What’s the first word that pops into your head when I say “branding?”
If you thought “logo,” then I want you to read the next line extra carefully.
Your brand is NOT your logo.
Branding can be tricky concept to grasp. That’s why it’s not surprising that many people think of brands as being a the logo and color scheme of a business. And you’re not completely wrong if you’re thinking that, too.
The thing is, a brand is SO much more than those things…a brand goes way beyond just the visual aesthetic. That’s just part of a much larger picture.
A truly great brand consists of 5 essential elements(include visual aesthetic) that create a much larger story than a logo ever could.
A great brand knows who their target audience is and how to appeal to those people. It’s not enough to say that your ideal clients are 30-something women who love yoga. It’s great that you know that, but what implications does that have on your brand? How do you present your offerings so that those exact people will be drawn to you specifically?
Brand positioning is all about seeing your business through the eyes of the clients and customers you want to attract. A good example of this is Allrecipes.com. There are MANY recipe websites out there, such as Epicurious who’s upscale branding positions themselves to foodies and people who want to cook to impress. Allrecipes took a different approach by positioning themselves for the “everyday home cooks.” Even though the two sites offer similar content(recipes), they have clearly defined audiences and they’ve positioned themselves appropriately to attract the right one.
Sometimes it’s as much about knowing clearly who you’re talking to as it is knowing who you’re definitely not talking to. A good example of this is 7-Up’s positioning as the “uncola.” They know they’re trying to reach people who don’t want to drink cola drinks and they’re putting it out there front and center.
A great brand exists to help a business achieve its goals. When developing your brand, it’s important to think about what you and your business stand for. What values do hold dear and how does that reflect in your offerings? I often think of a brand promise as being associated with a purpose or mission statement.
Once you have this foundation built out, it’s easier to figure out how to turn that into a promise for your potential customers. What can they expect from you? What makes them choose you over any other options that are out there?
A great example of this is LL Bean and their return policy. They have no questions asked rule about bringing back merchandise for a full refund.
This promise of no hassle-free returns not only gets them tons of attention, it creates a sense of trust with their customers and also builds a customer loyalty that is unparalleled. Their customers know that they will love their purchase or they will get their money back. Period.
A great brand is consistently true to itself. When developing your brand, it will be important to figure out who you are and how you can incorporate that into all elements of your business. Your brand personality are the traits embodied by your brand. These traits are often shared by your target audience, which helps with positioning.
In order to identify your brand’s personality, it’s helpful to think of it as an actual person. Use words you might use to describe someone you like, such as outgoing, smart, colorful, inspiring, etc. These words can be a guide as you develop your brand further, since you will be able to ask yourself, “does this fit with my brand’s personality?” or thinking of your brand as a person, “would my brand do/say/share this?”
A great brand creates an emotional connection with your target audience. This is important because it’s how you will capture their attention and make them care about what you have to offer. How does does a brand create this emotional connection? By first understanding who they’re talking to(positioning) and what those people care about.
When I say brand story, I’m talking about who you are, what you do and why you do it. I’m talking about your history – where you came from and how your business got started. All of those things tie into your story and quite possibly affect your mission statement and your promise to customers.
But it doesn’t stop there. In order to create that emotional connection with potential customers, you need to figure out how their story blends in to yours. Empathize with their story and pain points, showing them that you care and that you understand the problems they are facing. Explaining your story helps build you as an expert or authority in your niche, which shows your customers that you know how to help them.
A great brand is easily recognizable. This is where the visual aesthetic finally comes in. We’re talking all of the fun stuff that is actually tangible which people associate with your brand. This includes the colors and fonts you use, imagery and yes…your logo.
When developing these visual elements of your brand, it’s absolutely KEY to be consistent. This is what creates that brand recognition that you want to achieve. You want your brand’s visual identity to be so obvious that people will start to recognize it before they even read anything.
In order to be consistent with the look of your brand, you need to make a few decisions:
- Choose 3-5 colors that compliment each other and that really give off the vibe of your brand’s personality.
- Choose 2-3 fonts that also evoke the personality traits that you decided on for your brand. It can be tempting to try out different fonts whenever you find a new one that you LOVE. But remember, consistency breeds legitimacy!
- Choose imagery and graphics that are on-brand(similar colors, personality, etc) that will resonate with your audience
These visual elements should be consistent throughout all areas of your business including your logo, website, social media and printed materials. Basically, anywhere your customers will interact with your brand.
The above screenshot shows a great example of consistent branding. She uses the same 3 main colors(or shades of them) and the same two fonts for all of her website’s pins on Pinterest. You can see there are many ways to use the same on-brand elements to create diversity while still remaining true to the brand.
Need more branding guidance?
Like I said in the beginning of this post, branding can be tricky. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have it all figure out just yet! This was a quick overview of the important elements of a brand. If you want to dig a little deeper into each of these topics, sign up for Brand Love, my FREE 7-day branding course and I’ll guide you through each step with daily action items and encouragement!