What is a brand?
Branding is a conceptual idea used by marketers to tell your customers or your clients who you are, how trustworthy and reliable you are, how successful you are and how competent you are. When you brand your business, you need to think about:
- Your company mission
- What places you over and above your competitors
- What people already think about your company
- How your clients or customers think about you
- How should your clients or customers think about your product or service.
Your brand needs to be used across all platforms and in all places, particularly across the Internet. Your brand needs to appear around every corner and in particular, an easy find for your potential demographic customers. It DOES NOT need to be fancy, but does need to be consistent and should appear exactly the same whatever branding form you use.
Here is my favorite example. Caffe Rococo in Kirkland, Washington State, is a wonderful café situated in Park Lane. The interior reminds me of a schoolroom, with dark wood-stained flooring, a dark, high ceiling, dark wooden tables, and photographs of customers on all the walls. The atmosphere is studious and warm which is why I guess so many geeks use the place. Free Internet, super, super coffee and what else do you need? Their tagline is “Great Coffee, Strong Relationships, and Tireless Service.”
Their website is an extension of their business. They have used dark browns over white for their overall design color scheme. There is a simple, cute logo, a vector/illustration of four coffee beans above two leaves in dark brown. The logo appears in several places. In one white space area they have their logo colored green, a symbol of their earth-friendly policies. The site also uses the occasional splash of green and orange for buttons and links. Their design elements include an interesting typeface that has clean lines, elegant shapes and warmth. You get the same feeling inside the coffee house, which is why ‘concept’ is so important to your brand.
What form does a brand take
The No 1 brand form is your company logo. It appears on your website, on your business card, posters, banners, news, blogs, social media and within your establishment. If you own a restaurant it may appear on your glasses or beer mats, menus and mirrors. Variations of your logo can even appear subliminally on uniforms or art designs. Your logo is a symbol of your business and should be easily recognizable to your clients or customers. But let’s dig deeper.
What is a symbol?
Symbols are material things that stand for something abstract. If we think of abstract we talk about feelings, things that make us act a certain way, do things, touch things, a tune we can’t get out of our head, the aroma of a favorite scent, a noise we hear, the instincts we feel about each other, the look of a building or a work of art. OK, I’m going to stop now. Let’s take this logo. It is made up of two inverted WW’s on a globe symbolizing the global aspect of the web and the first letters of the company name. Really simple. Colors can be used symbolically to impart feelings of well-being, calm, anxiety, and passion. And they vary considerably from one culture to another. The color white is used in the western world as part of a wedding ceremony to signify purity but in the Far East it signifies death. So, if you want to be respectful to your Chinese or Japanese customers, you probably don’t want to push too much white in your media.
Secondary branding is not exactly feely/touchy branding but just as important. How does your staff dress, what is the look of the interior of your business, how do your staff members talk to your customers, how do they answer the phone? If your establishment is a restaurant, for example, it is not just about the look of the menus or the color scheme of the interior. What type of silverware do you offer your customers; do you use fancy or plain glassware? How close are the tables to each other? Even to how you fold the napkins. It is all a part of branding.
According to the Business Dictionary, an example of concepts includes the design for a new automobile or the pitch behind an advertising campaign. In of itself that is a bit wishy washy. Let’s dig deeper.
The word concept comes from the Latin word conceptum meaning something born or conceived. OK, I can grasp that, I hear you all say. But in marketing it should be defined as the birth of an idea. And ideas are a strong point in the evolution of humans because our ideas are usually symbolic. How we present our ideas is through symbols. Yeah! Get it?
Are now the strongest conceptual marketing form for the Internet. They can come in several forms but the most popular are vectors, photos and videos. Images are often used conceptually meaning symbols can be placed randomly on different layers of an image to present a concept or design that is related to a business, a product, or a service. Take the image of the eagle above. If you click on the image it will open the lightbox for a slighter larger version of the image. This was a concept design for a yacht club called The Eagle Yacht Club. The interior of the clubhouse included original wooden beams from the Spanish Armada so they wanted their brochures to contain a watermark of several maritime images that included their name, the elegance of their clubhouse, the old beams in the form of an old galleon, maps and a sextant. It’s a really beautifully designed concept for a yacht club. Your images and your videos must be super clear and professional standard for your website or other marketing materials. Don’t ever scrimp on quality because quality is something your customers want and expect. If they don’t see it on your brand, they will not return to your business.
is also a very important part of your brand and the same font should be used across your brand.
If you don’t have experience in the nuances of Typeface, I would not choose it yourself. Have your branding company discuss this with you and they should come up with two or three fonts for your materials. A good rule for a website is not to use more than two (or three at a push) different fonts on your website. You can have one font for your logo and Heading 1, another for blurbs like testimonials and a third for your normal text. The cool thing about Typeface is that you can play with one font style and make it italic, broader, taller, fatter and sillier if you like but only a professional should be doing this for you.
Let’s look at some easy-peesy examples. You don’t want to use a formal typeface with flourishes across your media when your business is selling computer gadgets. A wedding site would probably prefer flourishes and whirls in the type of font they use. This is why your hire professionals to make these kind of decisions for you. You get what you pay for.
The final word on text, “Never, never allow a typo on your website or a broken link.” Users will bounce off your website and customers expect better of you and your service.
Language of your brand
The language of your brand starts with a tagline (see next). If it’s it too Ritzy tone it down. If it’s too formal for your customers, then mellow it out. Your language needs to be understood by your potential customers and appears in all communications and all marketing visuals you use for your company. Your language is a key concept and is used often subliminally. You need to use specific keywords in your media which customers or clients can connect with. Those keywords reference your product, your style and they need to connect with it so they desire your service or your product.
Tagline (called slogan by the old school)
A tagline is one of the most difficult things to come up with. Which is why most companies hire a copywriter to come up with their tagline. A tagline is a simple explanation on how your customers lives will improve if they use/own/see your product or service. They are also used heavily in marketing and advertising. The tagline should be the one thing your audience will remember about you and your business. Just for fun let’s think about some movie taglines such as, “You’re going need a bigger boat,” from Jaws. It is a tagline to describe something insurmountable. What is it about your product that you want your customers to remember? Here are some of the best taglines today. Nike’s “Just Do It,” or Cisco Systems “Visualize, Orchestrate, and Automate,” and PBS’s “Be More.” So there you have it. Don’t even think about starting a business until you’ve got your brand. The consequences of not having a brand could be very expensive indeed.