There is often a misconception that a “brand” is simply the logo, the color scheme, name, or font a business utilizes. Although branding got its humble origins from burned insignias on products back in the day to show ownership, branding has evolved by leaps and bounds.
Contrary to its origin, brands are no longer just pictorial symbols that associate a product with a company. Today, brands encompass more. Brands encapsulate every interaction clients—both visual and peripheral—no matter if they were perceived to be a positive or negative experience.
To develop a truly impactful brand identity, it must be tangible. It must appeal to the senses. It must fuel recognition, it must amplify what makes your business different, and it must make your grand ideas, your messaging, and the meaning behind your concepts decipherable and accessible.
Do You Know Who You’re Branding For?
To create a brand that resonates, you must first have a solid understanding of who your ideal clients are. To do so, you must invest some time in conducting a thorough buyer persona research.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
Dig deep into insights about your buyers’ decisions — their specific attitudes, their concerns, as well as the criteria they have that drive prospective clients to choose you, your competitor, or the status quo. In other words, who are your ideal clients and what makes them tick?
Every branding decision you make must be backed by a marketing strategy that is built around your buyer personas. As your brand inevitably evolves over time, you must put your buyer personas front and center.
Remember that your brand is not what you make it but what your market feels about your company. Here are three things you might’ve overlooked:
1. The Visual Experience
Often times, when we think about brand in terms of visual experience, we zero in on logo or brand name. While those two components are definitely important visual queues of what your business is and what makes it different from its competitors, don’t overlook the following visual components:
You may not think much about typography, but minute details such as this can say a lot about how a brand might be perceived by its intended audience. You will find that there is a science to choosing the appropriate fonts and that there’s a lot more to choosing typography than choosing a font for your brand mark.
You have to take into account a variety of fonts you will use as a standard for your brand and think about their application. Is the font scalable? Does it appear in all browsers? Does it represent your brand’s identity? All of these details matter when choosing your brand typography.
As the saying goes, “a picture paints a thousand words.” Every image associated with your brand assets ultimately contribute to how your brand is perceived.
Are you using stock photos or are you taking high-quality real pictures for your website and collaterals? Are the images of your choosing relevant and captivating to your intended audience? Does your logo include a memorable symbol or imagery?
While not all logos need to incorporate visual queues, it is a great way to help make your brand memorable and effective in terms of resonating with your intended audience.
2. Peripheral Experience
Remember that your brand is all about how you are perceived by your target audience. These two components help shape their perception of you:
I cannot stress just how important user experience is in this digital age when it comes to your brand assets. When you’ve gone through the trouble of attracting the right audience to your digital platforms, the last thing you want to do is to frustrate them with a horrible user experience. Chances are they will not be going back after the less than stellar experience.
Show your audience you care about them—their time, their business. Make sure that your designs are not only pretty, but at the end of the day, functional, logical, and seamless. Crosscheck your website on desktop and mobile devices and make sure everything works great and that it is optimized for use in every device.
Tone and Language
Tone and language in essence are a part of an audience’s peripheral experience with your brand. Whether you know it or not, it is a framework of your brand. If you conducted a thorough buyer persona, you’ll know exactly what tone and language will resonate best with your audience.
The most important thing to realize here, is that at the end of the day, you are speaking to humans. Be poignant, enthusiastic, and informative without being dull, repetitive, and cold. You can sound professional, relevant, and sincere at the same time without having to sacrifice a little bit of humor and personality.
3. Your Brand Story Matters Too
Your brand story is the lifeblood of your entire brand identity. It defines your business, its values, its message, and what makes it different. The story of your brand should be the heart and soul of all of your brand assets. Here are some questions that can help you formulate your brand story.
Provide a back story that explains where you came from. Pedigree can be established in any number of creative ways. There’s no better way to legitimize your brand then by anchoring it in the past.
There is a lot more to brand development than what meets the eye. For a brand that truly stands out, resonates, and endures, it’s important to develop a strategy every step of the way for every aspect of your brand’s identity.
Don’t rush through the process. Take your time and make sure every decision that is made is based on solid research and not on whim. At the end of the day, even though your brand is penultimately determined by how you are perceived by your market, you have the power to shape it.