Brands Are Powerful
A good brand is one of the most valuable aspects of a company. It turns customers into advocates while adding life and personality to what you’re selling. At its most basic level, a brand is a promise. It’s a way to convey a message in ways where words fall short. We can see signs of this all around us in ways you maybe hadn’t considered. That stove is glowing red? It’s telling us it’s hot, and we probably shouldn’t touch it. That frog is a vibrant color? Better not mess with it; it’s most likely poisonous. Nature uses branding to interpret and interact with its surroundings, and people do the same.
Looking at examples of branding in nature gives us context on why branding can be so effective. It shows us why certain sounds or smells evoke memories and emotions, like nostalgia, and why people can become so passionate about certain brands (looking at you, Apple fans). Brands are fascinating because they transcend business and light up a part of our brain that predates us. Brands create fervor and devotion that other facets of business can’t match, and that’s why they’re so powerful.
What’s the Difference Between Marketing and Branding?
Although they’re very closely related, marketing is not branding. At its essence, branding is uncovering your identity as a company, while marketing decides how to tell others about it. Marketing is strategic and, most of the time, easy to measure with KPIs and other forms of statistical analysis. It includes promoting your brand and convincing others to join your fan club. Branding is the act of building your fan club and the pillars that sum up why yours is best. It’s more subjective than marketing and much harder to measure, but it’s just as important.
Building your brand is a lot like writing a story. The experiences and feelings this story evokes will separate good brands from bad ones, so take some time to think about your brand story and the best way to tell it to your future advocates. A brand is the aggregation of many different components that work together to bring it to life. Internalizing the idea that, much like how a single chapter isn’t a story by itself, the logos, fonts, colors, and names are only contributors to the brand, and they depend upon each other to create the bigger picture.
Business Name and Tagline
The name and tagline are some of the first elements that advocates-to-be will encounter when discovering a brand. They’re your brand in written form and live closely with your logo, color palette, and typography. Names should be easy to remember, easy to pronounce, tie in with the mission and vision of your brand, and be inclusive. When people see your name or tagline, your logo should pop into their head, and vice versa.
The tagline should be honest and simple but still unique. A good tagline is one that sparks reader curiosity to learn more while reigniting the feelings created when your advocates first joined the club. It’s easy to overthink the tagline; so remember: sometimes it’s best to Just Do It. Below is a list of taglines by popular companies. Notice how short and simple they are, yet still effective in creating brand imagery in your mind. Odds are you’ll recognize most, if not all of them!
Logo, Color Palette, and Typography
Your logo, colors, and font choice all impact people’s emotions and assumptions about your brand. Strong, bold, and blocky characters will evoke different feelings than cursive writing will. A clean and straightforward logo conveys a different message than a complex design or illustration. Similarly, bright and vibrant colors will make a distinct impression on potential customers than soft or muted colors.
The messaging hierarchy is the most explicit manner for a company to get its brand concept across to potential customers. It’s putting your brand into words, and every other component of your brand should reflect it. Your messaging will tell potential adopters in no uncertain terms what they’re signing up for. When building a brand or conducting a rebrand, this is the first step to complete. After this, every other brand component will fall into place. Much like pillars maintain the structural integrity of a building, the pillars of your brand will support your company’s identity. Some considerations while building brand pillars are:
- Vision – How are you making the world a better place?
- Mission – How are you going to do it?
- Value Proposition – How are you going to make my life better?
- Brand Promise – What is your promise to us?
- Tone of Voice – What is your personality?
Good Brands Are Polarizing
A successful brand is a polarizing brand. It should resonate with your ideal customers while being upfront and honest with those that aren’t. A brand that tries to please everyone will be a lonely brand. Everybody will be lukewarm about it, and that zeal will be impossible to stir up. The goal of a brand is to create fans, so it’s essential to take risks and appeal to some at the risk of being off-putting to others.
Note that polarizing is not the same thing as controversial. Controversial brands alienate customers and create confusion. You don’t want to offend anyone. Think of a polarizing brand as a sorting mechanism. It should find your ideal customers in a crowd and connect with them while preventing customers that wouldn’t be a good fit from wasting their time with you. If you sell dairy products, there’s no point in trying to get lactose intolerant individuals to join your fan club.
(Re)Discovering Your Identity
A brand that keeps up with the times will flourish, so the job is never done when it comes to branding. Organizations update even the most successful brands if they feel it’s fallen behind the times. If your company has low brand self-esteem, a rebrand is an excellent opportunity to refresh your image and reach your customers differently. On the other hand, maybe your brand has always seen success with no signs of being outdated. Although it’s tempting to stay in the “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it” mindset regarding branding, it might just mean you’re an outstanding business that can carry a poorly performing brand. Good businesses hide bad brands, so who knows what successes a brand refresh would bring?
One final note on brands as a concept: you don’t “own” your brand in the same way you don’t “own” your personality; it’s just who you are. “Building a brand” is a form of professional soul searching that lets your team learn more about what you collectively value as an organization, what your customers love, and how to make them intertwine. Aligning your team to your company’s brand is crucial, as everybody involved will be a full-time brand advocate. Finding your brand identity can be a fun and rewarding process and the possibilities are endless. Whether it’s a message or a mascot, a mission, vision, or even a jingle, don’t hesitate to add character to your brand; there’s plenty of advocates out there waiting for your company to change their lives for the better:
Out of paper, out of stock, there’s friendly faces around the block.
Break loose from the chains that are causing your pain.
Call Michael or Stanley, Jim, Dwight, or Creed.
Call Andy and Kelly for your business paper needs.
Dunder Mifflin, the people person’s paper people!
This blog is the first part of a series of branding blogs with the mission of setting your business up for success as you undergo this transformation. We’ll be releasing the second and third parts in the coming weeks which will take a deeper dive into the rebranding process, including setting your team up for success and what to expect during a rebrand. A rebrand is a fun and rewarding opportunity for your business to refresh its image, but it can also be overwhelming. Changing your identity is a hefty undertaking and a tough decision to make, especially if you’ve historically found success in what you currently have.
The Evolve Systems team has provided guidance to organizations of all sizes as they reinvigorate their story and customer promises. If this is something that interests you, send us a message and tell us about your situation. We’ll perform a brand audit to see if a rebrand is right for you. Whether it’s a revised marketing strategy or a refurbished image, we’re here to help.