Branding 101

Logo Design Company Windsor Cowlick Studios

Do you want to become more visible to the right customers, connect emotionally with them, earn their trust, loyalty, and advocacy, and overcome their price concerns so you can make more sales?

The truth is that good products and good customer service are not enough. We need to connect with customers in a way that is unique to our businesses that our competitors can’t also claim.

I believe – Good Branding will make the difference.

If you are authentically “you,” that’s something no other organization can be. And it won’t change or become obsolete with the next trend.

Let’s dig deeper into why and how branding works, and how you can take steps towards a more defined brand and brand message and then connect better with your customers. A common misconception about branding is the idea that “the brand is the logo.” While the logo design of a company, product, or service is certainly an important element, it is still only a part of your brand. So I want you to think more than the logo design when you hear me say brand. We will get to more of what a brand is but why is having a brand important?

Why is Branding Important?

These days, we can’t pour a lot of words and explanations on people and expect them to take action, either by buying our products and services or by supporting our companies internally. We need to hit customers and employees between the eyes with our message, to show meaning in clear, consistent, and simple ways that will connect with them emotionally. One of the most revealing quotes about branding comes from Danielle Blumenthal, Ph.D.:

“Branding an organization is inevitable… Simply by virtue of existing and interacting with others, the organization is branding itself. Therefore, branding is going to happen whether the process is managed or not. The choice is only whether to approach your brand proactively, or ignore and deny it and hope that the issue goes away.”

Basically she is saying Either you control your brand and it works for you, or the market defines your brand, in which case it could work against you. Taking control of your brand by uncovering the authenticity behind it will give you the power to connect emotionally with your customers, creating trust and loyalty for sustainable competitive advantage.

Here is another quote on the subject of branding from Robert Friedman, a former top executive at AOL, Classic Media, New Line Cinema, and the original development team at MTV:

“. . . in the truest sense, the synonym for brand is ‘reputation.’ It’s the power of a blend of ideas, a sense of identity, and it helps consumers make decisions in a crowded marketplace.”

— Robert Friedman

Just like people, all companies have a reputation, an identity — some are just better articulated than others, more firmly set in their customers’ minds. When you look at a brand as a company’s reputation, it’s easy to see that branding involves more than a logo.

How can having an authentic brand help you with your marketing challenges?

Once you have uncovered your company’s authentic brand, you’ll be able to:

  1. Bring strategic focus to the power of your brand, giving it deep meaning and recognition
  2. Align yourself and your business with the correct customers, ones who will value what you do and resonate with what you offer, giving you unique value to overcome price concerns.
  3. Confirm your credibility so potential customers see you as trustworthy and professional.
  4. Clearly articulate your brand message so that customers, employees, and all stakeholders consistently feel they “know” the brand and what to expect from it, developing trust.
  5. Develop markers to determine your correct position in the marketplace, becoming more visible to the correct, targeted, qualified audiences.
  6. Develop consistent marketing communication that will foster customer loyalty and advocacy.
  7. Differentiate your brand, giving it strength to stand apart from your competitors.

It’s important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand.

That is all Why you should be thinking about your brand but how does it work?

How Does Branding Work?

Branding takes advantage of the natural way our brains work. The brain tries to be efficient when confronted with new information, it wants to conserve calories. It makes sense of information by grouping and forming associations, and branding helps the brain with this grouping and sorting.

How Your Brain Works - Logo Design Company Windsor - Cowlick Studios

What you see here looks like a grey square, an orange circle, a white triangle, more orange circles, and so on.

However, while you’re seeing the seemingly random shapes above, your brain is trying to do this:

How Your Brain Works at Organizing - Logo Design Company Windsor - Cowlick Studios

Your brain is making sense of the shapes by grouping them and forming associations. In much the same way, your brand will be sorted together in customers’ brains with the things that surround it — the things your brain associates with it.

For example – Aflac’s commercials pair the company Aflac with a duck that has a funny sounding voice, in situations where things get taken care of, over and over again. So the brain says, “Aflac goes with funny-voiced duck, and things get taken care of.” If you laugh at Aflac’s commercials, and you’re aware of how he gets things fixed, then your brain also says, “Aflac goes with laughter, with feeling good, with things being taken care of,” and stores Aflac, the funny voice, laughter, feeling good and being taken care of together, in the same grouping.

