It’s not many moons ago that the word ‘brand’ didn’t mean a great deal to many people in business. Understanding the value of branding was viewed as a discipline, perhaps even a fabled ‘dark art’. It was the preserve of huge operators such as Nike and Apple (to name just 2 of the most illustrious arbiters).
Pretty much everyone in business thought that a strong ‘brand’ could only be achieved with a marketing budget of $1 Squillian and 20 years over which to spend it.
This was of course the purest form of nonsense. It only hung around for so long. This is because there was a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of branding. A misunderstanding also of the value of branding and even the scope of branding (good or bad) to every business and even business person in the case of ‘personal branding’.
A ‘moove’ forward in understanding the value of branding
You see most presumed (and of course one never should) that ‘brand’ was still encased in it’s original meaning, or at least the source of it’s original meaning.
It derives of course from the ‘brand’ or identification mark. For eons, nervous cattle farmers, all too aware of the danger of having their livelihood half-inched from the ranch overnight by devious, napkin wearing Rustlers have burned into the hides of their delicious, four-legged product list.
This would be carried out using a ‘branding iron. Each one was designed to create a distinctively shaped burn which was instantly recognisable (by those in the know) as representing a particular farmer or farm or company.
So ‘brand’ used to basically mean ‘logo’. Very quickly however, those logos took on additional meaning beyond simply acting as a number plate on a cow.
The brand association
Every farmer had his own methods for rearing his beef, which resulted in differing qualities of meat.
It didn’t take long for a ‘brand’ of beef to develop a reputation for being good, bad or indifferent and the mark on the cow symbolised that perceived quality.
Now the concept of ‘brand reputation’ was formed way before this of course. The word ‘brand’ was firmly affixed, in the minds of ambitious business folk to a ‘logo’ at this point.
Much more than a logo – it’s an ‘identity’
So the business world is now sitting there, confident in their belief that a ‘brand’ is a ‘logo’ and more importantly a logo which is universally recognised.
So now we need that $1 Squillian to raise that logo up to messiah status right?
Not a bit of it.
Your brand is your reputation within YOUR business community which consists of clients, potential clients, clients of clients and even competitors.
The phrase we should be using now to refer to your logo and look is ‘brand identity’, the identifying mark that badges that brand experience.
But still the brand identity is way wider than purely a logo. It’s an entire look and feel that becomes recognisable in the subconscious of your audience.
Logo vs Brand Identity
If all you have in your ‘I want people to recognise my brand’ arsenal is a logo, a single mark, that doesn’t communicate a great deal, you’re missing out on 1000 additional opportunities to speak to your audience. You need to make them understand what you’re about and why they should trust you.
You MUST think in broader terms than just the logo.
Even if you only have a logo at this stage, you’ll have colours, the colours in your logo.
How are you going to use those colours outside the confines of the logo?
You’ll have used fonts or a type style in your logo.
How do you plan to use those fonts alongside the logo?
And just as importantly what do you plan to say using those fonts?
Do you even have a solid idea of who it is you’d be best speaking to and the language/tone that’ll appeal to them?
Do you know that the colours you’re using won’t instantly switch them off your offer?
Have you thought about that? You should.
The big date?
There is one extremely important thing to keep front of mind when thinking about your ‘Brand Identity’. That is, that in a hell of a lot of cases it will be the first touchpoint your client or customer has with your business.
You should think of your brand identity as how you’d like to look on a first date.
Would you just throw something on, some jogger bottoms maybe and some flip flops? Brush your hair? Optional? Brush your teeth (just in case it goes really well)?
You’d go to town wouldn’t you. You know you would. You’d probably even get your hair cut and blow dried if you really want to make a good first impression.
After all, the last thing anyone wants to leave as a first impression is “they’re a bit of a slob who doesn’t really care how they come across”.
And that’s the mindset you should be using with your brand identity.
Every day is a first date with the next client and you should be permanently dolled up for the occasion.
Any suggestion that corners have been cut or attention to detail is lacking will only serve to communicate that this is the way you operate and your product/service matches your shabby appearance.
All about the audience
So your brand identity is your smile. It’s your aftershave or perfume, your bright eyes and your polished shoes that will elevate your reputation instantly both with first dates and old flames alike.
In the end, your brand identity is there to serve 2 main purposes:
- Attract potential clients to your offer
- Remind them of the fantastic brand experience they had with you every time they see it
If you get both of these elements right you’ll very soon understand the true value of branding.
You’ll be on a wide, open highway on the road to boundless success … bon voyage!