Branding basics: Define your brand

By Mirella Marie CWC_2016-01-21_georgia-phase_insta-graphic_template

This is Part One of designer Mirella Marie’s series Branding Basics.

What is a brand? A brand is more than just a logo. A brand is who you are.

 There are five fundamentals that form a brand. One cannot exist without the other, and for a brand to be successful, the fundamentals must work together to communicate everything you think, say and do.

 1. Promise

 Your brand is a promise to your clients and customers. Incorporating more than just products or services, your brand looks past what you’re selling to reach the feelings evoked in people when they use your products or services. Creating a powerful brand promise is essential, but unless you keep it, your brand will not stand up to the scrutiny of consumers, your industry or the marketplace.

What does your brand promise to deliver?

 2. Perception

 A brand is identified by the way people perceive it. Developing consumer perceptions that accurately reflect your brand is crucial; otherwise it will suffer limited growth potential. Everything a successful brand does is designed to trigger specific consumer awareness and inspire action.

 What perception is your brand creating?

 3. Expectation

 Consumers develop expectations based on your promise. If you advertise your products or services as being the best in the world, people will expect the best in the world. If your visual communication is careless and unclear, people will expect your products or services to be low quality. If your brand does not deliver, people will become frustrated or confused, turning to your competitors for those expectations to be met.

Are you representing your products or services based on what people expect?

4. Personality

Every brand has a personality. You can determine the personality of your brand by using five key words to describe it, for example: quality, reliable, local, honest, sustainable. Now look at what you’re offering. Do those words accurately describe your brand as it is, or how you wish it were? From the very first impression, people will assess your brand’s personality to determine if they want to engage with it. The best way to measure this is to think of your brand as a human. Ask yourself honestly — would you want to be friends with it?

What would your brand be like if it was a person?

5. Identity

 An identity is the visual representation of your brand. The way something is presented will define the way people react to it. If your brand is who you are, your brand identity is what your look like. Humans are highly visual so your customers’ attention must be attracted in a matter of seconds. The most effective way to do this is with an engaging identity. An identity consists of elements such as a logo (name/symbol), typography, colour, copywriting, photography, icons, imagery, etc. All of these visual elements must come together cohesively and consistently to communicate your promise, shape perceptions, meet expectations and define personality. If one of these fundamentals is weaker than others, it can affect your entire brand.

How are you using your brand identity to communicate to your audience?

With so much competition in your industry, does your brand identity stand out, or fit in with everyone else?

Creating a Brand Strategy

 To understand how these brand fundamentals work from the perspective of your audience, consider your favourite brands and why you gravitate to them when making your own purchasing decisions.

 – What triggers your desire for the products you buy?

– Why do you buy one type of product over another, exact same product?

– What draws you to the services you use?

– What makes you recommend services to people you know?

 “Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion and knowledge.” — Plato

 Assess your own purchasing decisions as a consumer, and then use those factors as the foundation for your brand strategy. This way you will better understand your audience, its needs and its motivations, creating the empathy you need to provide an engaging, memorable experience for your clients and customers. 

In a world of information overload, the last thing people need is more of the same. What they need is a reason to believe in you.

Mirella Marie is the owner and creative director of Vertigo, a Melbourne based graphic design studio specialising in brand identity and design for creative and commercial clients. She is also a contributor for Women of Graphic Design, a project examining the work of female designers around the world. Join her on Instagram @studiovertigo.