How to Get Branding Right.
If you need “Branding,” and you don’t understand what you seek, and what you should be receiving; then you might be in trouble.
A few common mistakes make the difference between a transformative investment for growth and a colossal waste of money.
There are few business owners who think to themselves, “Oh, I need a better logo.” These types of insights come from customer surveys and 360º reviews. The harshest comments come from long-time customers and service people, close to a company, who never thought to speak out. These are the community who see deep into the business and feel the conflict between the depicted brand and the actual reality. But it’s not their deal to change, right?
As a business owner, maybe you hear some comment once and again. But everyone has an opinion, and it’s easier to continue with business — and, frankly, why bother, right?
Eventually, it finally comes time to refresh your business; to update for the times. At this stage, who do you hire? It’s here you have the most opportunity for radical transformation, or to deflect in abstention of duty to grow the business.
On one side are agencies offering branding and value-based growth. These companies ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, “What are your superpowers?”, and “What does your customer’s typical 24-hour day routine look like?” These practitioners are demonstrating branding and branding design. They establish alignment and fit you into the complicated lives of your customers in a way that is seamless and endearing.
On the other side are agencies offering branding and tactics. These companies ask questions like, “What colors do you like?”, “How many pages do you want on your website?”, and “When can you get us the text for the brochure?” These professionals are demonstrating brand identity, web design, and graphic design mindsets. These experts are creating visuals and interaction, assuming you’ve done the hard work of branding, positioning, and differentiation, and all they need to do is execute on deliverable tactics.
The challenge is knowing the difference, understanding that both are needed (at different times), and (when the time is right) embracing an opportunity to re-evaluate your value to the world and make a big-picture investment.
Branding is not a logo, colors, or typefaces. If your professional is focussed on those you you hired a visual or graphic designer. That’s not bad, if you’re not interested in market analysis, differentiating your business from competitors, and positioning your business for success.
Branding is not Brand Identity. Brand Identity is how you show up in the world through the five senses. That’s why we create identity systems; so people learn to recognize a company based on visual, audio, olfactory, taste or tactile elements and cues. This also isn’t bad, if you have a plethora of materials and they need to match for consistency, but it’s not branding.
Branding is “active differentiation” (Debbie Millman, co-founder of The Masters in Branding at the School of Visual Arts). It can happen at every level of a business, and in every employee’s position in the company IF they are engaged enough to research what others are doing and thoughtfully explore how to do it uniquely, better.
Branding is offering value, and waiting for the reciprocation of that value. Offering things for free is branding. Content on YouTube is branding. Engaged employees offering solutions, unprompted, to perceived challenges is branding.
The two natural outcomes of unreciprocated branding are resentment and forgiveness. The employee who offers solutions hopes for a raise or promotion because of the good work. If that advice is taken, and reciprocity doesn’t happen, the employee may become resentful. Alternatively, when you receive freebies online (in exchange for email addresses) you are participating in a value exchange, and marketers KNOW there is a percentage of commitment upgrades that will happen. They count on that reciprocity. They aren’t offering things for free because of generosity. They are gaming the human brain to get you to buy — because of eventual reciprocity. They forgive the percent of audience who don’t buy-in, and the marketers move on to the real prospects, often moving them up the value ladder and down the sales funnel.
Branding is differentiation. The value it provides is distinguishing every aspect of an entity (business, brand; whatever) as much as possible. This saves time (the final frontier of value since we all die eventually) and energy (in the form of calories the brain has to burn to think about a subject). We are wired for efficiency — the brain HATES burning extra calories it doesn’t need to — and branding is the manipulative force of Value saving the brain’s energy. Brains are lazy.
All the different aspects of branding serve the end goal of making brains think less. The purpose is to monopolize a unique idea, associated ONLY with your brand. Because branding IS establishing Value, Value Proposition Design is a wing of branding. Value Proposition is designing what the customer/audience receives and perceives as part of the Value exchange and — since it MUST be differentiated to deflect commodity competition — branding designers are trained in Value Proposition Design as part of their responsibilities. That is a major upgrade and differentiator of Branding Designers versus Visual and Graphic Designers.
To continue, Marketing is the tool for Change (This is Marketing, Seth Godin) and Branding is the tool for Value (Think Tank Creative) waiting for feelings and reciprocation. Both operate to manipulate and influence. When they are separated they fail to Effective target and convey a brand’s WHY (Start with WHY, Simon Sinek). Only together do they broadcast the intended WHY behind a brand.
Sensory influences plus psychological influences equals limbic shift and neocortex-based commitment, AKA, a sale.
(5 sense design + brain programming = $$$)
Intent-based branding marketing (Frank Kern on YouTube) — a new term for branding that’s created to serve a certain purpose like influencing, attracting, and closing sales — connects through non-sequential content and branded offers/discounts/lead magnets (think FB ads with retargeting) through marketing and advertising. This is the frontier beyond ads and Click Funnels. It is behavior, content, and value-driven to create sales. Ads that find you, target you, and follow you until you believe what they believe and buy in.
When offering value, the whole world receives it, depending on where the marketing is placed, and your specific audience is the most receptive. For example, let’s imagine you’re driving down the street and see a UPS van — that’s branding, but you may not pay attention because you have no need for UPS. The Branding Value is, through color and design, that you understand the service and offer of that company, thereby saving brain processing power. The value is in the efficiency of the thinking. In the case of intent-based branding marketing ONLY your target audience will see and interface with the value presented.
Let me design the cycle for you: We use branding to create differentiation. We design stories, marketing, and experiences. Marketing uses all of this to create change in perception through repetition. People respond and connect. Sales closes. Customer service increases value. People enjoy, recommend and increase the brand perception (Sticky Branding, Jermey Miller).
Brand perception is based in service. When we serve customers to our highest degree we build fans. Over time, the fans think and believe the same as we do (as a company or brand) because they buy into the influence — *click/whirr* (Influence, Robert Cialdini) — they become community/tribe (Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek).
However, to first appeal to them and stand out we have to Break Through the marketing paradigm of noise. We do this with branding (differentiation) because people see what is new and different. The things that are the same and boring are ignored. We provide value through branding because we STAND OUT and the potential customer doesn’t have to think and burn extra calories to find the solutions they need (Don’t Make Me Think, Steve King).
Branding includes design of the business, manufacturing, partnerships, value proposition, marketing, sales, customer service, training, packaging, on-hold music, in-store music, scripts, dialogue, free content, paid content, and every d@mn thing you DO in a business.
Marketing is taking all that and putting into the world. If it doesn’t stand out through a differentiated perspective and people have to think too hard, burn too many calories, and search for you — you fail to provide value. If your audience doesn’t care, doesn’t notice, or already has a better solution (brains are lazy) — you fail to provide value.
The big takeaway: Standing out IS providing Branding Value.
Branding Design serves business owners through differentiated business ideation and marketing.
If you’re a business owner, you want to SELL MORE STUFF, and you want the expert team who understands GOOD BRANDING to get you in front of your audience and shift their paradigm so you make the sales, go to www.ThinkTankCreative.Studio, schedule a consultation, and see if you’re in the right position to increase revenue up-to 80% with branding design.
Be different. Stand out. Get customers. Make Sales.