What is branding?
Getting the branding right is probably the most important part of your business whether you are a start-up or a large corporate. There is a common misnomer that a 'brand' is simply a logo. Not true. Branding is so much more than a logo. It represents your company and product and creates a 'feeling' that your customer can relate to. As The Branding Journal so succinctly puts it,
In very simple words, a product is what you sell, a brand is the perceived image of the product you sell, and branding is the strategy to create that image.
A brand should be consistent at every touchpoint. A brand encompasses your font, logo, colours, tone of voice, font, house style, and more. The best brands have all of these nailed.
#1 Knowing what you stand for
When creating a brand, think about what you stand for. What feelings do you want to evoke? How do you want your audience to perceive and remember you? What image does your business want to portray?
#2 Choosing your colours
When you create your brand, you create the feeling and the experience that will capture your audience's interest. Even something as simple as the colours you choose can boost engagement. According to Forbes,
Colour improves brand recognition by up to 80%.
If your business is in the creative sector such as a graphic design agency or an interior design consultancy, then you may want to think about a palette of stronger colours, and a more informal 'voice' and style. But in all of this, remember, you are the expert on your business. You will intrinsically know 'what', 'why' and 'where'.
#3 Designing your logo
Statistics state that it takes 10 seconds to decide whether you like a brand's logo or not. When designing your logo (or having it designed for you), think about what it is to convey. It needs to align with your overall branding and what you stand for. Will you incorporate a clever secondary level to your logo? Take the Beats logo as an example. Simple, effective and instantly recognisable. But look into it a bit deeper and we can see the shape of a human head and the outline of a headphone on the side!
Many years ago I designed a brand for Simply Quirky, an interior/furniture company. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to convey with the brand and the 'feel' it should convey.
The thought process was very much driven by the ethos of the company which was to turn beautiful pieces of antique and retro furniture into something unique. A simple idea but adding a quirky twist. So that is exactly what I wanted the brand to say. And it did. The logo exploded into life after an evening of brainstorming and imagining - and was perfect!
#4 Finding your voice
It's a crowded old place out there. Everyone is fighting to be heard and to get noticed. The digital age has made it easier to push out content; that's a good thing. But on the flipside it is making it harder to be heard (or seen). Brands have to work even harder to find their voice and remain consistent. If they want to communicate effectively with the customer then they must find the right voice.
But how do you find the right voice for your business? Trial and error. Go back to the beginning and ask yourself again, what does my business stand for? What image do I want to convey to my audience? What style of communication will work better?
Try this one. Imagine your brand at a party. Would you be the ebulient loud one that oozes confidence, talks above everyone and runs the risk of coming across as brash? Or would you be the one who speaks more softly, takes a more friendly, personal approach and shows an interest in others? Interesting right?
The brand voice also needs to reflect the business. A trendy 20 something clothes range will need to speak in a voice that would suit its audience in a language that they would recognise. On the flip side, the voice of a brand can also be built on the aspirations of its target audience, in other words, not where they are now but where they would like to be. On-trend, jargon would not go amiss. It is an area that could be talked about for hours but the point is to think about all these different factors so that you end up with a brand identity that works for you and for your audience.
#5 Be brave, be bold and be better
How bold or brave should you be with your brand design? If you want to stand out in your industry as a bit of a maverick or trendsetter, then let this come through in your brand. If your brand needs to say 'stability, reliability, conservative', then again, let this come through. As any business will know, you cannot be all things to all people. Do what you are good at and keep loyal to your brand. This is why getting the branding right at the beginning is so important for any business whether B2B or B2C.
Keeping a consistent brand image will help your audience notice you and remember you. Knowing is trusting, and trusting is engaging.
Your brand is your story. It is who you are, what you believe and how you want others to see you (back to the brand guest at the dinner party analogy!).