When it comes to branding many people often assume it’s just a logo and a colour palette. But honestly, the ‘look’ of a brand is just the tip of the iceberg. Brand identity (visuals only) alone won’t cut it in this day and age. Consumers are looking for brands who share the same values, beliefs and who talk their talk and walk their walk. In this article, I’ll explain how now most products/services are considered commodities but if you want to be known for more than faceless facts and figures and start inspiring and motivating people then you need to think hard about what your business stands for and capture the true essence of your brand. I’m going to break down the graphic below into more detail to help you understand the value of branding and what it cand do for your business.
– (Branding edition)
I’m going to use building a house as an analogy for building a strong, safe and successful brand.
Most of us have seen Grand Designs so let’s say you’re about to embark on a journey to building your dream home. Before you make it a home it needs to be a solid structure; and a strong safe structure needs a plan; the blueprint. You have a pretty good idea of how you want the end result to look but getting it that point and build right is going to save you heaps of time and money in the long run (we’ve all seen what happens when people cut corners on Grand Designs).
You first need to start by sitting down and planning your dreams and goals for what you want your home to; do for you, be for you and feel for you. A framework is designed to put in place the foundations, to a) keep you on track, b) to create consistency and c) remember why you started in the first place.
A home is a place for you to live out your core values they should be reflected throughout the exterior and interior and the same goes for branding a business.
In other words, do you want it to be self-sustaining, secure and future-proof? Your values make up the backbone of your brand. They don’t have to be the same as your own personal values but my experience they often are. We get into business because our values drive our passion and it’s this passion that makes us unique.
TOP TIP: Remember with all things a little planning at the beginning will always add up to big results! The same goes for branding.
Building a strong brand is no quick and fast process making sure the foundations are solid, strong and taking the time to foresee any problems to ensure the safety and stability of the brand’s success will ensure it can withstand the test of time and support you and your family in the life you dream of. Remember you’re building a legacy.
Anyway, let’s get back to the house analogy. Once you’ve got a rock-solid framework and your super clear on what your “home” stands for, then it’s time to start planning the look and feel. What style should it lend itself to? When people visit your home do you want them to feel inspired, calm or feel like a home from home?
Like I mentioned above your values play a vital role in the end result. Just like building a house, you need to look at all aspects, for example, does it lend itself to the landscape (your market/industry)? You wouldn’t expect to see a Japanese Townhouse in the middle of London.
All these aspects and questions are the same for building a strong and safe brand. Your brand is a platform for promoting your businesses core values (the WHY you are doing what you’re doing). Read my blog post The Ultimate List of core Brand Values for Lifestyle Brands to help you uncover your brand’s values.
Eliminates the need to compete on price
A brand is taking commerce, (the act of selling a product or service) and giving it a personality (remember it’s what’s on the inside that counts). If you think of the logo as the ‘face’ of the business, the brand’s is the likeable, loveable character of the business.
The little question of WHY has a major impact on the development of your brand and its success. Without it, you don’t have a brand you have a business, that is only limited to selling faceless, facts, figures, benefits and features. Originality comes from you. Think about what you’re truly selling a lifestyle? A dream? Once you’ve figured that out there’s no need to compete on price.
Branding defines your purpose
It’s your core values, belief system, passion and the grounding reason WHY you exist in the first place? Your WHY should always be at the forefront of your brand. Quoting Simon Sinek “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it?”. The goal is not to do business with everybody the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe and trust in what your brand stands for. A strong brand helps you align with your audience and build a community that loves and trusts you thus creating a loyal following filled with advocates.
In this day and age, people buy on emotion. Why? Because most products or services are considered a commodity. Think of how many coffee brands, fashion brands, car brands and yes services based businesses like personal trainers there are in the world. All offer a similar end result but it’s their values that set them apart.
For example, A car (regardless of the brand) will get you from A to B safely, but how they get you there is what determines WHY a buyer will choose one over the other. Yes, it can be on price but often it’s based on an emotional thought process. If you value power, beauty and soul then maybe an Aston Martin speaks to you, while if you pride yourself on sustainable and cutting-edge technology then it’s likely a Tesla will resonate better. Each car brand has its own tribe, Mercedes drivers are considered a different type of driver from an Audi driver and so on.
No matter how much we crave individuality, the brands we buy from define who we are. Nike, for example, is the brand that represents inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body you’re an athlete. They stand by their values consistently throughout their brand, no one else does it quite like them that’s why they sell so many branded Tshirts with a simple Nike Swoosh, people want to showcase who they are as individuals and if they wear Nike or even a t-shirt with WWF their values are clear. The psychology that plays into building a brand is an art. We all have access to the same media platforms, marketing ideas and marketplaces. But how come some are more successful than others? It’s down to good branding and clearly communicating its values.
A brand That’s loved and trusted
Trust is hard to acquire in today’s markets. Unfortunately, the internet is home to a lot of false claims which no industry can escape. When I build brands for my clients I always give them the hard truth that it’s not all about you it’s about them. Finding and understanding your audience needs wants, fears and desires are vital in running a successful business today. Branding is what people expect, experience and remember; the true challenge is creating a brand that goes beyond their expectations, leaving a lasting (positive) impression.
It tells a story
When you only choose to focus on the facts, figures, features and benefits it doesn’t drive behaviour or emotion maybe that’s why Dell’s website is so boring (clearly I’m not the target market) and Apple’s is enchanting. As humans, we’re programmed to love a good story. We like to feel inspired, motivated and feel like we can relate to the characters. A brand’s story should evoke emotion and spark action among the audience allowing them to feel empowered. Telling your story builds trust and loyalty which is responsible for human behaviour and decision making. The art of telling your story is the magic your brand has and everyone loves a good underdog that’s on a journey to success.
Creating first & last impressions
We have finally reached what we call brand identity. Like I mentioned above, choosing what colours to paint the walls comes at the end. Without a brand strategy, a brand identity is an empty (yet pretty) shell and this is where the fine line between design and art come into play. Good design holds a function which is driven by an end goal.
One of the questions I ask my clients is “If your business was to host a party, what would it look like? What food would it serve? Who would it invite? What music would it play? How would it dress?”. Remember when I said it’s not all about you it’s about them…? This still applies. You and your business are different. Granted, you may be the face of your business (this is called ‘Personal Branding’) but how you act in front of clients and customers is different in from how you act at home. Making sure there is a clear distinction in your brand is key. Your image needs to attract your ideal audience. Remember we want to build a tribe/community/club, and no, not quite like Hells Angels but if driving around on Harleys is your thing, then go for it!
Finding value in Branding
Most people look at branding in the wrong way. If I was to say to you a new brand would cost you £5000+ you may be in shock. That’s because you’re just looking at the end product Logo, website, colour palette. But, what if I was also able to say that a £5000 investment could profit you x5 that per year from your brand, that £5000 looks pretty reasonable. Branding is so much more than the vanity aspect of your business. Look at it as the investment into the success and longevity of your business, claiming a higher position in the market, eliminating the need to compete on price and enabling you to charge what you are worth.
- A brand should clearly communicate core values/culture
- A strong brand requires a blueprint
- A brand is more than what it looks like
- It’s not all about you it’s about them
- Branding is what people expect, experience and remember