It’s important to keep your eyes open when you’re considering your own branding, because you can stumble across inspiration and examples in lots of unexpected places.

Bell-Tower-PlaqueI spotted this plaque, when walking home from town, and thought about how I’d seen similar ones in different places in the UK, same colours, same styles. I knew they had historical relevance, giving detail about an interesting person who was born, lived or died there or perhaps a special event had happened in a certain spot, but I’d never really given much thought to the organisation behind them, or in fact the branding aspect of them.

In a nutshell, if you have an interest in the history of a place or area you will keep an eye out for these little plaques and will gravitate towards them when you see them, whether you were looking for them or not. They are a trigger that in an instant creates a reaction in you; to go and look or to walk on by.

Although this is not what you would typically consider to be branding, remember that part of a brand’s job is to enable the viewer to identify what they’re looking at and be able to understand how it fits with their world. It’s also a way of us cataloging things in our mind for easy reference later.

For example, when we go shopping on the high street, we will usually have certain shops that we frequent, because we’ve found that we like what they sell and so it’s easy for us to go there, knowing that we’ll get what we want, rather than having to spend time and effort trying to find the same thing elsewhere and risk it not being what we wanted. Our brains log the branding of the business that we like and then when we’re somewhere new and perhaps can’t find where we normally go, we will then look out for a similar style of business, in the hope that it will be similar in the experience within it.

If you’re a fan of Costa Coffee but there’s not one nearby then the chances are a Starbucks or Cafe Nero will come a close second for you, because they have similar branding, decor and beverages and this might feel a safer bet than experimenting with an unbranded cafe nearby that might be hit or miss.

Our brain has to filter and process a ridiculous amount of information every second of every day and branding helps it file what is important to us so we can access it later. If your favourite patisserie has dark green branding and displays cakes beautifully in the window, chances are that if you saw another shop which looked similar, you would be happy to pop in, whereas if the cakes were displayed very differently inside then you might walk by.

Going back in time, to when there were no such things as brands, these same skills were used to keep us safe; which berries were good to eat and which did we need to avoid? Where was it safe to swim and where was it dangerous? Our reaction to branding is no different because we base our buying decisions on what we value and, in a sense, what is safe for us. Good branding delivers desired results to targeted clients and, if you get it right and deliver what you promise, people will keep coming back for more because your business has subconsciously been ‘logged’ as safe, reliable etc.

So, getting back to our historical plaques, although these simple little discs are not selling anything, they are giving value to their target audience who will see and read them wherever they go. They are an extra little detail about a town that give it more depth, more character and help the visitor connect more with the area.

What are you missing in your own branding that is simple but might just get you noticed and demonstrate that you care about the detail of your business?

When you care about the details it makes your business more authentic and potential clients will pick up on it, even unconsciously, and trust that you will give them the same level of care.

[highlight]ACTION POINT: Spend a few minutes thinking about your business, what your clients enjoy about it and how you can give them extra value in one small detail of your service. Decide on one thing you could do first, set a deadline of when you’re going to make it happen and start taking massive action to get it done.[/highlight]


Want to know more about the plaques that have been around since 1866? You can find out at English Heritage – they’re all over the UK and many different schemes organised by local councils and to view the register visit: