What is branding? article cover image
Branding | Business

What is Branding? How to Correctly Define Branding in 2020

„What is Branding?” became a common question many business owners and beginner–entrepreneurs ask. Because branding is a very misused and misunderstood term often mixed with other design-related questions like „how much a logo costs?” or ”how much for a website”, we have decided at Brandman Design to explain it briefly in this article.

And because you are here, we bet you have asked yourself already one of the following questions:

  • What is branding?
  • Does my business need branding?
  • Branding–you mean logo and Identity, right?
  • What does branding mean actually?
  • How to define branding?
  • Does branding still matter in 2020?

Many of these questions are asked nowadays, all because not many of us really understand what branding really is, even though many talk about it often. Everywhere we go we see beautiful images and graphic design, it all gathers us around the branding topic, although without proper understanding we might just walk in the shadows.

We often receive emails with inquiries for logo design, business stationery, or other graphic elements. Many of them claim „we need branding!”.

Well, hold on a minute…

Those are definitely brand identity elements that are indeed parts of branding, but creating a brand means much more than that. It is a way deeper process and includes many more aspects than only visual assets.

If we try to explain it shortly, we would say that:

Branding is a strategic process of shaping a company base, defining business goals, and aiming them at the customers’ needs using a variety of actions with the support of visual language.

We felt we have a duty to write this post explaining it briefly for better understanding, as this short sentence alone might bring some confusion. So here we are…


Popular Branding Definitions

Internet, as well as physical books, are filled with branding definitions. Some of them are pretty shallow, some deeply inform us about what branding is. We have decided to drop the ones we think best describes this topic before we jump into our own insights:

Branding by Marty Neumeier

Marty is a brilliant graphic designer and copywriter starting his career in the 1970s by helping companies like Apple, Netscape, HP, Adobe, and Google build their brands, stated a brilliant quote explaining what really brand is:

“Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”

He also spent over an hour in one of the Futur episodes answering the questions: How to get started in branding and what the branding really is?

Following his expertise and trusting his authority we can agree that:

„A brand is not a logo. A brand is not a product. A brand is not a promise. A brand is not the sum of all the impressions it makes on an audience. A brand is a result–it’s a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. It’s in their heads and in their hearts. A brand is your reputation.”

Branding by Business Dictionary

What we do when we don’t know what a specific word means? We google it. First thing… yep Wikipedia, but even though it is a great source of information for some cases, not sure if for a business terminology.

A great branding definition has been written by Business Dictionary though:

The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.

There are many more, but we can agree that most of the good definitions describe branding in a pretty similar way, all that differentiates them is a diverse terminology.

For us, branding is quite a tricky word, even though we use it often working professionally in the design/marketing industry. Why tricky? First of all-cause reading definitions and properly understanding what it is, are two different paths. Secondly, it became a trend nowadays that people use branding as a noun when talking about graphic elements representing a company.

Branding still scares a lot of people. Many think that it is dedicated only to huge corporations, spending big budgets for business development and marketing purposes. Nothing wrong with that. But as long as we understand that it is a very deep process, taking a lot of time and effort to conduct properly, and start treating branding as an investment rather than an expense, we will be on the best road to reach positive ROI. Regardless of the size of our business.

Right before we jump into deeper conclusions let me use one more quote to bring us closer to the subject:

Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

– Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

It sums branding in a great way!

It’s about feelings. You have to know it!

To support our answer to the topic question „What is branding?”, we’re going to look at and talk about:

  • What is branding?
  • Perfect branding examples
  • How important is branding?
  • Why do brands hire agencies and creative studios?
  • What if you cannot afford professional branding?

Let’s jump into the rabbit whole!


What is Branding, the brand strategy session in agency
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

What is Branding?

Starting from the most important thing—branding is not just a logo design! And you will probably see this sentence multiple times here. If you think you can design a logo for your business and call it branding, you’re wrong! It might sound rough, but that’s the truth.

