What Is Branding?

What Is Branding? Marketing Strategies Podcast Episode 2

Marketing Strategies Podcast

Episode 2

In this episode, I answer the question: What is Branding? Here’s a hint. It’s not your logo (okay, not JUST your logo). Here is what we cover:

  • The different parts of a brand
  • Benefits of a strong brand
  • How to protect your brand

What Is Branding Transcription

Welcome to Marketing Strategies with Audrey Kerchner. Sponsored by Inkyma, take your small business to the next level with proven creative solutions designed to grow your awareness and connect to your customers. Now here’s Audrey.

Welcome to Marketing Strategies. I’m Audrey Kerchner. Before we get started on this week’s topic which will be about branding, I just wanted to give you a little information about my background. I’ve been doing marketing for over 20 years. Before I started my company, Inkyma, I worked for a large Fortune 500 company, Schering Plough. Most people don’t know the name of the company but they know the products, products like Claritin, Nasonex, Coppertone, the Dr. Scholl’s line. When I left there, I was in charge of website assets worldwide. Then, I left there to go work for a Madison Avenue marketing agency. We had three locations: Madison Avenue, Chelsea Market, and then in Princeton and my team worked with teams across all the areas, clients up and down the East Coast and even some on the West Coast. The one thing we did that I was very proud of is, is we did a 3D virtual event that actually got nominated for a Clio Award. And if you don’t know what a Clio is, it’s the equivalent of an Oscar for the marketing world.

So Inkyma is a full-service market agency, very similar to where I worked when I was in New York City. And what Inkyma brings to the small business is that big agency feel that customer service feel right down to the small business owner. And so, we can do one thing or we can do everything from a marketing perspective for our customers. We do marketing strategy, we do branding, we do website design and hosting, we do content marketing. So sales funnels, newsletters, blog writing, we do search engine optimization but for our sites only, social media marketing and then we do digital advertising for Facebook, Instagram, and the whole Google platform. But to learn more about what we do, who we are, please visit our website. It’s Inkyma.com, I-N-K-Y-M-A.com. And there, you can either schedule a marketing evaluation or if you just got a quick question you want answered, you can fill out the contact form at the bottom.

So today, I want to talk to you a little bit about branding. What is branding? Well, what I’m going to tell you branding is not, tt’s not just a logo or not just only your logo. I have a quote I want to share with you from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. What he says about branding is your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room, right? It’s almost that legacy that follows that imagery. So now I have a question for you. What comes to mind when I say the name of these companies? Apple, Microsoft, Nike, Toms, Dollar Shave Club, Old Spice. So as I was saying them, each of them evokes thoughts and feelings of your experience with those brands or what you’ve seen from those brands. Some of those brands you may never have done business with but you know what they are. And that’s really what branding is about, evoking a certain thought or feeling — hopefully a positive one if it’s your brand — so that you can continue to grow your business.

So a brand has multiple parts to it and I’m going to share with you what those three main parts are for a brand. So first part which is the part I think most people are aware of is what’s called visual identity. And the visual identity is the logo, the color palette, all the colors, the fonts, and then the imagery. And what imagery is, it’s the picture style that you use in advertising on your website. You try to keep them all feeling they’re part of the same family because it really strengthens the brand. And so, people don’t think about pictures as being part of their brand, but actually, it’s a really important part of the visual identity of the brand.

The next piece is what we call voice of the customer. Meaning, it’s the language, the internal problems that the customer is having. If you listen to last week’s program, I talked about marketing strategy and we talked a lot about the language there and their internal problems versus external problems. That’s actually part of your brand. At a high level, figuring out what that language sounds and feels like and the empathy that you’re having for that customer and how you want to speak to them is part of that voice of the customer. So I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re a physical therapy company. The external problem that the person has is I have joint pain, I got hip pain, I got knee pain, right? And I don’t want to have pain anymore, right? That’s their external problem. The internal problem is that I’m worried that I’m not going to be able to get back to full mobility like I was before the injury, before the surgery.

So if your voice of the customer is, “Let us help you get back to the life that you want to lead through physical therapy,” that is a message that will resound with your audience and then you’re really speaking to them and not at them or about what their issue is. So setting that high-level language is really important. The third part is really about you and the big question is, what does your company stand for? What are your values? What are your dreams? Going back to Jeff Bezos a little bit with Amazon, I picked him because I have a funny story. I have a business associate who actually met Jeff Bezos back before he started Amazon and he was selling books at a stall in a marketplace and she gave him a pep talk on how he needs to keep with his dreams and keep selling those books and he will get there one day.

