Often business owners will commission a logo for £300 (or so), build a website, create social media posts and spend thousands of pounds on Google ads, Facebook ads etc.
This could be harmful in the long term because they may never be able to go beyond the first impression they make on their audience.
One of the most popular quotes about branding is from Jeff Bezos; “your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”.
Branding is much more than a logo. It takes research, context to create something that will serve you.
The initial work required to create a powerful brand is below the surface ie; purpose, vision, mission and values. Branding has evolved with the times and in the modern climate, customers demand authenticity. So internal branding has never been more important.
In the past Brands had a one way conversation with their audience. Now, however with the advent of social media, consumers have all the power.
Many brands have seen the value in taking a stance on an issue. The value is they align themselves with their audience on common issues and gain trust.
Purpose is the reason why you do what you do. Values are the way you do those things. Visions is what you commit to aspire to and your Mission was what you commit to do every day.
The well-known example is Unilever Who on launching their sustainable living brands, grew 69% faster than the rest of their brands.
Once you have established a reason for your brand, the next step is to create a unique position in the market. Positioning happens in the mind of your audience. Once you have identified and understood your target audience you take a position that will best attract them.
You may have heard of client avatars.This is really important part of creating a powerful brand because the more you understand who you are addressing the more effectively you can understand them and offer what they need.
Aside from the audience you must also analise your competitors. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What is your audience’s point of view of them? What are they happy about? What are they unhappy about?
You may see where there is a gap, where your competitors are falling down, where they could be an improvement of service that hasn’t been considered. This will help you stand out and offer something valuable.
Once you know your position, you can establish some sort of character. In fiction you may have heard of character archetypes i.e. the Sage, the Hero, the Explorer, the Outlaw, etc. Branding experts use this understanding of archetypes to create instant familiarity. We all know these characters. They exist in our psyche
Once you know which archetype your audience represents, you can build the personality of your business around them. A great example is Harley-Davidson. They appeal to the outlaw within us. We may not leave our job and hit the road but if we buy a Harley, we can ride into the sunset on a Sunday before teatime.
Archetypes are a shortcut to familiarity and trust.
Once we have established a character, we can create the verbal expression. Our core message, brand story and brand voice will come from character. The core message is a framework for how to talk about your business, the pain points you address, the benefits you provide and how you differ.
The common misconception with Brand Story is that it is an opportunity to talk about yourself and how you started your business. Brand story is the story of your target audience,
Film writers recognise the work of Jopseph Campbell (the Hero’s Journey) who understand that the hero of any story goes through the same story beats. And this is consistent across l cultures. The great value of telling a story is that as human beings story is in our DNA. We empathise with the hero of a story. We feel what the feel. We become them.
Brands understand this and position themselves as a support to their audience who is the hero of their own journey. The brand story becomes the heroic journey your audience takes. It will include;
– what their existing world look like
– the obstacles they face
– the call to action that makes a change to their circumstances
– meeting the guide (you)
– what happens when they meet you
– the challenges they face
– the transformation they go through
– what the new world looks like once they’ve worked with you
There’s a huge amount of content that can be drawn from these this structure. If it is used in bite-size chunks across your posts, people will find themselves in the story they will relate empathize and they will want to interact.
The final execution of branding is the visual representation which has the job of providing a hook in the memory of your audience. It is well understood that the human mind attaches meaning to visual shapes and speech sounds in a consistent way. We can see in animation how characters are drawn in ways that provide characteristics ie; they could be very square shaped heads; ie; the the old man from ‘Up’. Boxy shapes give a traditional, reliable characteristic. Round characters are charismatic, endearing, harmless and friendly. Triangular characters are often seen as cunning and dynamic.
When we understand the psychology of shapes we can apply them to logo design and typography. They help create character.
In the same way colour is understood to have particular qualities ie; orange – optimistic, friendly, red – excitement, blue – Trust (many companies use blue in their branding)
How does Branding help?
If you invest in branding it will always provide a return on your investment. It will save you time and money. Branding provides definition and clarity for yourself and your team. Branding engages and inspires employees. It attracts top talent, is a guide to effective advertising and marketing. Branding improves recognition and creates trust. It generates new customers and creates financial value. Branding also goes beyond the mundane business transaction to something human and relatable.
If you would like a free 20-minute review of your branding or a discussion about how we can help, please do get intouch: firstname.lastname@example.org