In fact, even if you combine your new logo (or trademark, how many of us call it, which I believe is more appropriate) with corporate stationery including business cards, letterheads, and other print and digital design, you still haven’t touched on your company branding. That’s still not enough to call your business a brand.

All the above-listed elements are part of your Brand Identity, which is the visual representation of your company’s branding. But still, it is only a small part of the branding puzzle and it touches only upon visuals—working on 1 from the human’s five senses—the sight.

Branding, conducted properly works on all of our senses. Its different parts work on different ones. And you don’t have to focus on every single touchpoint, but more you do, closer you’ll be to your audience and easier will it be to get into their minds. If you’ll move forward after taking care of visual aspects of your business and write a story behind it, create an experience and initiate the community-building process, then you’re on a good way to get the right to call it a brand.

Branding is how people see and perceive your company. It’s about your vision of it. It’s about how your employees and team members perceive the business they’re a part of.

BRANDING IS YOUR COMPANY WHAT, WHY, AND HOW.
FOCUSING ON WHY AND HOW IN PARTICULAR.

– Marcin Rzymek

It is not even your website, your office interior, your social media, or promotional flyers. Those are elements of your brand identity, marketing media, and so on.

You can talk about branding when you have in mind how your audience connects with your company on multiple levels and through different brand touchpoints. When you have in mind what they think about it, what they say it is (exactly how Marty Neumeier has said), what they feel about it and how it influences their lives, then you think branding.

A real brand could be described as a company, service, product, or even as a person that has its voice, speaks a certain language, behaves in a particular way, and has a personality of their own.

No designer can „create” or „design” a brand, just like that. It is a long process that can take even a few years. What we designers and creative agencies do is create brand identities and other graphic design elements reflecting brands. We are a part of your brand shaping team which includes you as a business owner, every member of your business (including biz development, marketing, and sales teams) as well as your customers. Every one of us works together to create a brand of your own, based on company culture, attributes, focusing on business goals and customer’s needs.

Branding itself has to come from within the company. It’s the heart and soul of your business defined and shaped by a brand strategy. It could also be explained as a brain because it dictates how each part of the body works and cooperate with each other to stay alive and finish planned tasks.

To begin with thinking about branding you have to answer these questions at the starting point:

  • What are the core values of your company?
  • What makes your offer (products/services) unique?
  • What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What is your brand promise?
  • How will your customers feel after getting what you sell?
  • Who is your target audience? Typical and ideal customer profile?

Those are the basic questions of typical branding strategies that have to be answered as early as possible to establish the base of your future brand.

Ultimate Brand Strategy worksheet mockup
Brandman Design Co. Logo white

use our Ultimate Brand Strategy Worksheet if you need help with this process

The agency or designer you work with is brought to you to enhance the business visual aspects and its corporate identity to build a foundation for the brand.

Unfortunately, a lot of people, including many designers, think that branding means only creating a handful of visual elements, such as:

  • Logo design
  • Corporate Stationery
  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • Iconography
  • Patterns

And all this type of thing you see when getting your hands on a brand guideline (brand book or brand manual). In reality, branding is much more than that and involves much more „branding elements” (yes I know, I repeat myself). Mostly those which cannot be seen directly with your eyes.

A good branding agency or creative studio merges the strategy and brand identity together to achieve expected results. We don’t just create a bunch of pretty images and call it a branding project. That would be a lie, both hurting your business as well as our image as a professional. It also hurts the industry because it happens more and more often, that people who don’t understand branding uses it as a description of their design services.

Professional branding agencies either create ideas and generate concepts by following existing brand strategy or after conducting a new brand strategy sessions to have a base to work on. In the next step, they bring those to life in the most appropriate form, suggesting eventual improvements or refining the original strategy together with the client to be sure it matches both the business goals and the customer’s needs. The branding is created for people, not for the company itself and exclusively. It’s done to showcase what the company stands for and to highlight what it believes in. It consolidates the vision with a mission and enhances the company culture.

It’s not just a well-crafted logo design with clean typography and nice colors put together to look good aesthetically.

