This concept of a brand is hard. Elusive. We talk about our brands all the time, and yet, do we fully comprehend what a brand really is? Is the intentional crafting of a brand important to our businesses? We might venture to say… nope. While we adore the topic of creating, building, and nurturing your brand, the concept is so complex that it can be easy to focus on the obvious (*ahem* logo and colors) and neglect the more nuanced aspects of this idea.
What comes to mind when you think of “a brand”?
The obvious answer is the visual: logo, color palette, typography, what you can see. Another obvious answer is simply the name. Power brands like Coca Cola, for example, are recognized just by the now-familiarity of their name.
But more than just your logo or your name, a brand is essentially what your customer or client thinks of when they think of your business. Your brand is everything about your business come together to create a particular customer opinion or client perception. It’s not necessarily what you create in your business but what the reaction is to your business.
Let’s break down a few elements which make up a brand:
IDENTITY. Brand identity is a broad category, but you can think of the most basic definition of this as the brand or business name. It is what your business is called and, by extension, it plays a role in how your audience responds to your business. As a foundational element, your business name should work for you in creating a positive and attractive client or customer perception.
What is your business identity?
VISUALS. Again, visuals are typical brand elements and also an extension of the broad category of brand identity. Visuals include your logo, color palette, typography, photography and images, graphics, and other icons. The visuals also include your website (important!) or Etsy shop and your social media. It can be argued that you only utilize your visuals on these platforms, rather than including these platforms right in the visuals category, but I like to mention them together because they’re often seen together (logo on website, graphics or images on social media, etc).
How do your brand visuals measure up to the rest of your business?
MESSAGING. Your brand messaging is the way you communicate with your audience. This can include elements like the voice of your writing. Are you full of southern charm? Sarcasm? Or use a matter-of-fact voice? Do you write as you speak in real life, or is your brand voice different than your personal voice? The selection or combination of words you choose to use is also an element of messaging. And the feelings you attempt to evoke from your audience is included here too.
Does your brand message communicate your heart and purpose?
POSITIONING. Brand positioning is where you are in the spectrum of the market. Do you offer extremely high quality goods and services with a high price tag? Perhaps you are targeting customers or clients who associate high price with amazing value. Or is what you offer more affordable for the everyday person? Do you target the college student, the mom, or the average working family?
Is your brand positioning effective and accurate?
EXPERIENCE. This element of your brand can’t be seen but is arguably one of the most powerful pieces of your brand picture. What your customers or clients experience when they either buy from you or work with you speaks volumes. This experience can and should be different from your competitors. It can be thought of as a promise to your audience of what you will always to your best to deliver.
What signature experience do you offer?
DIFFERENTIATION. What sets you apart in the market? Differentiation is the way that your business is different than any other business. This is sometimes referred to as the “only I” statement. It is something that your brand can say “only I” deliver this kind of experience, or “only I” offer this product this particular way. A part of the brand experience, differentiation is huge for your business!
How is your brand different than others in your industry?
Reflect on your brand as a whole. Does your brand encompass all that you need it to for your business?
Do the elements of your brand pull together into one cohesive package in order to guide your customer or client to what you want them to think & feel about your business?
“A brand is not skin-deep. Labels are skin-deep, but a brand—a true, authentic brand—is made of blood and bones, skin and organs. A brand has a heartbeat.”
How does your brand’s heart beat?