WHAT IS BRANDING?
Branding your company
WHAT IS BRANDING?
The short answer: branding is everything.
A brand is a hard thing to codify but think of it like this.
How do you dress?
How do you talk?
What kind of car do you drive?
How is your handshake?
What does your social media look like?
What kind of friends do you have?
This is your brand. But instead of a person, it’s a company. The process of branding a new company, or re-branding an existing company is the development of each and every piece that makes you, you.
All of these things and so much more are probably dependent on who you’re in front of. I’m a shorts and Birkenstocks kind of guy when I’m on my off time. When I’m working, it’s dress shirts with fun patterns and jeans. One consistent thing you can count on from me is that no matter where I am, I’m always laughing.
Consider your brand like a person you have to dress up; fill their life with stuff and people. Are they serious or silly? Creative or traditional?
The bottom line is your brand is a story that is being told to everyone who encounters it.
Now that we’ve laid out the rough concept of a brand, it’s important to know that unless your company lives in a cave, your brand is already happening with or without you.
Marti Neumeier said it best in his book The Brand Gap:
“Brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”
The “they” in his quote are those who see you, see your ads or billboards, or catch one of your commercials. As soon as someone sees your company in one way or another, they make an assessment and move on in their day. These little assessments build up into their image of you in their mind. This can be as simple as a web banner or a postcard; it even includes where you intentionally choose NOT to advertise. Where you AREN’T says something about you just as much as where you ARE.
It would be reasonable to have a little urgency course through you knowing that your company’s brand has already run off without you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t grab the reins and steer the cart.
WHY IS BRANDING IMPORTANT?
Let’s establish what your goal should be.
Tell your story to the right people.
If you haven’t placed any attention on your brand there’s a good chance you’re not doing either of these things. In order to tell your story, you have to have a comprehensive understanding of what your brand is. Likewise, if you intend on telling your story to the right people it might serve you to take a deep dive into the question, “Who are the right people?” You might have a logo, a font you like, and some colors, but completing the holy trifecta known as a visual identity is a far cry from having a brand.
If your brand is the strategy and math to route your course, then your visual identity is the spaceship, and the right people are your destination.
Without the strategy behind a brand, your spaceship isn’t going to be well suited for your destination, even if it arrives at the correct coordinates. Meaning, you don’t tell your story to the right people, and ultimately you exhaust yourself with Sisyphus’ dilemma. You push your boulder uphill only to have it roll down and you are forced to start over.
Having a comprehensive brand smooths out the rocky hills and makes you trudge more of a stroll. However, having a good brand isn’t a fix-all. Running a business is a nuanced mechanism that needs all its part in working order to be successful. Good brands can still sink their ship through unnecessary brand expansion, bad PR, or just plain bad products and services.
A good brand insulates your company.
WHO IS BRANDING FOR?
Who has two thumbs and needs a brand? This guy!
But, really. If you are a business owner, influencer, solopreneur, you need to have a well-developed brand. It makes no sense to spend all those sleepless nights on other aspects of your company and completely neglect how your audience sees you.
If your goal was to walk into that execs office and discuss a huge merger you wouldn’t kick the door in looking like the Dude. In the same way, you can’t expect to see your company grow and impact the community without any level of intentionality behind your brand.