Thank goodness that today’s branding doesn’t involve a hot iron and a sizzle! History tells us that branding first started back in Egyptian times when livestock owners branded their cattle with a distinctive symbol to help identify their animals from their neighbours.
Although the concept of branding has moved on, its main purpose of creating a difference with an identifier remains the same. We’ve just added a few less invasive embellishments along the way.
Standing out from the crowd
What we know as branding today includes the marketing and communications you use to make your company stand out from your competitors. It’s directed to the consumer to create an impression of your company’s service, product, experience or organisation, showing why you are a better choice. It allows you to express your company values, culture and personality, giving consumers an insight into your business while making you identifiable.
Whether you’re looking to brand a start-up, or rebrand an existing business, building a brand strategy is the best place to start. It will provide you with a solid foundation and a clear focus to help you move forward.
A layered approach
A common misconception is to think of a brand as a logo, when in fact, it is just one element of a multi-layered strategy. The logo forms part of what is known as the brand identity, which in itself also includes the colour palette, font use, tagline, imagery and tone of voice in the copy. The brand kit also includes brand communication, brand awareness, brand loyalty and brand management.
The power of brand perception
How the consumer understands a brand is all to do with perception, and it is everything when it comes to branding. There needs to be a strong connection between how a brand is intentionally presented and how it is understood in reality. Your goal as a business is to get consumers to connect with your brand in the way that you want to be identified. Whatever the brand is trying to achieve is dependent on the meaning that the audience takes from it.
It’s not possible to tailor a brand to each and every individual’s personal experiences and associations, but effective branding needs to be based on customer insight and commonly-shared associations. It’s this that creates the ‘gut feeling’ that we get about a product or company, based on previous associations.
You might perceive a brand to be a young and vibrant company, a business you can rely on, or a multi-national organisation. Visual design cues will help you identify elements that give you a certain impression of a brand that are based on associations we make with certain colours, fonts and images coupled with the tone of voice used in the copy.
To wrap it up. A brand helps to identify your company and express what you are about. It makes you memorable and sends a message to consumers as to what they can expect from you. It increases brand awareness, in other words, helps you get noticed.