Branding: What is it and why do you need it for your business?
Posted on October 12, 2020
When you hear the word branding, what does it mean? It’s more general than most people realize, and branding agencies will generally specialize in different aspects of branding in much the same way as doctors specialize in varied fields within the medical industry. Not only that, but branding has phases; the development phase sees the inception of a brand, but management is continuous. The management phase is spent preserving that developed equity and protecting the value of the brand, no matter how new or established it is.
But where does branding really start? How can our agency work with you to help build, safeguard, and continue to add value to your business? Let’s go back a few steps to where we define branding and ask the question, How does this help your bottom line? How will you make more money and grow positive perception?
We start with knowing what determines a brand. Forbes suggests that a brand is simply the non-generic name for a product that informs us of the product’s origin. The implication is that a brand is the name of a product which derives from a specific source. For companies that do not sell a product but instead offer a service, the service is synonymous with the brand.
Thus, branding becomes the product or service that we want to draw attention to, elevate, and convey a certain meaning to in the minds of our users. In order to do that, it takes consistency in our presentation of the product or service coupled with strategic planning in how we approach the market.
Now that we know the technical origin of a brand and consider it as our product or service, we can start to think about how the practice of branding can branch off into different directions. There is the obvious – marketing and research about services, developing a logo design, brand colors, and stationery, and finding a voice for content related to the brand. Then there is advertising and social media as well as websites, business listings and SEO. All of these are part of branding.
But it’s not just about the jobs associated with branding. Branding is also about the internal concept and personal identity tied to the products and services that your firm represents. For a township, the brand may represent the community, but the community also represents the brand. The burden is often on the township, tasked with outreach, to convey that sense of safety and scope of community. For a clinic, a brand represents trust and well-being to a patient, but the clinic should be able to look at the brand and see an innate sense of capability in its practice – and looking at their own brand, the business owner should see what represents his/her core mission reflected back.
Ultimately, branding melds together the work and planning involved in the creation or maintenance of an established brand, combined with the self-reflection and character about what that brand sets out to accomplish.
When we talk about how our agency approaches branding, we often work in the development or rebranding of emerging agencies, or helping businesses have a broader reach. Because we began as a design agency all those years ago, we consider all forms of visual ways to engage the audience in the meaning of a brand. Websites are a major tool, so we often build new sites for our clients. But websites are only one aspect of branding, so sometimes we must step outside of that and examine other visual tools such as brochures, packaging design, in-store experiences, signage and digital ad designs.
Content and brand voice is another major factor in brand perception. We have experienced writers and editors who can solidify the tone and voice of your business. This includes content for your website, social or non-digital materials. Digital content should always be optimized for search engines and crawlers, consistent in its format, and natural-sounding. Because we focus on SEO and ADA compliancy in our sites and streamline all digital content with sources like Google Search Console and other Webmaster tools (along with local business listings), we work on not just creating and maintaining your brand voice, but also getting out into the world for people to interact with. Finally, when good branding across the board aligns, it will converge to support your advertising efforts.
By now, you can start to see the ways in which professional branding could help your business. Branding, of course, isn’t just about building your identity or optimizing your content. It’s also about helping your business grow and helping to streamline the process, making it a positive experience for both you and your audience. If you don’t know where to begin with refreshing your brand, or if you feel you don’t have a recognizable identity, or if you have low engagement such as people not visiting your website, participating in social media, or turning-out for planned events, then professional branding is your next step.