You don't have to be a large business to be a brand. Your brand is your identity, and how you bring it to life in a way that's compelling, coherent, and meaningful to your audience. It’s the intersection of who you say you are and how your audience sees you.
Brand starts with a mission, values, an audience, a story. But it's not static. It is conveyed every day across touchpoints, through your communications and behaviors, online and offline. It affects how you evolve your offerings and how your business engages with the world.
Branding is the secret ingredient people sense before they take the first bite or sip of your product. It's what makes a business recognizable, desirable, memorable - what convinces people to give you their attention, purchasing power, and brain space. Hopefully, if you've read this far, you'll be able to formulate your own brand strategy.
🗣️ If you can only take a few things away from each section, let it be the following:
📢 Brand = Identity + Experience.
Experience = Expression + Perception.
📢 A strong brand means high demand. (Via differentiation, awareness, and loyalty, but those don't rhyme).
📢 Branding is not marketing or design. It informs marketing and design. And it's important for companies of all sizes.
📢 Knowing why you exist is Step 1 in establishing a brand (and business).
📢 Know who you exist for, what they need, what gets their attention, and how you are particularly equipped to meet their need.
📢 Do you have a niche in the marketplace? Back it up with a clear, competitive, credible positioning statement.
📢 It's called "brand personality" because it's a product of your story and your values, and it influences everything you do.
📢 What's in a name? Sufficient time spent on the proper due diligence, I hope.
📢 A brand brief is exactly what it sounds like.
📢 Everything people see in relation to your business should be on-brand.
📢 Everything people read in relation to your business should be on-brand.
📢 Fake brands are like fake people: everyone knows to stay away. As cheesy as it sounds, stay true to yourself.
📢 Every single touchpoint is an opportunity to express your brand identity and connect with your consumers.
📢 Branding is as much internal as it is external; your employees are all brand ambassadors. They embody the brand values - empower them to share these with your audience. Treat them well.
📢 Brand alliances can be advantageous for both parties, but only if the relationship makes sense to your audiences. You should be able to easily articulate why you're a good fit, what you can do together that would be impossible to execute alone, and how that benefits your audience.
📢 Don't compromise your mission to chase fads, but do pay attention to macro-level shifts in audience behaviors, values, and needs to inform your brand and business strategy.
At the end of Section 1.1, two guiding questions were posed regarding brand identity and experience. Who are you and what makes you unique? How can you showcase that identity confidently and consistently to your audience at every point of interaction they could have with you? Maybe you know the answer now. If not, you can always come back to this guidebook.