What exactly is branding, anyway?

And why does it matter?

Even though branding has been around as long as humans could make marks and trade crops for pelts, it seems like it is buzzier a buzzword than ever these days. We constantly hear about things being “on brand”, “off brand”, and having a “personal brand” or a “brand strategy”. This can be super confusing for lots of new and growing business owners who have spent most of their time doing their “thing”: taking the photos, selling the products, planning the events; and less time learning about business and marketing.

Simply put, your brand is *you*. It’s NOT your logo, though your logo is a part of the big picture. Your brand is your product or service, your personality, your aesthetic, your voice, your picture, your staff, what you wear, how you address people in emails, how you sign off on emails, what you do when people are watching, and more importantly, what you do when no one’s watching. Under all those layers of expression, at the center is a beating heart, or light, or nougat center (whichever speaks to you) that shapes everything around it. That center is your core values; who you are as a business. It’s not what people are buying from you or how they buy it. It’s WHY. Why should they buy from you and not someone else. We all have competitors. What makes you special? Why should your customer choose you over the other person?

Your “visual brand” refers to your logo, other symbols that are either derived from or supplement your logo, your color scheme, and the fonts you use. Have you ever heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? That should be true of your logo and the other visual elements that make up your visual brand. Take the photo to the left, for example. The photo is cropped close, but it doesn’t even take a classic car enthusiast to tell what you’re looking at. To take it a step further, this picture may even bring up thoughts or memories associated with it. Drive-ins, sock hops, and poodle skirts may be just a few of the things that come to mind. It’s comforting and nostalgic. It makes you want a milkshake. The Plymouth logo is a visual symbol that directly communicates that sweet center of the brand. You know exactly who they are and what they represent with one glance.

I am a graphic designer with a background in online marketing. I have worked with many businesses over the years and been part of some great branding efforts. I’ve also been involved in some that have missed the mark. From all of these experiences, I have learned how to take apart all the outer layers of how a business functions and get to the heart of what is really making it run. From my education as a designer, I have learned to translate that radiating beam of “you”ness into visuals that tell your story. From both, I have learned to create a strategy that gets that message in front of as many of the right customers as possible. I want to help you do that, too.