Create, Craft + Curate Your Brand
Create, Craft + Curate Your Brand
We kicked off 2019 by giving a talk on branding with our local Chamber of Commerce. We wanted to make the talk available to everyone who couldn’t be there so we turned it into a blog post along with our brand worksheet that takes less than 30 minutes to do (depending on how much effort you want to put in it).
As a full service marketing and advertising agency, we offer much more than brand development, but we decided to give a talk on branding because it’s one of our most desired services - right next to SEO and website design. Give the people what they want, amiright?
We like to say that we’re equal parts creativity & data. We believe that data gives direction, while creative brings the story to life. Our method is to combine the two to work in tandem.
This looks like digging into your target audience, industry, website analytics, etc., before we ever being the branding process. Whether you’re developing a start up or refreshing your current brand, we like to have a rhyme and reason behind our designs.
We do this because branding encompasses both marketing and advertising. Here’s some quick examples:
is how you share who you are & your message.
Examples: Website, blogging, networking, social media, print etc.
is when you buy space to share your message.
Examples: Digital advertising, TV ads, magazines, etc.
With that said, let’s start by clearing the air around branding.
What The Heck Is A Brand Anyway?
Very simply put, your brand is the identity of your business.
I want you to think about your brand a living, breathing entity - just like you. Your brand should have defined values, characteristics, tone and overall personality. This is what your target audience connects to and builds relationship with.
Branding is when you build a relationship with your audience because they resonate with your vision, values, voice & visuals.
Your brand communicates to the outside world who you are (values, personality and vibe). It’s what fosters a relationship between you and your audience. If you don’t develop a brand identity then you’re leaving it in the hands of anyone who comes across it.
A Cohesive Brand Is A Strong Brand
A brand is not to be confused with individual pieces of the brand identity such as a logo, business card, website or social media. These are all pieces that make up the whole. They should be working cohesively with one another to create the big picture.
The pieces that make up the whole really matter because when you have a cohesive brand, you have a strong brand.
Staples Of A Good Brand
• Defined values
• Clear + consistent messaging
• Honed in aesthetics / visual identity
Ok, let’s break this list apart:
Defined Values; I use this term loosely to encompass the brand vision, personality, and the overall character and identity of the brand. Basically, who are you and what do you stand for?
Clear + Consistent Messaging; This is how you communicate your brand to the outside world - your positioning and your communicated story.
Aesthetics; This encompasses your brand colors, graphics, and overall visual vibe. I love curated graphics that are pleasing to the eye as much as the next lady, but if you aren’t consistent with your aesthetics, you’ll create confusion.
Just as you change through life, so does your brand.
Brand values and aesthetics will need to be reevaluated as you grow with your target audience.
Remember earlier when I asked you to view your brand as a living breathing entity? It has it’s own personality, it’s own way of communicating and it has relationship with the community. It will go through changes just as you do - don’t let it grow stagnant.
Once a year we look at what we’re doing with our brand and making sure we’re staying consistent and present. This doesn’t mean we’re making huge changes when it’s not necessary, this just means we’re keeping an eye on what we’re doing, why and how. Make tweaks as needed as you grow.
Every three to five years we’re looking at a refresh that can include an update of our aesthetics, messaging and tone, etc. It’s going to look different for every brand depending on your industry, location and audience.
Are You Nurturing Your Brand?
Your brand fosters the relationship between you and your audience. What are you doing to nurture it?
Where you put time and effort into your brand will be specific to you. There are some common practices that you can take and make your own by branding it.
A few examples: show up in the community, update your website, hone in your services, brand your social media pages, etc.
The important thing is that you develop what works for you and you stay present and consistent with it.
Consistency breeds legitimacy.
Using Storytelling to Build a Brand
I take a bit of a different approach to brand development. It’s not totally unheard of, but it’s something that I really dedicate myself to when developing a brand:
Storytelling: To share your story.
The storytelling I’m talking about is an innate one. The kind that comes from personal experience, authenticity and genuine passion. It’s not telling your life story, it’s sharing a piece of your story, who you are, and interweaving it into the structure of your brand.
Stories resonate with people because at the heart of a good story is human connection.
How you do this with your brand is specific to you - the point is that everyone wants genuine connection. The way to do that with your brand is to include real pieces of yourself.
I take my brand development clients through a discovery process that not only helps me get to know them better, but also helps them to get to know themselves better. It’s an interactive questionnaire that I like to walk through with my clients. For the sake of this talk, I condensed it down to a quick brand development one sheet.
One of the reasons why branding is one of our most desired services is because I take my clients through a process that sifts their authentic, one of a kind story out of them. Then I help them create a framework for them to share it with the world - that’s brand development.
I get to know the business owner. Who they are, why they got started, why they stick with it and their vision for growth. I get to the heart of their business and connect with them, so I can connect them to their audience.
When clients are finished working with us they feel empowered with the developed framework and tools that allow them to continue nurturing their brand.
We All Desire Connection
At the end of the day, if you share your genuine and authentic story, not only will your brand be one of a kind, but it will also establish a deep connection with your audience and foster a positive perception.
You see, people want more than a cut and dry business exchange.
They want a relationship and a connection to who they spend their money with. We all want to do business with people we like and trust.
Potential customers can go to any one of your competitors, so why should they go to you? Unless you give them a reason why.
So how do we build a strong brand?
It starts by asking questions & being willing to give honest answers. More than that, it takes commitment to consistency.
This quick brand worksheet will help you start the process. It has a quick check list that helps you evaluate the current state of your brand, some discovery questions and some action items that you set for yourself based on your answers.
In conclusion, branding is not a one size fits all approach. It takes dedication to consistency, authenticity and being willing to show up and do the work.
We believe in you and your business, and we believe you have what it takes to foster a strong brand.