When you hear the wording "branding," what comes to mind? Honestly, for many people, it's cattle!
That's right - bovine. The term originated from the days when ranchers herd their livestock from one place to another across a distance. Branding is a way for ranchers to identify the owner of their livestock.
Today, when we think about a brand, we immediately associate branding to a company, service or product that "owns" the brand.
A brand, in marketing terms, is the perception of your company in your customer's mind. A brand is the sum of all tangible and intangible qualities of what your customers perceive you (your company, product, and service) to be.
Your brand is a promise to your customer to deliver what they perceive your service, product or program to be.
This promise tells your customer what he or she can expect when doing business with you. Your brand helps you stand out from your competitors and is your unique identity in the marketplace.
Your brand is all of the following:
(1) who you strive to be (your ideals, culture, mission, vision, values, etc)
(2) who you are as a company (the actual delivery and interactions and relationships customers have with you (with your people, service, products, etc) and
(3) who people think you are (as perceived in the customer's minds and hearts through actual experience with you or based on reviews, etc).
More relatable way to explain company branding is through our personal human experience. Bear with me....
Let's take a company and humanize it. If your company is a human being, what human attributes can we assign to it?
The way a person shows up in life is similar to what branding is for a company. How this person shows up and how he or she is perceived may be two different things. Branding in marketing terms is the latter of the two: how you are perceived, received, embraced by the public.
As the company, however, the job is branding is to assure the two are congruent - that how you show up is how you are embraced. Branding is the whole shebang of tangible and intangible attributes of a company.
A brand is a perception of what your customers or potential customers think of your products and services. A strong brand can only be built on a strong foundation and therefore, the process of branding needs to be mindfully and intentionally created.
In anthropomorphic terms, branding would be how you come off to a customer.
Here are some questions to ask for clarification:
- How do you show up as a company?
- What is the essence of who you are?
- What are you all about?
These are deep questions to answer for a complete picture of your brand, ultimately giving your brand value and depth in the customer's experience, hearts, and minds.
When you think of your brand as an actual human being, thoughts and concepts about branding come to life and it is much easier to grasp.
Imagine if your brand is a human being. What does she look like? What does she sound like? What is her mission and what are her values? How does she talk? What is her story? How will she relate to her customers? Is she vulnerable and real? Or is she authoritative?
There is an age old saying stating that you introduce yourself with your energy before you ever speak a word. What kind of energy does your brand hold and represent?
Some of these questions may or may not apply, but you get the picture, right?
Anthropomorphizing an object or idea has existed ever since humans roamed the earth. As we make sense of what is relatable, we can better deal with concepts and create ways to develop and deepens our ideas.
The questions above are just some to answer for a complete picture of the brand story, identity, and culture, and should be part of your mission and vision statements.
This article focuses on the 5 visual components of a brand that will help you create a distinct look and feel, and to attract the right and perfect people to you. Be sure to download the social media strategic branding guide as a practical workbook to accompany you on your process of getting clear of what visuals you want to utilize to best express your brand.
Five elements to your unique brand are the following:
Think of these 5 components of a brand as how your brand, if it were an actual human being, would dress and show up at a public function.
BRAND COMPONENT #1: NAME
Names have energy and every name has a vibration. Be sure to pick one that is aligned to who you are as a company and one that is in harmony with your values.
A name is a type of currency. I was brought up to believe that my word is only as good as my name. Everything I do and say, then, is a reflection of who I am. When what I do and say is in harmony, I am in integrity. Integrity is the currency that underlies the name of a brand.
Questions to ask yourself when it comes to your brand name is whether or not your name properly represent your values, and what you have to offer?
How would you behave, respond and react to situations, people, places and things?
Think about your name and what you want others to associate with it when they hear it? This should help guide you to choose an appropriate name.
If you have already selected a name, mindfully deepen the meaning of your company name so that what you deliver is congruent to what you promise.
BRAND COMPONENT #2: LOGO
The boring and official definition of a logo is that it is visual, a symbol or design of your good name. It represents your products and services and receives instant public recognition at site. This is the practical and functional definition of logo, as most modern folks would describe.
And now, for a fun fact...
He word logo is short for the logotype. Greek in origin, the combination of these words literally mean "word" (logo) and "imprint" (typos). The logo design, emblem or visual of your company is, in essence, the word imprinted on the hearts and the minds of your customers.
What the public thinks of your product, service or program is your brand, after all. Your logo is a visual shorthand that comprises all of the tangible and intangible qualities of your company.
