Branding 101

I get a lot of questions from companies about branding – specifically, what is “branding”, and how do you do it?

As with many a great blog post, I’m going to start with the dictionary definition:

Brand name: noun, a word, name, symbol, etc., especially one legally registered as a trademark, used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify its products distinctively from others of the same type and usually prominently displayed on its goods, in advertising, etc.

Following the dictionary definition, then, your brand is simply your logo. Sounds simple enough, right?

But true branding goes so much farther than logos and labels.

In today’s world, companies are so much more than just faceless entities. We are now socially connected and accessible beyond what our predecessors ever could have imagined. Your company and its products are so much more than a producer and a bottle, you are a collection of traits that consumers will either relate to – or not.

Your brand is your opportunity to identify and highlight those traits in a way that allows consumers to recognize you, relate to you, and share you with those in their circle of influence.

So how do you build an effective brand?

Don’t start with your logos and labels, start with your company’s identity. Think of what makes your company unique, what your story is, where you are coming from and what your goals are. You want to, essentially, develop a personality for your company as if it were a character in a book.

You need a back story, unique mannerisms and traits, a “role” for your company (protagonist? antagonist?), and a goal for your brand. You need to know what your “character” contributes to the story (in other words, what are the benefits of your product to consumers?)

Imagine if your company were a person. How would they react when faced with certain situations? What type of relationships would they build? What would they get excited about?

This is your brand.

Still thinking of your company as a person, imagine now how this person would look – think less in terms of actual clothing items, and more of style and color. Would your company wear dark-grey pinstripe suits all day? Or would a flowing, floral summer dress be more appropriate?

Use these visuals to help you design the look, logo, color scheme, and other important visual elements of your brand.

It can help to pull together a “vision board” of ideas to bring to your graphic designer. Find images in magazines and online that you believe your company would wear or have if it were a person. You will likely find a small number of colors stand out, and these can be used to form your logo and the general color scheme of all your visual elements!

This is how people will remember your brand.

Of course, the visual elements will simply act as a visual reminder. They will help people to remember the finer details of your company, who you are, where you’re coming from, and what you offer.

It is somewhat like tying a string around the finger of every one of your customers. Every time they see the string (your logo, colors, and visual elements) they will be reminded of the warm, fuzzy feeling they got from you!

Those of course are just the basics. There is much more involved in creating a brand than these simple steps, but hopefully this post gave you some ideas that you can use to help create (or refine, or recreate) your company’s own, unique brand!

If you need assistance with creating or implementing your branding campaign, I can help. Visit my coaching and consulting pages to discover how I can help your company one-on-one.