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When you say the word branding, what comes to your mind?  Is it the iconic Apple logo, the instantly-recognizable 3 stripes of Adidas, or the simple blue and white roundel of BMW?  While it’s easy to remember logos, colors and typefaces, there’s so much more that goes into a brand that gets overlooked in the small business community.  All too often, people think branding is either entirely simple (a cool logo and some bold colors) or incredibly daunting (how do we come up with something original?).  Forget what you know about branding and buckle in – we’re about to take you for a little ride.

More Than Just Graphic Design…

In today’s world, companies both small and large receive a barrage of marketing buzzwords and jargon every single day – so much so that words and concepts start to blend together.  Chances are you’ve heard words like “synergy, scalability, and stackability” in marketing circles and have been left wondering exactly what people are trying to say.  Take the word branding for example…if you consult, branding is:

“The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumer’s’ mind…with a consistent theme…”

So there it is…right there in the very definition of the word – an image.  However branding is not just some cheeky logo design and a fresh name arbitrarily thrown together.  One of the most common pitfalls in the business world is reducing branding to just some quick graphic design brushstrokes and voila – you have a brand.

In fact, branding isn’t just any one singular element.  Branding is actually the collective amalgamation of your perceived corporate image.  It is a hybrid ecosystem of how your logo speaks to your core competencies, supported by colors that reinforce your values, bound together by copy that grabs at your the emotions of your customer.

Branding is how your customers experience your company – it’s the composite of your logo, your office, your products, your services, your packaging, your signage, your website, your social media presence, your sales tactics, your customer service, even the way you answer your phone.

Your brand needs to be developed with a set of design and branding strategy guidelines that create similarity and consistency. Every brand should have strict guidelines on approved color palettes, fonts, company taglines, image sizes, etc.  This standardized set of guidelines helps your target audience build familiarity with your products or services when they come across your brand in-person, over the phone, online, or in print.

Consistency is King

When synthesizing your core values, product/service propositions, and overall company ethos, there’s one question you will always find yourself asking in the branding process: Is this consistent with our brand?  This question is the litmus test for every piece of content, messaging, and correspondence that goes out from your company.  This core question also loops back to defining your brand in the first place – can you really deliver on the the promises and propositions that are central to your brand?

While the visual communication of your brand opens the door, the contextual communication of your values through taglines, slogans, and copy invites your customer in and makes them feel at home by speaking their needs and desires.  Your brand must be a living, breathing thing that communicates your value across all of your channels – you don’t want to paint one picture of your brand in one space, while having a conflicting image in another.  At the end of the day, a lack of brand policing and brand inconsistencies prevent your customer from creating a strong relationship with your brand.

Becoming the Benchmark

The eventual goal of your branding process should entail becoming the “benchmark brand” in your vertical.  The benchmark brand leads the charge – it creates such a strong emotional connection in your target audience that they perceive you as the gold standard. This sounds good on the surface – but a lot of small business owners are left asking “how?”

Becoming the benchmark is no easy task…but it starts with being disruptive in your space.  Chances are everyone in your industry has a brand that is “award-winning, world-class, and trusted.” Those stock marketing words have been used so many times over now they basically have zero value.  It really doesn’t even matter if your business has won awards or has an international presence – most people don’t even process the meaning behind those terms.

Sell the sizzle of what your brand encapsulates.  Too many companies out there are trying to sell the steak using terms we all know to describe the steak.  Instead, sell the experience…sell how the end user is going to feel…sell the simplicity and accessibility that will make your target customer’s life easier.  Once you start sowing the seeds to create a disruptive brand, empower the end user to be proud to be part of a “tribe” that uses your products or services – let your brand extend to include the people that love it.

Worried your brand doesn’t stack up now?  Get a free brand audit and consultation from the experts at Digital Vitamin.

About Digital Vitamin

Digital Vitamin is a creative branding and marketing firm based in Los Angeles, California.  Whether it is brand vision, digital platforms, performance marketing and advertising, or social media management, we know how to grow your brand in a hyper-connected world.  Sick of the same old song and dance in your marketing?  Get in touch with us today and find out how we can supercharge your business.

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