And as we figured out, he really did. So values, dreams. What’s your philosophy, right? Think about Apple. Apple’s philosophy is they want their products to be beautiful, aesthetically pleasing inside and out. Steve Jobs, he wanted the circuitry boards to look like artwork, right? He cared about how the fonts looked on the case and so that’s part of his philosophy. And then you got to think about, does your company have a giving back program? These are becoming so much more important now than they were 10, 15 years ago, almost like it does have to be baked into the brand. And Toms, the shoe company, is a really good example of that. For every shoe that they sell, they give a pair away, right? And talk about being part of the brand, I can recite that off the top of my head because it’s so ingrained into their brand.

So the question you have to ask yourself, are you going to have something like that as part of your brand or is it just something that’s part of the company as an aside? So you could be saying, “Well, that’s all well and great and that seems it’s a lot of work. All I really want is a logo.” So, I want to talk to you a little bit about the benefits of a strong brand, right? Why is it important? Here’s the number one reason. That brand, a really strong brand, it’s going to make you money. It’s going to make your company a lot of money. And so, here are the top ways that it’s going to make you money. First, awareness. We are visual creatures, right? We see things first. I can say the name Apple, but I guarantee you, as you’re listening to this, their Apple logo popped in your head.

And so, a really strong visual identity that is strong no matter where you see it is really important and it’s good for your company because it takes about five to seven impressions for people to re-recognize, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen that. I know them.” But then to start to trust it, right? Trust is built first by familiarity and awareness is that familiarity. It all goes back to if we don’t know it, we don’t trust it. It’s that stranger-danger concept. We don’t do it with just people, we do it with brands especially because there are so many brands out there now. So you need the awareness and the best way to get that awareness is through the visual identity piece. That’s why the logo’s important and that’s why everybody does the logo piece but there’s more to it.

Second is credibility. Once you have established yourself, you put quality product and services out there, you have amazing customer service, all of that gets wrapped back into your brand and to that identity. And then, it’s easier to not only get that trust, but then to keep it because then the next thing that comes out, they’re going to be like, “Oh yeah, the first time I tried this company, I really liked it. So I’m going to try the new thing that’s coming out too.” The third thing, which I think is probably one of the biggest reasons for you to want to build a really solid full brand, is that you can charge what you’re worth. I talk to so many customers or potential customers and one of the things they say to me is they’re like, “Everybody complains that I charge too much, but they don’t understand what I’m doing.” And so, that’s a value-based message that we build for them. That value-based message starts with the brand.

So for an example is a construction company that I’m working with. He is himself and his son right now but he has dreams. He wants to be a bigger company. He wants to have interior designers. He wants architects. He wants to have all his subs, his electricians. He goes, “I want to feel like a big company.” So as we’re rebranding him, we’re rebranding him to feel he is who he’s aspiring to be and not who he is today and you do that through various different pieces of the brand. And then, he is going to be able to charge what he’s worth because they’re going to get this sense of quality and value right from the moment that they see his logo for the very first time all the way through to when they sign their first contract with him.

And then the next thing which I think is also important towards that making money concept is instant sales for new services and offerings. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just send out an email to all your existing customers and say, “Hey, we have this new widget we’d like you to try,” and then within 24 to 48 hours, depending on your industry, it could be a month, right, depending on what you’re selling, they sign up and they say yes. It was very little effort that you needed to put into making that certain amount of money and that was because of your brand. They already knew you, they trusted you and so they were willing to take a chance on whatever your new offering is. So when you think about Apple, Apple has that in spades. They announced they’ve got a new iPhone coming out and they’ve got a line around the door at every Apple store across the country.

Now, you may not get there but wouldn’t it be great if you could send the email out and you’ve got 10 to 15 people already ready to buy what’s coming next and that’s based on your brand. You’ve built a brand that they know, like and trust and they’re ready to do business with over and over again.

So let’s fast forward a little bit. Let’s say, you said, “Yes, I am ready to build a strong brand. I understand why I need a really strong brand and I’m going to take the steps to do it.” The other thing is part of that, once you get the brand created, is you need to protect your brand. And what I mean by that is, let’s say you have the visual identity in place. Let’s say you’ve figured out the language, you know what the voice of your customer is and you know what your company stands for. You’ve got your dreams, the philosophy, the whole nine yards. Now you’ve got to put that out into the world with your marketing strategy, on your website, in all these other places. There are some do’s and don’ts I want you to take into consideration to do that and by protecting the brand, I mean, making it a strong, solid brand, not using different colors in different places, not putting different language in different places. So let’s go through those a little bit.

