What Exactly is Branding?

Guest Post by Julie Young, Young Design

People can get confused about the term “branding”. A brand is just another term for identity in the marketplace. For companies, it’s corporate branding – the things that convey your company’s personality and that set it apart from the competition.

Designers and marketers create the basics of a company’s brand through the development of logos, tag lines, colors, fonts, images, the tone of any written content, and through interactivity on the Web. These elements trigger emotional reactions that govern how the market interacts with a product or service. This great article from Smashing discusses cool examples of “emotional design.”

Four Ways to Define and Maintain Your Company’s Unique Brand

  1. Be clear. Don’t muddy the waters with confused messages. How do you want to be seen? Be as clear as you can about who your market is, what you do, how you do it, your particular strengths and your voice. Get comfortable with how your company will communicate with your market.You may change your strategy or your product, but the brand should stand firm. Some companies find themselves wanting to change their name to reflect changes in their product or service – instead, they should ask themselves, “Is this a whole other company?” Maybe it can be an offshoot of the parent company.
  2. Don’t sell your brand short. Spend your dollars on high-quality web, digital and print collateral. Your brand should reflect the value of your company – why go cheap on branding when you offer a superlative service and product? How can the market recognize your quality, if not mostly due to branding? Having sub-par branding reflects badly on your company and your message.
  3. Consistently apply your brand across all mediums. Style guides and templates are the tools typically used to keep the brand on track, with strict guidelines for logo size, color palettes, fonts, and how to treat any variations. These approved guidelines for web, email blasts, and print collateral act as barriers to any rogue efforts that might dilute or cheapen the brand.It’s also wise to have corporate brand guidelines for social media, particularly tone. Getting your market to interact with you is part of building your brand – if they have a positive experience, they’ll spread the word to others. Your corporate “voice” should be consistent with the company’s style, whether formal or conversational. It can be jarring to read jokey or questionable tweets and posts from a company whose brand is conservative and well-respected.
  4. Consider corporate vs. individual brand. If you’re a blogger, commenter, or have a profile on any social media app, you’re a marketer of your own personal brand. In today’s world of immediate access, anyone can (conceivably) build an audience.The same points above apply to the individual: Be aware of how you want to be perceived, control that perception, and be consistent. Maintaining brand integrity keeps your market comfortable with you – and loyal.

About the Author

Julie Young is a print and web designer at Young Design. For over 20 years, she has been creating quality branding, websites, print collateral and email marketing to help companies communicate with their customers in order to raise profiles and profits.

Human Brands Do Best Online

To connect with your audience you need to be real online. A Sprout Social report shows that people value honesty from businesses and brands online.

  • 86% of surveyed consumers think transparency from businesses is more important than ever.
  • Only 15% of respondents think brands are currently “very transparent” on social media.
  • 53% said they would be more likely to consider brands that are transparent on social media for their next purchase, while a lack of transparency might lead 86% to purchase from a competitor.

Transparency means taking a people-based approach to your social strategies. Put a human face on your brand. Give it genuine personality.

Don’t expect immediate results – Trust is built over time. The more consistent you are in your brand personality the better.

Tune Your Brand Voice

As a marketer, you nurture the voice of your brand. Brands with a consistent voice that resonates with the target audience will achieve the most success.

Sadly, the majority of brands don’t have a clear and consistent voice. Messages conflict. Themes are mixed. You lose the audience because they can’t figure you out.

Here are some things to consider as you tune your brand voice to find the right pitch, tone, and volume to be heard.

Define Your Master Message

We’ve all heard the phrase “sing from the same song sheet.” Does your brand have one? A clear, precise statement defining your identity is the foundation for a sustainable voice that will focus all communications. Your master message should create emotional connections, which are more effective than rational arguments.

Know What Makes You Unique

Saying what you offer is unique is cliche. Demonstrating what makes you unique in your marketing is gold!

Do You

Authenticity is critical. No one can connect with cold, corporate speak. Having a personality and a conscience is paramount. People want organizations to have values. Share your highs and lows. Be personable. Support meaningful conversations.