Where to read more?

There are plenty of great books and articles talking about branding. We would like to list our recommendations to help you understand branding better:

CoverAuthorTitleWhere to get it
the Brand Gap. Marty Neumeier bookMarty NeumeierThe Brand GapAmazon Link
Zag. Marty Neumeier bookMarty NeumeierZagAmazon Link
How to launch a brand. Fabian Geyrhalter bookFabian GeyrhalterHow to Launch a BrandAmazon Link
none of the links is an affiliate

From many great books available, we think those written by Marty and Fabian are both the most accurate as well as written with easy language, so reading them is a learning pleasure. Both gentlemen use also popular brands as examples and present their framework for building brands which can definitely help you not only understand branding but also start with building it.

From the articles we recommend, reading Jacob Cass’s post Branding, Identity and Logo Design Explained; will definitely help you understand what is branding. Jacob wrote a brilliant piece of a copy showing the differences between those 3 disciplines and allowing you to see all of them through a perspective and analyze each one together and separately.

Another pretty good article about branding has been written by Brian Lischer: What Is A Brand? Brian took a different approaches explaining what the brand is and setting Apple as an example of a great brand. He also presents the brand compass putting a purpose in the center and surrounding it with other brand elements like Vision, Mission, Values, and Strategic Objectives.

We think this way he pointed how important the brand strategy is in branding and that visual elements are just a tiny part of the entire brand building process. See how the compass looks like:

Brand Compass by Ignyte Brands

Oooooh yes, there’s a YouTube too. Where to find answers if not on the second most popular search engine. I’ve seen many (and I mean it) videos talking about branding but I think not many explain it deeply enough. Let’s check the one we particularly like.

Branding doesn’t apply only to companies. According to a video made by Norwich Business School, many things could be branded, like:

  • Products
  • Services
  • People
  • Places
  • Religions

But foremost the School states that we–the normal people are the ones who create brands. We create and uncreate them. Brands mean what we say they mean, it’s up to the audiences to determine what a brand really is. They belong to us. Brand creators determine during a brand creation process where the brand stands, where it should go and how will that proceed. A strategy is the most important part of the branding and without it, nothing could be achieved or called a brand.

Staying within a YouTube for a while, we couldn’t not share the following video „Branding in the New Normal” by Sasha Strauss. If you didn’t know him before, well, you have to see it.

Sasha is a founder of Innovation Protocol, a brand-building agency working with the top global companies, helping them define their brand or create new experiences as well as a business school teacher.

In the video I’d like to share with you he talks about how to build a brand or adopt current existing into the „new normal”. He points out that no brand can exist without the audience which passionately believes in it. Every business has to fill some needs of its customers but without giving them something to believe in, there’s no brand behind it.

And I could write and write about what he’s saying but it would be easier for you to hear it yourself. Especially that Sasha has kind of Ryan Reynolds flow and similar voice even, so it’s really easy to such the knowledge out of his speech.


Perfect Branding Example

Talking and describing what is branding is one thing. Another, much more effective in our opinion is to bring up some examples. The best way indeed, to learn is to take an example from existing brands. Not copy and paste, of course. But see and learn.

I know that some of you might say „big brands have budgets and huge teams working on their success” and I agree with that. But only by keeping our heads up and looking at big things, we can get closer to them.

There are plenty of great branding examples to choose from, as we see them everywhere and many blog articles and videos talk about those huge corporations. Let us bring up one of the most popular ones, which is obviously…

Apple

This Californian computer brand launched by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in April 1976 has nailed down the branding process and become the most recognizable brand on the globe. They sell a variety of electronic devices from desktop computers, laptops, mobile devices, and more, but I guess we don’t have to list their full offer as everyone knows it.

