Branding is a word that many people are familiar with, (because many are using the word branding to sell their services), yet many still don’t fully understand it completely. People use the word “branding” to talk about "logos.” Your logo is not your brand. (It’s just one part of your brand). People also use the word “branding” interchangeably with the word “marketing” when selling their website services. Your website is not your brand (Your website is a marketing tool “for” your brand).
I see this all the time. People “think” they branded their business, only to spend most of their time trying to fix their communication and marketing problems by spending even more money on the newest fad marketing service, all while looking for the best stock images to post on their social media platforms.
If you haven’t professionally branded your business you got duped. I’m sorry but it's true. And I am sorry that happened to you. I’m sorry you spent good money or spent a lot of your time branding your business “without really branding your business.” So I am going to talk about professional branding. Because, if you already have a logo and a website and you are still having trouble marketing it’s because you need more than a logo and a website to deliver that ROI you’re looking for.
When talking about professional branding, I’ve heard it all: “It’s not the right time.” “It’s too expensive.” “I don’t see the value”. “The ROI seems hard to measure.” “I just had my logo and website done.” Look, I get it. I understand what it takes to be in business. And if you think you can do it for cheap or by yourself why not? I get that you want to spend as little as possible, however, whether you’re a one-man-band or a small to midsize business, you need to start learning how a real brand is built and how it solves common marketing problems before they even occur.
There are two sides to branding. Yes, there are two sides to branding: Brand Strategy and Brand Identity and unless you are happy throwing your money away or banging your head against a wall when that new logo and website is not delivering for you, as promised. Read on...
A brand strategy delivers a lot for your business. It’s your business differentiation. It separates your products/services from others in your market. It delivers protection when your competitors are howling like wolves at the door. It gives you a set of standards: not just visuals, but also principles and values, so you can always measure it against your brands marketing efforts. If done right, it should be true to your DNA: as the goal of a brand strategy is to clarify your brand position, so your audience can better understand who you are, what you stand for and connect with you faster than anything else, you are doing now.
Differentiation is tough. But it is the only way to stand out from the crowd. If you think I am making that up. Look around you. You see branding everywhere. You can pretend you don’t. But just because you don’t want to believe it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It’s existed for a long time, and the reason it still exists is because it works. BIG BUSINESS SPEND BIG BUCKS ON BRANDING; Why? Because it’s a proven fact in the competitive world of business, that branding “when done correctly” solved their businesses marketing problems through the lens of brand strategy. And luckily for you, no matter what size or scale your business is, it can do that same for you, too.
In today’s complicated and fragmented world, audiences are more informed and aware than ever. Only brands with compelling creative and strategically-sound value positioning are going to be able to cut through the clutter and connect with customers. In other words, only the best ideas can win.
So just how do you get those ideas? It’s very important to remember that any creative design void of strategy risks being received as an artistic expression without any clear purpose. When it comes to branding, this means that strategy and design need to be working in tandem throughout the entire process.
Identifying and clarifying what makes you unique
You might have a Business Strategy. You might even have a Marketing Strategy. But what sits in between both is your Brand Strategy and Brand Identity It is proven that the first step to building a strong brand. Creating a brand strategy is a crucial first step in the brand development process. This strategy has vetted ideas for clarity and actionability along the way. A clearly defined strategy serves as a blueprint for your brand identity and ALL your current as well as future marketing. Without this foundational piece, you risk diffusing your efforts and will make costly marketing mistakes.
Understanding the competitive landscapeUncovering the hidden marketing opportunities and threats that are under your nose.
Brand Development: Establishing the market opportunity
Vision: The future, as you see it. Inspire, create excitement, motivateValue Proposition (Your Mission): Provides focus — What do you do? For whom? Why? Ultimately answers the question: “Why do you exist?
Core Values: This is where you dig deep to find the guiding principles that will dictate behavior in your company. It will be used to determine if everyone is on the right path and fulfilling their goals by creating an unwavering guide. (While some parts of your marketing may change over the years, one thing must always remain the same: your brand's core values).
Target Market: It’s so important to know who your audience is (and isn’t). When you know whom you’re talking to, it helps you make decisions about how you market your brand at every touchpoint (from naming to identity design to website design and beyond)
Brand Positioning (USP): Positioning is where your opportunity lies to build a unique brand, like no other—it's what makes your business and its services/products different. This will answer your clients/customer's questions of why they should choose your services/products over others. In this phase, you need to crystallize your brand’s position, so that your brand is unique in its space. This must be built rock solid, because it will inform every, single marketing decision you make, from here on out.
The visual and verbal expression of your business.
This is the task of breathing life into your Brand Strategy. Your Brand Identity is deeply rooted in strategy. The creative expression of your business communicated against the strategic objectives that will not only distinguish you from your competitors it will help you produce more effective marketing for the life of your brand.
Your Brand Identity is what makes you instantly recognizable to your audience. Since they will associate your Brand Identity with your service/product, this identity is what forges the connection between you and your customers, builds customer loyalty, and determines how your customers will perceive your brand. Because it's more than just a logo, your Brand Identity will enable your business to look, act and speak consistently across all marketing channels.
NamingTaglineCopywriting: Tone and voice for all your marketing.
LogoTypefacesColorsImages: photography and secondary graphics
What’s The Result Of This Two-Sided Approach?
When strategy and identity work hand-in-hand, your audience gets to immediately experience your brand differentiation. This and only this will get them to know, like, and trust you faster than anything you have tried before. Creative and powerful ideas are generated and the work moves forward seamlessly and will last for years to come.
Brand Strategy + Brand Identity= A Strong Brand
Brand your business in a strategic way
Connect better with your customers
Save time and money marketing
Bottom Line: Only Strategic thinking, a distinctive logo, memorable visual identities and targeted messaging will ensure your brand is not just out there, but out there REALLY WORKING FOR YOU for years to come.
Thank you for coming to my TedTalk 😀. I just hope this cleared branding up for you. I just want you to have all the facts before you spend any more of your valuable time and hard-earned money — Happy Branding 😍
“consider yourself BRANDED” full-service creative branding | marketing studio for one-businesses of all sizes nationwide.