Does Branding Really Matter for my Business?
Strap in for this one, we're busting the myths on branding one & for all.
Branding is a big buzzword right now, and a word that is often used in the wrong context.
Let's be blunt, your logo & colour palette is not your branding. The infamous Jeff Bezos quote says that:
"Branding is what other people say about you when you're not in the room." - Jeff Bezos
And that's a pretty strong & simple explanation for branding. Another one we love to use from 'The Futur' is that "branding is more than an identity, it's a person's gut feeling about about a product, service, or company.”
Your brand should have a soul, a feeling & energy around it that goes deeper than your services, skills or products. It is far, far more than your logo or colour palette.
Brands are strategic in the way they tell stories. When you buy an iPhone, you're not just looking for a new phone, you're looking for that experience of the purchase. That boujee feeling when opening the crisp white box, peeling off that plastic cover (why does that feel so good every damn time!?) - Apple when brought to the table holds innovation, imagination & curiosity. That's branding. Nike sells footwear and clothes, but they also push you to 'Just Do It', to be a better version of yourself. These are the top dogs when it comes to looking at strong & strategic branding.
So to answer the title question, yes, your business needs branding. Without strong & strategic branding, you're limited to being a small business. And why aim small when you can climb the ladder & become a powerful brand? You have that magic inside to be the next 'Apple', or 'Nike'.
A powerful brand should be an expert in communication, with a strong verbal & visual identity, a clear core value & personality. A powerful brand builds a deep connection with its following, the best brands use their narratives to empower their audience. They take the role of a friend and solve problems for their customers.
Without going on & on, we're not here to sell you branding with ARKYEN, we're here to bust the branding myths & explain the importance of it.
So, how does one get a strong brand presence? Let's break it down into our 4 steps:
1. BRAND STRATEGY
The big one comes first. This step is to be tackled with care & (you guessed it) strategic thinking. Your brand strategy is not just what you sell or who you sell to. There is a world of brand strategists out there, experts in their field, and for good reason. A strong brand strategy should take time & expertise. It covers everything that makes up your brands actions, including:
Brand Research & Company Background
Target Audience Personas & Analysis
Brand Values & Purpose
Brand Philosophy (Internal) & Promise (External)
Product or Service Analysis
Tone of Voice
A strong brand strategy is essentially an extension of a business plan, but we like to describe it as your toolkit. A good brand strategy should be timeless, and when working with the right person, you should walk away feeling ready to take on the world confidently with your brand. You should be able to refer back to your brand strategy document anytime you feel a struggle in your marketing, and find all the answers.
The brand strategy phase is followed by your visual design strategy & verbal identity, which is where we focus on all the visual assets for your brand as well as the 'copy' (a.k.a. brand messaging) to be used across all your marketing outputs & brand touchpoints.
2. VERBAL IDENTITY
Verbal Identity is where we uncover all your necessary copy. This is a word you'll see a lot coming up with a brand strategist. It is essentially the written messaging used across your website, products, social media & more. It's often overlooked and made up as you go. But trust us, after seeing clients time & time again overlook it, brands become messy.
You may recognise verbal identity as some famous taglines like 'Just Do It' for example. But that is a very surface level example. It can also be the messaging on a physical product, on a TV advert, on a website. I'm sure you can recall sometimes you were hiring a service provider, let's take a web designer for example. If you see 'Servicer One' using copy like 'Web Designer Dublin', 'We build unique websites', 'We specialise in custom coding for e-commerce businesses. Versus 'Servicer Two', who uses copy on their website such as 'We build powerful websites that connect to your audience', 'Custom Websites designed to stand out, leave a mark, and seamlessly improve your business. I think we can all see the winner of the two here.
Often times it can also be fun brands that use copy to their advantage in order to leave their mark on their customers. I'm going to give a personal example here. Oat Milk, yes you read that correctly. I switched from dairy to non-dairy 4 years ago now. I started off with Alpro Oat Milk in my daily coffees. If you asked me right now to recall their logo, packaging, copy (even as a brand designer who takes this in daily) I cannot remember a thing. These days, I drink Oatly Barista Edition. Oatly is one of my favourite brands, not only because their milk is tastier than competitors, but their packaging add's fun into my daily routine. I always use them as a top tier branding example. They have friendly tongue & cheek copy across all their milk cartons. Not only do they call out environmental issues on their actual packaging, but every week I get a new carton, there is a new fun anecdote on one side. If it's not an inside joke from the owner, it's a random joke that just brings a smile to my face. They make such a mundane task, like making tea or coffee, a little brighter. They also, for me, stand out on a shelf from all competitors with their fun visual design of the packaging. It's a subconscious reason I keep coming back to them, and in short, it's one of my favourite uses of fun brand verbal identity.
