Branding Basics 01 - What is a brand?


What defines a great brand? All good brands stand for something and articulate this across everything they do. They tell a great story their audiences can connect with. In this series of posts we hope to go through some of the basic approaches we undertake here with our clients at Attitude Design to help them define their brands.

My name is Matt Davies and I am the Creative Director here at Attitude. Often, potential clients come to ask for a specific piece of work (like a website or leaflet). We can, of course, help with these deliverables but often when discussing the wider implications of the marketing activity these items support there is sometimes a short sighted disconnect. In marketing there is a tendency to think about the immediate thing before us and to try and attract people to that, without thinking about the wider context or overall brand strategy.

Brand first

At Attitude Design we believe in a philosophy called “brand first” - in other words, obtaining an understanding of your brand helps to drive the meaning behind the materials you produce. Ultimately, “brand first” is about having in your mind a vision of who you are, and then worrying about how that filters through everything with a long term goal of communicating really well. We have a tried and tested process to help our clients with defining their brands and giving them a strategic approach to their longer term marketing and ambitions. As Mark Baynes Global CMO, Kellogg Co, once said - “unless you have the absolute clarity of what your brand stands for, everything else is irrelevant.” Throughout this series of blog posts, I am going to deal with some key questions:

  • What is a brand?
  • What is branDING?
  • How do I create a brand?
  • What tips do I have for setting up a brand?

What a brand is NOT

Your brand is not your name, not your logo and not the products you sell. These are all incorporated into your brand yes, but your brand is so much more… So what is a brand? Jeff Bezos (Founder of Amazon) defines it like this - “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”.  Your brand is other peoples’ gut feeling that they feel inside when they come across anything to do with your brand.

What is your “brand” then? How do people talk about you when you are not in the room? The scary thing about your brand is that it’s not what you say your brand is, it’s what they say it is. They (your audience) actually control it, it’s their gut feeling that makes your brand.

What makes up a brand?

Ok, you might ask, so what makes up a brand then? There are many definitions of what makes up a brand. At Attitude Design we have simplified it down to four key things, which we think make up every brand. We’ve got:

  • Vision - What is the vision for the brand, what does it ultimately want?
  • The Mission - How it’s going to get there.
  • The Values - What does it believe in to get to that end goal?
  • The Promise - How is that promised to the audience?

All of these things are actually married with REALITY. If we fulfil our promise, then our customers will be happy. 

The other, slightly scary thing to bear in mind is that when people are making up their mind about your brand, they make up their mind in two ways. Rationally, based on logical reasoning about their experiences and what's on offer, and research also shows that they also make up their minds emotionally. These things are almost equal. So the challenge is to show your products and services in a rational way (e.g. features and benefits) but also in a way which touches your audiences emotions (e.g. Imagery, typography messaging).

Conclusion

Hopefully we’ve briefly but succinctly defined what a brand is, but if you are eager to learn more or you need any help with your branding, then don’t hesitate to get in touch by clicking here. Watch out for our next blog post in our series - Branding Basics - which will be published next week, when we will look at “Branding and the Power of Storytelling.” This will take our considerations a step further in regards to the process of producing a successful brand.

Matt Davies

Creative Director

Matt Davies