What is Branding?
As many markets grow increasingly competitive, effective branding (and in turn, brand identity) can mean the difference between handing out generous holiday bonuses and closing up shop. Here’s the catch: most of us know good brand strategy when we see it – many customers say they get a certain feeling about branding they see – but not many can clearly articulate exactly what it is. Even fewer execute.
Luckily, great branding doesn’t have to take up great amounts of your time. Once it’s established, you’ll find weaving it into conversations, marketing materials, customer interactions, etc., won’t be such a huge and overwhelming task. While monitoring and tweaking here and there will always be on the agenda, outside of a conscious rebrand or eventual refresh, great branding should stand the test of time.
Less luckily, establishing great branding can be a bit of a bear. It’s also hugely important as it dictates how almost everything – and often what – else gets done. Great branding and brand strategy usually involve getting out a team of shovels and digging down to the core of why your business exists and who your customer is. Getting to the real root can be a surprisingly tricky process.
Basic Branding Elements
The basics are generally recognized as logo, color palette/fonts, great website, packaging, and promotional materials (as applicable).
These elements serve as the clearest and direct branding touchpoints with customers as they’re the visual communicators and often your first interaction with new customers.
Once you’ve done the work and know your customer well, you can proceed with showing up where they hang out (the appropriate social media channels, the right conferences, the most likely Google search terms).
What does all this branding really mean and how do you turn all of this showing up – and showing off your great brand elements – into droves of raving fans and customers?
Keep Your Promises
Branding done right goes something like this. You, as a business, make a promise to your customers. Then, as that same business, you keep your promises. Walk the walk as they say.
Imagine Nike with a flower-encrusted script logo – aka a promise of grace and femininity. With the product and experience Nike delivers (tough gear to get you through a sweaty, intense workout) that flowered logo would be a broken promise and a betrayed customer.
Not an ideal scenario for either party.
Keep your promises and your customers will be thrilled to sing your praises. Know the customer you’re making promises to and you’ll have a winning brand.
When to Brand
As early as you possibly can.
If your business is up and running, has some big goals for the new decade, and it feels “too late” to dig into the branding, we assure you it isn’t.
For example, if Instagram feels like a waste of your time, learning more about your customers by reviewing and solidifying your brand may reveal that Instagram isn’t where your customers are actually spending their time. That same process could suggest doubling down efforts on LinkedIn that will pay off with huge ROI.
If you’re just getting started, nail down your branding now. Most importantly, know that it’s never too late to brand and it may even solve some lingering issues.
The Long and Short of It
So, what is branding? It’s all the promises your business makes to your customers with everything from a great logo and beautiful website, to what you say in customer service calls and marketing messages. Mostly, be sure to not allow broken promises to become part of your brand voice.
Ready to make your branding stand out? Get in touch with us.