Brand and branding. We see the words thrown about a lot these days, but what do they actually mean, and is there a difference between the two?
The short answer is YES! There most definitely is a difference.
What do they mean?
Your brand is something only you can create for your business and it encapsulates everything you do. It represents your identity in the market and can be defined as the emotions your customers and clients have when they interact with your business at any level.
It's your unique mix of what your business looks like, how it sounds, how it speaks to people, and how it makes them feel. So, in short, it's not a tangible thing and you can't be told what your brand should or shouldn't be, it's your own special story.
Your branding, or visual branding as I often call it, is one of your most important marketing tools, but it's only one element of your brand. Gone are the days when simply a logo was enough, today branding is so much more than your logo.
For strong visual branding you'll need your main logo of course, but it's also handy to have various other secondary and circular versions of your logo, along with a colour palette, a curated font selection, patterns or illustrations, and icons. This variety will allow you to create an memorable but consistent look and feel across your website, social channels, and packaging/printed materials.
Do I need both a brand AND branding?
If you own a business you already have a brand. You already speak to your customers in a certain way and have specific things you do or don't share on social media. You can really dive deep into what you stand for, refine your vision for your business, and use this to help you make informed decisions about every part of your brand experience.
The way we market our businesses has changed beyond recognition over the last few decades, we've seen a shift towards consumers wanting to buy from small businesses that have a face and a personality. We're becoming much more conscious in our buying choices and championing the hand-made, the locally sourced, the eco-friendly, and the personal touches.
Big businesses have to work harder to create a brand that consumers respond to because there isn't often just one person behind the business. As solo entrepreneurs and creatives we're in a brilliant position, we don't have to work so hard to connect with people. Your businesses personality isn't always exactly the same as your own, but it's the elements of yourself that you bring in that will help you connect.
We as consumers buy something when we respond with an emotion to a product or service. This emotion can be so much stronger when we feel like we are supporting a very 'human' business, and you can easily find 'your tribe' when you make an intentional effort to connect with people.
Good visual branding can help you tell your story, evoke the senses, and captivate your clients and customers. By combining imagery, fonts, and colours in a unique way you can create a look that's distinctive and authentically you. You'll look more professional which, mixed with your unique brand experience, will be a winning combination for your tribe.
Your brand and visual branding work hand in hand. As a designer I do not create your brand, I help you to express it through carefully executed visuals.
So how do I start to tell my story and create a brand experience?
I'm sure there are businesses who don't worry all that much about this, they do their thing, they 'sell' themselves at every opportunity, they hustle and compete, and maybe it works for them. But isn't it a better, more authentic way of doing business when you stop pushing the sale and switch your mindset to pull? When you're attracting the right people for your business, rather than pushing sales on people who aren't all that interested.
Telling your brands story is about managing what people expect, experience, and remember about your business. Go back to basics and think about what your business stands for, what you want to be known for, and who exactly you want to work with.
For example, I love to work with creative women and small businesses, I don't enjoy creating corporate logos for bigger companies, so I can have a very personable approach to business.
For me, as a service based business it works to share about my life and my interests on social media because I want to work with people and businesses that share a home centred lifestyle, and those that enjoy similar things to me. My business is about working with people, meeting in person to discuss projects, not selling products, so I need to attract people I have things in common with so there will be a lasting connection. It helps that I enjoy baking and making things with my hands so I can very genuinely share about these things over on Instagram to connect with others
When people work with me I want them to feel like the whole process is easy and a joy to be part of, so I lay the process out in an easy to follow welcome document, I make sure my clients know when to expect their designs and how long things will take, and I send a special 'thank you' package at the end of the process.
If you're a product based business you can share your story through behind the scenes snippets, information about how you design and make your products, where your inspiration comes from, and where your ingredients and materials are sourced from.
Maybe you can think about a more creative way to photograph your products, just look at the gorgeous fun Dorimu Art have when photographing their lovely fairies. They bring in a human touch with a carefully placed hand as well as the product being in the photo. If you don't have a white wall to photograph against you can use a piece of white foam board, a white sheet, or large piece of white paper held up with tape or a peg.
Look at the lovely variety of images The Natural Beauty Pot have on their Instagram account, along with the message that you should 'love yourself' which is part of what their brand stands for. If you want to create quick quote graphics try an app like A Beautiful Mess or AppForType.
Creating an amazing brand and business isn't simple and it involves a bit of work to really capture the essence of what you stand for, but do the research and inspiration work now and things will fall into place and become much easier. You can base everything you do on the decisions you make about what you want your brand to 'be'.