So, the next time you overlook what you're saying, how you're saying it, think of Oatly. They could have stuck a random logo on their bottle, a white & blue bottle, stating 'pure oat milk' - but they didn't. They went the extra mile, worked on strong brand identity, and it pays off. The verbal identity of a brand is just as important as the visuals and is too often overlooked. Customers want to be visually impressed, yes, but it's the words you use that makes you stand out, and in short, sells your product or service above a competitor doing the exact same thing.
So while on paper brand messaging seems simple, and obvious, it's one of the most critical aspects of having a powerful brand identity.
3. VISUAL IDENTITY
This one I'm sure is something you're familiar with. It's exactly how it sounds, your branding visuals. But a myth we're here to bust, no, it's not your logo. It's an extension of all of your visual elements within your branding.
The 4 main components of a Visual Identity are:
Imagery, Videos & Graphics
But when it comes to a logo, it's not a one and done scenario if you want a strong brand presence. A 'Logo Suite', is made up of your main logo, often a secondary logo, a brand mark, a brand pattern, and any additional submarks. It's important that a logo translates across all platforms and uses. The logo for your product, versus your signage, versus your website header, and your social media icons, may all need to look a little different. One logo shouldn't work across all these mediums in my opinion. They all have different reasonings, so should your logo suite. This is why a Fiverr logo just won't cut it. You will more than likely need larger logos with additional info, horizontal vs. vertical uses that are more minimal, stripped back wordmarks, icon brand marks and more.
When we look at colours, it's a no-brainer what they are. It's important that your brand colours accurately represent what you do. Your personal favourite colour may not be the best fit for your target audience. This is where in your strategy session, we would uncover the core values & messaging of your brand, and accurately dig deep into colour theories and meanings to find the right fit. Whether you choose to strategically use colour theory, or just aim for a nice visual aesthetic, it's still important that these shades are laid out, and used consistently across your visual identity.
As well as the use of logos and colours, the typography within your visual identity is just as important. We look at typography as a suite also, it shouldn't just be the typeface chosen for your logo. Your brand typography should have a hierarchy across your touchpoints. Primary Heading Font, Secondary Heading Font, Sub Heading Font, Body Font etc. Typography is a massive tool when it comes to communicating your brand, as just like your logo, your typography choice can communicate a lot of subliminal feelings about your brand.
IMAGERY, VIDEOS & GRAPHICS
Your last step on visual identity. It's another no-brainer that your imagery, video & graphic content across your website & socials should firstly be professional & high quality. But just as importantly, it needs to accurately represent your brand. Creative shoots can easily incorporate a lot from your visual identity, from your colour palette to typography & just overall brand aesthetic & vibe. It's important that when working with a graphic designer after your branding, or doing them in house, that the brand visual identity is taken into consideration, using the same colours, typography and layout discussed with your brand designer. This is another angle that can be worked on with a brand strategist, often we can direct the type of visual content that is needed to elevate your brand after the above steps. And of course, a lot of branding studios will offer content creation & ongoing graphic design alongside their branding services.
4. BRAND TOUCHPOINTS
Lastly on our journey to building a powerful brand, comes the Brand Touchpoints. These are exactly how they sound, the consumer's touchpoints to experiencing your brand first hand. All the groundwork has been done in your strategy & identity stages, and now it's time to implement these *correctly* across all your touchpoints. When investing in strong branding work, the after phase is just as important. There is no success in getting all your branding right, and then failing to implement it correctly. So your brand touchpoints are the very important window for your audience to interact with your brand first hand. It's the core story of your brand and the consumer experience with your brand.
Some important Brand Touchpoints can be:
Brand Communications such as Advertisements across print, radio, TV, in-store, radio & socials.
Events & Shows
Print Collateral such as business cards, flyers, menus, signage, gift vouchers, banners etc.
Products & Packaging
In-Store Experience & Displays
Uniforms & Merchandise
Additional Marketing Outputs
It's important to first identify what your biggest & most important brand touchpoints are, and secondly, ensuring that all your brand strategy & identity work is being carried over & executed correctly across all touchpoints.
This is your chance to really build meaningful connections with your customers, introduce your brand, leave a mark with your brand, and more importantly convert.
That was a long one, but one I hope brought value to you & your business. Branding really at the core, helps you build connections & relationships with your audience. They are the heroes of your story, as without them your business doesn't exist. So the next time you consider a Fiverr logo, or just winging it, come back to this post & remind yourself of those big-name brands, and how they are so successful.
Branding should be the core of everything you do, and it should be done strategically.
If you have any questions on branding or are interested in getting your journey started to become a powerful brand, you can reach out to us here & we can make some magic together for your business! You can also find out more about our branding service here.