“A brand is whatever consumers say it is.” – Scott Cook, co-founder, and chairman of Intuit. Want to know the types of branding? Read on below!
What do you think your brand looks like in the eyes of your customer? How does a visual identity or graphic element play into that perception? What about word choice, typography, colors…all these things have an influence on how someone views your “brand”. But what exactly IS branding? Dictionary.com defines it as:
What is branding?
In short, branding is everything about your business from top to bottom. The look and feel of all material associated with your business and how it’s perceived by your customer. Branding is not just about the logo. The true essence of branding is about making a connection with your target market and creating something meaningful for them to associate with what you do.
Types of branding
Brand identity development (also known as branding) begins with understanding who you serve, how they see you, and communicating that consistently across all touchpoints. This article will go over 7 types of branding that every business should consider before moving forward:
1. Visual – Logo & Image Identity
The visual brand is probably what most think of when the word “brand” gets thrown around; it’s made up of things like logos, taglines, colors, etc. If we were to brainstorm some words associated with a visual brand, they might be clean, fresh, honest. Other types of branding are as follows below.
2. Word Identity (or Voice)
Words used to describe your business can make or break the relationship with your customer; words like authentic and friendly are great characteristics to introduce to your brand identity. Consider how you talk about yourself; do you sound professional? Is it clear what you offer? How does your voice come through on the phone (brand voice)? This is not something that should be overlooked! The right word choices can help form connections between customers and your brand for life.
3. Touchpoints / Storytelling
This element has become one of my favorites recently; let’s face it…businesses need to be intentional about sharing their story so people know who they are and what they do. This continues to be an area that’s constantly evolving for me but I can see quickly how it will enhance the relationship between you, your customer, and potential customers.
4. Experience Design
Although not all businesses have a specific experience to reference, there are elements of design that play into every business, especially ones with physical or virtual storefronts. Think about the details; does someone picking up/purchasing your product get respected? How easy is it for them to navigate through your website…is there clear navigation? Is the checkout process smooth? What about location design? Does your business have signs outside you want people to know about or directions that need to be simplified so customers know exactly where they’re going? Does your staff greet customers when they walk in the door?
5. Tone of Voice
The tone of voice refers to the personality behind your brand; it’s how you convey feelings and attitudes through the written word, images, etc. Is there warmth or humor associated with your business? How do you want people to feel after spending time on your website or engaging with you online/in person? If you’re not sure where to start with this one – just ask yourself “What would our target market say about us?”, “How might someone share their experience with our product?” These questions will help get that tone of writing flowing!
6. Digital Presence
Another types of branding is digital presence. Digital presence can be broken into two parts: structure and content. The structure is all about the design and functionality of your website, social media platforms, and other areas that you use to engage with your customers online. Content refers to the information shared on these sites; it’s important that this is updated regularly and can help support how people feel when interacting with your brand.
7. Senses (sound & smell)
These might seem like odd branding elements, but think about how we react in specific situations; what does a business sound like? Does it make you want to stay or leave? What smells do they bring in – like freshly baked goods in a bakery or a new car in a car lot. These can be powerful triggers for feelings and emotions! Think about all of the senses when looking at each element as part of your brand identity.
8. Wordmarks & Icons
These two elements are pretty self-explanatory; a wordmark is your logo or any combination of words that identify you as a brand, whereas an icon can be just about anything from a small picture to a complex symbol. It’s important to know what those things represent for those who see them.
9. Name Recognition & Associations
The power of the name behind a business cannot be ignored! It’s impossible not to have some previous knowledge about certain companies due to their name recognition, even if it’s simply associated with their products/services and nothing else. This can be great when creating awareness…and it can also backfire (think Enron). For businesses, the name behind the company is a part of their branding strategy. I always consider both positive and negative associations to be helpful when thinking about this element because the best way to avoid something negative is by knowing how it might be perceived before it happens.
10. Values & Vision
The final two elements are closely tied together, so much so that many people refer to them as one element called “Vision”. When considering these things, think about the future of your business and why you want/need something now to move toward a goal or set of goals in the future. Is there a purpose for your business from both an internal perspective (values) and an external perspective (vision)? This type of branding will help shape your future as well as drive the decisions made today to bring the brand to life.