Branding is not a logo
What is branding? For most, it’s just a logo and colours for a business but that's a huge understatement. A brand isn’t a just a logo, it’s part of your company Identity, a visual representation of your business’ voice and values. It’s also your corporate image and one of the most important long-term assets for any business. Often undervalued, a strong brand can be the difference between being a Coca-Cola or a generic cola. It affects everything from your customer's perceptions, quality of your products and services to your prices. With the introduction of online business and social media, it’s not good enough anymore just to have a name and a slogan to stand out amongst the sea of sameness in the ever-growing competitive internet market. Customers are constantly inundated with visual imagery every day. Making strong, consistent branding a vital aspect of every business in all industries, no matter the size. By using all components of branding effectively it results in inspiring trust and loyalty in your customers, helping you to build your business’ reputation and highlight its core values to make genuine connections with potential and current customers.
What is Branding?
Branding is generally made of three main components; A logo, a brand and identity. A logo is the heart of your brand condensed down to its simplest form. Its key purpose is to identify your business and be easily recognised and remembered by your viewers. Normally taking on the shape of a mark, icon or typography, the meaning behind the logo is considered more important than what it looks like. This is because your logo should be backed up by your strong brand and Identity. Your brand is the perceived emotional image of the business as a whole. Created by using strategic elements, fonts, colours and occasionally a tagline or slogan. Ultimately the people make the brand, a designer’s job is to build the foundation for the intended brand to help push the feel and impression in the ideal direction. An Identity is the visual and physical aspects that shape your overall brand. Including such elements like your logo, business cards, brochures, flyers, signage, packaging, websites, social media and basically any material that represents your business visually.
Your branding derives from a mixture of your business’ values, goals, products/services and what makes you different from your competitors (unique selling point and mission statement). The intention of branding is to visually communicate to your viewers the human attributes of your business and what it stands for. This helps you to make an authentic, emotional and memorable connection with potential customers. By using all elements of branding effectively to represent your brand’s voice and values, can result in increasing your visibility and creating a sense of promise to your customers, inspiring trust and loyalty.
Your branding is the first impression you give to your customers, helping you build your business’ reputation and your vision for the future which inspires trust and loyalty from your viewers and gives them an image or idea to connect with. A strong brand affects everything from pricing and quality to perception. Think of the differences between Coca-Cola and generic cola, obviously they have differences in the product but the branding for them are comparable in the way they are competitors. The Coca-Cola brand values joy and happiness which allows the brand to be so easily remembered and recognised that it’s the first brand that people think of when they want a cola, allowing them to have higher prices and the perception of the highest quality. The Coca-Cola brand is so influential and established that it changed the original colours of Santa Clause. Traditionally dressed all in green, Coca Cola’s Christmas advertising campaign of a Santa dressed in Red to match their branding was so widely received it’s still today’s idea of Santa Clause.
People buy from people and this is where authentic and strong branding can really give you a competitive edge, especially in the saturated online market. Branding works hand in hand with marketing although unlike marketing, branding is more of a strategic pull approach to selling rather than tactical push by reflecting your business’ human attributes, goals and everything it does, owns, produces and values your viewers are easily able to make an emotional connection, in turn making you more attractive to potential customers. Not only does a strong brand identify you and differentiate you from your competitors, it creates a perception of professionalism and establishment which is especially helpful with a newer business wanting to get serious.
Creating a Strong and Effective Brand
It’s important to note that a graphic designer cannot make a brand, this is done by your audience and customers. A designer is used to create the foundation and visual elements for your intended brand and help influence it by using visual strategies and techniques. The strength of your branding is dependant on a variety of factors but arguably some of the most important aspects are;
- Consistency - Having a constant look and feel creates a confidence in your brand
- Simplicity - Simpler designs like your logo make it easier to recognise and remember
- Responsiveness - Visual elements that are easy to recognise and read on all platforms & device sizes.
- Versatility - Visuals (eg. logo) that have the ability to be used everywhere both digitally and printed.
Keeping all these factors in mind, every aspect of every visual design still needs to reflect the business’ ideas, core values and goals etc. So it’s important that before creating visuals for your own branding or coming to a designer to work out your business values and what you want the branding to represent.
Standing out amongst the sea of sameness in the ever growing competitive market is almost impossible without strong branding and with the introduction of social media and online businesses, a strong, authentic and memorable brand is vital. It’s not just a logo as a logo, brand and identity all work together to effectively represent your business’ voice, human attributes and values helping you visually communicate and make emotional connections with your customers. Understanding your brand isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for your own business as sometimes it helps to have another perspective, whether that's from a graphic designer or simply talking to your previous clients about their perceptions of your business. As a graphic designer, I like to use a branding guide with my Branding Suite clients to help discover their branding and help me create the foundations and visuals of their brand. Based off a very basic business plan, the guide is a questionnaire that focuses on narrowing down every aspect of your branding to help you discover your business’ voice, core values, goals, products/services and USP.
Download your free branding guide to DIY (Discover It Yourself!)