon born and bred. Swindon’s always been a land of opportunity for those who are willing to look for it, I’m really proud to be part of the local business community and part of great initiatives like Switch On To Swindon which are helping to shape Swindon’s future. The Jazzbones Creative team is largely made up of fellow Swindonians, so building up this highly skilled and innovative team has been made possible with our base in Swindon.
To find out more about Jazzbones Creative visit: www.jazzbones.co.uk and follow them on Twitter: