There seems to be a million ways of explaining the importance of branding to your business…let’s simplify it.
I’ve seen financial directors and managing directors almost explode in frustration as I’ve watched agencies trying to pitch the idea of branding. This is because the explanation given doesn’t illicit the required perceived value.
So without further ado, I’m going to take it a step further and then wind it all back in.
In simple terms, branding is the exercise of your chosen branding agency tapping into the DNA of your company, the personality, values and culture. The from that, extracting a carefully crafted message and story. (At this point it’s more than worth noting, copywriting plays a big part in this).
This is usually conducted in branding workshops as you and your team brainstorm with the agency over several days. This is to uncover the core drivers and value proposition. Everything is covered, goals, competitors, customer base, desired outcomes, strategy, expression and voice.
Once you have your brand message and direction signed off, it’s now time to formulate the brand identity. This is where the agency heads back to the studio for further brainstorming sessions to begin the process of building mood boards. This is to capture the essence of your company in a visual format to ensure they capture a the feeling of your brand expression. Once you sign off the mood boards it’s now time for the design team to start pushing pixels and conjuring up a series of what is known as ‘brand assets’.
The idea here is to start thinking about how you can expand on the selected mood boards to express your brand identity. This has to appeal to the majority of your prospects. You want them to get a certain ‘feeling’ about your business once they first clap eyes on your content.
First on the list is the logo, contrary to many beliefs, a logo isn’t a brand, it’s part of the branding process and a visual shortcut that represents who you are.
Your logo should be memorable and succinct, pliable and have an impact no matter the size and format.
After that, everything is up for grabs. A selection of fonts for both web and print, images (stock or bespoke), colour palettes along with website, print and social media post mock ups are put together.
Brand Style Guide
Once agreed, everything created is put together in what is known as a ‘brand style guide’. This becomes your brand bible and covers every single aspect from your formulated brand message to the entire brand architecture. All angles should be covered in detail, how to display your logo and more importantly, how not to! (ever seen a Photoshop embossed logo in neon!…urrrghhh). The style guide will contain key phraseology, a detailed break down of fonts from heading sizes to body text and even line height and page alignment.
Having a brand style guide is essential so that your company looks exactly the same all over the world, whether in Tokyo, New York or London and beyond.
What a Brand Really is
So what I’ve described above is “branding”, the process. I’m going to say it here and you may have read it before. Drum roll please…
A brand is not what you say it is, it’s what your customer says it is.
Let’s simplify it, think of your ‘brand’ as your reputation, how people talk about your business to others. It’s that simple. If your prospects, acting on the promise and expectations expressed through your brand identity, experience what they were expecting and they tell others, your brand will start to grow. This is where your brand begins to foster loyalty and your customers become brand advocates, telling anyone in ear shot how fantastic your company is.
Branding vs Copywriting
Now you have your branding in place, it’s important that you understand at least the very basic flow of writing copy that converts. Copywriting and brand message do overlap somewhat in that the words used need to spark interest and create desire. Your brand message does take time to filter through before it sears it’s way into the minds of your customer base.
Copywriting helps accelerate the process of building interest and awareness by using punchy headlines and benefit statements, wrapped around a high value offer. Look at any relatively new business on your social media feeds, those doing it write promote offers using copywriting first.
This draws prospects closer to your brand. Once again, the flow of copy is vital to helping attract prospects to your brand.
If your prospect then engages with your business, your brand message will then start to sink into their psyche.
Remember, copy first, brand message second.
One last thing I wanted to mention is that your copy and brand message needs to have flow. Web design (covered in this post here ) for example has tried and tested formulas both in terms of design and copy. Spend a few minutes looking at high converting landing pages from your favourite brands. The copy is intended to appeal to all mind set types, starting with the impulsive buyer to the more considered. The further you go down the page, the more the copy attempts to remove friction and entice the more skeptical buyer to take action.
Another important part of writing your copy and brand message is that it’s all written in the second person POV. You have to address your prospect directly, remove as many ‘we’ statements as you can and replace them with ‘you’ statements.
Making a Professional Impact is about unlocking your full potential, branding is the beginning of that process.
If you have any burning questions about your brand then you’re more than welcome fire your questions down below. I’m more than happy to help.
Peter, Professional Impact