Everything Apple does shape their brand and keep in mind they do a LOT, and on different horizons. Every step they take is precisely calculated and adds value to their brand. Both regarding identity and communication.

what is branding explained with apple products example
Apple products scene. Photo by Michał Kubalczyk on Unsplash

Have a look for instance at the way they name their products. We can find an iPhone, iPod, iPad, iMac, iTunes, and most of their product names start from „i”. A clean, modern and very functional website adds to the Apple brand a lot of value as well. It’s all about simplicity, still keeping the quality and luxury vibes at the front.

If someone covers the logo from the Apple products and shows you their website, packaging design, or a keynote proceeding new product launches you would still recognize which brand it is. The clean communication and the way they build excitement around their products are brilliant!

That’s BRANDING!

The slogan they use: „Think different” definitely helped them shape the community around their brand, build equity, and bring people using their devices together. People crave for modern, great-looking, and functional technology, and Apple delivers on this. You can read this article to see 50 interesting statistics about Apple users.

That’s one of the best Branding examples. Apple have perfected branding, taking it to the next level and expanding it into every aspect of their brand. They just built the whole company around it. That’s the correct way you should proceed with branding. Treat it as a base and build on that.

Be like Apple. Put a focus on solid Brand Strategy and remember—set a promise and deliver! Each and every time. It is more important to set smaller expectations and over-deliver rather than set your customer’s expectations too high and don’t come up to that. But I guess that’s the lesson which cannot be incepted into our brains just like that. We would probably have to learn it ourselves.

Another great example of perfect branding in our opinion:

Tesla

It’s an American electric vehicle and clean energy company based in Palo Alto, California. The company specializes in electric vehicle manufacturing and battery energy storage. But I guess we don’t have to introduce them to the public.

Tesla is less about a car than it’s about a revolution; it’s a true disruptor in a category of incrementalism and boredom. Elon Musk, exactly like Steve Jobs (from Apple), wanted to change the way the world saw and used an everyday used tool–automobiles.

Looking at all that Tesla does, I think we can agree that it’s clear onpurpose and bold on promise.

The feeling it gives its users and customers is special and unique. Both their products (cars mostly) are modern, sleek, simple and very technology driven. How could we say otherwise, it’s an energy brand, yeah, yeah. But look at their website. Isn’t it spreading the same message? Isn’t it representing the same attributes?

But Tesla’s real genius is its unique showrooms (most often found in somewhat ordinary shopping malls, which is almost hillarious) with a magnetic appeal that draws in as many casual observers as they do serious car buyers. Most showrooms can only fit one Tesla car, but imagine having thousands of people walking by your car every day. That’s a strategy and brilliant execution.

They highlight innovative technology on every step they make and every experience they deliver. From the door handles, the cup holders, the high-technology dashboard, to the unparalleled level of customer service following the sale.

tesla dashboard showing a car settings. That's branding
Tesla Car Dashboard

Elon Musk builds a real ecosystem where Tesla could literally influence the automotive industry and win most of the battles across all of the car classes. We know that many people have some distance to the quality of the materials in Tesla’s products, but that still doesn’t hurt the brand soo much as the experience they deliver fully compensate all of the minor omissions.


How Important is Branding?

Looking at other corporations having their Branding at point, like:

  • Google
  • Amazon
  • McDonald’s
  • Facebook
  • BMW
  • Nike

you’ll see how Important is Branding. We don’t have to introduce any of the above-listed brands. You just know them and you know they’re successful ones.

It took many years for them to achieve greatness, but seeing where those brands are now, confirms only how time and effort consuming the branding is. It also highlights how important it is to focus on building a brand, not only running a business as it is.

Branding is a crucial feature of any company, no matter size or age, and all businesses should consider it as one of the most important parts of their marketing strategy. It’s about thinking long-term, not only seeking for quick small results. Branding is definitely one of the best investments you can take, not an expenditure, like many claims.

Many business owners think at the startup stage of their business „I’m not going to spend on branding my company, it’s not worth it and I have other things on my mind. Why not do it myself and save a lot of cash?”

Wrong!

Yes, read it again: WRONG.

I’m not pointing it out, just because we work in the design industry, I’m doing it because this approach costs a lot of startup’s cash.

