In my opinion, the term "branding" may be one of the most diluted and misunderstood terms in the design, marketing and advertising worlds to date. I can't tell you the number of times I see people offer up the service of "branding,” and all they do for the client is give them a logo, website design and maybe a few ad designs. Yes, those are components of a brand, but they are NOT what defines the word "brand" or "branding."
Before I started Thimblepress® I had a design and marketing studio in Charleston, SC for 4 years, and 1 year in Jackson, MS with my dear friend Catherine Yerger (who I am STOKED is in Jackson for the month of August so I can hang out with her!). We were hungry to help companies, but I sometimes think the fresh out of college, 22 year old look didn't appeal to as many as we hoped. We were smart and truly believed that we could help businesses, and we did. We had a successful business creating visual identities and campaigns for companies, individuals, boutiques, events, etc. My favorite part was really digging in deep, getting to know their business, figuring out their core values, mission, target audience, communication, etc. However, most companies we worked with at the time just thought a logo would be enough to establish their "brand," and as some of you reading this can nod along with, you can only try to make a client try to understand and value what true branding meant so many times. If you are more passionate about your customer’s brand, and wanting it to succeed more than the owners, there is definitely something wrong. We hit a lot of brick walls like that. We were so passionate about doing what we loved and knew we were good at for companies. Don’t let my talk before fool you, we had some amazing successes and home runs with companies who really trusted us. Can you hear the passion through my writing? I am super passionate about this. I love talking to people about their business, encouraging them, and consulting individuals or companies about this. Once a week I get a call from at least one business owner who just wants to “run a business idea by me.” Last week it happened 5 separate times. Each time I listened and then poured my soul, heart and ideas into what I really thought. I truly love it.
So enough about my back story, let’s get into this branding business. To me branding is very broad. Follow with me for a second while I put some visualization to this. Envision the elements of your brand as individual tile pieces that make up a floor; those pieces represent your brand + positing that make your company unique and captivating. Individually, those tile pieces don’t mean a lot, but together, with the other tile pieces, they form a strong + aligned floor to stand on. They form a beautiful piece of art and function. As stated above, the finished floor with all the pieces represents your brand. Your customers/clients stand on that floor comprised of all those pieces and have either positive & memorable or not so great experiences with your company. How will your brand interact with those customers? Are your pieces all aligned and strong or are things/customers falling through the cracks? By developing a brand (floor) with unforgettable and wonderful brand touch points (which we will get into later), you will create a memorable experience & products that stand out, and a business that your loyal customers will return to. I came up with the idea of the tile floor while sleeplessly staring at my bathroom tile floor waiting to hop in the shower one morning. My brain works in the strangest ways, but as I looked at that floor I knew exactly how I would talk to you about branding, and help give a little visualization to it all. The sheets provided in this post are the exact replica of my bathroom tile floor, minus the rainbow colors. :)
Because branding can be so overwhelming to tackle I have given it a little organization. I have given branding four very specific components that consists of sub-components, with the fourth one broken into two large pieces. I am going to go through those components over the next five weeks, starting with the first one next week on Tuesday, August 18. This week I thought I would do a general overview of what I know branding to be. Am I the end all be all, know it all gal? Absolutely not. This is just my approach to branding.
I have created documents attached HERE for you to work from in the following weeks. I will have more documents, but the documents I am attaching are your floor tile pieces and your finished floor. I created a little illustration for you to follow along with and fill out each week as we dive deeper into branding.
The first section is called WHO ARE YOU? It consists of core values & purpose, mission, and your business vision. The second section is called POSITIONING. It consists of defining your target and ideal customers and clients, competitors, brand touch points and what makes you different as a company. The third step is one of my favorites, IDENTITY. Identity consists of your brand name, design style and standards, and touch-point concepts surrounding it. The final section is COMMUNICATION which I break down down into two components. The first component of communication is INTERNAL > OPERATIONS which is living out your brand in your product design or service, your procedures, systems (I talked about this in an earlier Biz Tip Tuesday post HERE0, and your cultivated brand culture. The second component of communication is EXTERNAL > MARKETING which is your marketing plan and marketing which breaks down to things like website, packaging, collateral, public relations, advertising, marketing environments, social media, etc.
Having these components defined, to me, helps you see branding as a structured layout, and gives you the organization to jump in and truly brand yourself. I think sometimes the idea of branding is so overwhelming because it is first off misused all the time and second, it takes time and dedication to go through all of this. I would just think of this as a way to really figure out if you really do have the passion and drive to move forward.
Download the document HERE, take a look at it and start thinking about your brand and what you stand for. We will be covering that next week in the “WHO ARE YOU?” segment! I hope you stick with me and follow along!
DATES FOR BIZ TIP TUESDAY - A BRAND IS NOT A LOGO SERIES:
WEEK 1 - Introduction and overview
WEEK 2- Who Are You?
Core values & purpose, mission, and your business vision
WEEK 3 - Positioning
Defining your target and ideal customers and clients, competitors, brand touch points and what makes you different as a company
WEEK 4 - Identity
Your brand name, design style and standards, and touch-point concepts surrounding it
WEEK 5 - Internal Communications - Operations
WEEK 6 - External Communications - Marketing