What is branding? Answering this question is as difficult as having to answer “what is art?” Okay, maybe not as hard, because branding is backed by logic, and can be explained by a series of formulas to guide us in making decisions. Branding is defined by the tangible and the intangible. The tangible being the visual part of the branding: A brand mark, colours, the way your logo is applied on a t-shirt, etc. This is probably what most people think of when they think of branding, however it is really the intangibles that are the core of the brand, and what makes a brand successful or not. The intangible part of branding can be likened to a person’s personality, values and his or her relationship with the society. A designer’s job is really to make the intangible tangible.
Think of Yourself As A Brand
You have these great qualities and so much to offer: You might have God-given good looks (but you want people to know that you are approachable ), or you might be really funny, or you might just be very down-to-earth and can be anyone’s best friend. These are the “intangible” values of you, and demonstrate who you are to people in your presence: The way you dress and the way you carry yourself. If you do so successfully you attract the “right” people to be friends with, or even, to sustain a long-term relationships with. This is exactly what branding is about! And while you can “do you” on your own, when it comes to your product or service, it is not always right for you to manage all by yourself.
Your Business Is Not Always YOU
Let’s say your business is a person, the first step is to figure out what kind of person it is. If your business and your target audience is literally “YOU”, then great, we are on an easier path. We just have to identify what works for you. This makes a strategist’s job easier, since they just have to work on helping you defining yourself, and you’re the best at determining what is and ins’t “you” in the design stage. This is the only time I would allow a client to say “I hate this typeface” or “green is just not my colour” without rolling my eyes super hard ;). Unfortunately, most of the time, your target audience and your brand are not reflective of you or your personal tastes. For example, the U.S. women’s lingerie line Victoria’s Secret was founded by a guy named Roy Raymond and now owned by Leslie Wexner, who is turning 79 years old this year. Identifying who your brand is is the first step to a successful strategy, and your personal taste is not always right for your brand. Since your business is not always you, who your customer wants to befriend becomes an important question.
The Anatomy of a Brand
Once we identify what kind of person your brand is, it is time to dress it right, and help it send the right message to the world. The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos once said “Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in a room”, and any miscommunication about your brand will result in failure to connect with your target audience. A designer’s job is to create an accurate, justified and authentic expression of who your brand is. The logo is its face, the brand system, its clothing, and the application, layout and/or the way it is advertised is how it speaks. We all have the unpleasant experience of being judged, and as humans it is only natural to judge a book by its cover. As we grow older we learn how not to misrepresent ourselves, how to dress “better” to attract, and how to show people who we really are. As a brand, no matter how good your product is, if you don’t present the right image in this information-overload world, people might not even give you a second glance. To present a person holistically, just a face (the logo) is also not enough.
We Can Make Good Shit But We Can’t Make Shit Good
Good branding is your business best represented. We can help you figure out who your brand is, create the right look and feel, convey the right personalities and set up the right expectations. However, if the promise of your brand is not met or simply not needed for the market, then a well-branded job will not prevent your business from failing. We can create striking branding for a burger joint and attract the right people, but we can’t make the burger good or minimise the amount of competition in the world.