So here are the things I want you to do once you’ve created that brand. The first thing I want you to do is whoever’s built your logo, that visual identity, ask them for a style guide if they don’t offer it. And what the style guide is, depending on the size of your company, it can be one page, it can be 15 pages. But in essence, what it has in there is how you can use the brand and the appropriate way to use and show the brand. So at bare minimum, it shows what the logo looks like in full color, black and white, all black, all white because sometimes those things need to be tweaked along the way. And then, in addition to that, it has all the numbers of the colors. So every color has a number, right? You hear people say things like, “Oh, do you need the RGB number? Do you need the CMYK number? Do you need the Hex number, right? Those are the digital numbers of it and then you’ve heard of Pantone colors.

And so, what you want is to make sure that all the different variations that are there are available. So for example, if you go to someone and you say, “I want to have my logo embroidered on this shirt,” they may ask you for your Pantone color. If you don’t have the style guide to hand to them, they might guess. They might use a color picker and then they might try to define the color themselves and then that’s where the brand starts weakening and getting watered down because that tone of that thread that they used is not quite right. Getting in the weeds there a little bit, but that’s the importance of having a style guide.

The other thing that’s on there is your fonts, the name of the font, and links to where those fonts can be found so that if you have someone writing on your behalf, they’re using your fonts. On a digital ad or any type of advertising that you might buy in a magazine, you can give them something that has your fonts in it, and then that’s what you give to these folks. You give it to the guy that’s wrapping your vehicle. The guy that’s making your signs for your office, to the folks that are doing your business cards, right? Whatever that is, is everybody should get a copy of this and then they should adhere to it a hundred percent.

The next thing that you want to do is that for the owner or owners of the company or anybody in a high level position, if you’re a bigger company and you have C-suite names or you have VPs or directors, what you want to do is have a personal profile that has been written for them in the context of the business. So for example, if you do have a giving back campaign that’s part of your brand identity, you want to thread that giving back mentality into everybody’s profile so that if you go to see the owner on LinkedIn, their personal profile reflects the company’s profile. And then, obviously, you’d put that in their bios on the website too or if they’ve been interviewed and they’re asked for their bio, again, those are the pieces that you want, already pre-written and not rewritten by someone else every time they do something external.

The next thing that you want to do is, from a protection perspective, is to get releases for anybody that you have on video, photography or who creates content for you. So if you don’t want to buy a stock, let’s say you want your own personal pictures done and you hire a photographer and you want models, you need to have a model release. If you’re going to do a video, let’s say you’re going to do a webinar and you’re going to have a guest on that webinar, you need to have a release that you’re allowed to use that video for branding and marketing purposes because your brand is going to go on it. It’s going to save you a headache later down the road that if it airs or the picture goes out in an ad and the person looking at it goes, “Hey, I didn’t get compensated for that.” It’s like, “Sorry, you signed the release. There was no compensation built into that release. You’re covered.”

So this is a legal thing but it’s really, really important because I’ve seen companies stumble and get themselves into a lot of trouble by releasing content that they weren’t allowed to, even if they paid to have it photographed or videoed or even written on their behalf. And this last item that I’d like you to do dovetails into that. If you are going to use stock, use commercially licensed stock that you are allowed to use. Do not go scrape Google, right, and take someone else’s pictures. The problem with taking those other pictures and when they’re not sourced from a licensed stock house and it doesn’t have to be paid, you can use free stock. There are places like Unsplash and Depositphoto where they do offer free stock.

Free stocks are not always the greatest stock but if it’s all you can afford, then that’s what you need to use. But I’d rather you use that free stock than to go find and pull an image from Google and use that because you could get yourself in trouble. You don’t own the rights to use that and then if you use it and someone who owns it sees it, they can make you take it down. There could be legal proceedings. The best-case scenario is they ask you to take it down and then your whole campaign has to get rewritten. Worst case is they could sue you and look for compensation.

So now I want to talk to you about some things I don’t want you to do and this is from experience in talking with business owners. The first thing is off-brand engagement using the company profiles. I hit it a little bit in the dos. In other words, let’s say you have an executive of the company and they’re being interviewed and they’re like, “Oh, let us write a quick profile for him.” No, we have his profile. We’d like to use that. Don’t let someone else rewrite something just because they feel like it. Again, that waters down the brand. Got to keep a nice, strong brand. Next thing, whimsical changes. I see business owners do this all the time. As owners of a business, we look at our logo a lot. A lot, right? Every time it’s on the business card we’re handing out, when we’re showing someone our website, when we’re putting together a PowerPoint deck and sometimes we can get our own brand fatigue and we’re like, “Oh, I’m just so tired of this. Let’s make a change.”

