We’ve visited the subject of branding before. (How could we not? One of our services is branding.) However, when it comes to this topic, the conversation is as endless as coffee refills at a diner—and that’s because the elements of brands are ever-changing.
Where in the 1950s, a logo and radio spots were the basis of a brand, in the 60s and 70s, TV commercials and ads dominated the market. As technology became more and more accessible, we began to see brands unfold beyond logos, billboards, and ads, and into websites, digital ads, social media campaigns, and emails. Not only that, but consumers began to care more about the people behind the brand and what it stood for just as much as what it offered. Now, core values, personality, and messaging are as important as whatever it is you’re trying to sell.
In part 1 of our exploration into why branding matters, we mentioned brands are like people. If that’s true, then branding is the thing we create to express who we are. Here’s what we mean:
Whether you put hours into your look or no time at all, you’re making a statement with what you wear. Jeans and tees come off and cool and casual. Heels and pencil skirts, more professional and buttoned up. Your brand has a distinct look, too. Whether it’s trendy, hip, classic, refined, witty, or smart (or all of the above), your logo—just like your outfit— is what consumers see and identify with.
Unlike outfits, once you have a logo to define your brand, you can’t just change it every day. That would be absurd. Instead, you need to create a symbol of what your brand is, what it does, and what it stands for that can sustain the test of time (or at least several years).
Why does a logo matter for your brand? It’s the visual definition of who you are and what you do.
Have you ever had to go to dinner or a baseball game or a picnic with someone who has the personality of a wet blanket? Yes? Okay, take that memory and use it to remember what you absolutely do not want your brand to emulate. People have personalities—some we love, some we like, and some we just despise. Brands are the same way. You could offer the most useful service on planet Earth, but if your brand sounds like a total—let’s just say, “jerk”—people aren’t going to support it. And they certainly aren’t going to tell others to either.
Your brand voice is the storyteller to who you are, so make it strong, make it relatable, make it genuine, make it unique, and make it count.
Why does messaging matter for your brand? It’s the omnipresent voice of your entire operation that builds connections and trust.
As people, our brains are the center of where we hold knowledge. Brands hold knowledge in many places, but websites are the epicenter for most. They’re the first place many consumers visit to learn everything they need about your brand before committing to buying your service or product. But just as our brains don’t contain singular forms of information, your website must also be a balanced mix of creativity, information, education, direction, and persuasive dialogue—you need to prove why you matter in an expressive and impactful way.
How? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, which is why UX design exists. You need to gather who your audience is, what they care about, their habits, their demographic, and their needs so your website can show how your brand will solve those needs. Once you know who they are you can develop a website, which brings your logo and messaging into play, to effectively reach them.
Why does a website matter for your brand? It’s the home base, the center, the control system, the cortex of your brand, introducing supporting elements.
You have your logo, you have your brand voice and messaging defined, you have your website, now you need to connect. Everyone has that friend in the group that knows all the trends, the news, the latest gossip, the biggest upcoming events—they’re the go-to for what’s happening. That’s what your social media channels need to be for your brand. Use the brand voice you’ve defined to share stories, triumphs, new launches, new products, services, successes, teams, etc. with your audience. The right stuff i.e. strong social graphics, engaging, catchy content, relevant topics—will help build your brand and gain you more awareness and loyal followers.
And why does this matter? Because in time, those loyal followers turn into customers who turn into brand ambassadors.
Why does social media matter? If messaging is what you stand for, social is the loudspeaker to project your voice.
Brands, like people, are all different. They stand for different values, have different voices, believe different things, and are useful in many different ways. Not all people wear hats, or have loud voices, or bright colored hair, or know how to fix a broken tail light—and in the same sense, not all brands have intricate logos, blogs, heavily designed websites, or high-level email campaigns. Brands are diverse, and that’s what makes them interesting and meaningful.
Need help figuring out your brand? We’re here to get to the bottom of your story, develop it, and share it with the world. Give us a holler to talk more about what we can do for you.