Branding has become quite the buzzword and rightfully so. Why? Because branding matters.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin
Branding Myth: Branding is just a logo.
The biggest misconception about branding is that it is all about the logo design. A logo is part of your brand and is important, but it is not the only piece. There are several important pieces that make up your brand. Your branding includes:
- Brand Values
- Brand Voice
- Brand Story
- Brand Goals
- Brand Relationships (the emotional relationships with your audience or customer)
- Brand Visual Identity (the look and feel of your business)
- Logo: the mark that portrays your company in the most simplest form
- Secondary logos/marks
- Brand elements – patterns, icons, photography, etc.
- Marketing collateral – business cards, flyers, ads, social media graphics, etc.
Branding is the foundation of your business and is the reason why people are attracted to it. That is why it matters.
For the most part people understand why branding is important. After years of designing brand identities, I have noticed one big challenge that my clients face when it comes to visual branding — they are afraid of taking risks. Today, innovation and big ideas (more buzzwords) are what everyone strives for, but when you really dive deep you will begin to notice that people shy away from it. They will avoid taking a risk or just simply doing something new. Why is that? Because change is hard. Being different is hard. Innovation is definitely hard and so is being creative.
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.
I’m frightened of the old ones.” – John Cage
People come to me for branding design. They are looking for a fresh and unique brand identity for their business. Once I get into the branding process, I quickly realize they don’t want something fresh or unique, they want a design that is based off of what other people in their industry are doing. That right there is the epitome of fear in branding. They become so distracted by the trends and what their competitors are doing they forget about their brand values, their brand voice and their brand goals. This distraction leads to what I like to call design paralysis – meaning that people get so caught up in design trends that they go into a state of fear and are unable to take risks in design.
Taking risks in design doesn’t mean you will be going completely out of your comfort zone. It can be simple. For example, I just got married in January and while researching different vendors, I noticed that the wedding industry is full of brands that have floral or calligraphy logos. Is that a bad thing? No. Overall, if you are in the wedding industry you probably want to convey an elegant and romantic feel and one of the ways of portraying that is through beautiful script fonts and delicate florals. But your goal as a business should be to strive to being unique. Remember your brand values, voice and goals are some of the most important elements that dictate the design decisions for creating your visual brand. The most simple way of standing out might be to not have a calligraphy or a floral logo, but you have to make sure that the design decisions align with your brand. Just because I said that was the most simple way of standing does not mean that should be the reason for you. Each decision should reflect and highlight your overall brand.
To make sure that the visual identity aligns with your brand, you need to make sure that the designer you are working with takes the time to understand your business. Through my branding process, I spend a lot of time in the beginning dedicated to the discovery phase. The discovery phase is one of the most important aspects of the process. The goal is to understand your business at a deeper level. Before any design happens, I will need to know everything about your business including your story, vision, goals, target market and more. All of these elements will help in defining your visual brand.
So, what are you scared of? What about the branding process has you in a design paralysis? Email me and tell me your fears in branding.