The Power of a Brand
Are you a small business owner, entrepreneur or artist?
Have you ever wanted to create a modern, responsive website but lack the resources to develop it?
Or simply looking to take your business to the next level?
If you answered ‘yes’ to more than one question, you’ve landed at the right place!
In this article we will explore:
What brand and branding mean
How branding can help your business
The key ingredients of any good brand
How to communicate, manage and develop your brand identity
The relationship between design and branding
In order to understand the concept of branding, first we need to know what products and brands are. Let’s go!
“Broadly, a product is anything that can be offered to a market to satisfy a want or need, including physical goods, services, experiences, events, persons, places, properties, organizations, information, and ideas” (Kotler & Keller, 2015).
This means that a product can be anything from a hotel stay, a flight, a language course, to clothes, food, a toothbrush etc.
To illustrate the definition of a product and the role it occupies in defining branding, we will use the example of water:
Water is a free resource that every human being needs to live and survive. Yet it became a product the day humans and companies started to commercialize it, for example by selling mineral water in glass and plastic bottles.
“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” (American Marketing Association).
You can consider a brand as the idea or image people have in mind when thinking about specific products, services and activities of a company, both in a practical (e.g. “the shoe is light-weight”) and emotional way (e.g. “the shoe makes me feel powerful”).
A product can be easily copied by other players in a market, but a brand will always be unique. For example, Pepsi and Coca-Cola taste very similar, however for some reason, some people feel more connected to Coca-Cola, others to Pepsi.
Let’s illustrate this again with the water example. The product sold is water, but in order to convince people to purchase a particular water, companies developed different water brands, such as Evian, Perrier, and Fiji. And each one of these brands provides a different meaning to the product water:
Evian makes you feel young
Perrier is refreshing, bubbling and sexy
Fiji Water is pure, healthy and natural
“Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015)
Branding is the process of giving a meaning to specific company, products or services by creating and shaping a brand in consumers’ minds. It is a strategy designed by companies to help people to quickly identify their products and organization, and give them a reason to choose their products over the competition’s, by clarifying what this particular brand is and is not.
The objective is to attract and retain loyal customers by delivering a product that is always aligned with what the brand promises.
Who does it affect?
Consumers: As discussed above, a brand provides consumers with a decision-making-shortcut when feeling indecisive about the same product from different companies.
Shareholders: Besides helping consumers to distinguish similar products, successful branding strategies are also adding to a company’s reputation. This asset can affect a range of people, from consumers to employees, investors, shareholders, providers, and distributors. As an example, if you don’t like or don’t feel connected to a brand, you would probably not want to work for it. However, if you feel like the brand understands you and offers products that inspire you, you would probably desire to work for it and be part of its world.
How can it be done?
The best marketers are storytellers. After all, how many customers truly make purchasing decisions based on statistics or a cost-benefit analysis? Emotional appeals are the truest way to connect with customers, and stories are the most powerful method for doing so. Companies tend to use different tools to create and shape a brand. For example, branding can be achieved through:
advertising and communications
product and packaging design
sponsoring and partnerships
the visual identity of the brand (logo, website and colors, are just some examples).
In our example of branding water, packaging design and advertising are perhaps the most powerful tools used by marketers:
– Packaging design is the silent salesman that will grab busy consumers’ attention in-store. It informs consumers about the product’s properties and visually differentiates the brand from the competition on-shelf. A successful example in my eyes is Fiji Water, which managed to create a beautiful bottle design that perfectly reflects the brand’s values: purity is reflected through transparency effects and nature is perceived through the image of tropical flower and leaves in the background.
– Advertising is a powerful tool to create and shape a brand universe as it is very visual and tells a story about the product/company. Here are some examples of branding water through advertising:
– Partnerships are collaborative agreements between a business and an organization, a public figure or a charity. Designed to be a mutually beneficial collaboration, both sides stand to gain from working together and sharing resources. The party might receive funding, sponsorship and awareness-raising, while a business could gain anything from positive PR to a more engaged workforce and client base. The right partnership could bring you:
Stronger relationships with your stakeholders
A rise in profits
Think about it. With the creation of the internet and the popularity of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, consumers have unlimited freedom and choice over the content they wish to view. This creates a problem for brands. As their target audience continues to spread out over various forms of media, it becomes increasingly difficult to reach them. Partnering with an influencer allows brands to locate and advertise directly to their target audience. Because consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of brands and their marketing tactics, and building trust is crucial, advertising through influencers allows brands to promote through someone that a niche community watches, engages with and trusts on a daily basis. Instead of being skeptical of a commercial or social media ad, consumers are trusting that if their influencer of choice loves the product, they will too. Everyone’s a winner.
