What do you think of when you hear the word brand? Or branding? Most small business owners that I talk to immediately think of a logo or more specifically the “look” of a company. There is so much more to your brand and without a clear branding strategy and guideline you can’t have a recognizable brand.
"Brand" and "Branding" is officially defined by the American Marketing Association as “"A brand is a customer experience represented by a collection of images and ideas; often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary."
For a great list of branding terms and definitions check out Heidi Cohen's article - 30 Branding Definitions.
A brand in its most basic form is a noun, but the term brand as used today in business is far from basic.
Here are 4 steps to think about when defining your brand.
The first step is to identify what qualities, attributes, values, uniqueness, and culture that not only you but also your company, products, services, partners and employees represent as a whole. Make a list and use it as a reference and constant reminder.
Now that you have identified what you represent you should spend some time and clearly define these qualities. This is very similar to a mission statement and should be a short definition that binds everything on your list.
With your list in hand and your brand definition in place it’s time to outline your brand strategy and brand guidelines. This is an actionable outline that should be visited regularly just like a mission statement to ensure you stay on track and true to your core values.
Notice that we haven’t even thought about a logo or colors yet. This is because if you don’t know what you and your business represent no one will be able to clearly define it in a design.
You must take actionable steps every day to make sure you, your partners, employees, products and services are consistently representing the brand in the way it was intended.
In branding, consistency is key.