Branding is not just a logo. A brand is a lot more than that. It’s about a feeling and connection that people have when they get in touch with who your business.
Your logo and visuals are just a part of your brand. And, yes, I’m saying this even though I’m a designer. A logo should sum up what your brand is all about and those visuals should be capable of bringing out the emotions and personality behind your brand. But actually, branding is a lot more than images.
So, what is branding? You could literally find thousands of different definitions online. To me, branding is about what people think, feel and say about your business, and it’s established through all the encounters + experiences that then transfer into perceptions.
So, if branding is a lot more than just a logo, why are we not spending more time in understanding what it’s all about? Branding is fundamental to your business because it’s all about establishing a voice that’s unique in the marketplace and finding an opportunity to make an impact. It’s about doing things right, whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years.
I’ve got a free guide and worksheet for you, that will guide you through this post and help you discover the foundations of your brand. So you can print out, and keep forever. Sound good?
What branding is
When I develop branding for a business, I obviously include the logo design with its variations, color palettes and icons. However, I also include an analysis of what the actual brand is. I go in-depth in understanding the brand, it’s mission, and, most importantly, what makes it unique. You see, every single one us has competition, and if you’re not capable of understanding what makes you unique and what you’re about, it’s going to be tough out there. By helping clients understand what they’re all about and they’re Unique Selling Proposition, we bring out their essence. This makes a brand that is capable of lasting, and having success.
When I began designing, I would just get the basic information and do logo designs without thinking about the essence of the brand or who they were. I didn’t realize the importance of it. Of course, over the years I started asking more and more questions from my clients. It started simply out of curiosity, I wanted to know more about their story and what had brought them to where they were. Then, I began understanding that having more information was really helping me in developing their brands and incorporating it into my creative process. Once I did my MBA, I understood the real importance of knowing the whole picture and how crucial it is to business. Since I began adding more research and really building brands from the inside out, the impact I have been able to create has been massive. So, below, I’m sharing the keys to branding beyond the visuals.
Defining your mission
Having a mission statement isn’t just a formality that you need for your business plan. I mean, think about it, being clear about your mission is all about understanding your purpose. So, for this, you really want to start by asking the deep questions.
Why are you doing this?
What’s your story?
What inspires you?
What are you great at?
What value do you bring for others?
Understanding the answers to these questions are going to hep you in determining exactly what your mission statement is. Your mission statement is what will be able to describe your reason for being as a business. It will be able to separate what’s important from what’s not and will communicate a sense of direction. When writing your mission statement, you really want to make sure you understand the value you’re bringing others as well.
Finding your uniqueness
To me, it’s funny thinking that sometimes people have a hard time in determining what makes their business unique. Hey, the truth is, I get it. I used to struggle with this a lot as well. You see, I used to get hung up on worrying about the fact that there were so many other designers out there, some of which were probably better at what I do, and a lot charging less than I was. This thought used to really consume me and make me feel like shrinking. And then, suddenly it hit me. I have been running a successful business for over 10 years, and the truth is, people haven’t been coming to me only because of how I design. It’s not just about my style, but because of who I am. I grew up living around the world in places like Brazil, Venezuela, USA, India and Spain. I’m married to a famous singer from Venezuela. I’m Cum Laude in Advertising and Graphic Design and have an MBA. All of these things make me completely unique. They’re the determining factors in making people choose me as a designer above others.
So, what I’m getting at is: what makes YOU unique? This goes beyond the skills that you have developed over the years. It actually has more to do with your story, your style, your personality and the different traits that you’re bringing to the table. Of course, the more you’re able to tie-in what makes you unique to your business, the more effective it will be.
Now, by this point you probably have a lot more clarity about who you are and what makes your business unique. The next key step in branding is actually determining your values. The great thing about having clear values is that it not only helps you define what you stand for, but it will give you clarity in knowing what you stand against. Believe it or not, that’s something that will help you so much when facing challenges in your business along the way.
Creating the values that your business stands for will be elemental in defining your brand experience and help in the foundation of your brand. This is one of my favorite things to do for my clients. Helping them define the pillars that support their brand. So, how do you determine your core values? Here are some ideas:
– Think about what you want others to think of you
– Look at brands you admire + write down at least 3 qualities you admire from them
– Look for common values that repeat themselves
– Think about what you don’t want to be associated with
Putting it all into action
Once you have laid the foundation of your brand, it’s time to put it all together. The next step is focusing on that mission, your uniqueness and values in order to create the image that reflects who you truly are. All of this will let you have your brand setup in the right way in order to achieve your goals.
For me, having your branding foundation setup and defined is the key to going to where you want to go. Look, you might be the absolute best at what you do. Absolutely no contest. But, without proper branding, you will get lost in the crowd, invisible and unknown. From branding you can go on to achieve your vision and work towards your goals.
Bringing it all together
I could talk about branding and different aspects of it all day long. But, I don’t want to overwhelm you. So, for now, I’m going to help you bring it all together. Are you ready to write your own mission statement? Do you want the steps to defining your Unique Selling Proposition? Want ideas for defining your own values? To help you do all of these, I made an easy to follow worksheet for you. Download it, fill it out, and tell me about your brand!
Ask me your questions on branding
So, what do you feel about branding? Is it something that confuses you? What is your experience with branding? What’s your story and what makes you unique? Make sure to leave me your comments below!