We Heart Branding

Brand vs. Identity

In today’s design-centric world, we often hear the word “brand” thrown around with reckless abandon. And in many instances, it’s used incorrectly. Honestly, even us folks within the marketing industry can get it wrong at times. Somewhere along the way, the word “brand” became synonymous with “logo.” For hundreds of years even before the wild west, animals were “branded” with the unique symbol of the owner.

Branding

So, mark = brand, right?

Not exactly. The word logo is short for logotype. It’s basically a unique, identifying mark that signals to your audience what you stand for every time it appears. Your logo can create expectations and reinforce perceptions. There’s no debating your organization needs a logo – a visual identity – and a darn fine one, at that. It’s a foundational element to doing business. However, we believe that your company’s brand is even more important.

So what the heck is a brand, anyway?

There are more definitions and blog posts devoted to “branding” than you can shake a selfie stick at. Simply put, a brand is a relationship between an organization and their audience. It’s something that’s earned over time, based on interactions (positive or negative) with your organization. They say perception is reality, and that’s never more true when it comes to your brand. If I perceive an organization is only interested in making money at my expense (insert regional cable company here) based on my experiences, then that notion becomes a fact in my world. It would be very difficult for my particular perspective to change very easily, if at all. So how do you go about creating a desired perception of your organization?

Say what you do. Do what you say.

We believe that branding is an intangible expression to purpose. When you focus on building authentic relationships with your audience, earning trust and creating affinity, you are branding your organization, essentially communicating, “this is our reason for being, this how we operate, this is what you can consistently expect from us.” How your customers feel about you – and what they say about you to others – is your brand.

Stop for a second and imagine a product or company you admire/love/rave about regularly. So many categories, so may choices. What connotations sprint to mind when you think about companies like MailChimp, Adidas, Apple, Patagonia, and Starbucks?

As consumers, we all have companies that we feel a connection with, companies who get us, and are doing something significant beyond just selling merch and services. Products and organizations we’re extremely loyal to, and whom we will willingly evangelize for without incentive or reward. That’s a powerful brand. That’s the mental position we all aspire to reach.

And while it’s not easy, it is certainly attainable. In our experience, brand development is about the organization and the agency being in touch with reality (current audience perceptions) and in sync with each other. It’s not extremely difficult to design a logo, tell a story, and to make a promise. The hard part is getting everyone within the organization on the same page and owning it. Successful organizations with enviable brands go to great lengths to make sure their story, their promise, and their actions ring true across every touch point, every day. Because if the identity and the experience don’t match up as billed, the brand has a real problem that can’t be solved with killer typefaces and motion graphics.

Need branding help? Let’s talk.

  • On February 22, 2018
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