Branding is a critical aspect of business. It’s also misunderstood and convoluted. Thankfully, it’s been the subject of much research in recent years.
The science of branding seeks to understand the psychological and emotional factors that influence consumer behavior and brand loyalty.
This article aims to help you understand the entire branding process and create and maintain a strong, recognizable brand that resonates with your audience.
What is a Brand?
The ability to create a desired point of view and opinion about a specific construct (the brand / business / company / person / idea etc). To give it a specific and identifiable meaning.
Put another way, branding is the science of making people remember you.
Someone can interact with a business, even make a purchase, without developing an opinion or point of view about it. That is a business, not a brand. Businesses fail, brands sustain.
There are several essential components of a brand that are considered to be key to creating a strong, effective brand:
Brand name: This is the name that is used to identify the brand and is often the first thing that comes to mind when a consumer thinks about the brand.
Brand logo: This is a visual symbol that represents the brand and helps to create a visual identity for the brand.
Brand messaging: This includes the key messages and themes that the brand wants to communicate to consumers.
Brand Strategy: A plan of action that will lead your brand towards it vision and north star. How will it compete, stand out, and achieve key objectives.
Brand values: This includes the core values and beliefs that the brand represents, such as honesty, reliability, and innovation.
Brand personality: This refers to the personality and tone of voice that the brand uses to communicate with consumers.
Brand promise: This is a statement that the brand makes to its consumers, outlining the benefits or value that they can expect to receive from the brand’s products or services.
Brand identity: This includes the visual and verbal elements that are used to represent the brand, such as the logo, color scheme, and typography.
Brand story: A narrative around the brand, which can help to create an emotional connection with consumers.
Brand experience: This refers to the overall experience that consumers have when interacting with the brand, including the quality of the products or services, customer service, and the overall brand image.
Brand loyalty: This is the degree to which consumers are committed to a brand and are likely to continue to purchase from the brand in the future.
All of these components work together to create a unique and consistent brand identity and personality that resonate with consumers and help the brand to stand out in the marketplace.
You’ll need some, if not most of these components to create an identifiable meaning for your brand.
It can be a messy process putting all this together in a way that works. It’s an art and a science, which can get pretty messy without a process. I’ve seen too many people try to do it alone, with little to no branding experience and end up wandering their little hearts away. It’s not pretty.
For this reason, I’ve created the BrandBox. A simple process I take clients through (in about 2 weeks) that gives them their own brand essentials.
Story > Strategy > Design.
If any of this sounds like you, I recommend booking your complimentary brand audit (30m call).
What Actually Happens in the Brain
When the human brain engages with a brand, it forms associations and connections between the brand and various cognitive and emotional factors.
These associations and connections influence a person’s perception of the brand and their likelihood of engaging with it. Additionally, the brain tends to process and remember information that is more meaningful to the individual, therefore the more relatable and personal the brand is, the more the brain will fire.
Let's take it one level deeper you nerd...
When the brain interacts with a brand, a number of different neural processes are thought to be involved.
For example, when a person sees a brand’s logo or slogan, the visual information is processed in the occipital lobe.
At the same time, the brand name and any related verbal information is processed in the temporal lobe.
Additionally, the brain’s reward centers, such as the ventral striatum, are activated when the brain perceives a positive association with the brand. These areas of the brain are also associated with motivation, emotion, and decision making.
Research also suggests that branding can influence the way the brain processes and remembers information.
For example, a study published in the journal “Nature Neuroscience” found that when people see a brand they recognize, it activates the hippocampus, which is involved in memory and spatial navigation.
This suggests that a strong brand can make a product or service more memorable and easier to find in the marketplace.
Moreover, research on neuroscience of branding also indicate that when consumers see the brand they trust, it activates the prefrontal cortex which is associated with decision making and long term planning, this suggest that a strong brand can make a consumer more likely to purchase a product or service.
Branding Effects on Humans
You want the good news or the bad news?
Let’s start bad and end on a positive note.
Here are some of the more common negative effects that branding and brands can have on humans:
Consumerism: Brands and branding can contribute to a culture of consumerism, where people are constantly encouraged to purchase more and more products, regardless of whether they actually need them.
Identity loss: People may become so focused on consuming and identifying with certain brands that they lose a sense of their own identity and individuality.
Materialism: Brands and branding can promote a focus on material possessions and status, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction among people who cannot afford or access those products.
