What is Branding? & How to Create a Brand that Connects.

I finished design school in 2011. I can’t even remember what their explanation of branding was. Needless to say, it didn’t leave a mark on me. Design school teaches you how to make things look technically good, but doesn’t actually teach you how design is a tool you use to communicate an experience to the viewer. The definition that has stuck out to me is that from Marty Neumeier.

A brand is “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.” — Marty Neumeier

To prove this thesis here’s a list of companies, as you read them one by one, stop and see what you feel toward that company or “brand.”

Nike
Apple
Google
Amazon
McDonald’s
Coke
Moleskin
Barns and Nobles

Each of them work hard, either successfully or not, to engineer everything from the packaging to the in-store experience, to the visuals, to the words they use, in order to give you the experience they want you to have. These experiences lead to your gut feeling of them.


“People are information rich, but time poor”
— Marty Neumeier

This right here is the key. In order to figure out how to get to the heart of your customer, you need to get in front of them, and compel them with what you have to say, and how you are going to say it.

Foundations

Branding is Communicating an Experience

Figure out what to Communicate

Branding at its root is communicating an experience to the customer/audience so that they can hear, feel, taste, see, smell, whatever you want them to so that they can feel and say what you want them to. So first, you need to figure out what you want to communicate. Foundational to that is getting to the core of who you are as a brand. What’s your company’s story? What is the purpose of your company? What is your voice? what’s important to you as a company or service? What do you want to tangibly help someone with? these questions are only a few of the questions that you need to answer to come to the foundation of who you are.

PRACTICAL
Answer:

What is the purpose of your company? 
What is your voice? 
what’s important to you as a company or service? 
What do you want to tangibly help someone with?
What do you want someone to feel when they encounter you?

Who, Matters to the What
Your customer matters. As a matter of fact, they matter most. our economy is evolving to a purer capitalist one as the power is shifting more to the consumer. In the past, there were few gatekeepers to huge industries, like music and television. Those barriers are being shattered by the advent of social platforms like Youtube and Spotify. What once took an enormous budget and the approval of a few men, has given way to the power of the attention you’re able to garner. After all, people now have options as to where and why they consume what they do. The advent of the youtube star and the independent artist are only markers of what’s to come. With that said - identifying who they are and the problems they face is going to be key in not only differentiating your brand but also getting to the heart of the customer.

PRACTICAL
Answer:

Who is your customer?
What problems do they have?
What are solutions to those problems?
Where does your company fit into these solutions?


There’s so much to say about this, but it’s important for you as a business owner to have a grasp on who you are and who your customer is. As important as it is for you to grasp this, it’s even more important that the people working with you to build your brand understand as well.

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