What is a brand?
A common misconception amongst small businesses is the understanding of what constitutes a ‘Brand’. Here are our thoughts on what a brand is, why it is important, and why you should care!
What is a brand?
Well it’s not the logo – not on its own anyway. It’s way bigger than that.
Your brand is everything people think, hear and say about your business.
It’s ALL of your business.
Every interaction and behaviour (good and bad), creates a personality that people will (hopefully) like, remember, use and talk about. That is your brand.
Think about all the businesses you’ve ever come across. Some you’ll remember favourably – think about what they did right and if it’s a quality they’re known for.
Others you’ll remember in a bad light – why, and what could they do to fix it? Also, how many people did you tell about your bad experience? A bad reputation can be worse than having none at all.
At least these brands are still in your consciousness. There are many many other brands you’ve completely forgotten about.
What is a brand – the role your logo plays.
Your logo is simply how people identify you. It’s the visual representation of your business so it is very important.
To build a strong brand, you need to be easily recognised so your look – your logo, colours (along with your language, messaging and behaviour) must be consistent.
If you yourself are the ‘Marketing Department’, you should know what your font and brand colour/s are.
To make this easy, it’s a good idea to have a central resource – a brand folder with all your basics in. This should include your brand fonts, colour palette and some basic rules in the form of a brand sheet, so you can share the details when other people are helping with your marketing.
What is a brand – why you need a brand font.
To build brand recognition, you need to consistently use the same font (or fonts).
Many brands have two brand fonts – a fancier or more distinctive headline font is good for brand recognition but will need an accompanying plain font that is easier to read for body copy.
Nandos is a good example. You could probably recognise a Nandos poster or menu without having to see the logo.
Avoid using too many different fonts. Two is usually more than enough as most fonts have a range of variations (light, bold etc) to cover most moods.
Remember, the point is to be consistent and create brand recognition.
What is a brand – Your brand palette is key
Again, with colours, we need to be consistent and build brand recognition, so one of your key brand colours is most likely the colour/s of your logo.
Everybody knows CocaCola is red and white don’t they, even if they don’t drink it? And when you’re in the high street (UK), you would recognise the Co-op, Barclays and M&S from a distance because they have a strong brand colour.
If your logo has only one or two colours, you might add a complementary colour. These form your primary palette and should be used wherever possible.
If you’re producing a larger publication, you might need more options so you can add a secondary palette. As the name suggests, these colours are less dominant and are used more sparingly.
When you have chosen your colours, you need to specify them so they can be used consistently and so that other people can match them. You should have two different descriptions. One for print and one for online.
Your print colour will be described using ink colours – CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black, like in your home printer).
Your online colour will be described using light – red, green and blue, like your TV screen.
Additionally, you might also have a Pantone reference and a hex number but we’ll cover that in another blog.
What is a brand – Control your brand as your business grows
As your business grows and more people are involved in your marketing activities, it’s worth investing in more comprehensive guidelines. These should include your brand basics above, but also your brand values, visual style (photography/illustration) and tone of voice, to keep your messaging consistent.
If you don’t have your basics together, and would like a summary of your elements outlined in a brand sheet, just get in touch.
Also, if it’s time for a brand audit, expansion or refresh, talk to MC2 Marketing. In the same way that my agency work means I see some very comprehensive brand books (Barclays, The NHS, The 2012 Olympics was a good one!), Ian at MC2 has worked on some pretty big media accounts and has a lot of marketing strategy experience. Big or small, the basic branding principles are the same.
If you want to chat about it or ask any questions, we’d be happy to hear from you – it’s one of our favourite topics!
By Jan Lewis