What is Branding?
Branding as defined by the American Marketing Association is: a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers”
Branding one’s goods came from the idea of livestock owners branding their animals to prevent theft. Much in the same way, branding of one’s company or products creates a distinctive cue that prevents theft of a company’s identity.
Your Brand is more than just your logo or colors, it is how you represent your business to your customers. A brand is the culture, the heartbeat of any company. Everything a company projects onto its customers is part of its brand. Think of a popular product line, such as Nike. What are some of the first things that come to mind? Is it their logo, or their slogan? All of these aspects are part of their brand and you remember them because they are part of every product and post. The name of their company may also strike a particular feeling if they supported a cause you are for or against. This is also part of a brand, how the company makes you feel has a direct impact on how well a company can market a product.
Why is Branding Important?
As we talked about in the above paragraph, great branding has a huge impact on how a customer feels about your product. Good branding can allow a customer to know exactly what business people are talking about without ever hearing a name. A great branding strategy can pull a company from obscurity into the national spotlight.
Lets use Hurts Donuts as an example of a business with great branding. This dounut shop opened in 2013, the owners made their first donut the day before their first store opened. They have had several advertisement videos go viral because of their creative marketing and branding. Their name is Hurts, and they have ambulances they deliver donuts in, now that is branding. They used their name to come up with creative way to market their product, you see a donut ambulance and it automatically makes you think Hurts.
There are now 20 stores nationwide and it continues to grow everyday.
What Are Some Characteristics of A Strong Brand?
Authenticity is important to a business, customers who feel your business fakes supporting something will cause you to lose out. A key part of any brand is what your company supports. If you saw a coal company talking about clean energy would you think it was authentic. If a business is a huge polluter do you think customers would believe they support recycling or would you think they are only doing it for good publicity.
Your actions as a business must line up with what you promote your business as. Good news is that most Americans actually believe small business to be more authentic than large companies. Authenticity leads to trust which is key when selling to customers.
There are countless companies that copy whatever the larger more successful companies do. This is a horrible idea, the larger companies continue to be on top because they are distinctive. Let’s return to our example from earlier of Hurts Donuts. They could have copied Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme, but they chose to create unique donuts that their competitors were not selling. This is what lead to their explosive growth, they made a trail of their own now larger brands are starting to offer donuts similar to what they sell.
If you see a cat on a logo what do you think that business might be? Maybe a veterinarian or a pet store right? What if I told you that brand sells USB flashdrives. Would you ever think that just looking at their logo? If you are building a brand that doesn’t represent what product you sell, it is still worthless no matter how fantastic your marketing might be. If you create a culture around your business with icons and themes that have nothing to do with your business you will never be successful. You have to create something that is easily recognizable to a customer passing your business on the street. If you sell computers have computer parts in your logo and branding, if you sell pools use blue colors and waves. You have to create something that shows exactly who your business is.
Consistency is key, if you use multiple different logos or colors, it is easy to make customers think they are each from different businesses. Consistently presented brands are 3-4 times more likely to have excellent brand visibility than those with inconsistent brand presentation according to lucidpress. This is because their customers always know what business they are looking at, and will start to recognize your posts. Consistency should also come with how often you post on social media. You should also open and end videos the same way. Including an email signature with every email sent is a piece of consistent branding many forget to add.
No business can be everything to everyone. You have to know your ideal customer, especially if you have the marketing budget of a startup. If your target market is women, use softer colors with flowy script. If you are targeting to men use harsher darker colors. Look at Gillette razors, their female products are closer to pastel colors with soft lines, while their mens line have harsh lines and darker colors. They know exactly who they are targeting each product to and have branded their products accordingly.
Rebranding is when you feel the brand you have built no longer fits the direction your company has taken. This happens, when it does it must be a conscious decision that is well thought out. Basically you will take everything you have created with your brand and change it to something different that better fits your business. We will address everything to consider and prepare for a rebranding in a future blog post. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it!
How do I Discover My Brand Identity?
Discovering your brand is a journey.
First you have to define your audience. You need to understand what factors make your target audience engage with your competitors. You should look at language, demographics, gender, and what problems they are trying to solve.
Next you should define your mission. Are you environmentally friendly, Do you give to charity? All of these factor into how you should market your brand. It also goes into creating packaging and other things. For example if you are marketing yourself as an environmentally friendly business then you should use packaging that is biodegradable or recycled.
What is your brand personality and what is the emotional appeal? Give your brand personality, are you serious or do you want your brand to have a fun quirky appeal. You can figure this out once you determine what you want the emotional appeal of your brand to be. For example if you are wanting to target high end professionals, you might want to trigger emotions that lead your clients to believe you are also a high end professional.
Once these questions are answered, start looking at fonts, images, and colors that align with how you want your company to be portrayed and go from there.
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Tip: Once done be sure to keep all of your branding information regarding your brand including fonts, brand colors, logo in a document to have at all times. This will help you not only know where what is, but also to keep your brand consistent.