Defining Branding

When I first started designing professionally about 6 years ago, the primary service I offered was “logo design.” To this day, that is what I am asked for most often. While I am totally on board with developing a logo for you and your company, I have since realized why you need more and why it is a disservice to you to provide you with the bare minimum when your brand is so much more than that. When combined, the following five elements make up your brand. When combined well, these will propel your business to success.

Your brand is derived from who are, who you want to be, and the way you want to be perceived. For example, do you want your ideal client to describe you as family and budget friendly or upscale and sophisticated? There is no right answer but determining these things about your brand will help you to attract the audience you want. Several factors come into play to successfully craft the message you want to share.

Visual Identity - The foundation of your visuals begins with your logo and everything else builds on the principles it establishes. Your visual identity is associated with your color scheme, graphic elements, patterns, photography style, and typography. This will be true from social media graphics to websites to packaging to advertisements to signage to every collateral print item you use. Imagine some of your favorite brands. Or better yet, imagine the brands you admire. Try to identify the way they implement distinguishing and consistent graphics, then identify how you can do the same. The most important thing I can emphasize here is consistency. Know the way you intend to use your visuals or have a reliable professional you work with to maintain a consistent appearance.

Voice - One of the ways you represent yourself is through your written materials. The tone you use in written communication implies to the reader the personality you want to portray. Do you want to be enthusiastic? Serious? Sarcastic? Rule of thumb is to choose three words to describe the way you want to sound. Then describe those three words with three more words. Think of those words every time you are working on written content. This tone applies to emails, social media posts, newsletters, texts, and advertisements. You also want to be engaging and inspiring. Make sure you are choosing the words and tone that will connect with your audience so they remember your message. Lastly, in order to ensure you stay consistent with the rest of your branding, regularly evaluate your message and voice and allow yourself to evolve to always be true to your brand as it develops.

Brand Experience – In the same way that your brand voice should be reflected in every written aspect of communication, there should be an expectation in the way you integrate your brand into every interaction. From clothing to social media content you want to integrate your brand into every perception. If you have employees, how are they expected to interact with clients? If you meet with clients, how are you expected to dress? If clients come to your office, how should they be greeted and what will the office look like? Each of these small details will shape the way you are perceived.

Differentiation – In the second and third part of this series, I will cover these aspects in more detail, but while you are implementing your visual identity and voice, you want to be sure that the personality you portray is distinct so you stand out from your competitors while at the same time attracting the customers you want. 

Consistency – Without consistency, the above elements will never achieve their maximum impact. Once you have all the pieces in order, make sure you are implementing them in an effective and consistent manner. Establishing a consistent brand identity will not only help your audience to immediately recognize you, it will also show that you pay attention to detail and that you value your clientele’s experience. Perhaps most importantly, it helps you build trust with your audience.