How can I be so sure? Ask yourself, do you prescribe medicines for sickness yourself or do you call and meet the doctor? Do you fix your car yourself? or would you hire a professional to do it for you so you can be sure it will work wherever you drive?

And when you choose the professional to work with or to ask for help, do you pick the random one? I bet you do some research first, and like we do, you probably choose the one which gives you the biggest sense of credibility. You need to trust and respect the ones you do a business with.

How to build a trust and authority? Here, we are again—Branding is an answer!

Branding is a professional service, no doubts. It takes years to learn how to do it properly. It also costs both time and money. But it should be treated as a professional service. So if you expect a high Return on Investment (ROI) we recommend you use a professional rather than do the brand strategy and create brand identity yourself. It is also much easier to have someone who isn’t connected directly with your business affected by any bias at the same time. To proceed with branding you need a wide perspective.

What happens most of the times, is that the companies that have used professional branding services at the early stage of their business activity, realized after a time that the initial investment into their brand has paid off in the long run. If you compare similar ventures (based on the business type) you will see that those who invested in building a brand skyrocket and doubled or tripled their revenue right from the first years after launch. For those who just did what they do without focusing on the branding aspect, it took a much longer time, if happened at all.

From another angle

I bet you don’t want to be one of those companies that have been listed in „Logo Design Mistakes” or „The Most Embarrassing Branding Mistakes”, like these ones:

bohp logo mistake

Additionally, think about how you approach doing business with someone or while buying something every day. If you have a chance to choose between a two companies product or service, and one had clearly put some effort or used professional help in building their brand identity, and the other did it using „Paint” or „Microsoft Word” to design their visual identity, who would you choose?

It takes only a few seconds to determine which companies used professional help, which ones trusted their gut and „design knowledge and taste” to deliver creative results representing their business, or which stint on professional services and used so-called „affordable branding”.

Don’t you feel, approaching such a company, that you will be treated as a client the same way they treat their own business?

Whatever I do online I can take an immediate decision about who to work with or buy from right after I see how their branding looks, what feelings does it deliver, and how does their website work. If something feels off or simply doesn’t work as it should, it’s hard to trust this company.

Do you want to take that chance and risk your company’s reputation?

It’s true that there are many factors deciding on the success of the company and helping their customers make the right decision for their needs, but obviously branding is one of the most important ones. People make their choices based on a number of different factors, but no-one wishes to take a risk of hurting their business simply by ignoring the branding.


Why do Brands Hire Agencies and Creative Studios?

Companies hire creative agencies that provide branding services to establish their brand strategy and improve their visual identity. They seek for a partner helping them increase their sales results, but not only. Their ultimate goal is and should be, to create a long-lasting, timeless brand, gathering people together and creating real, strong communities.

You can be sure that building a strong relationship with a branding agency can help you grow your business exponentially. So if you’re planning to enhance your business by creating a brand or the current brand doesn’t match your vision and company’s culture anymore, throw existing brand guides out of the window and prepare for rebranding!

The only reason you should keep your brand book and expect a new agency to stay within the guidelines is when your company has already established a position in the market and the brand strategy and identity are in place. The professional studio understands that and knows what could be in use and what should be forgotten while working on brand creation.

Getting back to the brand identity guidelines for a moment, this book, in a form of manual, describes how a brand identity should be used across a variety of applications as well as points out the wrong usage which should be avoided. It is one of the most important assets of each business’s brand identity which should be respected as logos, trademarks, and all visual brand assets are usually presented on appropriate backgrounds and used in specific colors approved by the brand. The same applies to the chosen typography, it’s details and hierarchy as well as specific image types used by the brand to spread their message.

Brand guide ensures that the visual identity of a venture is preserved and kept coherent regardless which media uses it.

Novative Brand Guidelines, Brand manual, brand book
Novative Brand Guidelines | Made by Brandman Design Co.