These associations to feelings are what brand creators and advertisers are trying to build. Good branding finds ways to pair positive emotions with your company, over and over again, until customers’ brains sort the feeling and the company into the same group.

This is why it’s so important to be concise and consistent. You must say the same things over and over and must be paired with the same traits over and over, to ensure that those traits, attributes, and messages are associated with the brand in your customers’ minds.

Your brand is not your logo design.

Your brand is the entirety of all the ways in which your company relates and interacts with its audiences and the public that it serves. Building a brand is about making sure that all of the public touch points are forming comprehensive, positive associations in the minds of your audience. You can see the difference here Brand vs Logo.

Branding involves every touch point the product or company has with its audiences. And every touch point can positively or negatively affect how customers make the decision of whether to buy, respond, or be influenced.

These touch points can include:

  • logo design and identity
  • name
  • message
  • positioning
  • information in communications materials and website
  • tone of communications
  • performance of the product or service
  • quality of customer service
  • courtesy of delivery personnel
  • physical environment of stores or offices
  • public statements made by company leadership
  • receptionist’s tone of voice when she answers the phone
  • comments overheard in facility hallways by visitors
  • relationship the company has with employees
  • and everything else the company does, internally and externally, that is witnessed by the world audience.

Think of the logo design as the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the Nike Swoosh is the entirety of the Nike brand, including all of those positive associations. Without the rest of the brand, without the mental ties, the logo is meaningless.

Your brand is not your logo. Your brand contains your logo, but it is composed in whole of every single little way in which your company interacts with the public. “Building a brand” is about making sure that all of these public touch points — including, but not limited to, the logo — are forming the desired associations in the minds of your customers, making connections.

A logo design gets its power from the brand. 

Some brands are so powerful that the logo design takes on a life of its own. The logo alone becomes a mental “trigger” for the associations tied to the brand. For example:

Nike Logo | Cowlick Studios Branding Blog

We need only to see this symbol, the Nike Swoosh, to think of Nike and a key attitude that the brand stands for: “Just do it.” We think of excellence, endurance, and commitment. We think of sports heroes like Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, or Tiger Woods.

The logo works worldwide. It connects people despite cultural and language differences.

Well, let’s step away from Nike to consider a new brand — with a new symbol, like the Nike swoosh, except one you’ve never seen before.

Cowlick Studios Branding Windsor

What’s your reaction to this shape? Does it make you want to buy something? No, your reaction is likely to be…

Logo Design Company Windsor

Because this symbol has been provided out of context. It has no meaning to you, even though it’s no more or less arbitrary in shape than the Nike Swoosh. To give this strange shape any power, the advertiser will need to spend some time building awareness. The company will need to surround the shape with positive images and feelings, as Nike has spent untold millions of dollars doing, so that customers’ brains will come to use it as shorthand for those images and feelings. It takes time to build a new brand, to build consistency and trust. In time, if the brand promotion is solid and dependable, and if the company delivers what the brand promises, customers will begin to trust it.

This is Why Branding Works.

Coming  back to Nike, this super-brand works — and the swoosh is a powerful trigger in our brains — because Nike HAS been, in the minds of the public, consistent, solid, and dependable. Nike HAS, in most people’s minds, delivered what the brand has promised. Nike spent time building trust and a quality product, and that investment has paid off. The company has carefully planned and positioned its logo and its products. Nike paired its Swoosh with the very top sports stars — examples of excellence — and we associate these images with using their products to accomplish our personal best at play.

Without this investment in time and planning that Nike made, the Swoosh would be just another arbitrary shape, similar to our last example.

But the Nike swoosh is most certainly NOT just an arbitrary shape. Recalling the assortment of circles, squares, and triangles that the brain wants to sort into groups, Nike’s brand promotion has ensured that the Nike swoosh has been sorted together in customers’ brains with some very powerful associations.

And then there’s the phrase, “Just do it,” which has just about as much cache as the swoosh symbol itself. These powerful symbols of the Nike brand didn’t gain their power by accident. They gained their power from Nike’s frequent and consistent promotion of the Nike brand.

