Paul Rand. Does that name ring a bell? How about Saul Bass, Henry Steiner, or Lindon Leader? If you googled it, you already failed.
Today there is a lot of talk about branding. As more people are realizing that you need to put some real marketing behind your business, they look to “branding” as a silver bullet to polish off their efforts. While branding is not the end all be all play to a marketing strategy, it is the cornerstone, and it is important.
You Reap What You Sow
As online professionals turn for help with branding needs and education, they are forgetting one thing: crap in, crap out. Looking to your favorite social media site as a study in branding is like trying to develop an ear for music by hanging out in a high school parking lot.
Internet brands are full of life, color, cheer, and excitement; but when it’s longevity you’re after, these qualities are thin and fleeting. What most don’t understand is, internet brands are created to capture today’s audience, to spark this week’s conversation. While some may disagree, when was the last time you were on MySpace, 43things, orkut, friendfeed, Xanga, or bebo? Not to mention the countless sites that have long since closed doors.
Is this what you aspire to? To have your brand rise to the top, just to slowly decline until you are eventually forgotten about and replaced by the newer, shinier version of you?
Learn From The Pros
Like any discipline, students should look to the masters. If you’re my age, several of the brands above have been around your whole life, and their branding consistent with minor changes for decades. This is the mark of a master.
Wikipedia defines “Brand” as: “a name, sign, symbol, slogan or anything that is used to identify and distinguish a specific product, service, or business.” In other words, your calling card. When you look at the logos depicted above, you relate to each one not only with a recognition of who they are, but with a feeling.
Likewise, you want your customers to relate to you. Your brand, your brand image, should convey an emotional response to your audience rather than just serve as a marker for you are. Your brand isn’t your name-tag, it’s your identity.
Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. At the epicenter of the venn diagram of the 4 P’s is your brand. Your brand should be able to establish and make your audience feel good about each of these 4 things in one consolidated message. The 4 P’s are essential building blocks to establishing your brand identity, and your branding is your representative.
Consistency is key. Establishing trust, authority, and community are difficult enough one time around, don’t shoot yourself in the foot with multiple re-brands, complete re-designs, or 180’s with your offering. Take the time, get it right the first time, and all of your efforts will be consolidated down the road.
Any sudden changes or sporadic moves make customers question stability. If changes need to be made, better to boil the frog slowly.
Get Rich Slowly
By now, most are weary of the ability to “get rich quick” or the numerous “make money online” schemes that are out there. Building and growing a business into a trusted brand is a slow and arduous process that takes lots of time, with many hard fought battles. But as it is written: “Good things come to those who wait.”