By now, you’ve probably heard it: a brand is more than just a logo.
As a brand identity designer, I know this first-hand and talk about it often on the blog. A business’s branding is created from building color palettes, pairing fonts, and through compiling an entire style guide—just to mention a few of the visual elements.
However, branding goes even deeper than what the outside of a business looks like. And many of these other critical areas are often neglected and are in much disarray.
Branding is more of an abstract concept—like developing a writing style; it’s something that takes quite a bit of unpacking to understand fully because there are so many components and the possibilities are endless.
So I’ve broken the essentials of creating a brand into 4 simple parts to make it easy to digest and implement in any creative business.
Learn the ins and outs of these 4 key elements of branding in today’s crash course.
4 Key Elements of Branding
The concept of branding can feel a bit abstract, but most people understand branding to be an identifier.
So when they think of branding, a logo and color scheme usually come to mind. This is a natural observation because it’s easy to visualize the aspects of a business that are, well, visual. The things we see are easy to pinpoint as branding since they are easy to spot out, and thus, associate as an identifier.
However, it’s not just the visual aspects that create a brand. Branding is, in fact, also made up of components that are hard to see, visualize, nail down, or define.
Because of this, much of experiencing and soaking in branding happens on a subconscious level. Without realizing it, we take in building blocks and clues that form a brand’s overall experience and identity. Since they’re not as obvious, it’s easy to be unaware of many areas of branding unless you intentionally reflect on, unpack, and process them. Therefore, these key and obscure details are often overlooked when unpacking the concept of branding.
Your business’s branding is no different.
So it’s important to identify and utilize ALL of the fundamental elements that go into creating a quality and memorable brand that your audience can experience.
Here’s a helpful way to break down 4 key branding areas:
1 // The Foundation + Core
The first area of branding includes all of the foundational elements of your business.
It’s where creating a one-of-a-kind brand begins and includes your niche, specialization, ideal audience, offerings, value you provide, the gist of your mission and core values, and everything defined in the groundwork. Together, they make up the general frame of your brand:
what your business is and does and its purpose
your products and services and their unique elements that differentiate them
the problems your business solves and the audience that needs your solutions
the overall value you provide customers and clients
This raw identity of your branding is simply created by all of the core components and details that make up your unique business. No fancy presentation of a brand here—just the facts and building blocks of your business’s structure and essence. These foundational branding aspects would be apparent to your audience if you were to convey the general, stripped-down description of your business.
Before refining a brand further, it’s vital to have this groundwork of your business nailed down. This is important because it ensures branding can be done strategically to last over time, attract customers and clients, help reach goals, and grow a successful business.
If this step isn’t tended to thoroughly, it’s easy to create a confusing brand that ebbs and flows, changes directions, is laced with inconsistency, and eventually has to start over and rebrand numerous times. In addition, lacking in a solid foundation makes it difficult to design branding that emphasizes the passion and unique heart of a business and lets them shine through.
2 // The Look
The next key branding area is the visual style and design of your business.
It’s where all of the visual aspects combine to create an overall aesthetic for your business.
The visual design of a company is what people commonly think of as “branding” because it includes the elements we actually see. Because of this, the look or style of a business is so easy to pinpoint and grasp, making visual design the most well-known factor of forming a brand identity.
The look of your brand is comprised of all visual aspects of a business:
visual design and style of logos, color palette, icons, graphics, typography, website layout and design, etc.
visual style of photography and videos (including the setting, colors featured, your outfit, etc.)
visual design, style, and tactile feel of physical products and tangible items like packaging, business cards, flyers, etc.
visual design of digital product, service, program, or software (or visual elements that come with them)
How you visually present your business makes one of the largest impacts on success these days. As creative industries are getting more and more saturated each year, having a distinct visual brand identity that stands out is critical to a business’s success. As is having a streamlined, current, user-friendly website—especially in today’s world with the heightened expectation of innovation, technology, and staying up to date.
As a brand identity designer, this is something I am extra passionate about. I love working with my clients to bring their businesses to life with a new brand and website that highlights the core of their company and attracts their dream customer or client.
If you want to take your brand and website to new heights this year and create a one-of-a-kind brand, I’d love to chat with you! Head over to my design service page to get started.
3 // The Feel
Next up is the overall “feel” of your business. This aspect of branding is comprised of the not-so-obvious elements: the things that are harder to see and define. Because of this, tending to it is often overlooked.
When you develop this area of your branding, it allows you to convey specific messaging, ideas, and emotions to your audience and the world. These help to define the feeling, set of feelings, gist, sense, perception, or thoughts that surround your business.
In turn, after interacting with your brand and experiencing those emotions, the overall concept or feel will stick with people; it will be how they think of your business and what they remember—rather than just picturing your logo in their mind.
This creates a powerful method of branding. So it’s important to curate all areas that define the feel so you convey it correctly from the first time someone discovers your business.
The overall perception of your business is created through . . .
you, the creative behind the brand: the feeling created from and around your personality as you show yourself and infuse your unique attributes into your business through your perspective and the relevant stories you share (this is a big reason why it’s so important to show your face)
written voice (tone, mood, imagery, etc.), writing style, and word choices of website copy, blog posts, product descriptions, social media posts, and any other original written content (same goes for audio and video content)
the emotions surrounding your business and offerings (excitement, encouragement, inspiration, motivation; helpful, uplifting, unique, innovating, trustworthy, etc.), whether from your products, copy, hearing or watching you talk about your business, reading client testimonials or customer reviews, etc.
the way you position your business, products, and services in the market (what you charge, the materials you use, your unique and original methods, etc.)
the usability, clarity, and enjoyment of your website (content loads quickly, easy to navigate and find what they’re looking for)
The overall feel can also be created partly through visual design but is largely developed through these methods. Together, they build the messaging of your business and help your brand’s personality emerge.
Additionally, when you intentionally connect with your clients and customers, you reach their emotions and help them realize their need for your product or service.
4 // The Reputation
This aspect of branding is established by how well (or poorly) you run and manage your business. It finalizes the character and integrity of your business and forms a reputation that’s difficult to change.
It’s the ultimate step in running a fully branded business that offers a positive experience through-and-through. Because it’s so important to build trust, this part of branding, perhaps, carries the greatest weight of all.
While this element of a brand is a little abstract, it includes what people traditionally think of as the “customer service” or “client experience” realm, though it goes farther than that.
Creating quality and consistent branding in this area is paramount for the success of a business. It’s developed through the overall the manner in which it’s run or managed, including . . .
how you interact with your audience (and everyone else); how quickly you respond to emails, messages, and comments; the way you respond
the clarity and ease of using your website (or lack thereof)
the consistency in which you post to your blog or social media
how well you serve your customers and clients: shipping speed; quality of goods; overall positive experience and satisfaction; living up to expectations
This part of your branding is developed more on the fly and day-by-day: while you can have systems and guidelines in place to help you keep up with tasks and curveballs, it takes commitment and consistency to maintain.
The Overall Brand Experience:
Together, all of these elements make up an experience, and thus, form your brand. In a well-designed brand, each of these aspects are developed with strategy and intention to ensure they all work together and create one cohesive entity.
All-in-all, there are endless opportunities to brand your business. And as a creative entrepreneur with ever-growing competition and saturated markets, you’ll want to reap the benefits of branding.
If you’re ready to attract your dream customer or client with a new brand and website, I’d love to help you! Schedule a free consultation call on my branding page so we can start brainstorming ways to highlight the heart of your business.
Has every inch of your business been carefully curated, through and through? Does your brand connect with your ideal audience and target market? How would you describe the current state of your branding? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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