What is BRANDING?
We have recently had a lot of clients approach us for help designing a logo, and while we love doing logo work, it’s important to realize that a proper logo requires a lot of work on the branding side, too. When we design a logo, there are certain questions we go back to: does this fit with our target customer? Are we relaying the brand mission visually? Does this convey the emotion we want it to? Without having these questions answered beforehand through brand development work, we are essentially designing without a plan. Imagine an architect building a house with no structural plans. A little scary, right?
Branding is more about playing on emotion then anything else. You can have two gyms in the same shopping plaza, one 24 Hour Fitness, the other UFC Gym, with the same rates, same fitness equipment, and so on, but which one do you go to? You go to the one that resonates more with the way you want to feel. Branding is all about creating something larger than your product. You need to create a logo and brand image that evoke a feeling, and you need to design a space that attracts your customers and makes them feel so at home they don’t want to leave.
Have you ever noticed how pleasant it feels to stroll through Anthropologie and how chaotic it can be walking through Forever 21? You can leave each store with a great outfit, but at totally different price points. Forever 21 has created the epitome of fast fashion: the yellow logo creates energy and excitement while the bright lights and loud music get you super excited and make you feel like you need the latest trending jacket. You grab half the store to try on and probably end up buying most everything you tried on. Anthropologie, on the other hand, has taken the exact opposite approach: their logo is simple and classic, the decor, smell, and music are all so welcoming and comforting you feel like you are in a friend’s bedroom. You stroll though carefully selecting what to try on and a sale associate starts a fitting room for you and helps you along your shopping journey. You will most likely buy something; if not an outfit, then that great smelling candle they had burning, solely because you want to recreate that mood at home. That is proper branding.
What we often get from our clients is, “we don’t have a target customer” or “our product is good for everyone.” I hate to say it, but that is bull… everyone has a target customer. Even CVS pharmacy has a target customer. Do you want to attract folks on a budget, middle class, or high class? Do you want an active customer or an intellectual customer? Do you want millennials or baby boomers? I have found that people get stuck in a hole when it comes to this part, but just because your branding is tailored to active millennials on a budget doesn’t mean your product won’t or can’t be enjoyed by a rich old man driving a sports car. We are just ensuring that your dream clients or customers will enjoy and consume the brand.
My favorite example is comparing a Wal-Mart shopper to a Target shopper… both stores carry essentially the same products but attract very different consumers.
When developing a brand, a huge point we stress to our clients is to make sure you are NOT branding or developing something YOU like, unless you happen to fit your target customer to a T. The truth is, just because you like it, doesn’t mean your customers will like it. A perfect example of this is from when I used to work in fashion. I did work for a small, Middle Eastern man who had a plus size clothing line called “Canari,” and he sold to Zulilly. He was not at all his target customer, and neither were his wife or daughters, but he made every effort to talk to plus size women to find out what they liked. He made sure his brand spoke to them, not him.
The best way to start the branding process is to create a “mood board.” This can just be a set of images that evoke the same feeling or emotion that you want for your brand. We highly suggest getting on Pinterest, typing in a few words that resonate with your vision, and seeing what comes up. You can then get carried away searching for logo inspiration, branding colors, and even in-store designs or interior designs.
For more information on branding, feel free to reach out to us! We are happy to help you navigate the process.