Updated: May 17, 2018
This is a deep and interesting topic. Before I really get started I want to let you know that this is something that I am passionate about. I love getting to work on branding projects. They are so intricate and detailed. I will use examples from my experience to help explain some of the topics. Branding is so important I created a new section that will handle only posts for this subject. There will be a lot of posts. I told you I am passionate about brand building and this is the best place to show off my passion, well besides my portfolio.
What is a brand? That sounds like a simple question. It really isn't. Most people think of a logo when you ask them what is a brand. Instantly you have iconic logos flash in your mind. For example you see Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Toyota, Samsung, or Microsoft logos. The logos are a representation of the larger brand. A brand is more than the name or logo used to represent a company. It is the emotional and psychological associations that a person makes with a business, product or service. That is part of what a brand is. There are five components that make up a brand.
1. The Brand Promise
A brand is a promise to consumers. What will consumers get when they purchase a product or service from a brand? The promise is more than just the tangible products and services. It includes the feelings consumers have when they use the products and services. My brand promise is the headline of my website.
Example: My brand promises to create simple intelligent and creative design solutions. I feature this promise in an elegant yet simple manner. The title clearly states what you will receive when using my services and it is strengthened by the imagery and simple layout used to convey my message. You can see more examples of the simple solutions throughout my website and portfolio.
2. Brand Perception
Brands are built by consumers, not companies. That is really important so I want you to read that again. Brands are built by consumers, not companies. Now that means, the manner in which a consumer perceives a brand is how it is defined no matter what the brand promise may be. The only thing that matters is how consumers perceive the brand. An experienced brand identity company can build frameworks to develop consumer perceptions that accurately reflect your brand. If this doesn't properly influence the consumers the brand is doomed to limited growth.
Example: The framework I created for my brand is one that is simple and elegant. The layout of my materials are clean to help consumers perception of simple and creative design solutions. Everything I create for my brand is meant to to create specific consumer perceptions.
3. Brand Expectation
Based on the brand promise, consumers develop expectations for a brand. When a consumer purchases a product or service a brand offers they are expecting that the brand will meet their needs. If a brand doesn’t meet consumer expectation with every interaction, the brand broke their promise. Now the consumer has lost faith in the brand and will search of another brand that will meet their expectations.
Example: Rolex is known for luxury watches. Rolex would never forget their roots and create a digital only smart watch for $250. This would cause consumers to become extremely confused this watch doesn’t meet the expectations for a luxury brand.
4. Brand Persona
Maybe the question needs to change from "What is a brand?" to "Who is a brand?" All brands have a persona. Think of a brand as a person. What is this person like? What do you expect when you interact with them? From appearance to personality and everything in between, a brand persona is something that consumers will judge before they purchase the brand's product or service. This is evident in day to day life. You have a friend who prefers Ford over Chevy, Apple over Samsung, or Coke over Pepsi. Look at those friends and do you see them in their favored brand persona?
5. Brand Elements
Since I made you think about a brand as a person lets think of this element of the person as their physical traits. What are the physical traits of a brand? Well that is the easiest thing for us to understand. They are the logo, messaging, packaging, marketing materials, tone of voice and so on. All of these elements must work together to consistently communicate the brand promise, help shape brand perceptions, meet the brand expectations, and define the brand persona. If one element doesn't succeed, the brand will suffer. There are many examples of failed branding attempts. Don't be one of those examples.
Rome wasn't built in a day and that is true about brands too. I spent almost two years building my brand. I had a concept almost ready to launch. It did well in my focus group and the research tested well. There was something that didn't feel right. I decided to push pause on that concept. I left it along a two months. When I revisited the concept I understood what was wrong. It didn't fit the persona. Many of the elements worked so I didn't need to start completely over. I had to refine the concept. The logo was scrapped along with the color scheme and imagery. Now that I have launched I am getting some traction and like where this brand is heading. Please let me know what you think about this article. Share it and keep coming back to read the other parts of this series. I will dive deeper into the five elements that make a brand.