What is branding?
Branding is, by definition according to the Oxford Dictionary:
1: the action of marking with a branding iron.
2: the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.
So, what is branding and why is important for your business? For many of us, whether we are in the field of branding or not, branding is about a visual identity. A logo, packaging and everything about the brand that is visible to the eye.
In this blog post, I’ll take a proper look at what branding really is, or at least what it should be in order to build a successful brand that turns the heads of your dream customers specifically, including:
- What branding means to most of us
- Why is branding important for your business?
- How you can start making your branding work for your business
What branding means to most of us
We all know what branding is, on the surface anyway. What comes to mind when you think of a company’s branding? A logo? Colours? Maybe a catchy strap line or ad? Think about some of the biggest brands out there. What company do you think of when I mention the colour red? What company do you think of when I mention a certain fruit?
Of course, I am using Apple as an example. A brand that can only be described as some of the cleverest and most successful of all time. They have surely created one of the most powerful brands on earth. What comes to mind when you think of Apple? Is it their logo or is it more than that? Not only is their logo instantly recognisable, but you can also see an Apple ad and know instantly that it’s an Apple ad. That’s all down to clever branding that includes the minimal and simple look and feel, style of photography and the typefaces they use. But, it’s down to a lot more than that if you dig deeper.
Apple have not only created a successful visual brand that’s instantly recognisable to the vast majority of us on earth, but they have done this by making a memorable impression on their consumers; they have made them feel something by buying and using their products.
Branding is actually such a vast concept that the Oxford dictionary definition doesn’t, to me, sum up the whole picture. Actually, the dictionary definition of branding gives us an understanding of why most people view branding as a superficial concept. It doesn’t dig any deeper than suggesting that branding is about so much more than just the ‘pretty stuff’.
Why is branding important for your business?
So how does all this help you as a small business owner? A lot of my clients come to me wondering why there is a need to get so strategic with their branding. Can’t I just go off and design them something pretty? Well, not really because I actually care about your business.
Have a think about businesses you follow on Instagram. If their branding is successful you’ll recognise who they are not just by the colours, typefaces and images they use but by the messaging they use, how they speak to you and how they make you feel when you see their stuff.
A lot of business owners think that one of the key parts of setting up their business is to have a logo designed and go on the hunt for a designer who can create one for them. I talk all about why branding is more than just a logo in this blog post. But a brand is made up of everything you do to promote your business. From the visual stuff to how you present yourself, to how you communicate with your audience. Most importantly, your brand is about how people feel when they see what you do and experience your products and services and are exposed to your brand.
How you can start making your branding work for your business
Working with you should be a great experience for your clients. It should be about how you make them feel all the way from seeing the visuals of your brand and the surface ‘pretty stuff’, right on through to the way you deliver and package your products and/or services, the way you look after them and the memory they have of working with them. Branding is as deeply emotional as it is superficial.
So when working on your branding, either by yourself or with a branding designer or strategist, it’s really important to not only look at the superficial parts of your branding, but also to start by answering these three questions:
Who are your dream customers?
Who are the clients that you really want to work with? This is an integral part of everything you do in the promotion of your business. This will have a big effect of your visual branding, messaging and marketing and it’s so important to identify who you are trying to attract before you start promoting to them.
What are your brand values?
What’s important to you as an individual, company or business and which of these values will you share with your target audience? For example, sustainability, honesty, integrity, equality etc.
What are your goals and mission?
Why did you start your business? What problem does your business solve? Why do you do what you do and what makes you want to get working in the morning? What makes you stand out from your competitors and why should your ideal customers come to you rather than them?
So what is branding and why is it so important to your business?
Well, to wrap up and set you off with taking a proper look at your branding, as I’ve said it’s an essential part of everything you do in your business. Branding isn’t just about the ‘pretty’. It’s more than just the superficial dictionary definition. It’s about taking a deep dive into the emotional side of working with you, the experience you deliver and the way your products and services make your customers feel.
When working with a branding designer, make sure they are asking you the right questions about your business and what your brand is. By answering the questions above and identifying your dream customers, your brand values and your missions and goals, you are most likely already taking a deeper dive into what your branding is than a lot of your competitors are, simply because the universal idea so people have about branding is too superficial.
By going that bit further and looking into what’s going on under the surface of your brand, you’ll be able to achieve a much more powerful, sustainable and meaningful brand that will work for your business and get you results.
If you’d like to take a closer look at what this might mean for you and your business, you can find out more about working with me and my process into strategic branding design and how I help small, creative business owners build bold brands.