I want to do a deep dive into why branding is important for your marketing. To do so I will begin with maybe the most important word within branding: Coherence.
Branding is actually very simple when you bring it back to its roots. The word comes from a unique cattle-owner’s mark being branded onto the cattle. When the cattle got to the market, a customer would instantly recognize the brand and its reputation.
The consistent use of the same brand over time, makes you and your reputation instantly recognizable.
So the long term building of a strong brand is not only necessary, it is inevitable if you bring the same product to market year after year.
But what is a brand?
At Skylimit Productions, we’ve chosen to define brand as the outward facing parts of your company. The parts that customers interact with directly.
And these parts we’ve split into 5 pillars which all play together in creating your brand experience.
Your Product, Your Visual Identity, Your Brand Story, Your Funnel, and Your Customer Service.
The highlighting of these parts of your brand is based on the fact that none of them work alone. A strong story presented with bad design, is not a good brand. A great visual identity with flaws in the product is a mere cover-up. A great product packed in a great story and a great design, need traffic to actually take your brand somewhere. And once a person has been through your brand experience, there should be some sort of follow up — both to create loyalty, but also fix things that went wrong.
So when we talk about a brand, we talk about the interplay of these 5 pillars.
Consistent, coherent branding allows you to build momentum over time
Think about your favorite brand, and take note of the effect it has on you.
Seeing a logotype you know — be it Nike or Adidas, Apple or Samsung — a glance at their logo serves you a complete emotion in the blink of an eye. How you trust them, how you think their products look and feel, curiosity about their innovation, or a sense that your life is better when using their product.
These huge brands have built momentum over time by consistent use of their logo material and coherence of style and language. And now when you see them, you instantly recognize them.
Going back to the 5 pillars, you understand that the consistency you feel ties back to the quality of the product (Product), the consistency of language (Brand Story), the consistent use of assets (Visual Identity) and an enormous effort at retaining you as a customer (Customer Service).
What you see of a brand is only the tip of the ice berg
Consistent use of branding assets is a double edged sword. When your business fails or have major setbacks, your brand might be sullied. One huge stupid product launch under an old solid brand, could ruin the public’s perception of it all.
Whatever action you take below your banner, will add or retract from the value of the brand.
That’s why consistent and coherent use of brand assets is only the tip of an iceberg.
Coherence and consistency is the core of your entire company, and the brand naturally flows from a unified team, whom are centered around the core principles of the brand.
Spending 10+ years of developing brands of my own as well as countless clients — the most important thing I’ve learned is this interplay of the 5 pillars.
The importance of branding in marketing
With all that said, I would state that you can’t go to market without a brand. The brand creates itself. The words you choose if you make an ad. The imagery you choose. The way you treat a client. The way you treat feedback on your product.
All of that will happen, regardless of you trying or not. So the difference is between the ones who understand this complexity and plan for their consistent, coherent branding, and those who just let it slide.
If you create a strong brand through intentional use of language, assets and quality of product and service, the brand will come back to reward you.
If you develop in all of these areas with no thought to coherence, much of your efforts will be wasted.
The brand develops organically
I am a big proponent to “agile branding.”
A brand is a living organism. But the magic of living organisms is that they evolve slowly, and their being allows them to morph slowly from one shape to another without anyone even noticing.
If you have a child, you will recognize the feeling of “Wow I can’t believe he’s 18. When did that happen?”
The same should be for your brand.
I don’t believe in hard rebrands all the time. But rather building a system that allows for small changes often.
So here’s what that looks like to me.
Instead of ordering an entire large brand book that no one’s ever going to read (yes that has happened a million times in design history), have a simple Brand Story document, with a few key people having editing capabilities. And for your Visual Identity, pick the typeface, the colors and centralize the assets in one place, so that it’s easy to make small improvements and additions to it. And then key give people authority to change and expand it as needed.
For all areas in a growing brand, I’ve come to learn that key people is the factor that makes of breaks it. Overly complicated brand books are made to try to patch over the incompetence of incompetent designers. Training and maintaining competent people in their right position reduces your need for strict rules, and simplifies every aspect of branding.
But now we’re moving over to the whole concept of leadership and team building, which is not part of this brand.
My point with going there is that your brand needs simplicity to be able to evolve in a healthy way, and this simplicity comes from trusting and empowering people who understand the core elements of the brand.
In our 5 pillars, this understanding takes its form largely in the Brand Story pillar, but also a broad understanding of all the 5 pillars at play in our brand.
Your brand needs these things to thrive:
- Coherence between every channel where it expresses itself, and the product which it promotes.
- Consistency over time.
- Simplicity and clarity, allowing it to evolve.
If all these things are allowed for, your brand will start gaining momentum, and your reputation will be baked into the feeling your customers get every time they encounter your brand.