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What is a brand?

On Target BrandingWhat is a brand? Marketing experts have struggled to wring every nuance from the word, for nearly a hundred years. Stretching definitions, expanding materials from a logo and a slogan to personalized pens, and fully branded Twitter feeds. But simply put, your brand is what you tell your customers you will do for them. It’s what you are about. Your brand is a holistic amalgamation of your business goals, your products and services, your mission statement and how your customers and clients perceive you. It can be overwhelming – especially when branding goes awry. But it’s part of contemporary business practice and is too important to be ignored.
It’s all well and good, to have a mission statement but the practical needs of business sometimes get in the way of maintaining the mission statement. It’s never intentional, but we all know it just sometimes happens. What do you do when your brand veers off the road or gets caught on an exit ramp that’s heading away from your business’s stated brand?

Brand Reboot

Why not? Hollywood does it all the time. There’s some aged thinking about the permanency of logos, “don’t change the logo, people won’t know who you are!” That was true 30 years ago, when brand impressions were much harder to come by. Sure, people saw a direct mail piece, a billboard maybe, and an ad in the newspaper or yellow pages. That level of brand impression was nowhere the potential for saturation that we have now. Consider all the mediums with which you can communicate your brand to people: Print, Direct Mail, Web (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, email, Apps, Likes, Shares, LinkedIn, ad infinitum). This saturation of potential contact points makes branding changes much easier. They can be deployed subtly and gradually, or all at once – really whatever you as the brand owner are comfortable with.
Within a brand reboot might be a re-evaluation of your mission statement. As businesses evolve, society grows, technology and practices change. Maybe your mission statement was spot on when you started fifteen years ago – how does it fit into our light-speed information age? If you think it’s a bit outdated, it probably is. That’s okay! Just take some time to rethink why you’re in business and write it out, plain and simple. Too many companies make the mistake of thinking their mission statement needs to be ten pages long and explain every decision the CEO or Board made. The reality is that a simple, single line is almost preferable. Support your statement with some explanation, but get to the point in the first line.
If you’re going to define a new brand make sure that brand is you – don’t stretch it to seem nice or more community oriented. Be what you are, say what you do.
Perhaps the biggest piece of brand image is the logo. Like everything else, times have changed. Modern logos are simple, sleek, and colorful. They are memorable, but not goofy or cartoony. They are trendy, but timeless. Sound like a challenge? It is. But it’s a challenge that should be fun and renew your passion for your business and industry.
At Tingalls Graphic Design, we work with branding and brand materials every day. We’ve seen it all, t-shirts and business cards, web sites, brochures, trade show materials, the list goes on (and on). If you think you’re in need of some new branding or maybe just low on branded supplies, send us an email – we’ll see what we can do.
Check back next week – we’ll talk about the re-branding process, some common mistakes and some critical first steps.