Branding 101

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Brandn. – kind, grade, or make, as indicated by a stamp or trademark.

It’s hard to really define what branding means. There are some marketing professionals who have been in the business for decades and they don’t even clearly understand branding. This is one reason why it’s important to consult with a branding professional when building your brand or evolving it. Asking to see examples of their past work is definitely not out of line. Your brand is a big deal and you want to trust that to someone who knows what they are doing.

Branding is about a look and feel. Branding is about a clear and consistent message. Branding is about your company’s story. For a brand to make sense and for your customers to really get your brand, all of those things need to relate to each other in a very natural and fluid way.

While we will always advocate seeing a branding professional for this, there are some things you can and should be thinking about when starting your branding mission. The following information will be a great resource to any professional you choose to work with and may save them some time (and you some money) in the end:

First, do you have a clear picture of who your target audience is? What common traits exist in your target audience? If it’s too hard to identify these commonalities, try making a persona of your perfect customer. What makes this your perfect customer?

On the flip side, how well do you know your competitors? Can you identify traits about them that you like and do not like? What works for their brand and what works against it? How are you different and should you focus on that difference in your branding?

Knowing your target audience as well as your competitors is really important as this is going to help you to identify the things that will make up your brand promise. Also, remember that a brand isn’t created overnight. It’s defined by what your customers think about your brand, not what you think about it. So, it will take time for others to learn about your brand, recognize it, and be able to identify key elements.

Branding pic 2

Take some time to identify key words that describe or relate to your brand. Sometimes it’s good to keep a list like this in the works and whenever you have to write a description of your business or come up with some marketing copy, it will be helpful to always start with this list. It will also keep your messaging consistent.

In addition to key words, think about colors or even color palettes that are representative of what your brand stands for or even what customers you want to target.

Last, and most important, is your message. What do you want people to see, think, and feel when they hear your company name or see your logo? What do you want them to know about your business? Do you want them to know about you? Sometimes, a brand isn’t exactly what we initially expected, but if consumers are getting your message, you’re winning the branding game!

Helpful Tips:

  • Take some time to talk with current customers and ask them what THEY think your brand says, and make sure to LISTEN.
  • Brands are really built by consumers so just because you love the look and messaging, if your customers are getting mixed signals, your brand is not working for you.
  • Keep your brand for at least six months to one year. Like we mentioned earlier, a brand isn’t born overnight so it will take time for your customers to remember it.