What ‘brand’ is, and why it’s important…
Your ‘brand’ is more than the sum of all the parts.
Your brand is the sum of all of your marketing touchpoints and also how it’s perceived by your audience. According to brand strategist Marty Neumeier, it’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.
So, a brand is not just a logo; it’s a visual representation of why you exist and who you’re here to serve.
It’s your business personality and it’s what makes you different enough for people to gravitate towards you. You can’t create that by just ‘knocking up’ a logo.
What your ‘branding’ is
So, if a brand results from a perceptions and ‘gut feel’ then branding is the process to influence, generate, and control these associations in peoples’ minds to help your business perform well.
Effective branding helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors and adds value to your offer, as well as building a loyal customer base.
At the start of your business, (or when you’ve rebranded) after you’ve created your shiny new band identity, it doesn’t stay static. A brand is not something you can just create and forget. Things change and evolve and so do brand identities. It’s a good idea to check in regularly with your brand identity to see if it’s still reflective of you as a company. You may have added more products or services, or be disrupting the market in a new, innovative way. Or perhaps the audience you were once aiming at has now changed, or you’ve decided to niche.
But it may not only be your business that changes – it could be the industry you’re operating in or there could be new advances in technology or social change.
Does your brand identity still reflect you in the right way to your audience?
There are a number of situations that may require a rebrand:
• Mergers, acquisitions, and demergers
• Changing markets
• Difficulties with reputation
• Conflict with stakeholders
• New CEO or management
• Outdated image
When you know you need a new brand, don’t be tempted to jump straight into discussions about logo colours and shapes. Remember; it’s about more than the visual identity.
When we create a new brand strategy, the first place we start is to reflect inwards with questions like these that you can discuss:
Why are we here? You need a simple statement that sums up your core purpose, usually relatively emotional in tone, and often simplified to just a few headline words.
What do we do and how do we do it?
These are usually descriptive, nuts and bolts, functional ‘doing’ and ‘process’ statements.
Who are we here for?
Who are our key audiences/customers for a product or the whole organisation? Linked to this are the messages that fit with each audience.
What do we value the most?
What are the core beliefs and universal truths that are shared? These affect how a brand, its founders, directors, and employees behave.
What’s our personality?
How do we express ourselves in the outside world, what’s our brand’s character, what tone of voice do we use, and how do we communicate?
What makes us different?
Which unique properties do we have that helps to position our brand away, in customer’s minds, from what others offer?
Once this process has taken place, we create your brand in words before even starting any creative work.
Once your brand report has been signed off in words, we can start the creative.
You may have had an existing brand name so this section might not apply to you. But if you’re hitting blocks creating a new brand name, that’s our bag. Good brand names, domain names, and social media accounts are even more difficult to come up with now, so having some external help is a must. The creative brief is developed from the initial strategic session and 8 keys words are taken and developed in an ideation session by brand strategist Philippa Smart.
Now the creative starts. The first port of call is your logo. Let’s be clear again here; your logo is NOT your brand – it’s one element of its visual identity.
What is a brand? – How your audience perceives your image as a whole. It’s their gut feel about you as an organisation.
What is a brand identity? – The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
What is a logo? – A logo identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.
Using the branding report as the base, we start the creative work. We’ll normally come up with around five ideas that fit that brief, and all will be unique in their own way.
There may be some development of one chosen idea based on your feedback, and this is fine. But if it strays too far from the brief, we’ll be speaking up to point that out!
Once the logo has been signed off, we’ll start to look at the brand identity – those marketing touchpoints or materials you need and use on a regular basis:
• Social media accounts
• Printed literature
• Email marketing
• Business stationery
• Exhibition materials
• PowerPoint templates
• Point of sale
So, you have you shiny new brand – now you need to know to know how to use it. Not just you, but you and your team, and your external suppliers.
Brand guidelines are an essential part in the branding process. Your brand identity is a living breathing thing that needs to be looked after and nurtured to make sure it’s applied consistently. The brand guidelines set out and explain your vision, your values, your personality, and your brand tone of voice. They are what guide your internal and external team as to how to phrase your messaging and how it should look.
Typically, a set of guidelines will cover:
Vision, values, personality, tone of voice, ideal customer, the logo, logo placement and sizing, typography, colour palette and brand identity.