– A visual identity is the visual aspect of branding that businesses create in order to evoke the certain feelings and experiences with the brand. It includes anything visual that your brand produces such as logo design, fonts, photos, and any other visuals that you use to communicate your brand. One big mistake business owners make is thinking that branding is simply just making a logo. While it is a part of it, branding goes far beyond a logo. Your visual identity is part of your branding that communicates the overall message, values, and promise of your brand through anything that is visual.
What is a Brand?
Like people, brands have two sides: the rational and the emotional. Both sides need to be clearly defined and deployed for a brand to unlock its full potential. Think of a brand like a person living with purpose, adding value to people’s lives and operating with a set of guiding principles. Start with being clear why your brand exists and what it’s trying to accomplish and then think about how it should behave to ensure it’s relevant and memorable. The rational side is built on the passion to solve a problem or meet an unmet or unrealized need, and this informs and fuels the brand’s purpose or reason for being. Just like a person who operates with integrity, a brand should have a clearly defined set of principles or values that guide how it behaves. The principles form the rational building blocks for the brand, and combined with a clear mission, what you intend to do to achieve your purpose, and a clear strategy, the immediate actions you will take to deliver on your mission, a working platform is formed to guide the brand’s actions so they are relevant, coordinated and consistent. It is therefore not just the physical features that create a brand but the feelings that consumers develop towards the company or its product. This combination of physical and emotional cues is triggered when exposed to the name, the logo, the visual identity, or even the message communicated.
Why Do You Need a Brand?
Branding can help you stand out from your competitors, add value to your offer and engage with your customers. In other words, it’s about creating difference. Promoting change in your market. Branding is a way of clearly highlighting what makes your offer different and more desirable than anyone else’s. Effective branding not only elevates a product or organization from being just one commodity amongst a sea of other commodities. With a brand, you become unique. It also creates an emotional resonance in the minds of consumers who choose products and services based on both emotional and pragmatic judgements.
High-profile examples of recognized brands include Toyota, British Airways, Tate, Amazon, Save the Children, Burberry, HMRC or even London. From services to cities, products to publications, each carries a strong set of associations in the minds of a large number of people.
A product is what you sell, a brand is the perceived image of the product you sell, and branding is the strategy to create that image.
Defining Your Brand
If you’re thinking about how to rebrand your business, its products or services, or if you want to assess where your brand stands at present, there are a few key aspects you should consider:
The big idea – what lies at the heart of your company?
Values – what do you believe in?
Vision – where are you going?
Personality – how do you want to come across?
If you can start to answer these questions with clarity and consistency then you have the basis for developing a strong brand.
Sources: Kotler & Keller: Marketing Management (2015), American Marketing Association (AMA)
Taking Your Business to the Next Level
Developing a brand identity is one area of marketing that’s often overlooked. Because it doesn’t provide direct, measurable results, it’s usually the last thing a company is willing to spend their money on. But what the most successful companies know is that defining a solid brand identity helps establish the groundwork needed to pursue marketing tactics that support lead generation and customer loyalty. So, where do you begin?
The key is to start the branding process with a clear direction. From how your brand values affect messaging considerations to design preferences for your logo, it’s much easier to work with talents, designers, strategists and internal teams when you know what you want.
Everything you need to create a website and an e-commerce store. Squarespace became my go-to platform after I successfully launched my own site four years ago. Back then, I knew very little about marketing, let alone branding. With plenty of trials and errors, I have mastered the ins and outs of how to create a successful business with Squarespace. This allowed me to transform my passion of helping others, especially entrepreneurs and artists, into a career. On top of having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and their limitations, I also takes into account your business goals as well as short and long-term objectives.
1. Consultation + Orientation
To start off on the right track and help us through the consultation phase, a brand questionnaire is sent. It is a big part of my brand strategy and process, and I find it crucial to share it with my clients before beginning any branding project. This is a two week design process where the main focus is listening to your design requests and needs in order to create a website that properly reflects you and your business.
2. Design Development
After carefully going through each of your answers, I start narrowing down the best templates according to your company’s vision, its needs as well as its positioning. If you already have a favourite template, please let me know as I can also include it in the drafting process. Note all pages are fully customizable. Once drafting is completed, choose the best design for your needs. And your work is done here! All you have to do now is let me work my magic and build the site your business deserves.
3. Call to Action + Launch
Take this opportunity to build your email list while your brand new website is being revamped. By having a personalized landing page, you can easily update your current and future visitors until the launch! Remember: There’s no need to rush through answering all of the brand questionnaire! Your responses will ultimately determine your brand’s positioning, so this exercise should take you some time.
A branding project is a lot of work, and hopefully this brand questionnaire helps you avoid an existential crisis. If you have any questions or need help discovering your brand, let me know! I am more than happy to help guide you in the right direction. Start the questionnaire here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Primarily creative entrepreneurs.
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Identify strengths/weaknesses of all Social Media Channels
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - ranking on Google, Yahoo, and Bing
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