Manipulation: Brands and branding can be used to manipulate and exploit people, by preying on their insecurities and desires, or by using manipulative advertising tactics.
Privacy concerns: Companies and brands can collect personal information from consumers and use it for targeted marketing and advertising, which can be a violation of privacy. Unethical people can do harmful things with that information such as selling it elsewhere or using it against you.
Exploitation of vulnerable populations: Some brands and companies may exploit vulnerable populations, such as children and low-income individuals, by marketing products or services that may not be in their best interest.
Environmental damage: Some brands and companies may engage in environmentally damaging practices, such as overuse of resources, pollution and exploitation of natural resources and habitats.
It’s worth noting that we’re seeing a pattern of self-correction in the market. People are more sensitive to bullsh*t, thus killing of the unethical brands quicker and quicker. Doesn’t mean they won’t always be around…keep your eyes pealed.
Here’s some good stuff that comes from branding.
Clarity and convenience: Brands and branding can provide clarity and convenience for consumers, making it easier for them to identify and purchase products that meet their needs and preferences.
Sense of community: Brands can serve as a way for people to connect with others who share similar interests or values.
Job creation and economic growth: Brands and branding can create jobs and support economic growth by driving demand for products and services.
Social responsibility: Brands and companies can use their platform and resources to promote social causes and issues they believe in, raising awareness and supporting meaningful change.
Environmental responsibility: Brands and companies can use their platform and resources to promote environmentally-friendly practices, and reduce their negative impact on the environment.
Personal expression: Brands can be a way for people to express their personal identity, by choosing products and services that align with their values and interests. They get to choose where their dollar goes and support bigger missions that they believe in.
Innovation: Brands and companies can drive innovation by constantly improving their products and services and finding new ways to meet the needs and wants of consumers.
It’s easy to be nervous about the future. But, I choose to be optimistic and excited about how branding will help shape our world.
There will always be bad actors who only care about filling their own pockets, but with an increasingly transparent world, they will fade.
10 Fundamental Steps to Building Your Brand
Building a thriving brand can be a complex and ongoing process, but here are some basic steps that can be taken to get started:
Define your brand Story: Start by defining your brand in terms of its values, mission, and unique selling proposition. Why does it exist? This is the internal branding, the most important part.
Research your target audience: Understand your target market by researching their needs, preferences, and behavior. What are they already trying, why isn’t it working?
Develop a brand strategy: Use your research and brand definition to develop a strategic plan for your brand, including goals, messaging, and positioning.
Create a visual identity: Develop a visual identity for your brand, including a logo, typography, shapes, backgrounds, color scheme, icons and accents.
Develop brand guidelines: Create guidelines for the use and implementation of your brand, including messaging, tone of voice, and visual elements. Where are the boundaries? You can go outside of them, but only so far before you start going backwards.
Build your brand: Use your brand strategy, visual identity, and guidelines to create marketing materials, a website, and other tools to implement your brand in the market. Give it a home and make it welcoming.
Create brand awareness: Use advertising, social media, public relations, and other tactics to create awareness of your brand and reach your target audience. Connect with them. Start small. One person at a time and focus on quality before quantity. Focus on resonance and not frequency.
Establish brand reputation: Focus on building a positive reputation for your brand by providing excellent customer experience and service. Creating high-quality products or services that get results. Gather customer feedback, testimonials, and case studies.
Measure and refine: Continuously measure the effectiveness of your brand strategy and make adjustments as necessary. Consult people you trust give you feedback, ideas, and help you see your blind spots (everyone has them).
Maintain consistency: Maintain consistency in all aspects of your brand, including visual identity, messaging, and customer service, to build trust and credibility with your target audience.
Keep in mind that building a thriving brand is an ongoing process that requires dedication, commitment, and continuous improvement. Become the tortoise.
Why Work with a Branding Expert
Branding experts have a wealth of experience and expertise in creating and developing effective brands. They have a deep understanding of consumer behavior, market trends, and the psychology of perception, which can be invaluable in creating a strong and effective brand.
On top of this, they understand how to boil it all down into a simple and cohesive brand message.
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to see the forest though the trees. You can’t see the label from inside the bottle.
Having someone who can provide an objective perspective on your brand is invaluable and will likely save you countless hours and dollars.
Overall, a branding expert can provide a valuable service to a business owner looking to grow their brand. They can help to create a strong and effective brand, provide valuable insights and recommendations, and save the business owner time and effort.