Let's go back to Branding 101 so we can get a better understanding of what it is that we do. What is a brand, and what is branding? This post isn't a 7-step listicle blog, but it's a quick brand low-down.
Traditionally, and where the name comes from - a brand is a mark that has some negative connotations. It is still used today to mark animals as property and was also used to mark criminals and slaves with a searing hot branding iron. Talk about leaving an image in the mind. Its origins might be controversial, but as a tool for your business - it can be effective.
More than a logo
A brand is typically a combination of elements working together. Developing a cohesive image for your product or business, a good brand can build awareness, affinity and customer loyalty.
It's a name, design or symbol that is identified by goods or services unique from the competition.
Beyond visuals, it's a representation of what you're all about.
The process of branding covers a broad spectrum of areas, so it can be difficult to articulate with a finite sense of confidence, but we'll try our best.
Some of the largest brands in the world bring to mind specific associations. For example, we could look at McDonalds or Nike and understand what their brand is. It's something that is so prevalent that we just take it for granted that they exist and what they stand for. Appreciating what the brand system is and the mechanics behind it elevate our relationship with businesses as emotional, intelligent beings and how we interact with the world as it is.
Branding shapes perception in our minds about what a product or service represents. It's why we have affordable products on the market that are comparable to premium products with similar attributes. What's the difference? Positioning, quality, market segment, advertising. All of these things and more.
To break it down, let's look at key points of the branding process:
What your brand sounds like, and how it's communicated. Your brand story, or narrative.
What kind of feeling are you left with? This could be in-store or online, etc.
Is it an affordable product or service? Mid-level, or on the higher end?
Who you're affiliated with speaks volumes about your business.
Of course, essentials like your logo, typography, imagery, etc.
Brand extensions such as customer service, campaigns, email signatures, etc.
Staying on brand no matter your platform is important.
It's a collaborative process
There is what you think your brand is, and what it actually is. In that I mean, one might think a certain way about something, but the reality is that the customer thinks something else entirely different. Realizing your brand limitations and listening to your business can open up more options.
At the end of the day, your brand is a dynamic, multi-channel, living, breathing entity. It's constantly adapting to new technology and opportunities.
Your brand should have a personality that matches the demands of the industry you're in, and the expectations of your clients or customers. Or not. Be an innovator and change the status quo. How do you stand out in a saturated market?
There are other niche segments that are interesting like personal branding, "no-brand" and several other approaches. But let's save that for another time.
Be the brand steward your business needs.