Branding — it’s a term thrown around often. You know you have to do it but it may not always be clear what people mean when they talk about branding and what it exactly entails.
At the most basic level, your brand is what comes to mind of when people think of your business. Essentially branding is the art and science of influencing those perceptions.
There are a lot of myths surrounding branding. In this blog, I’ll break down three of them, so you can avoid those pitfalls on your own branding journey.
#1 Your logo is your brand
If you’re just getting started with branding, a logo is probably one of the first things you’ll go looking for. A great logo is the anchor of a company’s brand identity, it evokes a feeling and says something about who you are… but it’s not everything.
When you think of an iconic brand like Coca-Cola or Starbucks, you can probably picture their logo in an instant. But is it really just about the logo?
Think about that Coca-Cola red or Starbucks green… Would you recognize a can of Coke even if ‘Coca-Cola’ was written in Arabic or Hindi? Yes, you would! What if you saw a Starbucks cup from a distance but couldn’t make out what the label said?
Here’s a case in point: Remember that Starbucks cup in Games of Thrones…? It was impossible to make out the brand on the cup (in fact some articles state it wasn’t a Starbucks cup at all), but because of the look and feel everyone associates with a Starbucks cup, people across the world identified it as such — and Starbucks got a ton of free publicity.
This is the power of branding!
Clearly branding consists of more than just a logo and when you embark on this journey, remember to make sure you’re getting at least a basic brand identity kit with a logo, colour palette and fonts, so that you can start rolling out your brand consistently across all your communications.
These are all aspects of branding that can help people identify with you, distinguish you from your competitors, and remember you the next time they go looking for a product or service like yours.
#2 A good designer can create a brand without fully understanding your business
Knowing that you need a brand identity, the logical next step would be to go out and hire a designer. At this stage, make sure to hire a designer that will really spend time to truly understand your business and positioning, so that he or she can design an identity that is unique to you and that can communicate what you stand for in an instant. Taking shortcuts here becomes a costly exercise later when you realize you need to get serious about your brand and need to rebrand your business.
To evaluate whether a designer is the right fit, there are two different things to look out for:
First, review the portfolio. Make sure the style appeals to you aesthetically and try to think what the message behind each brand identity could be or whether it’s just a nice image with text. Also consider, if the designer has wide experience across industries or whether his or her experience is quite niche and how this may affect your project.
Secondly, and I would argue even more importantly, get an understanding of the designer’s process. As mentioned, to create a successful brand identity, your designer should dig deep to understand your business, values, target audience, product or service and who you are as an entrepreneur and/or business.
All that information will enable a talented designer to create brand assets that don’t just look nice but also help tell your company’s story and elevate your image. To uncover all these aspects, there should be a good process in place, which the designer should be able to share with you.
#3 Your brand is made up of visual elements only
So far I’ve mentioned only visual elements of branding, but this is really only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, some of the most important elements of branding aren’t visual at all. Everything from the tone of voice you use in your writing, to the way you, your employees dress, speak and behave, to the people and companies you associate with can be part of your brand. Even what you use to make your product, the way you treat your customers and employees and the values you live by could be defining aspects of your brand.
So, to build a successful brand that can grow with your company, you should start with defining your value proposition — a statement that illustrates how your product or service solves customers’ problems or improves their situation, delivers specific benefits and value, how you’re different from the competition and why customers should buy from you. A good design process would include this to ensure your brand has a solid foundation that your company can build upon as it grows and evolves.
If any of these three myths has made you think differently about branding, take a step back and reevaluate where you’re at right now. Does your brand really convey what your business stands for? If you think it could be better or if you’re just getting started, I’d love to chat about how we can help you develop your brand. Drop me a line at email@example.com.