There are plenty of great examples of brand style guides that could be found online. Most of the „big fishes” have theirs uploaded on their sites for easy access for their vendors. In our opinion the following brand guidelines could be treated as examples to follow:

  • Uber Brand Guidelines — Uber uses online, website–type brand guidelines, which is very easily accessible as well as simple to browse;
  • Twitter Brand Guidelines — another great example of clean and easily accessible brand guidelines. Twitter allows its vendors to grab the files they need and download full brand manual pdf explaining the correct and wrong usage of their brand identity;

A creative agency could create the following elements of brand identity if approached by a company:

  • Logo Design (trademark; a main symbol of identification)
  • Corporate Stationery (including Business Cards, Letterheads, Envelopes, Invoices, etc.)
  • Print Marketing Collateral (Flyers, Posters, Brochures, Catalogues, etc.)
  • Digital Collateral (Social Media Images, Online banners, Website Graphic Elements, etc.)
  • Products & Packaging (The way Products look like and Packaging they’re „sitting in”)
  • Merchandise (Apparel clothing and other items worn and used by employees or sold as a part of brand marketing strategy)
  • Environmental Design (interior and exterior signage, outlet stores interiors, building architecture design)
  • TV Advertising (visual elements and content for TV productions)
  • and much more…

Even though those elements play a crucial role in company success and building a positive image in the eyes of their customers, they are parts of brand identity. Not a brand strategy.

Logo design is a base of brand identity and the most recognizable element of each business, but it is the embodiment of the brand, not the brand itself. It cannot or shouldn’t stand alone and be treated as a brand itself. It has identification and representation purposes.

Some companies or rather some brands determine many more elements in order to create real experiences driving people to follow and love them.

When it comes to creating guidelines for keeping the consistency throughout every aspect of brand existence you could also include information about things like:

  • What is the typical welcoming message when employees pick up the phone?
  • What are the steps to proceed with an online sale?
  • What hashtags are being created and how should be used to drive a brand’s message?
  • What is the structure of the positions in the company? (how is each position called?)

Brand guidelines should include all elements that are replicable and could be used in different brand locations, different devices or media, or if a brand has, for example, different departments or subbrands working as a whole. There has to be a system for using every asset of the brand in order to let it look professional and function properly.

Branding is indeed, an expensive service

Branding is a process and there are different tiers of branding costs, split on the size of the project, the agency size, project or client size, etc. Some agencies charge $10-20k for branding, but there are many working with huge corporations that charge 500k-1mln for such services.

It’s obvious that you wouldn’t be able to work with a famous branding agency and spend hundreds of thousands if your business generates only $100/200k revenue per year, but there are plenty of smaller studios which can help you bringing you same or better results expecting smaller investment from your side.

It’s all about being a realist and finding the help you really need. One you can be sure, no matter the cost, it’s worth the investment! If you’re looking for the best results, you need professional help. And if you want big results you cannot make small investments. That’s not just working like this.

And the same as you charge for your professional services or amazing products, the design agencies do the same. Don’t be afraid although to conduct research and talk with different agencies to find the best fit.


But What if you cannot afford Professional Branding?

Yes indeed, branding services aren’t the cheapest ones but rather belongs to the expensive services group. But before you ask yourself if you can afford it, you should answer the question:

„Can you afford not to have branding?”

When it comes to deciding about taking a step towards branding what matters is Return on Investment (ROI).

If you can invest $10,000 but make $100,000 as a result of branding or rebranding, then the initial cost has been worth spending, as it equals only 10% of the reached amount.

Isn’t that something you would consider doing?

As a respecting entrepreneur or C-level suite member, you’re surely looking for ways for developing your business and elevating its results. Branding is a great way to achieve that.

There are however some simple and low-cost ways of making a difference into your business, including your brand strategy improvements.

We recommend answering the below questions or using our Ultimate Brand Strategy Worksheet for this purpose.

1. What does your Brand Stand for?

There are a few approaches to this question and there is no better or worse answer. All you have to do is being honest and dive deep into the brand’s core. Those questions might definitely help you with that:

  • What is your brand’s belief system?
  • What benefits your customers „get” when purchasing your product/service?
  • What is the reason your brand exists? (WHY you’ve started your business, and WHY you do what you do?
  • What do you want people to feel when hearing your brand name?

