Answering the Question: What is Branding?
Having a brand for your business is so important in today’s market, but WHY is it so important? And, let’s take a step back, what IS a brand? And HOW does it move your business forward?
I’m diving into all these questions and more with real world examples, best tips, and what you can do next to build your brand, attract ideal clients, and book out your service.
Nowadays the word “brand” gets thrown around a lot more often than in years past. People say things like “that’s very on brand” because we’ve come to understand that branding is powerful and to build a personal brand / following / influence / or business, having a brand that clearly communicates what you’re about and who you serve can catapult your business forward no question.
So what exactly is branding?
Your brand is the personality of your business in visual form.
Your brand communicates your personality, your values, your attitude and how you make people feel. How does it do all that? With these three things working in harmony:
Your brand is the essence of your business. Similar to your personality that makes you unique and quirky and lovable, your brand is what makes your business different from others offering a similar service and attractive to the right people.
So let’s break down each of the 3 elements of branding and how they all fit together.
Your values are determined long before your visual brand takes shape. These core values are normally what drives you to begin your own business and develop your product in the first place.
Such as security was a core value to Jamie Siminoff, founder of Ring. He wanted to feel safe and secure in his home which drove him to create his product of a security, motion-sensing camera to the outside which in turn keeps thousands of families safe everyday.
Body positivity is a core value of Aerie, is a lingerie lifestyle retailer and intimate apparel sub-brand owned by American Eagle. This value of body positivity led them to begin Aerie Real, a campaign that started in the spring of 2014 where the company decided they no longer wanted to use super models and digital retouching. Instead they used women of all shapes, sizes and colors with beauty marks and all to encourage body positivity. The result was a huge outpouring of support in this new marketing campaign that highlights the deep desire in all of us: acceptance as we are.
Here are some other values of brands that are front and center in their business and in turn are front and center in their marketing and visuals and every other piece of their businesses. Comfort is a value of ThirdLove, Excellence is a core value of Starbucks, Friendliness is a core value of Southwest, Privacy is a core value of Apple, and so forth.
Your core values will shine through your business and be displayed in many ways. In the messages you send, in the images you show, and in the way you interact with customers.
Pinpointing your core values is one of the most important things you can do when starting your business and coming back to reviewing them every quarter is helpful.
Donald Miller of Storybrand recommends identifying 3 core values and list them in order of importance, memorize them and keep them close to you because your brand’s future depends on them. You don’t necessarily need to share them on your website, although you totally can, but it’s a great internal guide for your business.
Your messaging is multi-faceted but stems from how you communicate to what you communicate. The way you communicate is one of the key ways to attract your ideal clients and grow a following.
YOUR BRAND MESSAGE
It’s really important that you become crystal clear on what your business is about and how you can help someone in their life. I recommend you read the book Building a Storybrand to get clear on your messaging, but for now, build your opening line: who are you talking to / how do you help people / and why is it important. For me my brand message is this:
“Partnering with ambitious entrepreneurs who feel passed by in a crowded industry develop a cohesive brand and website so you can stand out online and attract ideal clients with less work.”
My message identifies who I’m helping– ambitious entrepreneurs, how I help them – developing a cohesive brand and website, and why it’s important – so they can attract dream clients with less work.
Identifying your brand message will help guide all your marketing materials as well as how you communicate and what you communicate. I encourage you to develop your own brand message today!
NEXT STEP: Write down and memorize your one-liner: who are you talking to / how do you help people / and why is it important.
HOW YOU COMMUNICATE
Do you communicate with sarcastic humor? Kind encouragement? Or radiating positivity? Whatever your style of communication, stick to what feels right for you. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to try to emulate someone else’s voice. Not only will it seem forced, but it will not be authentic and people can see right through inauthenticity.
Keep your communication style true to who you are and you will 100% attract the right people to you.
A good example of this is my friend Asia of Asia Dore Photography She’s hilarious! She’s witty, down-to-earth she’s true to who she is and the way she communicates stands out for sure.
WHAT YOU COMMUNICATE
What you communicate is really important. Because you want what you communicate to resonate with the right audience and help move your business forward.
That’s why it’s important to understand the needs of your target market.
What do they struggle with
What is the biggest hurdle they have to overcome to work with you?
What holds them back?
Understanding their specific struggles will help you come up with ideas of content you can write about that will immediately attract who you want to work with.
For instance, if a social media marketing company knows I struggle with what to post on Instagram they will create content such as “3 things you can do to attract your tribe on instagram” “never struggle with what to post again with this solution” “50 content ideas for Instagram.”
Another example is one in my business. I know that working with me is a big financial investment, so I now offer 4, 6 and 8 month payment plans that don’t affect project timeline or website launch date. I do this because breaking it down into smaller payments is easier and I know that they will see a return on their investment within the time of launching their new brand and the time of completing their payments.
