What Does Branding Mean?
The entire world has branding from the humble daisy to the Grand Canyon. Branding is a marketing term for the human feelings and attitudes to any object, person, or concept. Your business automatically has branding, but is it the branding you want? Ask ten marketers or designers what branding means, and you will get ten different answers. Part of the confusion is the spread of brand designing. No longer just creating a corporate image, but now athletes, influencers, and job-hunters all talk about branding and being a brand.
You can encourage your audience to build an emotional connection with your business (or yourself) through what you do, how you look, and your presentation. You build branding by intentionally creating the image you want your audience to associate with you.
Branding your business is everything from the receptionist, the products, head office, Facebook posts – every action and thing you create and publicize is part of your branding. Building a cohesive brand, you grow your business, and people fight to buy your products and services.
Brand vs. Identity vs. Logo
Brand vs. Identity vs. Logo
Most people use the terms brand, brand identity, and logo interchangeably, but they are three different business assets.
Your brand is the emotional reaction that your business creates in people’s minds. Your audience creates your branding through how they speak about you, either favorably or critically. Every interaction your company has with a human being creates your branding – you can influence it by excellent customer service and quality products, but you can’t make it.
Your Brand Identity is how you choose to present your business with color, shapes, signs, websites, and other visual elements you create as part of your design brand. You aim to attract customers and appeal to your audience. You can control your brand identity and plan to promote the desired reaction to build your brand.
Benefits of Branding
Benefits of Branding
Brand marketing reflects your business mission and values and sells your quality products and services with minimal effort. The summarized benefits include:
• Excellent first impression with a consistent image getting you recognized in a crowded market. You need visibility to compete effectively.
• Increasing profits by increasing your business value – a brand market exists for selling a branding-related product (mascots, small accessories)
as an additional income stream.
• Pulling in new customers attracted by the buzz or feel peer pressure to buy your products because everyone says yours is best.
• Retaining and enthusing staff. Employees like working for a quality brand. They can talk about their work, and it looks great on their resume.
• Building a loyal customer base that engages with and promotes your products. You benefit from valuable and useful brand marketing
• Letting you charge a premium for your products and launch new products and services with lower marketing costs because you
• Allowing you to implement your business strategy because a consistent brand message means everyone is working towards the same goals.
Even without brand managing and marketing, your business has branding – shaped by your customers, staff, and anyone who cares to talk about you. A brands manager influences the conversation to your brand’s benefit, and your business gets the rewards.
Living in a global village means you struggle to get noticed because the crowd is enormous. The world has got smaller thanks to the internet, but it also increases the business competition. Your potential customers have many choices, and when they choose a supplier, the chances are excellent that they will stay with who they know. If your potential (and current) customers don’t recognize you, you are not just missing out on one sale; you might be missing out on a lifetime of sales. Your branding and marketing get you recognized by current and new customers. The primary benefit of branding is gaining recognition.
You hear it a lot – a great brand makes bigger profits and increases the business value. Brand building comes from the emotional response people have to it, so how can an intangible asset like branding impact business value?
Branding impacts every area of your business operations, and the ones that impact your profitability include:
• Excellent brands can charge more for their products and services.
• People buy new products and services from trusted brands.
• You can develop new income streams with a trusted brand logo.
• You spend less on recruitment because people want to work for you.
• You save money on marketing because people come to you.
• A reputable band increases your search ranking organically.
Effective branding makes your business more profitable with less expense and effort.
Attracting new customers is part of your way of increasing market share and generating more profits. Branding generates new customers by:
• Ensuring that potential customers know your name and products.
• People talk about your brand, recommend you, and raise awareness.
• More people visit your website because you have a high ranking.
• People trust other people in their buying choices.
• People relate emotionally to brands as reflections of themselves.
Whatever you are buying, fridge, car, or a bag of apples, you have a set of criteria that make most of the buying decision for you. If you see two products at around the same price, you instinctively pick the one you feel you know. Excellent branding stacks the odds in your favor when a potential customer weighs up their choices.
Your employees help create your brand by their dedication to their work and your customers. The other side of the coin is that your brand represents your employees. The brand they work for is part of their identity because when they tell other people that they work for your brand, they get some of the brand magic for themselves. It’s reflected glory, but it boosts their pride and their happiness. People spend a lot of their time at work, and your branding works internally and eternally because your branding reflects your strategic approach to business. A brand that successfully shows itself as eco-friendly attracts employees who buy into that message because they work for a company that matches their values. They are happier and more satisfied at work. Internally directed branding messages help your employees to get behind the business strategy and have clear goals and aims that match yours.
