What is branding and why does it make a difference
If you think of your business as a human being, what would you like that human being to look like? Would it be a man or a woman, what type of person would they be? Would they be quiet or loud? Creative or no nonsense? Straight talking or mysterious? What clothes would they then wear to represent them? Would they wear something formal like a business suit or relaxed such as shorts and t-shirt? Would they have tattoos, wear makeup or jewellery? These are all analogies that you could use to get you thinking about how you want your business to be represented.
So you have an idea of what the human representation of your business might look like but before this there needs to have been a lot of growing and learning in order for your business to fit into it’s correct and mature personality. A branding journey can help to accelerate the discovery of exactly what personality your business is. Branding can be thought as the consciousness of your business; it’s values, ethos and goals. Branding is the spirit of your business and should be thought about really carefully, you should listen to your peers, mentors and friends about how your business should be setup. All these factors contribute to exactly what your business is about, once you have all this worked out and aligned you can then start to think about how to visually represent it.
As Seth Godin says; “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. A brand is not defined by the organisation, but it is the consumer perception of the organisation.”
Your brand is made up of several elements;
From the triangle diagram above we can dissect exactly what branding is.
When was the last time you sat down and actually took a good look at your business? When you brand your business this is exactly what you should do, ask yourself why did you start the business, what was the excitement and passion that created the idea for your business.
Once you have your big idea and the spark and excitement is there, you can create your vision. What do you want the business to look like in 6 months, a year, 2 years and 5 years? Every business needs a vision, so if you have never created one, write it down now!
Every person has an origin story, so should a successful business. Often the better the story the better the brand, think about the top brands out there, McDonalds for instance do you know the story behind that brand? Two brothers owned a burger restaurant in California and basically invented a machine and system that made the burgers really quickly, there’s a lot more to that story which you should check out in the film The Founder but you get the picture!
Do you live by any values? Even if you haven’t thought about this before you will already live your life by a certain values. Your business should be the same and you should write down what these values are and try to stick to them as much as you possibly can, if you are a business that provides a product you could set your values to high quality, or the best you can buy. If you provide a service which relies on you as the face, you may want to be very honest and transparent. So that this instils confidence and trust in your client so they will work with you well and the relationship and end result will blossom for both sides.
This might be one of the most exciting areas of your brand, what is the mission of your business. What do you want it to accomplish and what problems should it solve for people. As creative individuals you may have created a business that provides a solution to a problem, or a service that makes someone’s life easier or better.
So you have the passion for the idea, the vision set in your mind, you have the story about the product or the service, you have defined your values and created a mission statement so now you will be able to come up with the personality of the business. This should come really easily and a natural process to the thinking and consciousness of your business. Remember to think about your business like a human, what personality would you like it to have.
So this is what you sell, if you are a photographer your product is the end photos however it’s important to remember you are also selling yourself. You are selling your personality and your artistic talent so this is what you need your target audience to ‘buy into’. You are also selling an experience, even if you are selling a physical product, you are still selling an experience, how easy is it for your target to find and buy the product?
This is the future of your brand and business, where do you want to be in 2,3, 5 or 10 years time. This is the plan you make and the branding forms the basis for this plan.
I really hope you have learnt a lot from this! My main message here is that you really should never under estimate the power of good well thought out branding even if your business is just you! Good branding is your marketing, get this right and everything else will slot into place and you will have full confidence in who you are, what your business is about, your ideal target client and the future!
To learn more you can watch an interview with me and Adam Johnson from Nine Dots here!
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