Branding is a buzz word thrown around so easily. But creating a brand is anything but easy.
Brand is what people know about a company-the values, mission, style, personality. Brands build relationships and trust. They make customers feel safe with their buying decisions. If business owners set out to create a brand before knowing who they are, it will show. The brand will either be phoney or there will be no brand.
There is science behind branding. Certain sounds and images trigger meaning for people. These symbols are important for business owners to know and understand, but first they must know themselves in order to create a design customers can understand. To establish this business owners must ask these questions
What does my business provide consumers?
How is it different from my competitors?
What are the company’s values?
Once a company has a firm answer to these questions, it can start branding.
“Ethics and aesthetics are one”
This quote from philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is from 1916. The idea is not new. In fact, most of us have looked at old advertisements in awe because of the ethics promoted by companies just decades ago. Take a look at this article from Mental Floss.
The aesthetics of a brand must match the culture, values and product. Companies use images, fonts and slogans to communicate their values and personality to consumers.
Business owners must ask this question:
What is a visual representation of my brand, values and personality?
Looking at other logos and identifying what that logo says about the company is helpful when establishing one’s own brand. Look at the font, the color, the symbols and layout. Each of these elements in a strong brand say something specific.
Take a look at these logos and do this exercise.
Mattie James says, “consistency isn’t rocket science, its commitment.” Building a brand requires consistency, thus, commitment.
A really good and consistent brand will create culture. It is easy to tell when a company has a strong culture because people begin to identify as “the type of person” who uses that product.
We see this happen when a company and the type of person who frequents it become synonymous
What do you picture when I say: type of person who wears Salt Life
Or the type of person who shops at Anthropologie
These brands are so strong they have a culture built around them.
Think locally. Is there a coffee shop or bar that has a really strong culture? What have they done with their brand?
Make no mistake: culture cannot be false. Authenticity is the only way to build it.
Along with the product and the physical location of the business (if there is one), the internet is how people learn the brand of a company.
Websites and social media are a critical way to build a brand. This is a one stop shop for consumers to see what a company is all about.
The “About Us” section of the website tells visitors the company's mission and values, their beginning and future.
A website and social media offers companies the space to show potential customers what the experience will be like with that company. Is it homey or modern? Is it fun or serious? Relaxed or upscale?
A company’s online presence combines words, images and possibly sounds to communicate its brand, personality and values.
Branding isn’t just for the public
A good brand will also help the company’s decision makers and employees stay focused. If branding was done correctly, it started with values. As companies expand and grow, if their brand is aligned, it will help guide them. If a product, image or decision is “off brand” it is a message to those within the company to reevaluate either the brand or that product, image or decision.