What is branding & why does it really matter?
What is branding?
Your brand is the outward representation of your business to the world. It encompasses every way that a customer or client may interact with your business and influences how they feel about it.
Although often thought of this way, branding is actually much more than just a logo. Your logo is used as a simple representation of who you are and is useful in many cases, but there is so much more to it than that. Here is a list of just some of the things that contribute to the way your brand is experienced by your audience:
Social Media Usage
Think of the last time you were at the supermarket or the mall - yes, you may have bought something because you needed it, but you probably chose one over the other because of some elements of it’s brand.
When we choose products or services, we are flooded with connotations that make up that business’ brand and make our decisions accordingly. When choosing a new shampoo, for example, I’m attracted or turned off by the colours, patterns, textures and packaging design, drawn in or turned away by the copywriting on the bottle, reminded of the advertisement I saw on the TV, in a magazine or before watching a YouTube video. I make judgements based on the price - is it cheap because it’s low quality or because of something else? I think of the issues associated with the brand - maybe they support the use of palm oil, their packaging is plastic and the product is chock-full of chemicals that are harmful to my skin, or maybe they donate to charities, have eco-friendly packaging and use natural ingredients. I consider the partnerships that they have done with other brands and alter my decision.
All of these connotations, past interactions and the experience with this brand and its products will alter my perception and ultimately influence my decision making. This is branding.
Why is branding important?
Whether your goal is to make more money, disrupt something, or change the world, the way to get there is more customers, and your branding can either equal success or failure in that department depending on how you use it.
It is well known that to get new clients or customers and keep them, it’s important that they know, like and trust you. To get them on board with your vision and choose your business, you need to establish intrigue, engage with them and gain their trust. If you have a good, strong brand, this will be a piece of cake.
Good visuals and strong copy will peak people’s interest; engaging content and positive marketing will generate hype; consistency, authenticity and community will establish trust, and all of these together will take your business to the next level.
Not only are there these amazing benefits if you take control of your brand, but there can be some very serious downfalls if you don’t. Not having a strong brand presence makes it difficult to tell your story: your audience will not understand who you are, what you do or what you’re about. Lack of consistency and quality will make it confusing and conflicting when people interact with your brand, leaving them with a sense that you aren’t reliable, professional or established. These negative experiences, even if just once, can leave a lasting impression on consumers and cause nightmares for your reputation and your sales. Branding may seem like a small thing, but it can have large consequences, both good and bad.
Ensuring that this doesn’t occur through consistent, clear and high quality design, content and communication will safeguard your business from any potential fallout.
How do I create a brand?
If you already have a business with customers, you already have a brand, and even as an individual, you have your own personal brand. I, for example, am known as the British girl who rarely wears colours, loves dogs, is a Harry Potter nerd and is obsessed with typography - that’s why I am constantly being tagged on Facebook in dog videos, Harry Potter memes and hand lettering timelapses. As a business, Black & White Studios is known among other things as the place to go for clean, professional & bold branding, hand lettering and graphic design. Now that you have a brand, you just need to know how to control it and use it to your advantage.
This all might seem a lot, and it can be sometimes. There are a lot of puzzle pieces to fit together in the right ways and if you’re not experienced in this, it can seem overwhelming, but that’s what professionals are for. Enlisting the help of branding designers and strategists will make sure that you get this right. These experts will help you to figure out exactly what to say, how to say it and how to ensure it gets said consistently in the future. They will work with you to make sure you’re getting the right things in place for your brand, and often create brand guidelines for you and your team to reference in the future.
Brand guidelines help to ensure consistency within your brand. This makes sure you’re always thinking of your brand and it’s perception when you are making decisions or putting pieces of work out there. Using the same colours, style of photos, tone of voice, fonts and more in all that you do will ensure that people recognise that it’s you when they see an ad or read a blog post, not the other business across town.
Most importantly, when deciding on your brand direction and working on designs, copy, collaborations or content for example, make sure that what you are presenting does in fact represent what your business is actually like. There’s no point in presenting yourself as a super vibrant, loud and crazy brand, if it’s actually more minimalist, quiet and traditional. It’s important to set your audience expectations in your branding that are fulfilled when they encounter your business. Failing to meet expectations will also leave a bad taste in their mouth.
Your brand is your business, and your business is your brand. Connecting the two is a sure fire way to establish your business and share all of it’s amazing qualities to the world in all the best ways. Start thinking about what you want your brand to say and work from there, one colour, word, logo or typeface at a time!