What is branding?

In these days of misinformation, the term 'branding' is often misused or misunderstood.
Getting a logo designed is not branding, for example.  It is part of a business's branding – a pivotal part, in fact – but it is not branding in its own right. 

Here at Bulldog, we often see businesses going to great lengths to get a first class, well thought out logo design commissioned and then neglect to carry through the identity in everything else they do.

This is the crux of branding.
All of the elements of a branding are aligned to create a visual pathway.  That pathway leads to the business and its goods or services.  Without a cohesive branding in place, potential customers can wander off that pathway and get distracted.

Now, I'm sure you are thinking this is complete bunkum and airy fairy conjecture!  Well, that's because a really successful branding is not obvious!
Successful branding is an extremely skilled and intelligently designed process to keep potential customers on track and your business in the forefront of the minds . . . even when they are not thinking of you!

There are obvious examples of the greatest brands of all time.  They are used with laser precision by their marketers and designers.
Coca Cola, for example, is such a brilliant brand, that they only need to use their 'swash' in the iconic red and white to tell the world who they are and what they represent. 
It's a scorching hot day in the middle of Melbourne.  You're hot and thirsty and across the road you see the red and white flourish of the Coca Cola brand.  Like it or not, you are drawn straight away to what Coca Cola represents – cold, refreshing thirst quenching drink.  You may then decide that the sugary, fizzy drink isn't for you, but they have got into your mind first and planted their seed.
That is successful branding!

Cadbury's are masters at the art too. As are Apple.  It's not just their logo they rely on, it is much, much more sophisticated than that.  Colours, fonts and imagery are not just dropped in randomly.  Branding is a science and is used to reach a specific goal.

Probably one of the finest recent examples of branding brilliance is the Lindt 'Take a Moment' advert being shown on TV since 2017.  Lindt, the luxury chocolate brand captures virtual every enticing awareness in the advert.  From the initial quiet intimacy of the scene setting, through the mouthwatering crinkling of the wrapper as the chocolate is unwrapped, to the first delicious bite.  It then goes on to display the craftsman chocolatier, masterfully crafting each treat. This is a work of branding genius.  Everything to do with the brand is used.  Everybody watching this 30 second advert will want to experience that simple, silent moment of anticipation as you unwrap a Lindt chocolate to smell and taste the gorgeous treat within.

If all you do is get a logo, you are wasting your time and money.  You need to use it as part of a much more complex range of considerations in your marketing strategy in order to stay 'on-brand'.


Should you ever change your branding?

Evolve your brand, for sure, but don't go 'off-piste'!  Once you have developed a brand it is usually very inadvisable to pick away at it changing bits and pieces of it randomly.  Consistency is everything!

In the design industry, we don't just pick fonts, for example, from the drop down menu and choose from the ones we have installed.  It is a refined and measured selection requiring in-depth knowledge.  Typography is an incredibly skilled job.  Fonts work extremely hard at conveying feelings and associations. Designers, marketers and brand managers understand this and never experiment with typography lightly.  We are qualified and understand the psychology of design.  It is as much a science as an art.

The same applies to colours.  Just like Cadbury and Coca Cola, the colour of their brand is very much their identity. Consider McDonalds, KFC, Ikea or even Facebook.  You know their colours.  When you see them, you know who they are and where you are!

So don't 'mess about' with your branding.  It is one of your most valuable and hardest working assets in your business.  If you want, or need, to change your branding, do it with caution and purpose.  Otherwise you could be throwing the baby out with the bath water!

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