What is Branding?

Coming up with the right branding strategy isn’t always an easy task. There are many things to consider when developing the appropriate image for your company, products, or services, and they can be daunting for established organizations and start-ups alike.

So where do you start when you consider branding (or re-branding) your company or organization?

Target Audience – How Do You Want Your Customers to Feel?

To begin, it’s always a good idea to nail down your target market. What audience are you aiming to captivate with your brand? And what kind of emotional response do you want to trigger in that audience? A simple way to understand how brands attract specific demographics is to analyse an existing brand that has successfully achieved their goals.

When considering the branding of a universally recognized company like Nike for example, you’ll notice elements like their iconic swoosh, italicized word mark, and infamous tagline (“Just Do It.”). These elements are often times coupled with bold, high contrast photography of dynamically posed athletes. This branding strategy aims to empower their customers, to make them feel motivated, youthful, and energized. From a business point of view, the end goal is to attract an athletic audience to buy their products, however their overall strategy tends to be far less one dimensional. Nike aims to be about the experience of their products. They want their customers to feel good about their purchases and to make them want to achieve their athletic goals. These emotional triggers broaden their audience by appealing to the innate desire of most individuals to simply be “better”.

It’s Not Just About Your Logo

To be fair, your logo is a part of your brand, but it isn’t the only component. In addition to your logo, your brand encompasses everything from the visual identity of your organization, as well as the emotions and feelings you wish to associate as a part of your brand.

Building upon the Nike example above, by superseding their products their brand focuses primarily on concepts like motivation and fitness. By presenting their messaging as their primary focus and making the products themselves secondary, Nike makes their customers feel empowered when purchasing Nike products. You aren’t just purchasing shoes; you’re buying a better lifestyle. Often times triggering an emotional response through the use of imagery (as well as a solid logo design) is an important “make or break” factor for any brand.

Consistency is Key

Once you have carefully developed and refined your brand, it’s important to ensure that all marketing and advertising materials moving forward share a consistent look and feel.

Now, as with anything in life, exceptions will always be made. When launching new products, services, or promotions, it’s natural for your branding to adapt slightly to target a more specialized audience within your primary target market. The key to maintaining consistency is to have “grounding elements”. The appropriate use of brand colours, typeface choices, logos, icons, and word marks can all be used as effective grounding elements that help to tie radically different marketing pieces and advertisements together under the banner of your brand.

Conclusion – There’s Always Exceptions

In the end, there’s no tried and true method to ensure your brand is successful. That said, taking into consideration the points above and understanding that there are always exceptions to the rules will put you on the right track to creating the next big brand.

By Kyle Dawney, Graphic & Website Designer/Illustrator