How to develop a brand

This is the first of a series of posts I will be making which will walk you through the process of branding. Hopefully this will give you some insight into how to develop a brand for yourself. It is possible to do this process 100% by yourself, though I recommend hiring a graphic designer at some point in the process if you don’t have the design skills yourself.

Before I get into how to develop a brand I want to clarify a few things that I hope will explain why it’s so important to develop a brand. First off I want to answer the question:

What is a brand?

A brand can be a few things but I want to simplify it down to one thing:

The personification of a business or product.

People connect with people. That is a fact, everyone in psychology will tell you this. So why do we create brands then? Why even bother when people connect with people better? Why not just slap your face all over everything and call it good? One thing: Scaleability.

There are 6.97 billion people in the world.

Think about that.

6.97…

Billion

How do you expect to stand out amongst 6.97 billion people? The answer is to create a brand. A brand is far more scaleable than personal identification. It can appeal to a wider audience and it’s easier for our minds to keep track of brands than the mass of individuals that we integrate ourselves amongst every day.

Think about big brands, Google, Facebook, Apple, Nike, Coke, General Electric. A lot of these brands have big people behind them, Phil Knight of Nike, or the late Steve Jobs of Apple, but even though these people are very widely known the brands they created have a much stronger influence than they do. Now try to think of individuals who have this kind of influence. The only ones that come to mind are those that are already associated with a much larger brand.

This is the reason we develop a brand, because it’s far more scalable. There is no way an individual can connect with 6.97 billion people, but there is possibility a brand can.

I feel as if you understand how important a brand can be to your success so I’ll move along.

How to develop a brand

One of the main reasons I decided to start this series was because I was in the process of rebranding a company that I work for, Southpaw Sign & Design. This identity hasn’t been around for a long time and the original identity was developed basically overnight. The business has outgrown the usage of the makeshift identity and was desperately in need of some consistency and vision in it’s branding. There is one thing I want to make perfectly clear before I go any further: rebranding is not something you should do on a whim. There are good reasons to rebrand and there terrible reasons to rebrand. Here are a few of both:

 

Good reasons:

- Need more consistency in the brand image

- Need to readjust for a more lucrative target demographic

- Name change and/or merger with another company

 

Terrible reasons:

- The typography is a little bit off.

- The colors aren’t really working.

- You don’t like it. You may be shocked that this is a terrible reason to rebrand but it really is, changing a identity because you just aren’t feeling it anymore will just cause confusion with your current clients or potential clients who were considering your brand when making a purchasing decision. Take a look at how some big names screwed up in this area.

- It’s not very unique. Not all identities have to be super unique, take a look at my book The Recipe for Creating a Great Logo, for more information about this.

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If you rebrand make sure it’s for the right reasons. Don’t let some trigger happy graphic designer convince you that your current logo is trash so you need to shell out the cash for a complete overhaul of your identity. Having a good identity is necessary, having a jaw dropping identity is not.

For Southpaw the identity was borderline awful. The demographic was wrong and there was little consistency with the image. This is not really acceptable when you are trying to sell people on your ability to create great identities for them. So a change was certainly in order.

My next post will be about the brainstorming process involved in creating the new identity for Southpaw.

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