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Branding, what does it all mean?

January 28, 2010

By far, one of the biggest challenges we come up against as a branding design business is the appropriation and misuse of the words that describe what we do. By far the worst offenders are ‘brand’ and ‘branding’. It seems that these days, everyone even vaguely creative delivers ‘branding’  – from the local copy shop to freelance designers, medium sized design business to the real big agencies with hundreds of staff and multiple offices.

But if we think that this causes us a problem, think what it must be like for the uninitiated design buyer. How can they possibly know what they’re buying or what they need when the same words can mean so many different things? Also, how difficult must it be for the would-be buyer to compare and contrast creative businesses?

The problem is that ‘branding’ has become a catch-all buzz word for anything from logo design to what used to be known as corporate identity, through to a full programme of brand strategy, positioning, development and roll-out.

So, in the interests of clarity, to help our potential clients out there understand exactly what we do, and to perhaps inform on a wider scale, here’s what we mean when we say ‘brand’ and ‘branding’

A brand represents a promise, a promise that is embedded in people’s minds over time as to what they can expect from a product, service or experience. A brand can help you express how and what you think and what you want to communicate. Successful brands are built by understanding and developing:

1. The Big Idea – the distinctive idea behind your business
2. Your plans – Where are you going and how will you get there?
3. Your beliefs – just what is it that you stand for?
4. Your personality – How will you behave, communicate and express yourself?

…and by clearly and consistently communicating all of this to the right people in a way that is meaningful to them.

Is the process of creating a brand as defined above and involves the following key components:

Strategy will define how and in what way your brand will reach its target audience.

Positioning will define your brand and find a way to make it distinctive.

Design will ensure that your brand has a recognisable visual identity (including a logo) that represents what it is and what it stands for. Design will also ensure that your brand is clearly, consistently and effectively communicated both internally and externally. In fact, it’s our firm belief that the most effective brands are built from the inside out so employee engagement is vital – perhaps a subject for another blog post!

So, now that we’re clear and you know exactly what we do here at Zeal, we look forward to hearing from those of you reading this that are looking to build and communicate a strong, credible and differentiated brand.

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