Trust is crucial to every business transaction. Your customers trust that you deliver on your promises to supply them with products and services that meet their expectations. Trust is a commodity that you earn (slowly), so how do you get your customers to trust you with their business? You can’t have a relationship with every potential and current customer, but your brand can and does. The presence of a visible brand builds trust because it is familiar. It’s like the neighbor you say hello to for weeks until you finally stop for a chat. People have a nodding acquaintance with brands, which means that by the time they get round to buying from you, your brand has earned an element of trust. Your brand builds trust in the marketplace by being seen on websites, social media channels, products in friends’ houses, and conversations. It becomes an acquaintance and then a friend. Your brand builds trust with every little interaction, and it’s hard to put a price on the value of that trust.
Branding increases the impact of your advertising because people:
• Quickly recognize the brand.
• Trust the brand.
• Like to know more about the brand.
• Talk about the brand.
Businesses with recognizable branding pay less for their online advertising because their ranking scores and branding authority lowers their pay per click. They pay less for their digital ads, and they are more likely to win the advertising spot. Another advantage of branding is that your advertising reaches a receptive audience with less effort. That audience is more likely to share the brand message giving you free branding & marketing. Your advertising becomes more effective, with less effort and expense with branding.
What are the Elements of Branding?
What are the Elements of Branding?
Your audience creates your branding from their reaction to what you do and how you look. You have a lot of control over both these areas and can influence your branding through your efforts.
What you do includes:
• Your corporate mission and values.
• The quality of your products and services.
• Customer service.
• How your staff behaves.
How you look depends on:
• Presenting everything you do in a favorable light and monitoring reaction.
• Creating and applying brand guidelines to project a consistent message.
• Designing a meaningful logo that works in all situations and formats.
• Creating and maintaining a website that supports your branding.
• The conversations people have about you on social media and in print.
The combination of what you do and how you look need to give a consistent message. Branding yourself as a company that puts your customer first fails if your staff are routinely rude and unfriendly, or your website is hard to navigate. All the elements of your branding need to perform well, complement each other, and be consistently on message.
Every business (even a bake sale) has a mission – what you want to achieve. Companies are not all about the profits (they need profits to stay alive) but rather about why someone started the business. The why of a business creates the mission statement. The mission statement doesn’t have to be epic; it can be as simple as to make the best tasting cakes in the west. Knowing why you exist and what you want to achieve is the heart of your brand. Associated with your mission are many values that may include quality, sustainability, reliability, affordability, and personality. These values are your branding, and they let you know what your brand values are and influence how you present your business. Before you can build a purposeful brand reflecting your mission and values, you need to look at what you want your business to achieve and how you want it to behave.
Brand guidelines keep your brand image consistent with your strategic plan to develop your brand. The brand style guide covers the rules you follow when you create web pages, post on social media, print a business card, or dress your staff. Brand guidelines are the style bible that keeps you looking and presenting yourself intentionally. Your brand guidelines cover all the details, including:
Colors – not generic pink or green but the precise Pantone color.
• Tag lines – what they are, how you write them, where they go.
• Typography, fonts, and layout for consistency.
• Shapes and how they combine and what they mean.
• Images that represent the business and what they contain.
The amount of detail varies, and the pack may contain a brand guidelines template for marketing, letters, emails, web pages, and social media posts. Style guide examples show how to present the brand in all situations.
The logo is the face of your business; it’s how people and other companies recognize you. The best logos are meaningful. They have a story to tell that fits your branding and evolve with you as your business grows and changes. The logo needs to work in black and white as well as color. The logo needs to be consistent and recognizable if you see it on a phone screen or a giant banner covering a building. That means your logo needs to scale up and down and still be your logo. Your logo needs to be uniquely yours, and your brand guidelines examples will cover how you use it, so you get maximum value from building your brand in association with this logo.
Even businesses that get most of their trade by personal recommendation need a website because your customer expects to find you online. Your website reflects your brand values, and it needs to work for your customer by providing an excellent user experience when they access it from any device, Your website is part of your branding, and it is best if it is fast and responsive, so your audience quickly finds what they want. A style guide template means your web pages reflect your brand style.
