As a Brand Manager, I get tons of questions about what branding is, why it’s so important, and how to build the kind of brand that inspires loyalty and action. The short answer is, branding is putting considerable thought and effort into making your company unique, memorable, and human. Pretty powerful, right?
The finer points of brand creation and management are much more extensive, though, and break down into the day-to-day dealings with your customers, employees, partners, and everyone your company might touch. Below are responses to some of the most frequently asked questions I receive.
If you have additional questions, give me a buzz! Creating the perfect brand for companies is a huge passion of mine (alongside gardening, keeping fit, and pretty much anything having to do with food and cooking)! We can chat about those things too if you’re game.
What is a brand?
If you said “my logo” in your head, keep reading because branding is so much more than just a logo. Oh, the logo is darn important, but it’s doesn’t end there.
The not-as-condensed version of that answer is, your company’s brand is anything connected with your company. That includes your logo, slogans, design, copy, social media, reviews, storefronts, and even feelings or opinions held by other people. Long story short, if it’s associated with your company, product, or service, then it’s a part of your brand. Even if you weren’t the one who put it out there (that’s right, what your employees, partners, customers, and general public do and say all shape your brand too).
A brand is what you're "known for." And being known for something is often what earns you business - or drives it away. That's why companies spend so much time investing in what they can control (or, their owned media): their logo, website, social media, visual design, advertisements, etc.
What is branding?
Think about branding as the conscious choice to shape how your company is perceived. You can’t control what someone says or thinks about your company. But by being aware of the different interaction points of your business, you can help people have the experience that you want them to have with your brand. If you want your company to be known for caring about your customers, then you’d better walk the walk, get out there, and start showing your customers you care consistently and at every point of interaction. Get it?
Once you know how your want your brand to be perceived, then the art of branding your company is communicating that in a compelling way, so that people begin to think that way about your company and then eventually believe it.
Why is branding so important?
Let me answer your question with another question: why do people choose your company? Undoubtedly, there’s another company that offers comparable services at a better rate. So why you? If it’s because you’ve got an amazing product that no one else sells, then give it time, you’ll have a competitor soon. And if you don’t know, then call me, because we need to work on that now.
Great branding gives you long-term, repeat customers and a healthy profit margin.
You can always manipulate people into purchasing something if you make it cheaper or offer a buying incentive (Example: buy my product and I’ll give you this other product for free). But that is going to compromise your margins and you’ll train your customers to hunt out the better deal...which might not always be you. Unless you want to participate in the race to the bottom for your industry, smarten up and focus on your brand.
Your brand = your customers’ experience. People are using the internet for just about everything these days, from product and company research to financial management to basic communication with friends and loved ones. Which makes it the perfect place to cultivate the brand you want your company to own. Your goal is to connect to your target audience through the 1001 things they do online and inspire them to choose you over your competition. That’s where your brand comes into play and that’s why branding is so important.
What is the branding process?
When most of my clients come to Rise with a branding problem, it’s not because they have a “bad brand” or they’re trying to “cover something up.” Instead, they usually come to us for one or more of the following reasons:
- They’ve never thought about branding before, so they don’t know where to start.
- They want to attract different customers. Maybe because they have a new product, or maybe because they’ve outgrown their current market.
- They have a great brand in person, but they have no idea how to translate that to the digital world.
No matter where you’re starting or why, if your brand is your customers’ experience, you’re going to want to invest good time and resources into it. Crafting a meaningful brand (either from scratch or out of a failed brand) takes a lot of research, talent, and experienced-based know-how.
It starts by creating the story behind the brand. I can’t really speak to how other companies go about this, but here at Rise we dig deep into your company, its culture, goals, and inner-workings to find out your why. Why your company over any other company. Why you’re in the business. Why you’re special.
Then we see if that’s how your current brand is behaving. That means assessing your online presence, what your customers and employees believe about you, and what you’re putting out into the world. Chances are, there’s going to be some misalignment. That’s okay because that’s probably why we got hired in the first place.
Then we craft a meaningful and honest (that part is very important) story that ties your brand deeply to your target audience.
Armed with your brand story, we can start actually branding your company. Yes, this is where the logo comes in, alongside a full visual identity including color schemes, textures, and fonts that will identify you in every digital and print medium you move into. We do the same thing for your copy because you want to sound the same too. This is a vital step in the process because you want to build consistency across your brand. Why? I’m glad you asked. Read on.
How does consistency relate to branding?
It’s all about trust. Thanks to the internet, consumers can quickly and easily find all the information they want to know about a product or service via websites, social media platforms, and review sites. If they see conflicting information about your company (or worse, don’t find any information at all), it’s absurdly easy for them to just go with someone else.
Having a consistent brand that displays on your website, social media spaces, mobile application, and physical office space helps to let customers know you’ve got your stuff in order and are ready to take care of them in a professional and efficient manner.
In other words, you can’t build trust without consistency, and you can’t build consistency without a fully-operational brand.
Besides, it’s just plain confusing when things don’t match.
What should I expect from my branding agency?
“Branding” has become one of those commonly tossed around terms. Anyone can say they’re a branding expert, but if their consultation ends at asking which colors you find pretty and all they produce is a logo, you’re in trouble. Big time.
A real agency will sit down and learn about your past, find out where you are now, and consider your future goals before ever picking up a (digital) paintbrush or writing your copy. Branding is about finding a voice that's right for the company (which can be executed across all mediums) and is appealing to customers.
But, it doesn’t even end there. Branding is not a one-time deal. Branding happens every day - you just might not be consciously thinking of the choices you're making. Branding happens every time you make a great connection with a customer and she tells her friends about it. Branding is also getting a bad review on Yelp and having to play a bit of damage control. It’s in the research and design, as well as the day-to-day operations, and that’s what makes it so cool (in my not so humble opinion).
Ready to talk more about branding? Drop me a line on Twitter or contact the office to set up a meeting. I can go on and on, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of how all of this relates to your ROI!