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Let’s chat about branding…

Imagine for a minute a car lot. There are blue cars, silver cars, and red cars. How much will you pay for a red car?

You can’t answer this, right? Because there’s SO much more to that car than just the color.

What if I got a little more specific? What if I told you the car lot was a used car lot and every vehicle was at least 15 years old, and that the car lot included used Fords, Toyotas, Hyundais, and Chevys?

Does that feel different than if I describe the lot as a Jaguar dealership?

I thought so.

If I added even more detail, you’d probably feel that difference even stronger.

All leather interior, tinted windows, retractable roof, custom rims, premium sound system…

Feels great, doesn’t it?

You kind of want to go for a test drive right now, don’t you?

Your brand is the same way.

Your brand is more than just the color of the car. It’s the way customers feel when they interact with you.

When working on your brand, it’s important to get really clear on:
• Who you are
• What you’re doing
• Why you’re doing it
• Who you serve

A consistent brand is critical for sharing your message. When customers interact with you, they should get the same authentic brand no matter how they’re reaching you – email, website, social media… your brand should be consistent.

All your marketing material should go through the filter of your brand.

You can take a message, filter it through your branding, and you have an on-brand deliverable. Content is created based on your brand.

It’s kind of a chicken and egg situation… You can make decisions based on your branding, or you can filter your decisions through your branding.

I help clients who say “I love this idea, how can we make it work?” and we filter it through their branding message to make it work.

The filter gets better with each use, too. Your brand gets more clear each time you filter your messaging through it.

So what should a brand guide include?

When we work with clients to refine their brand, we look at several elements:

1. Who are you?

What are you really good at? Where do you struggle? What sets you apart from your competitors? Understanding who you are helps establish your brand identity.

2. Who is your client?

We need to understand your client to make sure your brand is something they’ll relate to and understand. If you’re all about fine dining and exclusive romantic getaways, you don’t want your brand to include kids in your images or cutesy font choices.

3. What emotion are you delivering?

The emotion you share matters. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What should users feel when they interact with you? If you don’t know, how will you share that with them? (Pro-tip: Don’t rely on luck! Identify this in explicit detail sooner than later!)

4. Fonts & Colors

Because this is what everyone thinks of when they think of branding, right? What colors are you using to deliver your message? What fonts are consistent with the emotion of your brand? There are a million boards and blogs about how to choose the best colors for your brand, and what font pairings work. Just be sure you’re choosing these elements based on what you’ve previously identified.

5. Imagery

An image speaks 1000 words, and the images you use in your branding matters. Are you all over the place in images you share on social media, or is there a clear trend? If you’re not sure what type of images work with your brand and what types don’t, that’s a sign you need some clarity around your brand!

6. Word choice

Your word choice matters. And when you have a few keywords that describe your brand it becomes easier to filter your word choice to fit that message.

7. Messaging

Remember all that discussion about who you are and who your client is? Messaging helps you identify how to bridge the gap between you and them. What message are you sending? And what message is being received. The quicker you can make these the same, the better!

8. Funnel goal

With branding, as with everything else in your business, you should have a clear goal. Branding choices help feed your potential clients into a funnel, so as part of your brand guide it may be helpful to include a funnel goal.

Our suggestion? Make it a one-page deliverable.

The branding guide for Merket Creative hangs above my computer so I see it every time I’m creating any sort of deliverable or social media post. I keep it to one page so it’s easily referenced. I’d suggest the same to you! Make it easy to access and use – don’t create a brand guide just to say you did! Create a brand guide to USE IT!

When you create business elements with purpose, it’s easier to identify goals and results.

Need help with your branding? We can do that! We go through your business with a fine-tooth comb and determine the message you’re delivering and how you can refine your branding filter. Schedule a call today to improve the filter of your brand.

Not quite ready for a branding call? Sign up for our next round of IntAct Social where we go through each of these elements in detail over the course of 4 weeks. (Oh, and did I mention the course is totally FREE?!)