The Basics of Good Branding

photo 1What is it that makes a brand stand out? Why do some brands take off and others disappear?

First, let’s clear up the confusion between the words “brand” and “branding.” They’re not the same thing and I see too many people using them interchangeably and incorrectly.  A brand is the words, images, thoughts and feelings that come to mind when someone thinks about you, or interacts with you or your business in some way. It’s the real estate about you in someone else’s heart and mind, and you don’t have complete control over it. To be clear: your brand only exists in other people’s minds.

Branding is what you do to affect this real estate. It’s all of the associations you create to develop the words, images, thoughts and feelings that people have about you. Branding is everything you do to create your brand. From your business cards, website and logo, to the clothes you wear, how you speak, how you treat others and all of the products and services you create in your business. These are ALL touch points that ultimately build your brand in others’ minds.

Good branding consists of five key steps that lay the groundwork for compelling touch points, and ultimately, a successful brand:

1.  Consistent and cohesive visual branding – your logo, colors, fonts and imagery should be clear and consistent across all platforms. Inconsistent visual branding gives the consumer mixed messages and ultimately looks unprofessional.

2.  A keen understanding of your target market – who are you speaking to? What do they want out of life? You must understand your audience’s challenges and aspirations so that you can communicate with them in a language that they relate to.

3.  A clear message – when I read your tagline and/or the intro page on your website, I should get a clear idea of exactly what you do, what you offer and who you work with.

4.  A value proposition – What’s in it for me? In other words, why should I care about you and your products and services, and ultimately, how can you help me? In keeping with #2 and #3 above, you should be able to communicate your value with ease.

5.  Engagement that nurtures an emotional connection – You must be present – on your website, social media platforms, in-person – and responsive. When the lights are on, both literally and figuratively, people feel heard and cared for. Educate, entertain and inspire your audience and make that important connection.

Your brand is a living, breathing organism and it exists in the minds of your customers. Through your branding, what experiences are you creating for those who come in contact with you? In other words, your branding won’t be effective unless you find a way to connect with the hearts of your customers. You do this through an intimate understanding of your target market, a clear message, a strong value proposition, consistent visuals and authentic, responsive engagement.


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