Hint — branding isn’t just for influencers and cereal makers anymore.
“Brand” and “branding” is a term that gets tossed around without much explanation. We think we know what it means … but when pressed to define it, we end up flummoxed.
The internet age has only made it worse. Maybe when we were kids, “brand” meant the difference between brands of cereal — Frosted Flakes vs. Froot Loops, for example. (But aren’t they both Kellogg’s?)
Nowadays, “branding” reminds us of insufferable influencers talking about their “personal brand” in the Fyre Fest documentary. Ick. Who wants that?
Let’s clear up the confusion, and maybe wipe off some of the tarnish … What is branding, and why should you care about it?
What Is Branding?
Marketers complicate — maybe even overcomplicate — the idea of “branding,” but at its heart it’s very simple. Your brand is whatever people think of when they think of you or your business.
Therefore, branding is being proactive about your brand — taking steps to influence what people think of when they think of you or your business.
The takeaway is that everyone and every business has a brand, whether they get proactive about branding or not. Your brand might be conservative or iconoclastic; premium or discount; fastidious or loose; trustworthy or un-trustworthy. Which one do you want to be?
With attention to branding, you can:
- Build familiarity with your brand among your audience.
- Stand out from your competition.
- Create a consistent customer experience.
- Connect with your audience.
How Do You Build Your Brand?
Convinced that it’s time to get proactive about branding? Here’s what to do:
1. Write Down Your Story
A brand isn’t just a business. It has a personality, like a human being. Human beings have stories, and so do brands.
“I don’t want to tell a story … I just want to offer the best product and have people buy it because it’s good!”
Laudable … but not enough. People buy emotionally, and they connect emotionally to stories. If you try to dodge your brand story, you’re walking away from sales.
You don’t have to publish a novel … but take the time to write down your story. Not only is it fodder for your “about us” page — it can be a source of blogs, vidoes, podcasts, and social content. It can also help you drill down on brand factors that consumers care about, like your brand mission, brand purpose, and brand future.
You can’t know what you stand for if you’ve never even thought about it. This exercise completes that step.
2. Design Your Logo
Your logo should be memorable and easily identifiable. When a brand has a great logo, people don’t just think of the company name — they see it in their mind’s eye.
Consider working with a professional logo designer and using your brand story as inspiration. Bonus points if you can include “subliminal advertising” in your logo, like the smile in the Amazon logo or the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo.
3. Create a Style Guide
Every time someone encounters your brand, it should be immediately obvious that it’s you. You don’t want them to click through your website and each page looks like it’s from a different company.
Ditto with your social profiles, letterheads, and fliers. You don’t want your Facebook Business page to have a banner that looks nothing like your website header.
Make some decisions — what are your brand colors? What fonts do you use. What does your logo look like? What is your top slogan? What tone do you want your written content to have (professional, funny, etc.)
This doesn’t mean you can never change your brand style … but if you do change something, make sure to implement the change everywhere. Website, social profiles, paper collateral, all of it.
If you haven’t given much thought to any of this, don’t feel bad. Many businesses attain some level of success and liquidity before they have time to address branding. Sometimes it takes time under operation to hone in on the brand story to begin with.