If you honestly don’t know what your target audience struggles with, ask them! You can do this with Typeform, Survey Monkey, or even Instagram stories have polls, questions and surveys.
I saved the best for last! Having the right visuals will tie your brand together in a powerful and captivating way. Not only will the right people be visually attracted to your business, but your color palette, and typography will immediately share your personality and show people how fun / goofy / professional / exciting / mindful / or luxurious your business is.
Visual branding includes:
Social media platforms
Ebooks & Books
Having a visual brand foundation, just like the other aspects that make up a brand is having solid footing that can help grow your business for years to come with clarity, professionalism and confidence.
Apple is the biggest brand in the world valued at over 214 billion dollars and their visual brand is one of the most minimal. From the simple apple icon to their impeccable white packaging, Apple leads the way in powerful visuals with a streamlined, simple and strategic approach. They have managed to lead the tech industry while also maintaining a luxurious image and appeal to millions.
Something important to keep in mind is that visual branding, much like marketing, needs to stay consistent and relevant. If your visual brand is outdated or looks like it’s a few decades behind, you may not be able to charge what you want to make, or be seen as capable or experienced.
And if you’re wondering what dated looks like, think of solid background bold background colors on a website, or for a logo a thick script font in gold.
Visual branding needs to have a timeless aspect to it, that’s why with my branding clients I never follow trends, because trends come and go. But keep things classic with a modern edge is where you’ll make a visual impact as well as stay current for many years to come.
There are many ways to have a strong visual brand, but no matter what type of visual branding you choose, when you continue to stay true to your values, remain consistent, and stay streamlined, you will grow your business to be recognizable and captivating to the right people.
Now that we’ve covered the 3 most important elements that make up a strong brand, here are 8 incredible by-products your business will enjoy.
It sets you apart
With all the other businesses out there who do exactly what you do, standing out is VITAL. Having a distinct visual brand will help you do that and solidify your spot in your industry as the expert and go-to authority.
2. You look professional
When you get your business off the ground, many times you’re doing it all yourself. Perhaps you pay someone for a logo, and get your website set up on Wix. But when you’re ready to take that next step in your business, go to a new level financially or expand your reach you need to look the part. Just like you wouldn’t show up at a job interview in sweats, most times you won’t get those high paying clients with a brand that looks pieced together.
3. You can make more money
When your business is professional, looks expensive, and you look like you’ve done your homework, you can charge more. People don’t question your legitimacy. They will more likely trust your business that you can deliver when your business actually looks like it can deliver.
4. Your business has direction
One of the best things about having a visual brand is that your business has a clear direction. No longer are you just using any photos cause you like how they look, you’re using them because they’re cohesive. No longer are you using a huge array of colors cause you like how they look, you’re using a specified color palette that will carry on throughout your online presence that makes your business look like it has a clear direction. With my Branding clients I provide them with a Brand Style Guide. This style guide helps my clients create marketing materials long after we’ve worked together. This style guide gives clear direction so you know exactly how to use your branding in the future.
5. Your business has consistency
Having a streamlined and strong brand all across your online platforms is important because consistency breeds trust. An onlooker can see that you’re available, professional, and consistent from your website to Instagram and that builds rapport with your tribe.
If you’ve been wondering how you can stand out online, having a strong visual brand is one of the quickest ways to get there. Not only will you look different from the competition, your visual brand will attract the RIGHT people. It’s important to note that you don’t want to attract EVERYONE. Just the right people and having a visual brand tailored to your business goals and personality will do just that.
7. shares your Personality
Speaking of personality, you can say a lot just with your visuals. Look at confident Target, or empowering Nike. They have strong visual brands that reinforces their values and personality with their color palettes, font combinations, commercials, and just about every marketing piece they put out there. You’re not just like everyone else. You are unique and special and your branding should showcase that.
8. Attracts your target audience
Wouldn’t it be great to have a line of people ready, waiting and excited to work with you? That’s absolutely possible with the clarity in your business. Identify your core values, get clear on your message and have a visual brand in place that will communicate all the right messages so you can have a line of people excited to work with you and grow your business with confidence.
All these by-products are amazing, but what’s really important is that you won’t feel lost in a crowd, or embarrassed sending someone to your website. You’ll show up with more confidence in yourself, your business and your services which will lead you to more sales.
Something important to remember is that building a strong brand takes time and consistency. If you’re in the process of building your brand great job! Stick with it. If you’re at the beginning stages, start with identifying your core value and if you’ve been in business for a few years perhaps now is a great time to consider visual branding or rebranding for your business.
Want some professional feedback on your current brand and website?
I would love to invite you to learn more about my free Brand Clarity Mini Sessions where I give you tailored advice on your website and brand messaging.