How to Develop a Brand Identity?
How to Develop a Brand Identity?
Your brand identity covers the visual element of your branding. It may also include other sensory experiences like sound, touch, and smell. To develop your brand identity, you first need to visualize your perfect brand identity – how do you want to be seen. The next step is to audit your current brand identity and determine how people look at you now. Your strategies for branding close the gap between where you want to be and where you are now.
Design is a hard concept to grasp because it is a mixture of tangible and intangible elements that create meaning and an emotional impact. Your branding is an emotional reaction, and your design influences some of that emotion through the careful use of design principles. Colors, shapes, words, typography, and images all influence the viewer on a subconscious level. Design is part art, part psychology, and your designer builds your brand identity by selecting visual elements that complement and reinforce your mission and brand values.
Your business goal may be as prosaic as selling a million socks a year. Your audience is unlikely to be engaged with your plan to sell a million socks unless you give a luxury prize at set intervals to your target. You attract your audience with a mixture of why they should buy socks from you and your brand personality. Your brand personality creates a character to engage with your audience. Before you can define your branding, you need to know why you are selling socks and why people should buy them. Then you can choose to be the friendly, quirk, fun sock seller, or the efficient, affordable, eco-friendly sock seller or some other mixture of traits that define your branding strategies.
Market research covers quantitative information about what people want from your business and what type of people buy from your company, along with their reasons for using your products. User research gives you a more in-depth insight into the customer experience and how you can make their lives better. Your branding is the whole customer experience, and it is to do with thoughts and feelings. Your design helps shape your brand identity. The initial research helps identify brand values and how your customers want to engage with you. This research helps your designer develop mood boards indicating how you can approach your branding strategy. The market and user research is not a single event. When you have your design ideas, you test how people react to them to select and refine your branding. This testing cycle is crucial to help you avoid making expensive mistakes with your brand identity. Small-scale testing costs a lot less than a full scale failed branding and rebranding exercise.
Unless you are a new business starting your brand from day one, you have a brand identity. You may not see how other people see you. Still, out in the marketplace, people make judgments and create your branding as friendly, high-quality, or lousy customer service as a collection of many experiences shared, posted, and discussed. Learning your current brand identity lets you find out your best and worse points. You can then focus your efforts on reshaping the negative parts and boosting your positive image. You may find that your customers have a different opinion on your unique selling points and help you improve your service and develop new products. Time spent researching your current brand identity helps you cut costs (no need to fix what isn’t broken) and increase profitability by improving your user experience.
To win a race, you don’t have to be the fastest runner on the planet (though that helps). You just have to beat the other runners. In business, your competitors want your customers, and you want theirs. The marketplace does not always award the biggest market share to the best quality product. The biggest market share goes to the most popular product, and that is where your branding helps you win the top spot. If your competition is successful or unsuccessful, then you can learn from their branding. You can also look for areas where you have an advantage and unmet customer needs. This information feeds into your brand design, allowing you to be more successful in your chosen field.
A buyer persona creates a fictional character that represents a section of your target market. This persona represents a group of typical existing or potential customers with shared characteristics. Your branding needs to appeal to people on an emotional level, and it is easier to design your brand identity if you know what motivates the people you want to attract. A buyer persona gives you a mixture of demographic information and traits and behaviors that lets you focus on making your brand appealing to people with real personalities. It’s a useful tool for putting the human element on your branding strategies.
All About Brand Style Guides
All About Brand Style Guides
Consistency in creating and maintaining your brand identity starts by specifying every element of your brand design. Creating a brand style guide avoids confusion and strengthens brand identity. Marketing agencies, employees, web designers, and others may move to other roles, but a brand style guide means that the brand design remains consistent regardless of application or designer. You invest time and effort in researching and designing your brand identity. The brand guidelines ensure that you get the benefit of that investment.
Your style guide maintains your brand identity and helps reinforce your branding messages. A style guide gives you:
• Consistency -you build trust by expressing the same personality in all environments.
• Recognition – consistency means you build awareness and recognition in your audience.
• Time-Saving – your marketing team focuses on the message because they know the design parameters.
• Durability – personnel changes don’t impact your design, and you don’t lose valuable learning.
• Cohesion – everyone knows the parameters; all your media is the same quality.
