The Swoosh. The Golden Arches. The Apple. Without even saying the name of the brand you already know which brands are being mentioned – Nike, McDonalds, Macintosh respectively. These brands are so deeply incorporated in our daily lives, that we no longer need to be told what the brand is; we just know. That is the power of strong branding and marketing. One creates an impressionable identity and the other leads to these identities becoming such a prominent part of our lives that mere symbols, colours, patterns, or tagline can help us define which brand is being talked about. Over time these brands are more than just a shop, a restaurant, a make up company, they have become a part of us and we use these as our identifiers and they are the external elements we use to express ourselves and our beliefs, values, and in a way are an unspoken ode to what we stand for in society. The question arises, are these brands our persona or through usage we encompass the persona of these brands? That, of course, is subjective, but no matter what it is, the power of a brand cannot go unnoticed.
It takes time and effort to build a strong brand, but, in turn, a strong brand massively increases the value of a company. A strong brand brings with a sense of direction, motivation, and belonging is the North Star for both the employees and its customers. A strong brand is an influencer and can determine or dictate new trends, new possibilities, and new future for the industry it is a part of.
How to create a brand? – the foundations on which we build
But what does it mean “to brand”? Does that mean to have a name and a logo? Does it mean you decide what your brand colours are? A font that becomes synonymous with your brand? These are all superficial factors – the dressage – of a brand that help make it distinguishable, but what truly defines a brand is its core: the strategy. The Brand Strategy looks at a brand’s values, mission, vision, its future hopes, its position in the market, the right tone of voice needed to communicate with its target audience, and the persona that brand encompasses which shines from its inside out which is reflected to customers. A brand is more than what we see externally, but rather, this strategy not only allows the brand to reach to its right audience, externally (ie: customers), but also internally (ie: employees). What we dont realize is when we choose to associate with a certain brand, company, product, etc, we do so because subconsciously we are agreeing with what they stand for. Our beliefs align with theirs. We value the same kind of things. We view the world through the same looking glass. All of these elements are determined when we create a brand, This not only helps build a strong persona, but helps us bring closer to the right people – thats not to say as a brand evolves the “right people” it is looking to target will stay the same, as much like us people who change with time, so do brands, their mindsets, and their people do too. This strategy is also used to derive the creative (logo, brand colour, brand font, brand patterns, 5th elements, etc.), the tone of voice (friendly, inviting, conversational, informative, informal), and the means of communication (outdoor/indoor advertising, digital platforms, broadcast media, print media). The Brand Strategy is the essence of the brand; it is the core which determines each and every facet of the brand from idea to birth. It is the DNA which gives each brand its defining characteristics. It is part of the brand story that people want to hear and will share with others and essentially become part of your legacy.
How does a brand develop this DNA? That is a common question as it seems like an overwhelming amount of information needs to be determined before we even create the brands at all. This is all done through a meticulous exercise which is known as the Branding Workshop. In this workshop a series of questions are asked to the client which cover various areas of brand development and help the experts put together a structure which is used to create the strategy. This comprehensive document is then used to determine the external and internal elements of how the brand is going to behave, believe in, and communicate. Once the strategy is finalized, it is sent across to clients for approval so that they have a firm understanding of what the outcome is going to be before proceeding towards design.
How can a word-heavy file be converted into a creative outcome? Thats what the experts are there for! The creative team should ideally have a firm grasp of branding and how to decipher a strategy document, which they will study, be inspired from, and fully understand before they start doing their research. Research is the most crucial part of any creative work at all, and with the aid of the strategy document they embark on a journey which starts to bring the brand to life. It is from there a brand persona is determined, fonts, use of colour, patterns, and inspirations are all put together in a melting pot to deliver the “face” of the brand.
While the results of the branding workshop are being converted into an actual image, its essence is being practiced internally and thus when the brand is finally delivered and ready to be launched, the internal and external parts of the brand come together harmoniously and form an unbreakable synergy which results in an incredibly strong brand. It has a striking image, it is impressionable from the get-go, while also having a strong set of values, communication strategy and sense of direction making it an attractive brand to associate it from a customer and corporate point of view.
A strong brand invests in the careers and success of its people, which keeps its customers and employees engaged, and overall, creating a strong brand is difficult but is crucial for businesses to brand not only for survival but to help stick out from the noise of all the others in the market waiting to be heard. Branding is necessary, but building a strong brand is vital for survival.