When it comes to your brand, you are “in command and out of control.*”
Let me explain what I mean by that.
If you Google the definition of brand, the first thing you’ll see is “a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.” Simple enough, right? Maybe 50 or 60 years ago. Then marketers realized that in addition to just describing a product, a brand could be used to create a specific perception in consumers’ minds about the company as a whole.
Ask about the definition of brand today and you’ll hear phrases like “a brand is what people say about you when you leave the room,” or “a brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
Nowadays, the reason “brand” so hard to define is because both of those definitions are correct. I know, right? A brand is both tangible and intangible; it is made up of tangible elements created by you, and intangible elements created by your customers.
You have direct control over the creation of your brand’s tangible elements, all the physical pieces that embody your brand’s personality; your logo, website, marketing collateral, your products and services. You also have control over your brand strategy; the techniques you use to position your brand where you want it in the mind of your customers. Your customers form the intangible elements of your brand; their memories, beliefs, and emotions based on their experiences with your brand. From there, thanks to the internet, your customers can take control; sharing, tweeting, posting, commenting, and generally talking about your brand from their perspective. (As a side note, I HIGHLY recommend reading *The Ad-Free Brand by Chris Grams (where "in command and out of control came from), as well as Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Jack Trout and Al Ries. These books will change your life and your business).
There are 8 tangible brand elements that form the building blocks for the intangible; a specific company perception in the minds of consumers. All together they make up your brand. The more positive experiences customers have with your brand, the stronger it grows.
Elements of a Brand (You can also download this handy Brand Checklist here).
Color Standards – includes color palettes and usage rules (accent font #1 is always used for links while primary font #1 is used for headings(.
Typographic Standards – includes font types and usage rules (which font to use for heading vs. sub-heading vs. paragraph text).
Consistent Messaging – your company has specific values, traits, or other qualities that allow it to address your customers’ pain points in a unique way. These should always be clearly represented. For example, if you sell cookies with simple ingredients, your visuals should also be clean and simple, and your blog posts shouldn’t feature recipes with 101 ingredients.
Consistent Writing Style – your website, marketing collateral, emails, social media posts, and blog posts should all have the same tone, or voice. Your voice.
Consistent Image Style – your images should have a similar tone just as your blog posts, and your social media images should have consistent layouts.
Graphic Elements – the small details should be consistent as well; if you use a thin grey divider in your emails, don’t use a thick blue divider on your website. You can also coordinate your social media icons to match your brand colors and look the same across your website, emails, business cards, etc.
Why is having a brand so important?
According to the Impact of Brand on Consumer Behavior, “branding ultimately works as a signal. It allows consumers to quickly recognize a product as one they are familiar with or one they like. It acts like a memory cue.” This cue is what prompts customers to come to you when they need your products or services, or to recommend you when someone they know has a need.
In the words of David Ogilvy, considered the father of marketing, “Brand is something what remains us when our factory is burned.”
Having a brand leads to loyal customers that can actually remember you often enough to rave about you to all their friends.
Raving customers = more customers! A Nielson study found that 83% of people (across 60 countries) trust the recommendations of their friends and families, and more than half of those people make purchases based on those recommendations.
Having a devoted audience makes it easier to introduce new products and have 4, 5 or even 6 - figure launches. Who doesn't want to make more money?
Your brand is your company’s most valuable asset, so one of the most effective ways to sustainably grow your business is investing in your brand equity. This will help you increase your market share, reduce advertising costs, and allow for premium pricing
Having a brand allows you to focus your customers’ loyalties. Research has shown that consumers can form relationships with brands in much the same way in which they’d form relationships with each other. Of course, your brand must go hand in hand with a quality product or service and amazing customer care. The best brand materials in the world won’t mean a thing if your product falls apart in the first week, or if customers can’t get a hold of you when they have questions or comments. It goes both ways though; you could have an amazing product and be a customer service rockstar, but if no one know about it because you lack the tangible brand elements…well you get the idea.
A few related terms you should also know
Branding is the process involved in creating a unique image for a company or a product in the minds of the consumers. In branding yourself or your company, you can create the desired perception to earn customer recognition, loyalty, and referral.
Visual Identity = Consistent, and Engaging Tangibles
Your brand’s visual identity includes the visual aspects, aka the tangible elements, of the overall brand. This means your logo, images and graphics, website, and other marketing collateral such as business cards, brochures and more. These pieces should all feel familiar to your customers, which means they need to be consistent. Someone scrolling through their newsfeed who has heard of your company or read your posts should be able to see an image and not even need to click on it to know it's one of yours.
What visual identity doesn’t include is your content, your voice (the tone of your writing), or how your brand interacts with customers. It is strictly the visuals that make up your brand.
Brand Identity = Consistent and Familiar Intangibles
Your brand identity, similarly referred to as your brand’s identity, is the memory structure consumers have built around who you are and what you offer. You create the building blocks (visuals & content), deliver them to customers (via your website, blog, social media, snail mail or email), wrap it all up with a great product and top of the line customer service, and your customers put it all together to form a brand identity so solid it can “remains us when our factory is burned.”
Brand equity is the monetary value of everything we've been talking about - the loyal fanbase, the brand recognition, the referrals, social shares and reviews and testimonials. In other words, brand equity refers to a value premium that a company generates from their products and services with a recognizable brand (visual identity + content) when compared to a competitor. Companies can create brand equity by making themselves (and their products) memorable, easily recognizable, and superior in quality and reliability.
Let’s wrap it up
A brand is critical to the growth and success of your company. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s some studies to check out that totally back me up:
Or, if you are trying to DIY due to budget constraints, fill out the form to download my branding questionnaire (the same one I use with my clients!) then watch your inbox for my new 38-page DIY brand manual - it's packed full of information, examples and step-by-step instruction for creating the basic elements of your brand. You are going to find it super helpful! Coming soon!