Branding is so much more than a visual identity. It encompasses the many ways in which we make our culture come alive at every touch-point with a client, customer, vendor, partner, employee or any other key audience.
The word “branding” is thrown about often these days in our various conversations with clients and business associates, and it’s interesting how people interpret that word – from T-shirts with catchy slogans on them to logos, and everything in-between. However, frequently, there is a lack of depth in terms of how to consider, discover and embed a true and credible brand identity into an organization’s core.
Good branding begins with an in-depth understanding of who you are and what you wish to bring to the marketplace that is unique and special relative to your business. The next step is to then dig down into your “brand pillars,” or those attributes that you most believe in and that guide your decisions and growth opportunities.
It is sometimes helpful to envision your organization as a person and to assign adjectives to describe who you are and how you want to be perceived. These words can be used to craft your positioning statement and to develop key messages that you want to consistently use across all of your communications channels.
Next comes the creation of your Playbook, which clearly states your organization’s vision, mission and overall positioning – i.e., what you believe in, what you are all about as a business, and how you want to be perceived in your marketplace.
An important part of your Playbook, especially from an internal standpoint, is a clear and honest listing of your core values as an organization.
On the tactical side, your Playbook should also spell out exactly how your visual identity is used (and not used). This includes logo consistency (colors, fonts, sizes, etc.), standardized templates, digital interpretations of your logo, and virtually everything you produce with your name and logo on it.
In summary, we see a lot of “branding superficiality,” with organizations needing to take the time to fully understand themselves, figure out how to internalize and externalize that understanding, and then put the building blocks in place to make their brand identities consistent, believable and actionable across every aspect of their businesses.