There are so many misconceptions about branding. And I really don’t like the fact that they’ve influenced so many people. Including me. I’ve had to relearn just about every doggone thing I thought I knew about branding to fix it.
One of the most common misunderstandings of the term is when people say they need a “brand” or need “branding.” These people are often referring to their logo, website, business cards, or some other thing they can put their logo and colors on. Your logo, website, and business cards are important parts of your brand, but they’re also an extremely small percentage of what your brand really is. Your logo may get them to look, but your brand keeps them coming back for more.
And to get your audience coming back for more, we gotta get a better understanding on what a brand and branding means at the fundamental level. So throw out all the junk and lets relearn some things.
100 days before her graduation, Sarah (Fudin) Hermalyn got inspired to get 100 definitions on what branding meant from 100 different people in various industries. I’ve pulled some of the best ones out for you as they’re gonna answer our question (and answer it right): What is branding?
A brand is a simple mental model that represents, collectively, what people feel, think and say about a product, service or company, and where meaning is established over time through consistent positive experiences and engagements. – Elizabeth Talerman
Feel, think, and say.
That would make your brand an intangible thing, right?
Your brand is the collection of these feelings, thoughts, memories, experiences, and stories that influence what is said about it. And in consistently doing these things, your brand means something to your audience that’s more than your product or service.
This is why I caution against the ”Buy my thing!” culture on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You’re influencing someone’s mental model that all you do is create noise. The experience you’re creating is spam, and the memories you’re making are ones of evasion.
Stop creating noise and start creating a brand. Tell stories and create relationships, then ask people to buy your thing.
Branding is convincing that voice in someone’s head to be on your side. – Veronica Parker-Hahn
A logo won’t do the job alone. To convince the voice inside someone’s head that you are the side to be on takes work, but it isn’t impossible. This goes beyond colors, business cards and letterheads, and feeds right back into creating experiences, memories, and stories to build up someone’s mental model of what your brand is and what it means in their life.
One of the interesting considerations today about branding is how so many companies today must build and position their brands for growth and success in a much more integrated fashion, moving beyond the identity of the products / services (e.g., performance and benefits) being sold, to the experience being delivered, to the employees – on the front line and otherwise – that are ambassadors of the brand, to the end users – consumers – and their personal communities. Good brand strategy comes from knowing all of this, and accurately factoring it all in… We teach integrated marketing at NYU, and this is discipline and approach is more important than ever. Brands must communicate in an integrated way, or be lost in the shuffle…- Paula Payton
Features aren’t enough. “We’re better than X because…” isn’t enough. At every touch point we’re wanting a unique brand experience that is genuine and authentic. A touch point is how your audience connects with your brand. This can be anything from a Facebook page, to a tweet, a print ad, a TV spot, or a snap on Snapchat. Each of those are touch points of varying importance and engagement, and your audience has gotten more demanding as the expectations of brands have grown within the last decade. We expect consistent experiences across the board whether it be in 140 characters, 2,500 words in a blog post, a 5 minute vlog, a short Facebook post, or a even a business card.
One of the projects I just completed, I identified that their brand spoke to what’s called the Caregiver brand archetype—1 of 12 brand archetypes. The Caregiver is all about being gentle, caring, soft, etc. To elevate the experience of their business cards, I decided to go with a premium printer who offered “soft touch” paper. The paper is crazy smooth and comforting against the fingers, and created a different sensation as soon as you touched them. A few days after their delivery, I got a text from the director, saying he had some great feedback about the cards and how great they felt. They were a conversation piece that lead to more opportunities to create more stories and experiences around their brand.
Needless to say, find a designer that looks for every opportunity to create these experiences and strategies for you without you ever having to ask. But don’t look too far. 😉
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton
Key words here: Find out who you are.
So often we see the success of someone else and believe if we do the same exact thing we’ll reproduce the same results. And that isn’t always the case. Do what works for you, then keep doing it. Google doesn’t try to be Apple and Apple doesn’t try to be Google. Be your own brand and do your own thing.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Be your own brand and do your own thing.” quote=”Be your own brand and do your own thing.” theme=”style3″]
Branding is creating a distinctively authentic recipe that brings people to the table again and again to tie memories with flavor and great conversation. – Larry Sombke
Engagement. That’s what we all need to be shooting for. What’s the conversation happening around your brand? So many people want the likes and the follows. Concentrate more on getting the engagement to happen around everything you post. People who talk about your brand consistently are building a community right before your eyes.
A belief. – Bobby C. Martin Jr.
I wanted to highlight the last statement: a belief. What does your brand believe in? What are your values and core beliefs? And are you marketing what these things are to your target audience?
I believe in helping others.
I use design and this blog as tools to do that. I value the idea of someone wanting to embrace their God given calling in life and do it. I also value becoming part of their journey. And because of that, I’ve tailored my approach and process to create an experience that builds my clients up and equips them with the tools necessary to succeed.
Branding is building and establishing expectations about the experience a person will have with a product, service, or company and, ideally, meeting those expectations in a manner that is so positive that the same person will want to have that experience again. And again. – Armin Vit
You want repeat customers. And you want to ensure the experiences you’re delivering make it happen.
Simply put, a brand is a promise. It is a tool that we use to connect to those around us. When used effectively it can provide tangible growth and tremendous value. – J’aime Cohen
I use this blog to provide value to my readers. And I make sure the value I’m providing isn’t fluff. Content marketing is easy to do. That’s why there’s thousands of blogs with surface level content that pale in comparison to the more successful, value-driven blogs. I spend 3-6 hours a week preparing the blog, from the time I draft the topic to the final version, there’s a lot of research, revisions, and making sure that I’m delivering on the value I want to deliver. I want people like you to read the blog, take something away from it, and apply it to your business. This is a very long game approach, but that is the promise of this blog, which is an extension and part of the larger Geeky Dreamer brand. Where can you provide growth and tremendous value to your audience?
At a quiet bus stop, a woman waits. She casually glances upon the ad next to where she sits, and for a split second she vanishes, seemingly removed from the everyday. – Peter Buchanan-Smith
Memories. Experiences. Conversations. Feelings. She checked out because of that collection of things. Not a logo.
Branding: A promise. Product: The delivery of the promise. – Christine Mau
Do you have a promise? If so, what is it?
What I really wanted to drive home with this is that your brand is so much more than your logo, and if that was your understanding of a brand and branding prior to this post, I’m hoping I drilled down enough to get you to think bigger on the terms of branding and the possibilities that are out there for you.
If you need help seeing these possibilities and opportunities, and really want to go down the path of thinking bigger, today is the last day of my exclusive, one-time introductory rate of 149.00 for my Brand & Business Coaching. After today, the price will go up to 249/ session. These are intense 45-minute sessions that’ll help grow your thinking and business, and give you a much better understanding of the brand you own and the audience that brand is speaking to. Click the image below for more information.