In the 15 some years I have been working in the design, advertising and marketing arenas, branding is the one topic that seems to be so misunderstood, over examined and under estimated.
It’s simple really… stop right now, don’t over think it.
In a nutshell, branding is all about perception. Branding begins when a concept is born, not when one decides to spend money on a logo or marketing or yellow page ad. Most importantly, branding should represent:
1. who a company is…
WHO, as in, you know, the people running the show. McDonalds isn’t just about burgers, its about Ronald and his doofy hair, its about the smiley faces that serve your greasey fries and its about American traidition. (Not to compare to BK and they’re confused character creations).
2. the product/s
this actually is a very small portion. If you have a well loved brand, people are going to assume they love everything you offer until you prove otherwise.
3. what is all means to everyone else.
Again, perception. What reputation are you building for yourself… what rumors are your spouting and what truths are to be told that include your name? What hat are you wearing and what do you want people to say behind your back?
“To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects.” – marketing.about.com
It’s kind of like playing charades. Don’t say an exact word, nor have a full conversation with anyone, yet let the world know what you, your company and products are all about.
Branding doesn’t apply just to the end buyer. It applies to your competitors, your venders, your mother.
Remember high school and how you thought what you wore, who you talked to, what you did for others and what others did for you… mattered? That’s branding of self.
Do it again and add a price tag to it… and you have branding.
It’s not tricky, yet it is a balancing act. Keep it simple. Be obvious.. don’t make everyone else guess at what you’re trying to present.
A few simple ideas:
1. “Sign” your name the same. Are you Bob, or Robert or RBean Creations. Doesn’t matter, just be consistant.
— JGoode is all over the place.. because I put me there. Who the heck am I? most people don’t know, but when they do find out, they’ll find me again and again.
2. Label yourself before someone labels you. Shout out what you do and why. Make it obvious, but avoid the sales pitch. Be real. Again, be consistant.
— I am the same me everywhere I go. Who I am and what I am trying to accomplish remains the same regardless what venue I’m approaching. Sometimes how I approach a marketing opportunity changes, but the message is always the same… “inspiring smiles every day”… “I love to make people happy”… “giggling is great!” etc.
3. If you and your business span multiple areas of business, fine. Just make sure people understand what you’re trying to do.
— I create. What I create changes or expands. Sometimes it’s artistic, and sometimes its technical… but in every case, people learn that I am a creator of stuffs for other people. — they don’t know anything about my business management nor accounting nor housekeeping skills. It’s the creation of stuffs I talk about, and it’s the creation of stuffs I want people to remember.
Me as my own example:
I choose to brand in a grassroots sorta way. I don’t have the desire nor the energy to keep up with a dog an pony show. What you see is what you get and you get me, in the down to earth reality of me-ness. Some days it’s cuter than others.
I wear PJs half the day.. but that’s only because it has no bearing on how I doodle.
I talk business on the phone while my 4 year old pretends we’re playing tag rather than work in an office nowhere near my children.
My creations are as much a part of me as the hair on top of my head and I don’t hide any aspect of that. Some creations are winners and some are losers but I enjoy every one of them…. so I try to pass on that enjoyment as I try to build my brand. That’s who I am, that’s what my business is… that’s my brand.
What others say about branding….
AKA Brand Management on Wikipedia “Brand management is the application of marketing techniques to a specific product, product line, or brand. It seeks to increase the product’s perceived value to the customer and thereby increase brand franchise and brand equity.”
“A marketing goal and methodology which involves elevating hype over substance; of imparting great value to the name whether or not the thing so named is worth anything at all.” – Urban Dictionary
” Brand is the proprietary visual, emotional, rational, and cultural image that you associate with a company or a product.” – Brand.com
The American Marketing Association says, “…the brand acts as a sort of shorthand that consumers use to decide between competing products.”
“…The responsibility of brand building typically resides with a marketing manager who pulls advertising, consumer and sales promotion levers to convince customers that their product is better than the alternatives.
This approach is one-way – the marketing gurus come up with the vision for the brand based on static customer needs. The marketing manager then uses clever creative work to communicate product attributes. “
So my point here is…
Just do it. Everything you do is being branded by someone somewhere somehow. We just don’t call it branding, we call it stereotyping or labeling. If you’re in business, build a brand. Find a way to build that name recognition… cuz Gosh Darnit, I’m sure people like you!
Quick.. what is my brand?
— Have something to share, got a branding story you’d like to tell the world about? Holl-a here!
Now go read some more… here is a fantastic 4 page article from the American Marketing Association.
[tags]branding, brand,jgoode,tuesdays topic[/tags]