What is branding and how you can develop yours
Updated: Feb 27
The aim of this blog post is to help you, dear reader, to understand if you currently have a brand or a logo, what the difference is and how you can take the first step to developing your brand.
Brand vs Logo
In a nutshell, branding is every encounter someone has with anything related to your business that creates a lasting and memorable experience.
EVERY. SINGLE. ENCOUNTER.
A logo is a mark that shows your business name. It is part of a brand but not a brand in itself and can only do so much for your business.
Well, ok then - that was the short version. For a more informative approach, grab a cup of tea, scroll on down and we’ll explore what makes a brand and what you can do to get some clarity on yours.
The four components of branding all support each other: strategy, identity, collateral and experience.
Branding can be split in a whole host of ways but I find this to be a simple, yet comprehensive way to do it with my clients.
Let’s get cracking.
Brand strategy is the foundation of your business branding and gives you clarity on how you communicate, to who and why. It establishes foundations that will influence and guide everything in your business from your logo to your messaging to your customer experience. It includes (but is not limited to):
Your proposition - who are you and what do you do?
Your why - why do you do what you do?
Your vision - what do you want to achieve?
Your mission - how are you going to achieve this?
Your values - what is important to you?
Your customers - who is your ideal audience?
Your positioning - how are you different to the rest?
Your personality - if your business was a person, what would they be like?
Your tone of voice - what words do you use and how do you communicate?
Your core messages - what do you want to say?
Strategy is the foundation of your brand. If this part is solid, your content, messaging and marketing is all easier.
Brand identity is the visual part of your branding. It is a consistent way of representing your business and when used correctly will build those all-important know, like and trust factors. It showcases who you are and who you are for, and sets expectations including pricing and credibility. It includes (but is not limited to):
- Logo and marks
- Fonts and typefaces
- Mood boards
- Photographic and illustration style
- Style and feel
Branded collateral refers to the deliverable items once the strategy and identity have been developed and created. Bringing together the strategy and visuals to select the right method of communication is done here. It includes (but is not limited to):
- Business cards
- Leaflets and posters
- Documents such as invoices
- Social media graphics and templates
- Vehicle livery
- Training and workbooks
- Brochures and catalogues
- Email graphics and templates
- Blog graphics
Brand experience can be over-looked as part of branding and yet is crucially the part most controlled by the business owners and employees themselves. This is all about how your brand treats others in the world. It may not seem tangible but a strong brand experience is a powerful tool, and can create advocates within people who haven’t directly worked with you. It includes (but is not limited to):
- Customer service
- Networking pitch
- Internal culture
- Client experience
- Personal appearance
- Onboarding and offboarding processes
- Employee experience
- Contact points (phone, email, post etc)
To stand out, you don't need 'just' a logo. You need a brand experience that goes beyond your client's current needs.
Bringing it all together…
I have recently developed a brand that offers mental health support and counselling. Their vision is to normalise talking about mental health (brand mission). Currently, there is still a certain taboo around mental health, particularly within their target market of professional males (ideal client).
Through understanding what they want to achieve and who their clients are (brand strategy), they understood that a colourful brand may work for outward communications to support their vision, but could be perceived as indiscreet and negatively received by their clients (visual identity being driven by brand strategy).
Channelling their values of compassion and respect (brand values), we created a brand that allows for brighter, awareness focused materials to the public (brand positioning), and a more subtle suite of documents and holders for patients (brand collateral).
This in turn provides a thoughtful brand experience that suits their ideal customer whilst serving their mission and vision.
What about you?
So, there you have it. Branding is an experience and the above will help you to understand exactly how much the term ‘branding’ includes. It also demonstrates why I don’t offer logo design as a stand-alone offering.
“But Tammi, how does this apply with my existing business?” I hear you cry.
Don’t worry, I got you.
The first step to improving or developing your brand is to understand where you currently are. Use the points in each of four lists as a starting place and note what you currently have, how clear you are about this point within your business and highlight your top three to focus on for the next month. As you work on your brand, start to put a branding document together that details everything you gain clarity on and refer to it regularly to help guide your content (we’ll talk about this more in a future post).
When you have clarity within your brand, marketing your business is easier because everything is aligned.
Looking for more brand advice, inspiration or have a question?
Head over to my Instagram @shadowcatcreative to join the conversation.