Of Influence, Time and Trust
Branding is a popular discussion in my circles, and in the course of those conversations I gain great insight into perceptions about the topic. A very common understanding is that branding means having a logo and using it in your marketing efforts and identity systems. On the surface, that is a correct perception. But there is a bigger picture that’s often unnoticed, and because it’s unnoticed, it’s neglected.
Branding is about reputation and influence. You don’t really create a brand. What you do create are the assets and experiences upon which your brand is built. And the work of managing our brands is actually managing others’ perceptions. In that, we carefully choose how we dress, act, respond and communicate, in a figurative sense. We decide how we want to be known, do what’s necessary to become known in that manner, but at the end of the day it’s up to our audience to understand us correctly.
My philosophy of branding centers on creating design solutions that can facilitate your good reputation and grow your influence. Having designed for as long as I have, I know that great care needs to be taken to craft the graphics that will accurately represent clients to their constituents. Some of what I keep top-of-mind during my creative process include:
Branding is the process of demonstrating who you are. It’s your reputation, which is earned over time. Building a brand is not immediately achieved. There are first impressions, but there are no instantaneous successes. I’ll discuss this more in Part 2 of this article.
In branding, you don’t need to convince everyone. You just need to convince the right ones. The entire world is not your customer base. A narrowly-targeted audience is necessary for branding success. The targeted audience should be specifically defined based on who you are and what benefits you offer. You can’t sell to everyone, because not everyone wants or needs your services. Any design created for branding purposes needs to appeal specifically to those you’re targeting.
Your values inform your branding decisions. An enterprise is built and functions on a set of standards. Those standards – values – need to be defined and consistently upheld internally and externally. In order for me to work with you and to design your brand assets, I need to be informed of your values. These values will inform your graphics.
Invest in your brand. Commit the necessary time and funding. Building your brand requires time, strategy, tweaking, and readjustment. Graphics are just the start of public brand building, and they should be of the highest quality you can afford. Your logo and related visual assets require the appropriate amount of time for proper development so that they function effectively. Rushing the design process, crowdsourcing, competitions, or buying a ready-made graphic on the cheap may be very detrimental to your brand.
Your brand starts developing the moment you launch your enterprise into the marketplace. In the hurry of preparing to launch, it is easy to ignore the fundamentals and assume things can be tweaked later on. But if brand is perception, there must be something worthy of being perceived. Skimping on the development of essential graphic elements makes it more difficult to be relevant and valued by your customers when they are looking for quality and an enterprise they can trust.