The swoosh, or any well-known logo, is powerful because of what it represents — because of what it’s connected to in our brains. But a logo is only the beginning. Behind the Swoosh is the rest of the Nike brand, which is very strong and very positive.

If it’s as easy as being consistent with frequent promotion, every brand could be as powerful and successful as Nike, correct? So what’s the problem — why isn’t every brand as powerful and as successful as Nike?

So why isn’t every brand as powerful as Nike?

Like the logo gets its power from the brand,

Brands Get Their Power from Values

A solid brand is solid because of the values that are associated with it. So for Nike, you think of commitment. For Volvo, you think of safety. When you see or think of the brand, you think of the values that stand behind it.

Brand Values

But this second arrow is what many companies fail to realize when they look to “reinvent” themselves, starting with a snazzy new logo. Brand is associated with values, but a brand COMES from values. A brand has to be drawn from the values of the company. If it’s not, your company is not practicing what it preaches. It’s saying one thing and doing something else. Remember, a company is like a person, and a company’s brand is that person’s way of dressing, speaking, and generally interacting with others. What do you think of someone who pushes values on you that you know they don’t hold themselves? Do you CONNECT with them?

Brands flow from values. It’s not enough to be frequent and consistent with brand promotion, although frequency and consistency are both important. Values also play a vital role.

When correctly developed, your brand reflects your business values. It stems from identity. It flows from what your company truly is. That’s good news, because developing your brand is a chance to show your business’s authentic self, to put your best foot forward. Just keep in mind that it has to be genuine.

The truth is, a brand is only as good as the organization is. Customers are smart; they can always tell when a brand isn’t based on values. Brands not based on values have a hollow ring to them, they lack the personal feel necessary for people to connect emotionally.

HOW TO ACCOMPLISH A GOOD BRAND.

Define Your Values.

What are the non-negotiables of your business, pick at least 3, no more than 5.

Write a Brand Message

Write down your brand messaging based on those values. What is the key message you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes. Ask yourself what is your brand story? and build your message around that.

Create a “voice”

for your company that reflects your values. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the 
visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? 
- Be conversational. Is it ritzy? – Be more formal. You get the gist.

Develop a tagline.

Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.

Integrate your brand.

As discussed Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople, delivery people, installers wear when they are out, your e-mail signature, 
everything. Hit all of the touch points.

Create brand standards

for your marketing materials. Use the same color 
scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. A logo design company in Windsor like Cowlick Studios can help. We will work with you to create a brand not just a logo.

Get a logo design from a company in Windsor.

Place it everywhere. First Impressions Count! I would not recommend doing this yourself. Your logo is the visual foundation and determines your first impression. It is important to include your logo on every piece of 
communication. Put it on business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, ads, building signage, newsletters, etc… Again a logo design from a company in Windsor is important!

Have a professional website.

It’s not just good enough to just have a website, 
you must reflect your brand image, message and values with your website design. If your known as a top notch photographer, 
the last thing you want is a website designed 10 years ago. It doesn’t reflect well 
on you. Your website design should be updated at least every three years to stay current. Your website demonstrates your business trustworthiness.

Do what you say you’re going to do.

I know it may sound like common sense,
 but one of the primary drivers of brand loyalty is a consistent experience. If you 
say you’re going to have something ready on a set day, be sure that it is ready

Create and Follow a Marketing Plan

You should have a comprehensive multi-touch marketing plan to get your brand message in front of your target 
audience. This can take many forms. You can launch a direct mail campaign, 
    email campaign, host a webinar, sponsor a local event, attend a trade show, 
attend networking events, cold call prospects, win awards, use social media, etc…

Overall be consistent.

Consistency involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. 
If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.

With a strong brand, you, and everyone in your company, will be able to talk about what really makes you different from the competition — and in a way that will be interesting and engaging. If you want to speak to your consumers emotions and to their needs. Your brand and brand message is a critical part of reaching customer’s head and heart. Don’t underestimate the power of a good brand.

Having a strong, authentic brand will help you create brand recognition,connect emotionally with your target market, build trust, give you the ability to charge premium pricing, create a clear competitive advantage and help you make more sales. Call Cowlick Studios today a logo design and branding company in Windsor and Leamington.

 

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