To understand the importance of these questions, take a look at the differences between some brands working in the same industry. For example H&M and Calvin Klein, both are clothing companies. Although H&M is more about being a lower budget fashion store, while Calvin Klein’s is positioned as a store for high-end, luxury clothing. The CK branding including all visual aspects and strategy reflects that in a great way.

Keep in mind that differentiation is one of the most important elements while building a brand. No-one wishes to create „another brand” of some type. Doing so, the only aspect you could compete with bigger companies would be a price. Joining the industry, but finding your own position by filling the market gaps is the ultimate goal.

“Make a list of the differences and the extremes and start with that. A brand that stands for what all brands stand for stands for nothing much.”

– Seth Godin

2. What Brand assets do you already have?

Start from conducting a brand audit by collecting all your branded collateral in one place. Spread those at your desk or put in one folder to have easy access and have a look at it.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is your brand logo functional? Does it reflect your brand attributes, build on your brand strategy, give a sense of who you are as a business?
  • Is your brand identity consistent throughout all of your printed and digital media? Does it drive the same message?
  • Are you using the same colors and typefaces across your materials?
  • Is your company’s contact information up to date?

Such an audit allows you to be sure your brand identity relates back to your brand strategy and it also helps you find gaps and misleads to make necessary improvements. It’s all about consistency and keeping your visual language in pairs with what your company represents.

Maybe something feels off, or maybe an element or two miss the brand concept?

It pays back to conduct such an audit now and doing the same again after some time. We are humans and we tent to make improvements „on the go” without seeing the wider perspective which drives us sometimes to missing the main vision or walking away from what we have primarily decided on.

3. How is your online appearance? Do you use Social Media correctly?

Everyone knows that there are many social media platforms available for businesses nowadays. At Brandman Design Co, we use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn, focusing 90% of our efforts on Facebook and LinkedIn. It is good to have accounts on a few but being a small boutique studio it isn’t possible for us to leverage all of them properly.

The platform you choose should be picked based on where do you feel the most comfortable with (regarding the type of native content used on it) and foremost where our target audience is being active.

How about you? Is your brand represented on social media?

If so, are you sure your brand identity keeps driving your company message in a good way?

It is crucial to keep your social media profiles up to date and similar in style to your printed materials and your website design, especially that you link to social media from the website and back. All of your materials have to be recognized as your brand’s belongings.

What also matters is the language you use, what you talk about, and what you share with your audience on social media. The content you provide and engagement you drive with your followers speaks on your behalf but it could also hurt your brand. Don’t share too much personal stuff like the latest football results with your audience. Better keep that on your personal profile.

Remember though to not fall into the trap of being too official. We all are humans and all companies and brands are made of humans. There has to be a touch of humanity and reality in our brand social media profiles, but balance is the key down here.

4. Does your website convert?

And all that you’ve read above applies also to your website. Treat it as your „virtual office” which works 24/7, no matter if you still work or sleep already. It has to look similar to the rest of your branded materials. If not, it is time to set it in line!

The first touchpoint, when it comes to websites is the following: You want to be sure your brand identity is presented prominently through the entire site. It will help you boost your brand awareness. I don’t mean putting your logo in every single section, but rather using all brand identity elements consistently (like the same typefaces, brand colors, iconography, and so on).

Also think about the way you present your products or services on it.

  • Do you have a separate Landing Pages for each one of them?
  • Is there a gallery showcasing your products or services/projects?
  • Do you write only about your offer’s features? Think about focusing on a value proposition,
  • Ask your customers for feedback or use smart tools to check how users view your website and learn what and where to improve,
  • Remember to have an about us page (People do business with people, not with companies).
laptop with a screen of website analytics tool
Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

Some important data you should collect:

  • What would you change about our website to make it more accessible or user friendly?
  • Do you understand what our company stands for? Its branding and messaging?
  • How do you perceive our brand?
  • Is it easy enough to proceed with the purchasing process?
  • Did you find what you were looking for?
  • Is our contact details easy to find?
  • Is there something you’d like to see, read, find on our website?

