Branding. It brings up a lot of question marks for people.
Is branding only for companies that have brand influencers? Can I check it off the list if my business has brand guidelines? Once I have a logo I’m good, right?
There are countless branding misconceptions out there. Today we’re going to cover some of the big ones so you can get a clearer understanding on what branding is and why it’s essential to your business.
A Logo is a Brand
Starting right out of the gate; no, a logo is not a brand.
A logo is a visual that represents or identifies a company’s brand. While they are great, a business needs much more than just a logo to brand themselves.
Think of branding as a holistic process. It gives meaning to a company, products, services, or an individual by creating (and shaping) how it is perceived by consumers. Ultimately, branding gives customers a reason to choose a business over a competitor by clarifying what the brand is and is not.
Sorry logos, you just can't do that alone.
A logo, however, can help. A good logo grabs customers’ attention and makes a strong first impression. It shows a business’ personality and allows you to stand apart from competitors. So while a logo is not a brand, it sure as heck is important.
Check out the Link Center wordmark, for example. It establishes the Center’s function (to be a connective hub) in a concise, yet descriptive manner.
It was created to exude confidence with a strong, stable feel. The line width and style of the typeface is a tech-forward font. Its use hints towards progress and innovation. The interlocking “N” elements speaks directly to the center’s mission to connect the community with the University of Wisconsin-Superior. It can also be extended and used as a recognizable tool for the Center’s new positioning.
Branding isn’t Necessary
How many times have you discovered a great little restaurant or shop only to see it close months later?
Unfortunately, just offering a great product or service doesn’t necessarily mean a business will succeed. This is where branding your business can make all the difference.
Branding helps people quickly identify and connect with a brand. If your branding triggers a positive emotional response from a consumer, it can mean the difference between a sale or a consumer who walks away.
Grand Marais Art Colony
Take a look at Grand Marais Art Colony (GMAC), for example. Their skilled instructors offer a vast range of classes spanning from ceramics to photography to jewelry making and everything in between. All nestled along the north shore of beautiful Lake Superior. However, without building a connection, potential students could easily choose to take a class from another organization, find an instructor online, or do their art on their own.
Through their course brochure, our goal was to bring the Art Colony to life and give potential students a lens to see themselves immersed in the various classes and a part of GMAC’s thriving arts community.
Branding is Expensive
Some large organizations (your Nikes, Coca-Colas of the world) spend millions of dollars on brand development. However, you don’t have to have that type of budget to build an effective brand.
Brands can be built on making and keeping promises to your customers. Most of us associate Apple with innovation because of how they’ve worked to position themselves — i.e. their branding efforts. And you can do the same (minus the millions). First establish who your business is, what you do, and how you’re different. Then build consistency around how you showcase these elements and you’ll be well on your way to building a strong brand.
If you’d like some help with all things branding but don’t know if professional help will fit in your budget, check out our services page. There we list out some of our common services and outline what’s included for each as well as the cost. Every project has its own nuances, however, so if you’d like an exact estimate for your specific project, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Branding Won’t Make My Business Money
It can be more difficult to calculate the return on investment (ROI) from branding, but there’s no question that it has a tremendous impact on a business’ ability to generate customer awareness, establish credibility and drive sales.
Branding allows you to tell the story behind your business (our favorite part). It helps explain what problems you solve and facilitates a greater connection with your customers and potential customers. Not showcasing these limits the perceived value your business provides. And that would be just a gosh darn shame.
For more on the ROI branding drives, check out our blog Why Invest in Branding.
Branding Doesn't Need to be Revisited
Saying it loud for the people in the back...
Branding is never something you should set-and-forget.
Companies change and evolve. That means even the best branding needs to be revisited occasionally to make sure that it’s reflective of the changes and how you want to present your business.
If your branding does need to be updated, that doesn’t mean you have to throw the baby out with the bath water. Instead, keep the best parts as foundational elements and view your rebranding efforts as a makeover instead of complete rehaul.