The style guide records the crucial decisions you make about how your brand identity works for the business.
Your style guide is going to tell the story of your business, as seen by your audience. The components differ between companies but include:
• Brand story and inspiration – including your mission, values, and a bit of history.
• Logo guidelines – the design, the meaning, the formats, and the placement.
• Color palette – exact shades and combinations for consistent application.
• Typography and where you use it (print and digital) and how you use it.
• Voice – how you use your words, tone, language, and style for every message.
• Image guidelines – the type of images, frequency of use, and content.
Your brand style guide includes as much or as little information as you need to ensure everyone works in the same style. Including brand guidelines templates and style guide examples helps your brand manager to monitor quality messaging.
Attributes of Brand Design
Attributes of Brand Design
A brand design service starts with developing a brand strategy. The brand strategy covers the business’s core values and the difference it wants to create and is crucial to achieving the overall corporate strategy.
The strategy focuses on achieving a design with a purpose. A successful brand design achieves business goals. The brand design products include visible elements like a logo, typography, colors, mascots, shapes, and taglines. There may be a suite of ready to use templates.
The purpose of the brand design is to produce materials (print and digital) and behaviors:
• Appeal to the target audience.
• Enthuse employees.
• Promote the company.
• Increase sales.
• Creates relationships.
Brand design is about presenting a cohesive and authentic picture of the company internally and externally.
Developing Your Brand Design
Developing Your Brand Design
Armed with the information about who your audience is, what appeals to them, and knowing who you are and your preferred image allows you to start to make some decisions about your branding. The brand design (or style) that supports your vision includes getting all the elements of your visual image right in terms of consistency and psychological impact. Typography, colors, and shapes all contribute to the first impression of your brand. Your web pages, flyers, business cards, letterheads, store design, and all other visual objects give your audience an image of your brand. Hotel chains use their branding to make sure you know that you are in one of their hotels as soon as you walk through the front door because of consistent branding.
It’s not just the words but the style that impacts the viewer. The psychological effect happens below conscious awareness. Flowing script gives a light feminine feel that carries over to the product, so you need typography consistent with your brand identity because it makes an impression. Images draw attention, but it is the words that convey meaning. Your typography needs to be easy to read, attractive, and relevant. Excellent typography adds subtle tones and highlights to your brand design while delivering a branding message.
You have millions of light-sensitive cells in your retina that detect red, green, and blue. Your brain uses this basic information to see the whole spectrum. Color matters; people have their favorites and their dislikes. Some of these choices are from cultural influences and some from personal experience. Color is a language with automatic associations like deep oranges and reds with Fall and red and green (along with silver and gold) with Christmas. These examples show how color and color choices influence the way people look at everything they encounter. The color palette you choose for your brand design will speak to your audience, and a purposeful brand design understands how that color choice reinforces your branding.
If you want to see how much form and shape influences the way you see the world, look at the Mr. Men books for children by Roger Hargreaves for color and shape in action. Mr. Strong is a red square, and Mr. Happy is a yellow circle. These characters don’t work the other way because we instinctively associate square shapes with strength and aggression and round shapes with softer, friendlier emotions. The forms and shapes that appear in your backgrounds, logo, and other visual objects generate an emotional response. A superb designer takes this emotional response and uses the right form and shape to position your brand as strong and reliable, creative, or friendly, depending on your chosen branding strategies.
Developing Your Brand Design
Developing Your Brand Design
When you create your brand identity, you need to monitor how your audience reacts as part of your branding management. Strategic brand nurturing needs a brand manager responsible for protecting and growing your brand.
You have a brand style guide, and you apply it consistently – can you now ignore your branding and let it take care of itself? Branding is a bit like gardening. If you don’t pay attention, you get overrun with weeds and lose your prize blooms. Other people create your branding. Yesterday your celebrity ambassador was the darling of the masses, and today they kicked a puppy. Like it or not, everything associated with your business impacts your brand. It doesn’t have to be a big newsworthy splash with newsworthy photos. It can be a small review on Facebook that criticizes your products. Managing a brand reputation is crucial because it lets you ride the wave of positive emotion and stamp out fires before they burn down the store. Monitoring is the process of keeping an eye on what people are saying about your branding. When a single tweet can go viral in seconds, you need to keep your eye on the ball to maximize the impact of positive statements and minimize the potential damage of negative feelings.
