The Law of The Brand
Why branding is so powerful and how to claim your brand identity.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You must earn it by trying to do hard things well.” That’s one gem on branding from Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon. Here’s another, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
It’s worthwhile to think of Jeff Bezos’s words because Amazon has done a very good job of bringing together three core components of company success: brand, branding, and brand identity. Sometimes, these terms get muddled or used almost interchangeably, but understanding their unique definitions and purposes is critical to wielding any of them well.
- Brand: the perceptions and feelings people have toward a company
- Branding: a deliberate process used to shape perceptions
- Brand identity: what we can see and hear, the design and voice of the brand
What’s a brand?
The main difference between your business and your brand is that your business is entirely made up of your employees, products, and services. Your brand, on the other hand, is also defined by what other people think of your business.
What is branding?
Branding is the active process of shaping the perceptions that people have about your company or branded products and services. It’s what you do to affect how customers feel about you. Branding encompasses all of the actions that you take to build awareness and reputation around your business and its products and services.
And brand identity?
Brand identity is the tangible expression of your brand. It includes common elements like your brand’s name, typography, tagline, logo, colors, and tone of voice. It’s what your customers can see and hear — the design and voice of your brand.
The stronger and more cohesive your brand identity is, the better chance you have to shape a brand that is recognized and trusted. Being consistent will win out.
Top tips for creating a powerful brand identity
- Research your audience: Knowing what your audience wants and learning more about who they are and what motivates them will inform how you create a brand they will love. Conduct market research and build “buyer personas,” or semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers.
- Understand your brand’s value: List out what it is that makes your business unique. What can you offer that similar companies can’t? Write a mission statement that describes your brand’s vision, goals, and purpose. Knowing clearly what your business is about is key to building a powerful brand identity.
- Know your competition: Take time to understand the differences between your brand and your competitors. You can leverage these differences and also find out what’s working (and what isn’t) in your industry.
- Conduct a SWOT analysis: Knowing your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will help you clarify those characteristics you want to convey in your brand’s personality.
- Nail your logo, color palette, and typography: Your logo is the face of your company. It introduces your brand, sets a precedent for your personality, and provides a visual for your customers to recognize and make a connection with. Alongside your logo, your color palette and the typography you choose enhance your identity. Combined, these elements should be:
- Striking and attention-grabbing
- Recognizable and unforgettable
- Flexible enough to be used to full effect anywhere
- Create brand guidelines: All the elements of a brand identity come together in a brand guide, which contains your visual brand assets as well as your brand narrative, messaging, and differentiators, among other things. These guidelines will unify what you do and make sense to your customers no matter where they see you.
Of course, all of these things sound daunting and time-consuming, especially for a small business or midsize business with a small marketing team. But there is so much value behind putting the effort into creating a great brand with a strong identity that I truly believe once you’ve done the work, it pays back tenfold.
About the Author:
Brandee Johnson is the owner and CEO of LimeLight Marketing. After a 15 year run in corporate America, working for leading brands Deluxe Corporation and LEGO, Johnson followed her long-time dream of starting her own company and founded LimeLight Marketing, a brand, digital marketing and development agency that helps brands foster customer trust and grow market share. Since then, the agency has grown rapidly to serve companies across the US.