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Mystified by branding? Read on...

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the whole concept of branding? It's such a modern day business buzzword, that sometimes it feels impossible to get to the bottom of what you should be doing to build the perfect brand.

The good news is there are just 3 things to remember when it comes to building a successful brand (and I'm putting these in the natural order in which you should tackle them):

1) how it sounds

2) how it looks

3) how it feels

The bad news is that's pretty much EVERYTHING, right? It's true, a brand much more than just a logo; it's every way in which you put your business out there to the world. It's not just how your customers see you, it's how they experience your business.

Building a brand that has the right amount of consistency to have impact with the people you want to reach most means taking a holistic approach and looking at the whole brand.

Having a strong story will only take you so far if your brand design looks cheap. Having a beautiful logo is nice but will lack impact if people seek to find out more about your business but can't get a handle on who you are and why you do what you do.

If you're planning to tackle all the elements of your branding, then it's important to begin by working out the very essence of your business and that's what I call the brand story. Your brand story is more than just the 'About Us' page on your website (although that's a great place to hone

and refine it for). Your brand story encompasses who you are, what you do and how and why you do it. It takes into account who you're trying to reach and the tone you'll use to talk to those people. It captures your passion and purpose and conveys it in a unique way that makes you stand out from the competition and enables your perfect client or customer to really get to know, like and trust you.

If your brand story is customer focused enough (or in other words, shows that you understand and empathise with your customers' needs and pain points) then you'll make exactly the kind of emotional connection that's needed to win the business/sign the deal/make the sale.

Once you've articulated all of the above, you're ready to take on your visual branding (or the how you look part). When it comes to visual branding, you should be working with an experienced brand designer who can really get under the skin of your brand story and find a way to translate that visually.

This is about much more than choosing a logo you like in colours that you love. It's about thinking through how you'll use your logo, your fonts and your brand colours. Is photography important for your business? If so, you want photos in a colour scheme and style that marries with your visual brand.

Fashion in brand design (like in everything else), changes. You don't want to be changing your branding in a matter of months just because the very fashionable colour or font style you chose because you liked it last year is now out of date. If your visual brand speaks in depth about you and your business, then it will stand the test of time.

The really good news here is that if you take care of points 1 and 2, then point 3 pretty much takes care of itself. Brands that sound great and look great, generally tend to feel great to the outside world looking in, thanks to a sense of authenticity and consistency that can only be achieved by looking at the brand as a whole.

The best brands have a great sense of self; they know who they are and how they want to come across and they invest in making sure they have a strong story that positions them well and is supported by an equally strong visual identity that brings that story to life through the brand styling. Feel like you might need some help? Watch this space as I'll be back soon to talk about how you can find and choose the right people to help you build the perfect brand.


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