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What is Branding & Why It's Not Just a Logo

"Branding,” is a word that's thrown around a lot in marketing and when you're building your business you can't get away from it. It's something people say you should do but like most business owners, you don't know what it really means and why it’s so important.
Most people associate branding with a company’s logo or their tagline. In actuality though, branding consists of many different layers that work together to create a positive perception of your business or organization.

WHAT IS A BRAND?

Simply put, a brand is your businesses reputation. It's a set of expectations, promises, stories and relationships all rolled in together that makes an impression on people who will decide to choose your business or organization over another.
Your brand is everything your business or organization does and stands for.

Your website experience is your brand. The way you answer your phone in your brand. The way you package your products is your brand. The way you treat your employees is your brand. Your brand is your reputation and it's woven through every part of your business and touchpoint you have with your audience. 

That's why brand is so important. If you want people to know about your values and what you stand for, it should be written and talked about and emphasized with everything you do and share about your business.

Take Alllbirds shoes for example. They're a brand that has a reputation for ethics and sustainability. Ethics because of their transparency and sustainability because they want to "tread lighter" with a goal of having a "no carbon footprint". They focus on the sustainability of the materials, manufacturing, product use, packaging, transportation, and end of life cycle with everything they produce.

WHAT IS BRANDING?

Branding is a multi-step process that helps businesses to create a unique and emotional story that strives to build long-lasting relationships. Branding seeks to communicate a powerful and memorable message that can evoke an emotional response. Typically done through marketing, combining both their visual logos on merchandise, and their verbal messaging in everything they put out. Here's an advertisement from Dove's beauty campaign. People want to feel like "you get them" and you "understand them". When successful it comes off as distinct and unique and gives people a reason to not only trust you but to also want to recommend you.

Remember your brand is your reputation. It’s reinforcing the philosophy that a brand is not what you say about yourself –meaning the company, it’s really what a friend tells a friend.
Recently we've been reminded about the importance of communication from brands to their audience during the COVID pandemic of 2020. The fact that your brand will also be pivoting, and adapting while you keep your finger on the pulse of the times to meet the needs of your audience as the world changes.

 

WHAT IS BRAND STRATEGY?

Brand strategy is a framework, a process of thinking that lays out your core values and gives you structure so you can succinctly articulate and express those values and your purpose. It clearly identifies who your ideal audience is, and why your brand exists and how you are different. It’s the overall communication model for the verbal and visual messaging for your business or organization and a roadmap of how you and your staff are going to talk about it.

Brand strategy is an absolutely critical piece for building something meaningful and for the long run. It’s the story you are inviting your audience into, to be part of, to make a change, and to make a difference.

BRAND IDENTITY

After you’ve completed your business’s brand strategy and defined your core values, you’ve got a strong foundation to apply those elements to your brands visual identity. It’s so important to create visuals that are not only beautiful but also highly strategic to reflect who you are as a company, and designed with the intention of attracting your ideal audience. These should be done by a professional designer and they will give you digital deliverables –artifacts such as a Primary Logo, Secondary Logo, Logo Mark, Icons, Pattern, Color Pallet, Typography and a Brand Style Guide.

While your logo package is a vital part of your visual branding, there are so many more elements to consider when using your brand. Such as using your brands colors and fonts in all your marketing materials, your website design, illustration, animation, social media posts, photography, video, Lead Generator PDF's, Emails, and your print collateral like fliers, brochures, t-shirts, business cards, and packaging. Essentially, every medium that expresses your brand is part of your visual branding and when done cohesively and consistently you will gain credibility and trust.

MAKE BRANDING A PRIORITY

It’s no surprise, strong brands sell more. “Strong” means doing the heavy lifting and creating your brands foundation and strategy as a first priority. We’re all visual creatures and instinctively want to skip the strategy and go straight for the brand identity logo, but that would be a mistake. Brands who use the veneer of having a beautiful logo yet lack the substance to support it won’t be around long.

Before you commit to any kind of marketing in your purpose-driven business, you want to ask yourself “why” and get your ducks in a row. Those ducks are in the brand strategy –knowing your core values, your purpose, your ideal customer, your verbal brand messaging, and your visual identity.

You need to project a strong and consistent voice and visuals with your ideal audience from day one that creates brand recognition and trust, which is essential for your purpose-driven business to make an impact and bring in revenue.

HIRE A PRO

Remember, your brand is your businesses reputation. If you want to have a reputation for being thoughtful, aligned with your values and high standards on every level so that you can inspire others and make a difference, you can’t do it all on your own. Is branding and design your expertise? Building a brand is like building a house. Do you DIY the architectural plans and pour the foundation? Or do you hire a contractor to make sure it's done right, and who cares about the details of what it takes to bring your vision into reality?

Your first step after hiring a pro, is getting your plans and foundation in place with Brand Strategy. It truly is a transformative experience by creatively and succinctly defining your heart-led business. You will have clarity when describing who you are, what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it. Often times, a business owner is personally too close to their brand to get an objective opinion and needs a pro to look at it from a different perspective.

When you hire a professional to help you with the strategy and design of your brand, the results will represent your business’ best self. Branding takes some time, collaboration, and deliberation like anything of value. It’s like eating farm-to-table vs. fast food. You and your designer of choice will develop a strong, unique, intentionally built brand that will help your business make an impact. You'll reach your ideal audience, causing them to take action, bring in more revenue, and change more lives. For your business or organization, there is nothing more immediately returned on your investment as what you put into your brand.


If you feel like I'm the right designer for you, I would love to be considered for your project. Check out my portfolio, book a call, or contact me to discuss your project.