You need to monitor the key channels and areas where your brand is likely to get a mention, including print media (newspapers and magazines) and digital (social media, blogs, forums, reviews, news). You look for snippets relating to you that include:
• Name checking of your brand, products, and services.
• News and buzz around any of your staff members.
• Links to your website – are you named directly?
• Industry news and blogs, influencers, and current trends.
You can outsource managing a brand image, or you can use a selection of digital tools to alert you to any item that may impact your brand identity.
There are some excellent reasons for a rebranding exercise, and not all of them involve a catastrophic loss of reputation. You refresh your house décor and change your car, wardrobe, and anything else that is getting a bit tired and dated.
Rebranding can refresh a brand by:
• Appealing to new customers.
• Marking a change in the company.
• Updating for new developments.
• Part of a marketing campaign.
Rebranding can be an evolution of a brand retaining its history and positive reputation, or it can be a new direction and change of mission.
Why do Brands Hire Agencies?
Why do Brands Hire Agencies?
Branding is a creative endeavor that needs expertise, persistence, and experience in facing and overcoming challenges. Most businesses invest in their staff but can’t afford to hire a marketing specialist with a range of knowledge necessary to create, monitor, and branding management.
A full-service marketing agency provides you with access to the right slice of staff time and experience to meet your needs at an affordable cost. You get a designer, marketer, or brands manager working on your business when necessary and with the specialist knowledge and expertise essential to get the job done efficiently and effectively.
Hiring an agency means you don’t risk staff with other demands on their time, taking their eye off your brand reputation. Agency staff can focus on your branding without distractions from dealing with customers or late deliveries. Plus, the cost of gaining access to different specialists is less than the equivalent staff team. Managing your brand is a full-time job. Both small and large brands hire agencies because it makes sound business sense to hire a professional to grow and protect their precious branding.
Brand identity is your visual image and the way you present yourself to your audience. This part of branding is under your direct control because you choose your colors, designs, and train your employees. Your brand identity has many components, including:
• Customer service.
• Staff uniforms.
• Corporate colors and shapes.
• Sponsorship deal.
• Marketing language.
Your brand identity is the clothes you dress your business in and the attitude you display. Your business is more than a legal persona in your audience's eyes, but a real person that they interact with regularly on an emotional level. That emotional response can work for or against you.
The brand identity system is a collection of your brand assets in one place and clearly identified. Your brand assets include:
• Your primary brand mark or logo.
• Your secondary brand marks.
• Your color palette – three ranked colors.
• Brand patterns.
• Brand iconography
• Brand personality.
Your brand identity created with your brand assets reflects and influences:
• Mission and vision.
• Culture and behavior.
• Communication and language.
• Design and logo.
Using a brand identity system keeps your branding consistent and authentic. The brand identity system acts as an asset register by keeping track of your branding elements. When you use the Identity System, you can confidently create a style guide for your brand assets' practical application.
Getting your brand identity right boosts your market share and creates a loyal customer base, but there are some common mistakes to avoid:
• Lack of focus on your audience – everything needs to appeal to your target audience.
• Pointless logo – an icon, a picture, or a mascot, needs to have a reason and a backstory.
• Insufficient visuals – you need a style guide that covers everything from font to videos.
• Bad user experience – web site, social media, everything needs to engage the user
• Lack of consistency – all your design elements need to work seamlessly together.
• Generic images that don't project your values and beliefs to your audience.
• Hard to read, cluttered, and confusing use of typography driving people away.
• Too many colors – the greatest artists limit their color palette for greater impact.
• Cheap design – you pay for what you get, and quality is only a modest amount more.
• Following fashion trends – your brand identity is with you for decades and not a summer fling.
Your brand identity is vital to your business success. You invest time and effort as a brand manager to ensure branding reflects your mission and strategy. Mistakes are costly and, worse, result in a need for a complete rebranding instead of a timeless brand identity that evolves with your business.
Employ a professional or a staff team to deliver a brand design, and they will use their skills and expertise to establish their brief based on developing their knowledge of your current and future brand personality. The design part of the brief covers putting together a style guide and creating the design products that include logo, website, staff uniforms, brochures, office décor, and any other visual element showcasing your business brand. Brand design is more than creating a logo. It aims to give you a cohesive set of materials covering everything from posting on social media to handing out business cards. It also covers customer service and user experience.