Branding can be a tricky topic to approach, which may be why some companies have trouble with it.
A brand, much like your own identity, has a personality, characteristics, and, most importantly, a purpose: to communicate to your clients why they should choose you over your competition.
So, if you’re thinking your branding work is done once you come up with the logo, you couldn’t be more wrong. But more importantly, you came to the right place! Read on as we look into some creative ways companies and brands can extend their branding beyond just the logo to create memorable brand experiences across all communication channels.
Once you have a firm idea of what your brand stands for, it’s time to establish an identity and implement it across every aspect of your business. Creating a strong brand identity involves creating a unique name and logo for your company and establishing a standard color scheme and style guide for how to use these elements in marketing materials and everyday communication.
What makes up a brand?
A brand is a promise of value. It is more than a name, a trademark, or a logo—although those are all important components of what makes up a brand. When communicating your values and culture to customers, it’s important to consider that not every customer comes from the same perspective or understands things quite the same way. Consider these three factors when developing a comprehensive understanding of who you are as an organization: your culture, values, and language.
The company culture makes your brand unique from others in your industry. To determine your company culture, ask yourself these questions: Who are we? How do we treat each other? How does our work environment influence our relationships with one another and with our customers?
What types of products or services will we offer that differs from what’s already out there? Who will use them, and why? Our values shape how we behave as an organization—on a macro level, they shape who we are; on a micro level, they affect how interactions within our organization function day-to-day.
Are your values meant to be consistent across all mediums, or do they change based on who you’re talking to? Do you want them to mirror your customer’s values, or do you want them to set up a differentiation to establish a unique identity? How will you manage that gap if there are major disparities between your company’s values and those of customers?
It is crucial to decide early on what kinds of messages you intend to convey through your brand. You should never assume people will take things for granted; assume nothing about how other people perceive things—if it is not explicitly stated, it may as well not exist.
How do you refer to your brand internally? Do you have a creative team, operations, or marketing team? How do you refer to each of those teams when talking to other groups of people within your organization or outside of it?
For different parts of your company to work together effectively, everyone needs to understand what others are doing—and why they’re doing it.
If not everyone is on board with your vision from day one, how will you communicate that mission as time goes on? Times may arise when you want to focus on certain things at the expense of other parts of your brand; make sure there’s some reasoning behind that decision, lest you send mixed messages about who you are.
As discussed above, branding isn’t something done once and then forgotten about forever; instead, it should be considered a living document. Therefore, as circumstances change throughout your business’ lifespan, so too should aspects of your branding—changing only as necessary or desired by management.
The importance of color
It’s difficult to find a business owner who has never been advised that using certain colors in their branding will help them improve sales, cut down on support costs, or something else along those lines. But do most brands or individuals take that advice seriously?
There are some actual psychological benefits to keeping brand colors consistent; if you take a moment to consider why your eyes gravitate toward one palette over another, you can begin to understand what makes good design work—and how color influences your customers.
Taglines, slogans, and voice
If a brand has a voice, it’s usually wrapped up in its tagline or slogan. Think Nike’s “Just Do It”, Red Bull’s “Gives You Wings”, and Volvo’s “Safer cars for a safer world”. These lines are meant to evoke an emotion and connect with an audience.
Take Nike, for example. It evokes feelings of ambition and confidence that anyone can achieve their dreams if they work hard enough. What about McDonald’s? Its Golden Arches convey something different than most restaurants—casual dining at any time of day, perfect for when you have kids (and therefore no schedule).
The point is that your logo may be fun and playful, but it should tie into your company’s story and vision as much as possible. What do you want people to think when they see your business? Who do you want them to associate with when they think about your product? How can you best get across who your company is and what you stand for? Start by asking these questions.
Then take action on your answers; write down everything that comes to mind, whether spoken aloud or not.
Imagery, photography, and video
Each of these is powerful on its own, but when integrated it becomes even more powerful. The first step to integrating imagery, photography, and video into your branding strategy is choosing a content creation platform. WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, or any one of a dozen other platforms will work just fine – pick something you like and learn how to use it so you can seamlessly post visual content on an ongoing basis.
It is an entire culture that your company will be known for. Creating a strong, recognizable brand will only take you so far, though; if you want to be truly effective at branding, you need to get your employees in on it as well. This means instilling them with your corporate culture and ensuring they know how to express it through their work—and most importantly, themselves.
Customers and clients won’t buy into your brand without internal consistency between all aspects of your business’s personality, no matter how beautiful or catchy your logo looks. That said, no matter what state of branding you’re in now, there’s always room for improvement. And don’t forget: branding isn’t about what we say; it’s about what people see!
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