Branding Is Fundamental To Corporate Positioning
Branding Is How You Share Your (Company’s) Self
A lot of people don’t really know what branding is. Similarly to marketing, advertising, and other disciplines in business, branding has become so illusive and mysterious a concept. At phillyMADEcreative we aim to demystify the creative and strategic arts, so if you’re confused about what branding is anymore…read on:
Branding is all about the expression of the intangible. A company’s brand is seen as a logo, color palette, and all the locations where you experience it. If you think about your business like a person, the brand is the clothes you wear. It’s the perfume you put on. While branding is certainly deeper than just the surface level, it is expressed and identified on the “outside” by the market. It’s about balancing perception & reality. While that may be simple, it certainly isn’t always easy to do.
Our philosophy is to dig deep into the actual identity of the brand. A lot of times rhetoric overshadows truth. The first place we look when doing branding work is to see if the company knows who they are. A level of self awareness is required to do good branding work. If you don’t know who you are how can you express yourself? Asking those kinds of questions is necessary to get to the bottom of the most important aspects of a company’s purpose, mission, values, and principles.
Whatever Industry You’re In, You Need A Brand
Even if your company is an OEM manufacturer and you only market to others who “have a brand,” you need to recognize that however you present yourself to your customer base is important. Taking that example, if you want to create trust with your customer base, you may want to keep your brand subdued.
A lot of people who have sole proprietorships forget that their brand may come in the form of their suit or hair style. A brand is the expressions of a certain identity. That’s another thing. Your identity can and should change over time. Just like yourself as a person will grow and evolve with different experiences. If you act the same way you did as a child…your “brand” is immature. That almost 100% of the time lacks value especially from a professional standpoint.
Branding doesn’t have to be the most expensive investment you make in your company, but you need to consider it seriously. The more digitalized the world gets, the quicker people need to recognize you and your brand. If your business some how does not rely on or require the internet, then God bless you. But for the rest of us…a website, social media, and email are the tools you need to master.
Where Do You Start?
If your company has been around for some period of time, then the first thing to do is stop. Take a step back. Then take 100 more steps back. Get so far outside of yourself now that you can remember yourself then. Remember your company when it first started. Like a little baby trying to walk for the first time, you fell down a lot. It was exciting. Terrifying. But it was yours.
Now look at your business. You have employees. Lots of customers. Maybe you’re even big enough to have international notoriety. Who knows, you could run a division of a brand that’s been around for 100 years and nobody who created the company is even alive anymore to talk to about it. So do your best to look from a bird’s eye view at where you’re at and where you’ve come from.
Then look at how people experienced your company. Don’t assume their responses yet. That’s not what I mean. Literally, do people only see the mark of your brand on a cardboard box once products arrive at some distribution center? Do you have billboards all over the place? How often has your main font changed? Have you kept consistency?
That’s all the internal stuff. Eventually you’ll have to venture out and look at your competitors’ brands, ask around how your brand has been received, and do some general market research. After all of that it’s time to bring that information to your strategy team to collaboratively determine what the next steps are. It is only upon doing this kind of diligence that you should make a big decision like (re)-branding your company. It can be disruptive.
Lighters, and coffee mugs, and coasters, oh my!
If your company has taken branding seriously in the past, then you may well have your brand on so many promotional items and marketing materials it’ll make you dizzy. At a minimum, branding should be consistent across those items and all your platforms & channels. With a very creative concept and clear strategy, you can balance multiple marks, but generally it’s good practice to have things match all over.
Once you get clear about where you’re going, and the brand book is updated (if you don’t have one you need one), you can systematically reproduce all of your branded materials. Having a budget for tangible physical products with your brand on it is important when you can afford it. This leaves a reminder in the lives of the people you want to think of you, in the form of something they could touch on a daily basis.
Remember, Your Branding Is A Foundation
That means you can build upon it. For example, a brand book is supposed to give standards and guidelines for creatives to ensure consistency. However, at any time you want to throw the rule book out the window…go ahead! It’s your brand. Do what you want with it. Just remember that it should come from a natural place that has been discovered by diligent practice. Then you won’t need to worry if something is “on brand,” just like you (hopefully) don’t think to yourself too often, “if this action…me?”