The word “exactly” comes to mind when I’m inevitably asked the question “what is branding.” I use the word ‘inevitably’ to emphasize the eventual Pandora’s Box of questions I’m asked once I meet someone and they find out the type of work that I do.
“Well, what is branding exactly?” they ask.
“Exactly,” I say, in a semi-sarcastic way.
Branding means more than one thing and typically, it means different things to different people. Some people see branding as “good PR” and others believe it to be just a logo or a mark; it most certainly can include both of those things and much more. For me, branding starts and ends with a story. A story influences a vision and a vision influences a mission. A mission stirs determination and direction and with determination comes a focus and goal-setting (sometimes). With a somewhat clear direction in place, we can begin to find clarity as a brand. But, don’t mistake the word clarity to mean fully clear – brands are constantly changing and re-inventing themselves forcing us to always question strategy. When I talk about clarity, I mean clarity in what our company represents, who we are, and where we want to be in the future. That is where a brand starts. Clarity in what our audience cares about and what they want to know. Clarity in how we choose to communicate our message and in how it will resonate. A clear direction and a strong message should guide the creative and visual aspects of the brand. Any solid brand worth its weight in gold likely began with these points of consideration in mind.
A colleague of mine once said, “Let your name, slogan and logo have a story so that it stands for something,” and I would have to agree. If you are an established organization this isn’t a choice. You must communicate your story and have a clear message so that your audience can pick up what you’re trying to get across. Ultimately, we want our audiences to walk away with a positive feeling and to grasp a theme or concept. That is the starting point for your brand which will allow you to expand and grow. Think of your brand as the foundation of your organization’s house; it is the starting point of construction for a communication plan. It is the ever important solid ground that upholds the pillars of what your organization stands for. It upholds your values, message, corporate mindset, and so much more. Your brand is the jumping off point for everything else you do in marketing, sales, culture, and communications. At Brasco ///, we take the approach of “Brand – Plan – Execute” and it is this overarching approach that we have seen work time and time again. When a brand is built on a strong foundation, we have a guide for the creative process and are able to more efficiently craft a plan and follow through to execution. I’m not overstating any of this. I don’t take branding seriously because of my work. I take it seriously because it is something I strongly know to be an important building block towards success and which helps meet the growth goals for many organizations.
Here are a few tips and takeaways for you when evaluating your brand:
So, what “exactly” does your brand stand for? How well are you communicating the message, both visually and with words? Is your brand strategy aligned with your marketing plan? Or, are you just skipping the “Brand & Plan”, and going straight to execution? You are not alone, but that is not a good thing.