No. You don’t make a change to your brand unless it’s a strategic change and a strategic change is not, “I’m tired of looking at it,” right? Because someone else is not tired of looking at it, only you are. So if you’re going to rebrand or you’re going to tweak the brand, then sit down with a branding expert and talk about why you’re tweaking it. Has the company grown? Is the tagline not applicable to the company anymore? They’re going to ask you these types of questions. Those are the types of questions I’m going to ask you like, why are we doing this? Because you’re like, “I don’t like that shade of blue anymore.” Okay, fine. Why? Right? That way you can make the tweak and then roll the tweak out systematically. Not just, “Okay. I made a change,” and then the next time I use it, I use the new one and there’s a bunch of stuff out there with the old one.

Everything needs to be rolled out in a timely manner across all of your assets. So you got to put it on social media. You got to put it on your business cards. You got to put it on your cars, your vehicles, your buildings. It’s a lot of work rebranding. And so, it’s not something you do lightly and it’s not something you do on the fly every once in a while. And let’s talk about that. Who do you get to do a logo if you’re a brand new company or even if you’re rebranding? So if you’re looking for a true brand, like what I’ve talked about with you here today, then you’re not going to get that experience if you go to a company like Fiverr. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got great artists there and if you really just need a logo, you’re like, “All I want is a logo,” something like that is fine, but don’t expect them to walk you through a process of creating a brand based off of who you are, your company’s goals, who your client is, the giving back campaign.

They’re just not going to think that way. They’re just going to give you something that’s visually pleasing based off of what you gave them. They’re probably not going to give you a style guide. They may not know what that is. They’re probably not going to care that your fonts are not accessible. So think about who you use. Sometimes going less expensive actually makes you pay more in the long run because you could get that logo and not have a brand and then you have to go back and redo it in a year or so. And then, it’s going to wind up costing you even more money but just be prepared. The last thing I want is someone to be frustrated with a graphic designer who knows nothing about building an entire brand but really makes a nice logo. So you get what you pay for.

So that is our branding topic and that’s a lot of information, right? And so, just like I did in the last program and what I’m going to do in the programs going forward is I’m going to give you action steps to take. I’m going to give you homework because the information is great, but it’s not useful unless you do something with it. So here’s what I want you to do. Take an inventory of your brand. Do you know where your logo is, right? Do you have an appropriately sized logo? You preferably would want a vector versus a JPEG or a very tiny JPEG. Go through the pieces I talked about earlier about what incorporates a brand. Everybody’s got a logo, but do you have all the parts and pieces? Do you have a style guide? Have you created a voice of the customer?

If you went and did the marketing strategy piece from the last program, you probably have a good start there. And then, do you know what your company stands for? Do you have your values, your dreams, your philosophies, and you’re giving back? And if you feel you’re lacking in any of those areas, then reach out to someone who does branding and get the whole entire package put together and then a plan to roll it out. If you’re going to do that yourself, take it in small chunks. It’s not something you’re going to be able to do over a week or a weekend or just in afternoons in between the cracks as an entity. But if you take it in small chunks, right, make sure you have your logo and make sure that logo is exactly the same everywhere you go.

So here at Inkyma, we are all about educating small business owners so that they can market and grow their company. We love being asked questions and we love talking about marketing. So if you go to our website, Inkyma.com, I-N-K-Y-M-A.com, you’ll see a button in the top right corner and they’ll say schedule marketing consultation or evaluation. And what this is, it’s 45 minutes via video conferencing where you can ask us anything about your marketing. You can talk about branding. You can talk about strategy. You can talk about your website, anything that you need and there’s no obligation, right? We’re not going to sell to you. We’re not expecting because you’ve taken 45 minutes of our time that you’re actually looking for an agency. You might not be, right? You might still be in that DIY phase of your life but it’s okay. We’re there. We would rather have you educated in doing your marketing the right way even if you’re not going to do it with us.

The other thing is, if you go down to the footer, there’s a contact form. If you’ve just got a question that you need an answer to, fill out the form, send it out, I will answer that question personally.

So that wraps up our discussion about branding for this week. So join us next week. I don’t have the topic laid out, but my plan going forward is, is we’re going to take each piece of marketing and turn it into a little mini education session. So we’re going to talk about websites. We’re going to talk about content marketing. We’re going to talk about social media advertising, organic posting, and SEO. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to hear about, go to the website, fill out the contact form, and let me know. If there’s something that you really want to hear about. I will pull that in and push that to the top of the schedule versus keeping ongoing with this. So we want to make sure that you get the content that you are looking for. So that’s it for today, thanks for listening and have an amazing day.

Thanks for listening to Marketing Strategies with Audrey Kerchner, sponsored by Inkyma. From strategy to execution, Inkyma could create effective marketing plans designed to grow your business with branding, website design, content marketing, and digital advertising. That’s Inkyma, I-N-K-Y-M-A.com and be sure to listen to the companion podcast on Podbean anytime.

Next Podcast: Website Design Mistakes

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