Why is Branding more than just your logo
Imagine if someone comes up to you at a party, and asks you who or what do you identify yourself as? What would be your answer? Think about that for a couple of seconds at least before giving me your answer.
Thought about it? Now let me take a stab at your potential answers. You might say you identify as being straight, or gay or bi-sexual, depending if you think if the person you are talking to, is hitting on you. Or you might say you identify as liberal, centristic or right-wing, if you've overhead their previous conversations, being about politics.
Or you might go a bit deeper, and actually open yourself up to this complete stranger, who has asked you a pretty profound question. Who or what do you identify yourself as?
But the last thing in all aspects or all possibilities of the conversation, would you say, you are looking at me, this is how I indentify myself as. And this is branding in a crux. Your logo, your typeface, your colour schemes are all the end products of a process that enables you to truly identify your brand as if you were talking to a living, breathing and thinking person. That's what true branding is. I can go into your customer touchpoints, and talk about exploring the big aspects that made you as the founder think of this brand as something that the world needs. But again what you see as an output, is a fine distillation of the overall process that it takes to truly create a meaningful brand, that outlives us all. So let's start with some of the key aspects that most people don't really consider when they talk about branding.
When thinking about your brand identity, your brand personality plays a pivotal role in crafting your brand. Because this is the part that humanizes the brands, and truly connects with your target audiences. The design team needs this core essence, so that they can convey it through their design, whether it is in the brand language, graphical representation, motion identity, sonic identity, and so on, and so forth.
In simple terms, if your brand was a human, what would its personality be like? Would it be bold, confident, and professional, or would it be cheeky, humorous or sarcastic? Your brand personality comes out not only through your visual communication, it comes out in where you communicate to your customers. It could be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or it could be in your video ads. After all "Birds of a Feather, flock together", or so the old proverb goes. Your personality builds your flock, connecting them together with your brand personality, and building a proverbial community, that is passionate, vocal, and some of the biggest advocators for your brand, because they see a little bit of themselves in the personality of your brand. You want to elict a positive response to your brand, get started working on your brand personality.
In addition to this stage, a couple of key questions that might help refine your understanding of what your brand personality should be:
What does your company stand for? Forget the products, forget the company targets (they change from year to year). What does your company truly stand for. This is a mission statement, a brand promise, that should never change.
Do you have a company philosophy? Is it split amongst internal and external stakeholders? Can you unify it, so that you have one common vision and mission statement that is significant across all stakeholder groups?
What is the tone, that is representative of your company? This tone, or voice connects with your audience on deeply fundamental levels, and it also helps direct the design team towards imagery and colours.
Choosing colours is an important part of the journey, and shouldn't be limited to our CEO likes Blue or Black. Colour psychology is a real art. And it brings out different feelings in each and everyone of us. Colour combinations are a product of trial and testing, but in the same way, a carefully crafted palette of colour combinations, bring out a series of emotions that can influence your customers, change their behaviours and love your brand.
Just like your colours, typography plays a massive role in communicating who and what the brand is on a deeply psychological level. You would not use a whimsical Comic Sans for a serious healthcare institution, because quite simply, it wouldn't communicate the level of trust and professionalism, that people require when they are putting their health in your hands.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution, but every brand should be aware of typography's power as a differentiator, and have a strategy for using it in the most appropriate way.
Your copy is more than just "Lorem Impsum" text, its carefully crafted copy that succinctly communicates what you want to tell your customer, in digestible bits and pieces, that is important for converting browsers to buyers. Your copy is about easily guiding your customers through your products and offerings, and explaining it to them why they need this in their life. Every bit of your marketing collateral, from brochures, to blogs, websites, mobile applications, social media and your advertisement copy is all dependant on your brand copy to be meaningful and expressive.
Traditional advertising is showing and telling your customers what your all about. But unlike that a brand story adopts an emotional reaction to your brand. It can be told from the perspective of the customers, or from the stakeholders. The narrative exists whether you like it or not, and the beauty of a story is that if its emotive, it will always hit the right cords with your target audience.
Your story makes the billions of decisions that you make around value and purpose stick in the mind of the discerning consumer. Are you an ethical choice? Then use a story to attract like-minded individuals. A Brand Story is often the secret sauce that makes any startup inspirational and a century-old company relevant. And a good story always leads to brand authenticity.
Website and/or Mobile Application
This requires its own series of blog articles to explain how important this tool is to your brand, but I will try my best to get this across as briefly as I can. Your primary touchpoint, whether you are a B2B or a B2C brand is either your website or mobile application, and quite often, its both. People are scanners, and within 15 seconds, (yes I am not joking), they know whether they are going to continue to browse the website, make a purchase, or leave. That's how amazing your website or mobile application design should be, you should capture your customer's attention in a mere 15 seconds.
Just like the visual palette of colours, and fonts that combine together to make a brand identity, in the world of moving screens today, you need an expressive motion identity to be recognizable and to stand out from the crowd. If the way something looks makes an impact, the way something moves adds another layer to that impact. In today's digital first world, this in as aspect that truly makes your stand out from your sea of competitors.
If the way something looks makes an impact, and they way something moves adds emphasis to that impact, imagine adding the way something sounds. Now you've got a truly impactful brand. Sonic identity reinforces the way the brand expresses itself to its customers.
Brands are continously trying to engage our five senses (sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing), and a brand that has taken the efforts to engage more senses will by default be more recognizable than any of its competitors to its target audience.
And of course we now come to your logo. As a visual representation of your company, it captures who you are, and what you are about with a unique design. A truly good logo can communicate the essence of your company, its personality and achieves trust with your target market. Hopefully by now, you understand that the logo is not all that a branding identity is all about.
All other touchpoints
This could be your interior designs, interactive signage, event designs (if you're a B2B company). But do not ignore your internal service, support, customer experience, and other critical operations just because your focusing on your visual identity. Your employee engagement is as important (if not more), that all other engagement touchpoints. There is a reason brands with excellent customer service always have a line of advocators and loyal customers outside the premises. It's the cumulative brand experience that adds tremendous value to the customer.
A brand is truly alive, when it engages on all platforms, and when both internal and external stakeholders promote the brand with equal vigour as the other. That's when you know you've truly succeeded in creating a great brand.