I'm a big fan of the StoryBrand podcast. You should give it a listen if you haven't heard it. But they have a quick segment in their episodes called Marketing Myth Busters - it's entertaining as well as informative.
I love this format because a lot of us believe these things. And, in StoryBrand they bust these beliefs and explain why they're wrong.
I decided to use that same format for our topic today on branding. Hopefully it will be insightful to you and open you up to understanding a little more about branding and what it entails and why certain beliefs need to be busted.
So let's get started!
The first of the five myths we'll bust is...
Myth #1 Having a brand is for big companies, not little ‘ol me
If you’re thinking branding is just for Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Target, think again. Having a brand isn’t about getting a high dollar color palette and logo.
Branding is putting visuals to the personality and mission of your business.
Let me break it down, it's like you have a sentence written on a piece of paper. This sentence is in black ink and it was written on a typewriter. A little generic and boring if you're trying to get a child to interact with the paper. But if you decorate the paper with crayon drawings, write the sentence in a bright color and fold the paper into a paper airplane - that would get the child to notice.
This is how branding works. It's decorating a business message so that a certain group of people are drawn to that message.
The reason we instantly think of Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Target as brands is because each of those companies has a very strong message. They tell distinct or memorable stories in their marketing and we identify with it.
Branding is so much more than just the deliverables like logo files and website platforms. It’s about using visuals to represent the heart of your business and a sound behind the words you’re sharing.
If you’re thinking of branding for your business, go for it. An effective brand has a clear message that resonates with a target audience.
Myth #2 Branding looks easy, I'll just do it myself
Have you ever been watching a football game and you see the football player ALMOST make the catch but it slips through his fingers? Someone inevitably will say, "aw man come on. Even I could have done that… " But could you, really?
Or maybe you've been with someone at an art museum and you both look at an abstract painting and your friend (or you!) go, “I could do that.”
A lot of people feel the same way about branding. It looks easy from the outside. How hard could it be? But that’s the definition of being good at something: you make it look easy.
When you see a brand you see colors and shapes but what you DON'T see is the amount of time, research, sketches, concepts, revisions, market research, thought, and time that go into creating a brand.
It’s definitely one of those things where once you begin the process you realize how vast the scale is and how much work there is to be done.
Here are a few things that go into the branding process:
- researching the market
- researching the industry
- researching the business mission, goals, style, tone, feel
- creating a visual direction / or an inspiration board
- once you have the visual direction creating images that go in that direction
- not to mention a million revisions along the way
And that's just the first part of the process!
When I started my business about 15 months ago I knew I wanted to offer branding. I loved the large scope of a project, making all the pieces come together... but the problem was, I had never done it before.
I had a graphic design degree but I had no idea the amount of time, energy, skill, and understanding you need to do branding. Now, after over a year I’ve got a good handle on it but it’s taken a long time to understand the building blocks of creating a good, solid, trusted brand.
If you choose to DIY, remember it’s not just about colors and logos. It extends far beyond that. Start with your ideal client. Create visuals that will attract them.
Myth #3 Branding is a logo and a color palette
If it WAS just colors and a logo there would be no need for brand designers.
But the truth is, branding, like I said in the myth #1, is putting visuals behind the personality of your business, but it’s also about sharing your story, an experience, and your voice.
Someone who does this really well is Jenna Kutcher.
Her brand is personable, relatable, light, beautiful, and uplifting. You feel those things when you read her posts on Instagram or when you land on her website. Her brand is an embodiment of those characteristics.
You want your brand to embody the distinct characteristics you bring to your business.
Look inside yourself for your story and your voice. Let your personality shine through and embrace your uniqueness. It will only help you stand out more.
Myth #4 Branding is a luxury and most times overpriced
Branding can cost a pretty penny, I understand. I knew someone who owned a company that did really well and when she re-branded it was around $50,000.
Obviously, this depends on the company size, how many moving pieces there are, etc. But no matter if you’re a six-figure business or a four-figure business, the proportion of branding can cost a lot.
Unfortunately, when people see the price tag, that’s normally ALL they see. Instead of understanding that branding:
Gives you a professional presence
Helps you with marketing
Speaks to your ideal customer
Lays out your content is the best way so your customers can easily buy from you
It’s not just about the pretty, “easy” things like color palettes, patterns, photos, or web platforms - even though those are apart of it.
It’s mostly about market research, understanding your audience, speaking directly to the customer with tasteful and engaging visuals and giving you, the business owner, the tools to take your business to the next level.
Branding IS an investment, so save for it. It's easy to spend money here and there with DIY courses or design tutorials, but I encourage you to save so when you're ready to up your game you can do it with an expert to get that professional look you want.
Myth #5 Branding is so complicated, I’ll just do it later
Start today, figure the rest out later. That's what I say anyway ;)
The truth is, a lot of things are complicated but you need to start somewhere, the same is true for your brand.
Start by using words in your messaging that you want to be known for such as “timeless,” “professional,” or “sassy.” The sooner you can start adding personality to your business the better.
Even if you can’t do the full brand now you can start to reach out to your ideal audience with the language and tone you use.
It’s true that branding can be complicated because there are a lot of moving pieces. But it’s better to start on your brand today rather than later.
The moment you start building a brand on the foundation you want to be known for, the more people will connect with you and trust you because you’re communicating in your own language.
Start today with the words you're using in your messaging. Think of words you want to embody and try to be those things.
One last thought for those of you who maybe just think branding isn't that important...
If I was to tell you that the way to get lean and fit was to eat healthy but never exercise you probably wouldn't believe me, because deep down you know that exercise is the missing part that you need in order to get the toned body you want.
The same is true for when someone says branding is nice but not VITAL to taking your business to that next level.
Branding is the cornerstone for standing out in your industry, reaching your ideal audience, and communicating in a language that makes your customers want to buy from you.
If you’ve tried everything to speak to your ideal customer, but you’re just not being heard or taken seriously, chances are you may need a more professional front so people can take you and your business seriously.
Maybe now is a good time to start saving, shopping, or hiring for branding your business. Whatever you choose to do, no matter where you're at with branding, you can always move forward with communicating to your ideal customer; learning about them, and finding out the best way they like to interact.
I would love to hear what you think.
Have you believed any of these myths?
If so, which one and why?
If you’ve been putting off branding but are also wondering why no one is booking you, chances are you may be in need some direction, clarity, and cohesion for your brand.