Everyone has an opinion about what to do when it comes to branding – What is right, what is wrong and what you absolutely have to avoid doing.
With twenty-five years of industry experience and many lessons learned, I can say for certain that two things are true when it comes to branding:
Branding is About Bucks
You see, the visual aspects such as the logo, fonts, colours, website, social touchpoints, the brand’s voice, tone and branded collateral are merely the results of branding - the expressions of a much more elaborate process. Of course, it is about money. Branding isn't art; it isn't nice to have – it’s not about luck, it’s not a gamble, and it’s not something we “hope” maybe one day would be worth an applied value. No - it absolutely has to make you money. Branding is a business tool that either makes you money, or it takes your money.
Your brand has a function; it has a reason for being, a purpose. Branding sans function is decoration at best.
Its purpose is simply to offer a return on investment. For every R1 spent, if executed strategically, you should be earning at least R1,50 in the short term. In the long term, your earnings can and should be exponentially more than what you initially invested.
Your brand should be a balance sheet item – and one that pre-sells your business resulting in enhanced profitability.
Branding is About Brains
The HOW of branding is all about neuroscience.
Branding is not about the graphics and their aesthetic value; it's about what you create and how these impact on the mind of the consumer and the individuals you want to see making a purchase.
During cognitive processes, or communication and understanding processes, our brains are at work. These activities can be recorded and when one reveals these brain activities, one can see certain areas of our brain light up like a Christmas tree. This “Christmas tree” effect occurs whether you are the communicator or being communicated to. Neuroscience has unlimited proof that it is absolutely possible to achieve the exact same activities in both the communicator’s and the recipient’s brains. This takes place when the message is understood by the recipient as it is understood by the communicator.
This knowledge is enormously important. It indicates that your message can be perfectly understood. Wow – that is fascinatingly fabulous news, but there is a flip side to this fact that is scary.
Because unless you are considering your messages very carefully, in words, delivery, tone, context and the medium you are using to convey this message, you might be lighting up part of the brain that generates a very different outcome or interpretation to what you intended to. And judging by everyday conversation, how much can go wrong in communicating the most mundane of messages, imagine the risks involved in communicating the core message of your company, product or service.
In a world of information overload, product proliferation, constant change and perpetual media innovation, your message(s) absolutely need to be clear and cut through the clutter effectively enough to be recalled in the exact manner they're designed to be remembered.
The world's most iconic brand, Nike, executed this perfectly with their 'Just Do it' message and their extremely well articulated and clever campaigns. Well, its not that clever – it is called strategic positioning and they have mastered meaningful communication.
So, the next time you attempt to do anything for your brand, consider this: what exactly am I saying?