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So, what is branding?

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

Is it a logo, is it a colour, is it a rumour, is it a plane?

The word branding is loosely thrown into conversation like people speak with false familiarity about having ‘done’ France by touristing through Paris for 24 hours. Paris, delightfully is much more than can be fitted into a passing glance, just like a brand is more than its first impression. But if your wallet got stolen in Paris or some beautiful stranger gave you a rose, you would have a different perception of its brand.

It can be as challenging to pin down the exact meaning of what branding is, as it is to create a robust framework to build a consistent brand. It’s important to make the time.

In this big wide attention deficit world, people often hear about you and google you long before they meet you; so a big part of your success can depend on you representing yourself well on online platforms.

In this article I’m going to define it and cover the elements that can help you create your brand. For starters my definition is

Brand is delivery on promise

Will you or your product deliver on the perception you have created –  through your website and social profiles, your look and feel, your words, your packaging? Some people suggest it is the first impression you make. While first impressions are important because they can create a positive, negative or neutral bias towards you in the mind of your customer; they are not the whole story.

And that’s part of the trouble I encounter again and again with clients. They try to tell their whole story with that first impression. They try to fit in too much information. They try to convey all of who they think the client wants them to be – all at once. Enter flooding. Your ideal customer gets overwhelmed and confused; and stops listening or reading. Of course if you’re face to face you can see and feel their attention drifting, so you can pause and give them a chance to ask a question. Online you don’t have the luxury of that immediate feedback.

We can take in up to eleven words at a time, then we need a pause, then just eleven more. Pause again.

More than that and it’s too much. So when you are considering the first impression you want to make. Think in visuals, style, tone, feeling, and as few words as possible. This is known as your unique value position (UVP) or your positioning statement. Seth Godin says ‘If you can’t state your position in eight words, you don’t have one.

I’m giving you eleven words – 3 more 🙂

Can you make your first impression with the look and feel of your brand in 11 words?

But truly what your brand does is set you apart from all the other people who offer the same service as you. Enter competition, compare and contrast. There are lots of people who offer similar products and services and that’s a good thing. Like nature it means the market is dynamic and constantly evolving as new players enter and others leave to do other things. Differentiation is the whole purpose of the branding exercise. Yes, no matter how many graphic designers, astro-physicists, photographers in the world each one will produce a different outcome.

Your brand is how you communicate that difference.

Effectively telling your story – who you are, what you are qualified to do, your experience and your unique way of seeing the world gives your client insight in how you work, with whom and the change the results they can expect from working with you. Brand alignment occurs when what you say and what you do are in harmony. It shows up as clarity and consistency in your offerings, look and feel and tone of voice. It reassures you ideal clients as they dig deeper that you are the right fit for them, that they’ve found someone who can help them accomplish what they need.

Simply put Brand is your reputation. It’s what people can rely on you to do.

And people will only hire you for what they can depend on you to deliver.

At first glance, what does your brand show and tell about you?

What’s your point of differentiation?

Does this stay true as your ideal client dives deeper?

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