Collect data from a bunch of different customers (if you have access to them) or conduct a user-testing, which could be done using online platforms. If the answers don’t sit right, it could mean there’s time for changes or adjustments.

There are tons of questions you could ask during user testing, but fixing even the smallest issues will help your business along the way and might improve the conversions.

5. HOW TO make improvements?

If after reading the above post you’re still unsure about any of the things we’ve talked about, we highly recommend you getting in touch with a professional branding agency.

Many of those (including us) offer a consultation before starting work on a project. If you prefer to do it yourself, please remember:

  1. Brand Strategy comes always first! Take care of it as early as possible and don’t dive into the designing process without a proper understanding of your own business and determining the path to follow.
  2. Don’t overcomplicate and overdo things! The power sits in simplicity.
  3. Stay within your color palette. Either choose to stay within the primary color palette or support it with secondary (if necessary) but remember, more colors=more costs (printing).
  4. Don’t spend thousands of hours on your logo design. It’s true that it is the most prominent part of your brand identity, but it’s not the only one. There’s much more that works for your brands and customers than a logo.
  5. Be sure the whole identity of your brand is functional and flexible enough to be used in different applications on different platforms and devices. It has to drive the same message and reflect the same attributes.

One more thing to remember. We have mentioned it already before, but still… keep in mind that Branding is a professional service, and it takes time and effort to proceed. So be ready for that and spend as much as you can to do it properly!


What is Branding? The conclusions

There are no shortcuts and no „typical solutions” for it. The proper branding is fully customized to your business only and has to speak from within your brand. It is a heart and soul of it. It is WHAT you do, HOW you do it, and most importantly WHY you do what you do.

Combine these elements with your brand identity. Merge a solid brand strategy with stunning design. That’s branding!

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

– Seth Godin

What your brand really stands for, what believes in, the mission it follows to share its vision. That’s what sticks in people’s minds and encourage them to buy from you. That’s what makes your customers feel they buy something rather than you’re pushing your sales out to them.

But it’s not only about sales numbers. Branding isn’t only about convincing people to buy, it’s about building communities and encourage others to join the tribe you create. It’s your strategy and goals, aimed at your customer’s needs.

There are situations when it focuses on creating brand loyalty, raising money for charity, convincing someone to read your book or hire you on position. Branding could be used in a variety of situations. It is still a tricky word, understood by many wrong or different. It’s the reputation and the way others talk about you or your brand, not what you say about it.

Branding could be applied to people too, it’s called personal branding.

Gary Vaynerchuck–one of the world’s most famous celebrity entrepreneurs, or sports athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James or Michael Jordan, are one of the best examples of brands created around people. So if you don’t have a business but wish to start showing your online existence and expertise over certain topics start branding yourself!

To round it up; branding is definitely not logo design. It’s not any of the visual elements of your brand or all of them combined. It’s not your website, social media profile, or a beautiful office in California.

It’s what your brand believes in and how you represent that. It’s a verbal and non-verbal message and the feeling your company leaves after an interaction. It’s what your customers say it is, not what you say it is.

Branding is about appealing to the emotions of your customers, inspiring them to respond and take action. Making them think about what you want them to think as soon as they approach your brand and keep them interested in being a part of it.

Branding is how your business is perceived by others

If you’re not sure how to proceed with branding, drop us a line! And don’t forget to like, share, comment on this post.

What does branding mean to you? We’d love to hear from you.

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2 Comments

  1. You’re so awesome! I don’t think I have read something like that before.
    So wonderful to find another person with a few genuine thoughts
    on this topic. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is needed on the internet,
    someone with some originality!

    1. Thank you soo much! I’m very happy you see it useful. More content will be posted soon, stay tuned!

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