What is Branding?

Let’s look at what this is exactly and why you need to have good brand design for your business.

Branding your business

What exactly is branding?

In the last few years, the term “branding” has been a real buzzword, particularly if you market your services and/or products in the online space (and who doesn’t nowadays!) Let’s look at what this is exactly and why you need to have good brand design for your business.

Branding according to the Collins English dictionary is “to give a product a distinctive identity by means of characteristic design, packaging, etc.” The definition from the Cambridge English dictionary: “the act of giving a company a particular design or symbol in order to advertise its products and services.” There is a slight difference between these two as you can see - the Collins dictionary implying that it is just a product that is branded (which is not the case really, as service based businesses also require branding!) whereas the Cambridge dictionary recognises that it is the actual company that is branded. But both of these tend to focus on the design elements of a company - the main one being the company’s logo of course. There are other areas too apart from the logo, which can have a great impact on your brand presence as you can see below in “What makes up your brand”.

The other dictionary definition of branding refers to the branding of cattle - “the action of marking with a branding iron” which of course is a permanent mark and which sets them apart from other herds. This is exactly what you need your brand to do - set you apart from others.

What makes up your brand?

The first thing people tend to think about when thinking of a particular brand are the visual elements such as the main logo and colours used. We are all familiar with the red and yellow of the McDonald’s brand, black and white for Nike, black, white and orange for Amazon and red and white of Coca Cola, however, there are other more subtle elements that all make up a company’s brand, but are equally as important: tone of voice, photography style and typography (fonts) used in marketing material for example. And rather than just one logo you should have a full logo suite - so not just one logo but a primary logo, a secondary logo, brand pattern and logo marks (brand icons) - all of these have their place and can be used on both digital and physical marketing products.

Why is branding important?

Humans learn through repetition, so if at every touch point or interaction that your potential client has with your brand there is a repeated theme (or consistency in what they see or even feel) then it will help them recognise that brand instantly and this helps build trust. Once a potential client feels like they can trust a brand then they are much more likely to make a purchase. The “know, like and trust” factor.

When branding your company you should think of the design aspect of it as something that will stand the test of time - not too modern/trendy that it feels outdated in a couple of years and also ensuring you use fonts that don’t make it feel dated. Timeless is what you’re aiming for - you don’t want to feel like you need to rebrand every other year.

Your brand has to stand out from others in your field - it must be distinctive, and of course it must attract your ideal client too. In a nutshell, it shapes the whole face of your company and is your company’s personality.

“But isn’t it just a logo I need when I’m first starting out?” I hear you cry.

Having a pretty logo at the top of your website or as your social media cover image is all very well, but it doesn’t really help your audience get to know you. To make your brand truly memorable you need to ensure you’re not only using your logo but, as mentioned above, also consistently using a particular font, a set series of colours across all of your marketing material (your brand colour palette) and a certain tone of voice and even photography style. All of these elements together make up your brand and will ensure that your potential clients get to know you.

So even though you may only be just starting out, it’s important to invest in getting the branding right from the very start of your business journey. It will certainly help in building that “know, like and trust” factor which will ultimately lead to more sales.

Branding and marketing material

You should ensure that your branding is consistent throughout any marketing material. So in tangible marketing items such as business cards, leaflets, brochures. And also in your packaging such as labels, tissue paper and stickers. Not forgetting of course any digital items such as your website, email signature and all social media channels.

For tangible products, if you’re looking to elevate your brand to the next level and position it in the luxury market then there are lots of premium card and print finishing options you can select to help with this. On business cards for example you can opt for foil printing, spot UV finishing (raised areas of the design that are glossy) or gilt/coloured edges on a thick, board like card. Investing that little bit extra on premium finishes like this really does help position you in the higher end of the market.

Brand consistency

The best way to ensure brand consistency is to follow a brand guideline document. Brand guidelines detail aspects of your brand that must always remain consistent: the primary logo, secondary logo, brand icon(s), colour palette, typography usage and it may also go into photography style and tone of voice. In the brand guidelines that I create for my clients I also detail logo usage and misusage to ensure that you are using the logo correctly.

A brand guideline document is vital too if you have multiple employees or plan to take on employees one day. Or even if you enlist the help of a freelance VA or decide to outsource your social media content creation. Having that one document detailing your brand guidelines ensures that all of your content is consistent, even if several people may work on content creation for the brand. If you are a sole trader dealing with all the marketing and content creation yourself, having the brand guideline framework to refer to really does ensure consistency across the brand.

Hopefully the points above have helped you understand why a strong consistency in your brand and brand materials really does play a big part in attracting your ideal client and why it will totally elevate the overall brand experience that your clients and potential clients receive.

If you have any questions at all regarding the branding of your business you can find me at @thebranddesignboutique or www.facebook.com/thebranddesignboutique.

Written by Nicky Fish - The Brand Design Boutique