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What is a brand & what is branding?

Aesthetics 'are the language of feeling, and, in a society that’s information-rich and time-poor, people value feeling…’  - Marty Neumier, The Brand Gap

Brand design, brand style, brand identity, visual identity. Geez there are a lot of words surrounding branding.  So I'm going to take a look at those words, what they mean and why they’re so important in growing your business. To do that, we’ve first got to tackle that mammoth of a word - brand.

What is a brand?

Your brand is who you are, in the eyes of your customer/audience.


Your brand is who you are,

in the eyes of your customer/audience.

Okay, let’s dive into that. It’s easy for us to assume that people see us the way we think we are, or the way we want/attempt to be seen. But that's not necessarily true. It takes a decent amount of care and thought to achieve the right message that your potential customers can easily understand.

Every encounter your audience has with you, affects your brand. That can be face-to-face, on a website, on someone else’s podcast; any kind of interaction that someone has with you.

This is where branding steps in.

If your brand is built through everything that your customer comes into contact with, you need a good tool belt. And that's what branding is. Branding enables you to create a consistent, strategic message across everything you do. So branding is not just the visuals, it’s the whole messaging system you have. It’s your tone of voice when you speak. It's the kind of language and slang you use. It's the content and frequency on your social feeds. It's the platforms you chose to show up on. And it's your visual system, it's all of that and more. All of these things make your customers/audience form a picture of you in their head. And if you’ve done this right,

a. that picture in their head matches how you want to be seen

b. that picture in their head matches how you want to be seen, and also resonates with how that potential customer wants to be seen too

So that’s what can go right, but what can go wrong? If your brand isn’t clear, if your inconsistent in your visuals or tone, people will get confused. Potential customers won’t feel like they know you. You won’t feel, authentic. And if you don’t feel authentic, it’s going to be very difficult to build trust. Without trust, a potential customer may never come back to take another look or continue their customer journey. Trust is mega important, I think it’s the foundation of a good brand. That being said, we don’t always base our buying decisions on trust alone.

I bet you know of a brand that you trust, but that doesn’t make you feel anything. You use it, you re-buy it, the price is fine, and it works. It’s proven to you that it works. Maybe it’s a boring house hold cleaning bottle. Then one day you’re in a shop and you see a beautifully packaged cleaning spray. And gosh, that bottle feels, like… good in your hand. You’ve never felt good about your cleaning spray before, gah what are those feelings? The bottle is glass or maybe just a lovely amber coloured plastic with an illustrated sprig of lavender on the front. It feels so much nicer than the white packaging with corporate logo. Ohhhh yesssss you really like holding it.

It makes you feel good, you like feeling natural. Maybe you flip over the back to see if it has any of the ingredients you know you like. But you don’t do a side by side comparison of it to the one you normally buy. You don’t read every ingredient. All of this happens in a matter of seconds, and before you know it, you’ve switched to a new cleaning spray, and you’re even paying a bit more for it. Why? Because the brand made you feel something that you want to feel. You just, like it. You don’t want to feel clinical and squeaky clean, you want to feel naturally, effortlessly fresh!

Feeling, or intuition, has at that moment, outweighed trust. Logically, it doesn’t actually make sense to take a risk on a more expensive product that might not work as well. But we don’t make our decisions purely on logic. We trust our own feelings and intuition often more than facts we know are true. We’re busy, and those three seconds touching that bottle felt, good. And that's a huge part of where aesthetics come in, you're creating feelings with thoughtful brand design.

Now maybe that example has just made you feel a bit, icky. I get it, we don't want to judge a book just by its cover (and there’s a whole debate on beauty here that I’d love to have, but that’s for another time!) So here’s the thing, trust immediately comes back into play. That brand has made a promise to you through their branding. Their visual messaging has told you that you are going to get a natural, lavender smelling cleaning spray that sits nicely on your shelf. So if it doesn’t live up to that, if it is just your average cleaning spray, the trust is broken, and they aren’t getting it back. You’ll never buy it again, and you won’t recommend it either.

Branding is the tool belt that enables you to create consistent and true-to-you messages across everything you do. But without trust, your tool belt won’t stay up for long.

Brand Design, Visual Identity, Brand Style, Brand Identity

One of the major tools in your branding toolbelt is your brand design.

Let's start by tackling some of these words. Visual identities are the visual systems that message a brand. It's things like typefaces, colours, logos and all the visual cues you need for your system to work.

Brand design, brand identities and brand styles, also create that visual system. But they may also include a more wholistic approach too. Adding in tone of voice, copywriting, web design and more. It depends on the studio, and what they think you need.

This visual system is about taking who you are (and who your customer is) and creating that magical messaging to help  you grow! The goal, is to create visuals that invoke the right feelings, to the right people, from the moment they come into contact with you.

Look back at the quote on the top of this post. Feelings are have a massive impact in our decision making process. Brand design is creating those feelings that you want your customers to have about you, through aesthetics.

So to sum up

  • Your brand is who you are, in the eyes of your customer/audience.
  • Your brand is built through everything that your customer comes into contact with, so you need a good tool belt. Branding is that toolbelt to make sure that your customers know the real you.
  • Your visuals, or aesthetics, are one of the most important tools in your branding toolbelt. They impact how a potential customer feels about you from the moment they first see you.

Your branding is describing who you are to your customers from their very first glance. Make sure the story they’re getting, is the one you want to be telling.

Brand design with Laikin Studio always starts with a bit of brand strategy (which I'll be doing some blogposts on in April, so stay tuned!) I’ll always design with the fullest understanding of who you and your customers are.  

If you’re looking for thoughtful brand design to attract your dream customers and grow, get in touch and we can set up a free consultation call! And don't worry, that's not as scary as it sounds. It's an exciting chat about your business and your goals!