Therefore, a logo is truly a visual asset. It should be placed consistently, without compromise to design on everything you output. Your unique company logo is to represent your brand, to imprint, if you will, your brand on the hearts and minds, and consciousness of your target market and customers.
BRAND COMPONENT #3: COLORS
Who doesn't love colors? As far back as childhood, we've created with crayons that offered a multitude of colors.
Human kind also has a love affair with rainbows, reflecting natures splendor with a lineup of colors decorating the sky the follows rain. Colors evoke emotions, give meaning and convey messages. As with brand name and logo, be sure colors are a fitting representation of your brand message.
There are a plethora of studies done on the psychology of color. Be sure that your colors blend harmoniously to your good name and logo.
It is amazing to realize that 87.4% of people purchase a particular product due to its color. From produce to fashion, studies have shown that 93% of people look at the visual appearance of the priciest over its texture (6%) or small/sound (1%) before making a purchase decision. (source: WebFx)
We can say that colors are a visual of feelings as a logo is a visual of a name.
The following color emotion guide provides a wonderful visual to better understand how color is associated with feelings.
Choose a color palette and stick to it. Simple as that! Start with colors on your logo and use a similar color palette to supplement your look. The point is to have the public associate the colors itself with your brand.
BRAND COMPONENT #4: FONT
Font is another visual to your brand. Think of font in branding as the clothing or haircut you wear. Your choice of font matters because it says something about your brand. The font you use provides a first impression. Rightly or wrongly, the font, along with name and color will lead people to perceive, judge and assess what your brand is all about. So be sure to make your font choice purposeful and appropriate.
There are four elements of distinction when it comes to fonts. Serif fonts are the more traditional. They are classified by the lines at the ends of each letter, creating a more serious and formal look. The NRA New Roman, Georgia or Baskerville are examples of serif fonts.
Sans serif means without serif, and are a more modern look. These fonts do not have lines at the ends of the letters and are more streamlined. Examples of sans-serif fonts are Monserrat, Helvetica, or century gothic.
Script font looks like cursive in digital form. It can also look like handwritten, and the letters are connecting. Edwardian Script, Brush Script and Mistral are examples of script fonts.
Display fonts are distinctive and to be used sparingly to capture attention and make a point. Mostly decorative, display fonts can easily draw a particular look and feel to a brand. Bebas Neue, New Rocker and Pinewood are examples of display fonts.
BRAND COMPONENT #5: IMAGES
Images are the thing in today's market place. Branded images bring a professional look and give credibility to your company. Not only do images need to be eye-catching and of high caliber, they must also be branded. Branding on images might mean different things to different people.
Consistency is one way to brand an image. Be it a certain motif, look, design, or theme, the practice of branding is to use at least one similar, recognizable element throughout all your images, or visuals.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, post with images receive 94% more views. That should make a convincing arguement that every post absolutely needs an accompanying image (or two, or five, depending on the length of your post).
In today's short attention span market place, any gadget or moving object that might be shiny or newish can have a squirrel effect. That is, people get distracted easily. You must not simply grab the attention of your potential customers, you must also be recognizable to them at-a-glance.
Utilize the following rule of thumb, and cease only when you get a definitive "yes" from the critic in your head. Ask yourself: "Do these images look like they are produced by my brand?"
When you get a "Yes!" You can move on. If you get even a bit of hesitation, ask yourself, "What is missing?" Perhaps something as simple as a style filter in your design can bring the look together. Adding a logo is another cohesive element to branding, marketing the image as yours.
Over time, people will see your images, font, colors, logo, and name. Together, with social, email or actual interaction, a relationship will develop. The visual relationship alone gives off a specific "look and feel" as part of your branding. Along with your services and products, and excellent customer service, you will strengthen your brand by fulfilling your brand promise.
Keep in mind that people have a relationship with brands, not individual products. A brand comprises of all tangible and intangible elements of what makes you, your service, your company, your ministry, outstanding. Branding is your promise to deliver what customers expect. A strong foundation of these 5 components of a brand: Your name, logo, colors, fonts, and images come together to support the foundation of what you, your company and products represent.
Clear, consistent communication of your brand will enable your customers to know you (your brand), understand you (your brand) and LOVE you (your brand).
RELATED: Download the social media strategic branding guide as a practical workbook to accompany you on your process of getting clear of what visuals you want to utilize to best express your brand.