Brand is a Noun; Brand is a Verb

According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. Besides being a name, a brand may also be a symbol (The Coca-Cola Company), motto (Nike), color combination (Tiffany & Co.), and even a sound (NBC).

To distinguish between brand names or characteristics and the brand or branding process, brand is best defined by two of the eight parts of speech.

Brand is mostly used as a noun because it literally translates to the name of a person, place or thing. If a person, place or thing does not have a memorable name or other identifying characteristics, differentiation is limited as is consumer awareness and, subsequently, sales.

When used with an object, brand is also a verb. Although branding usually begins with a name or image, it continues with lights, cameras, and a whole lot of action!

History Repeating Itself

The original purpose for branding was to verify ownership. Ranchers used a hot iron to stamp or seal an image on cattle. Later, the process was transferred to packaged goods, furniture, clothing, and, unfortunately, people.

Although “people brands” are now more popular than livestock and other products, the branding process is relatively the same. Instead of using a hot iron to make an imprint or lasting impression, retailers now use a collection of experiences highlighted by brand characteristics.

Through repetition, a brand is “sealed” on consumer’s minds via the five senses.

By defining brand as a verb and a noun, value and resources are realized. How can brands convince consumers to engage then exchange value (cash, check or charge) in the marketplace?

Create a compelling name with equally compelling sights, sounds, scents, tastes, and touches. Seek not for an “aha” in your business, but an “ahh” from your customers.

How can brands brand successfully? Marketing via mass media and memorable methods will reinforce a brand.

Check out the original post on the GO.CO blog!








Branding Your Big Idea

So you’ve got a brilliant idea, a show-stopper, and you’re ready to light the world on fire? Well, not so fast. First you’ve got to give that genius of yours a winning look. After all, we don’t go to the jewelry store to look at diamonds in the rough, right? We go to look at the shiny, sparkly, diamonds! (Well, I do, at least.)

The first piece of advice I have for anyone going out there for the first time is to really invest in the design. Do NOT have your cousin or your wife’s friend from work do it, unless they are paid full time in some capacity as a designer.

A good designer will have education in what makes good design, they will have proper designer software, and they will have the proper computer to create designs.

Make sure you entrust your big idea to a professional. This is your first impression they’re creating, and as we know, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Logo

Let’s start with the logo for your big idea or business. Choose some colors or logos that you like (or hate) and talk about it with your designer. The logos you present should be of similar business or market as yours – even if they’re examples of what NOT to do, it’ll be a good starting point.

Good logos have something in common, and that is that they help companies become recognizable brands, no matter where you see them. Good branding always has that familiarity associated with it. Your big idea needs that! It doesn’t, however, necessarily need a tagline. It just needs to represent you, and your brand, and what you’re trying to show the world. It also needs to really speak to your target audience, draw them in and entice them.

So how do you do that? Well, logos have 2 major elements, the icon and the text treatment.

Font

The font for the text should represent you well. Try to choose a professionally designed font. I’ve also been using fonts from Google Webfonts lately because they’re so easily embeddable into a website.

Why not choose a font you can carry over online? I mean, if nice ones are available for free, I say go for it. Fonts have all different personalities, from professional to fussy to sophisticated to sassy to casual. What are you trying to project?

Icon

The icon, or the graphic part of the logo should also represent you. Don’t just choose something meaningful. It needs to represent your idea well. You don’t want people looking at it wondering what the heck a white dove has to do with your financial services company.

Let the graphic help explain what it is you’re offering.

Logos don’t ALWAYS need a graphic, either. For example, for an event planner logo I designed, I just used some sparkly starry type graphics to shine up the text treatment. This explains her business without having to have some type of “event” graphic, like…I don’t know, a bow tie? Champagne glass? Too cliché! Old Navy’s logo is a great example of this. If your big idea doesn’t need an icon, then forget it!

Website

In my book, this comes way before the business card. Doing your website will help you get clear about your audience and business goals, since you’ll be writing your bio for the about page, your services out for the services page, or getting prototypes done for the shopping cart.

Whatever the biz, you need to get that website done, pronto. A typical website has about 5 pages minimum: Home, About, Services, a Portfolio/Photo Gallery/Links/Resources/Testimonials page, and a Contact page. You should be able to gather information for those five.

The website, like the logo, needs to be done by a professional. Even if that means you get a professional WordPress theme and have someone install and configure it for you, don’t go cheap.

I recommend WordPress for a variety of reasons but the bottom line is that you can manage the content yourself. And that is invaluable. Plus they look neat and are expandable. Ideally, you’ll want your Facebook page, Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile to be accessible from your site, and this is easiest in WordPress, in my experience.

Even if you don’t go WordPress, the site should represent you well. Like fonts, websites can give off a feel when you first pull it up – and sometimes that feel is new, technically savvy, warm and fuzzy, and sometimes, that feel is yikes or old-fashioned or unprofessional, if the site isn’t done right.

