By Laura Weldon, Creative Director, Studio LWD
Your branding is what defines your business. It’s who you are, what you stand for and it’s how people recognise you. But there’s a common misconception that a whole brand is defined by a logo – and there’s a reason why.
The Golden Arches? The Apple? Seeing these makes us instantly recognise the brand behind them, but have we grown to love these brands purely due to their logo? No.
Sure, there are a number of visual factors that make up a brand, from the colours to the imagery used, right through to the shapes and symbols and I’m not denying these visual factors are all important elements – they help build recognition and synergy between platforms after all.
But going further than the visuals, your brand is not just a culmination of what you see. You’re selling consistency, values, feelings and authenticity.
Why do you need a brand?
The reason you need a brand is to create awareness. It’s there to make a memorable impression on your customers and gives them an insight into what they can expect from the business. It’s one thing plastering your logo on your website, social media and emails, but without the other elements of a brand, does the logo stand for anything to the people who see it?
Let’s take Nike’s swoosh. It’s fair to say most of us will see that swoosh on an almost daily basis. It isn’t just a tick branded on clothing. It stands for perseverance, going out there, getting stuff done and being the best version of yourself. It’s there to inspire us to ‘Just Do It’.
If we were just exposed to a logo and visuals without the rest of the narrative and awareness surrounding Nike’s values, would the swoosh still mean the same thing to us?
Consistency is Key
So, we’ve established that there could be more to a brand than your logo, and that we need to create awareness through meaning and values. But how is this achieved? A good starting point is consistency.
Consistency is the foundation for creating trust and loyalty. This is true not just in business but in all aspects of life. Let’s step away from businesses for a minute. Think about you’re loved ones. We know we can rely on them because time and time again they’ve shown us that they are there, and they give us what we need from them, (and vice versa!) so we keep them around.
The same is true for branding. Showing people that you deliver time and time again reinforces they can trust you to deliver a quality service every time, making it more likely they will return and become one of your loyal customers.
Consistency also needs to be seen in your visual branding. Keeping the same imagery, colours- and yes even the logo- helps to set the tone for your customers, and potential customers, allowing them to understand what your brand means and by extension, what your business is about. Maintaining the same tone, throughout all of your output, making it clear time after time who you are, is how you build a brand.
Whilst it’s great to think outside of the box and be original, sometimes putting your brand in a box and being able to square it away and know exactly what fits into your box is the goal.
If it fits in the box, it fits in your brand. You’re being consistent, and people will begin to recognise you and your brand for the way you behave.
Stand For Something or You’ll Fall for Anything
Belief driven buying has taken precedence over the last couple of years. Customers like to align themselves with brands that stand for the same values as themselves.
A great brand example of this is the sustainable sportswear brand, TALA. TALA pushes back against fast fashion and excess buying, advising customers to purchase only what they need. They use a range of body sizes in their modelling and are inclusive of disabilities – which is also shown through their advertising. As well as inclusivity, they make their products from recycled plastics, and use offcuts from products to create news one, saving on waste. An example of this is them creating face masks from their clothing off cuts. These views resonated with people and TALA is now competing with the biggest brands in the sportswear market.
We are in a time where people are more conscious than ever of the issues we face in society. People want to feel like they are making a difference, and an easy way for them to do this is to make conscious decisions about where they spend. If they can see that your business aligns with their own values, they are likely to invest in you to help make the changes they want to see in the world.
It’s important to note here that while standing for issues you believe in is important for branding, you need to pick your battles. Standing up for everything, while courageous, may cause a lack of substance and authenticity to your customer, in the end being counterproductive and confusing for your brand…
In today’s age of digital marketing, seeing is believing. Any brand can shout about how they stand for the environment, for example. But do they practice what they preach?
The key to branding in this day and age is showing authenticity through transparency. So, your brand is all about being green and eco-friendly. That’s great, but how can your customers believe you? Give them insight! Show them your working practices and let them see how green you are behind the scenes, and not just for show.
Showing how authentic you are through transparency allows people to trust you – you’re letting them in and making sure they see the full picture.
Being authentic in your branding allows ideas to resonate much more with customers, where they can see and make a genuine connection with what you have to offer, because it’s based on something real, and something they can testify to. Like I said before, you’re selling a feeling.
Branding is meaning, recognition and awareness for your business. The visual aspects of this play an important role in executing your brand’s tone. But a big part of creating a brand, is creating substance.
Yes, your logo is important in terms of your branding but its just a small cog.
With consistent, value driven and authentic branding, your logo can become a metaphor for everything that your business is about. And that’s what people will know, love, and keep coming back for. That is when you have a killer brand.