It should have the same colors/feel as the logo, and it should use a high resolution version of the logo and be placed in the upper left corner. If you represent fun, make sure your site is fun! If you represent law, make sure your website is stern and intellectual. Either way, you need to make sure it’s done right before you move on to print materials.

Business Cards

These days, your business card can have all sorts of neat graphics on them. You don’t have to have linen finish or raised print. There are amazing online printers out there that will print your 1000 business cards for about $40, full color, glossy, and with rounded corners. Of course your logo will go on the card, as well as your web address and email address.

A phone number is good too. Snail mail and fax number these days are totally optional – and lots of times including this info will take up valuable real estate on your 3.5 x 2 inch business card. You don’t need a tagline, just contact info and maybe a little info about what you’re peddling.

Logo, website, business cards. This is really all you need to start gaining momentum. It’s great to get started in social media, and there are great ways of branding those too. The main things to remember across all platforms are:

1.     Use similar fonts on each piece – the logo, website, and business card should all be using the same font;

2.     Use the same colors to keep the consistent feel;

3.     Make sure you’re always aiming those pieces at your target audience, no matter who it is. Speak to your customer!

Check out the original post on the GO.CO blog!








More Than a Logo: Applying the Concept of Branding to Your Firm

When somebody mentions a brand, we immediately recall certain visual aspects of it. Whenever Michelin is mentioned, it brings a vivid picture of the Michelin Man and if one mentions Nike, the Swoosh logo comes to mind. But the how does one build a brand? What does it entail? Is only making a good logo enough? All businesses have their own logos but we tend to remember only a few of them. So, what else is needed to be done to build a brand? It is not about how much you can spend but how creative and effective you are in your communication. For instance, some of the most famous logos were designed for a pittance while others cost millions.

A successful brand defines the business. It is not only the mere logo or a catchy tagline. In fact, the brand is inseparable from the overall identity of the business and in case you cannot develop a recognizable brand, the business will never take off the way your desire. So, let’s look at the key aspects of branding that you must apply to your business.

Brand Association

The immediately visible components of the brand create the initial image in the mind of the consumer. Branding begins with the very name of the business itself. Choosing the right name is the first step in creating a connection with the customer and forging a lasting relationship that stands the test of time.

The logo plays an important role but there is more to it. The tagline, the advertisements, the websites, the stores, everything combines to create that certain image. For instance, when you visit the Apple store, it gives you that sense of cutting edge technology. You also feel the same when you visit their website or use their mobile app. So, these components are not independent and random. They are well thought out and consistent with each other. They have been developed to evoke a particular feeling in the minds of the consumers towards the brand.

Brand Positioning

No brand can appeal to everybody. Different people have different choices and a successful brand knows its target audience. They also know how to attract this target population and that is what we know as brand positioning. A good example here is Miller Lite Beer. It was not an instant success as its key segment of beer drinking males considered the “light beer” to lack machismo. Miller Lite’s game-changer, however, was  the iconic “Tastes Great, Less Filling” advertisements. It basically said that it tastes the same as any good beer but is less filling as it is “light” and hence one can drink more. The actual product remained the same, but a simple tweak in brand messaging made it the most popular brand in that segment. This is how you need to position a brand for maximum impact.

Brand Personality

An extension of the above point is the brand personality. The brand needs to cultivate a personality that is acceptable for its target audience. For instance, a soda–like Pepsi–is more likely to attract a younger demographic. So, over the years it has cultivated a youthful personality by using sports, music and film stars. In comparison, its competitor Coca Cola focuses on human relationships and tries to deliver a larger message through its advertisements, just to show that it is one of the oldest brands that can almost be considered a symbol of American values. Both have different treatments but both are hugely successful.

Brand Promise

Through various branding and promotional activities, a brand promises a certain outcome to the consumer. For example, Virgin is seen as genuine and contemporary, but it also promises to be reasonably priced and not too expensive. So, when someone thinks of Virgin, they expect a fun service or product at a reasonable price. But a new brand must assess itself and figure out what it can deliver before making any promises. It is better not to promise than promising and failing to deliver.

Brand Story

Finally, as branding progresses over time, a story develops around the brand. It is partly based on facts and partly on the associations that people draw. But there must be a story that people can relate to. For example, check this video by Go Pro. It tells us how the brand developed and what motivated them. It also explains what the product can do and why people love it. Such storytelling is an essential component of brand building, as it adds to the brand image and so it must be planned and cultivated carefully.

Final Thoughts

Branding is not difficult to understand, but very difficult to implement. It is more of an art rather than science and so one cannot just imitate other brands. Every business must come up with its own strategy to build its brand; effective branding helps startups differentiate themselves in the market that is replete with competition and established players. It not only takes foresight and planning but also requires consummate communication skills to convey the qualities of a brand and make people believe in the same.

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has  contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.