Today I will be covering a very important topic that is way too often overlooked or misunderstood by local and small businesses, social entrepreneurs and creatives. That is the idea of BRANDING.
It’s a confusing world out there, and so many people are going out on their own to build a life worth living, which means they are jumping on the entrepreneurial bandwagon… and then, they hear buzz words like branding, marketing, social media marketing, etc. and get overwhelmed. Well, I’m here to help you sort some things out. Firstly…

What’s branding?!

In its simplest form, branding is to a business as identity (i.e. core values, purpose, philosophy, history, beliefs, goals, and image) is to an individual. A brand is basically anything you convey about your business that helps your business or persona stand out from the sea of other providers offering the same service or product.
Branding goes deeper than just graphic design and visuals. Brand is about the core messaging and the WHY behind the WHAT. It also becomes what for and how your company is known.

The True Power of a Strong Brand: Being Known

To get an understanding of “branding” it helps to look at some of the bigger companies that are doing it right. By “doing it right” I mean, companies that have clear messaging about the reason for what they do, the type of people they want and the image that comes to mind when thinking about them.
A great example of this concept is Apple. With all the different campaigns Apple has done throughout it’s life, not only does everyone know that it exists, BUT they also know that Apple believes in simplicity, functional and beautiful design, creativity, and thinking differently. We know that Apple is for the creative type. It’s not even about the specific products they sell – it’s about the emotional connection. When someone even mentions Apple or an Apple product, certain images and ideas come to mind about the context and the person. THAT is the power of branding. People knowing who and why, before what. And look how it’s served them in the technology market! They are at the top in multiple product areas – computers, tablets, and mobile phones!

I’m not Apple and I don’t have millions of dollars to spend on that.

I get it. And that’s totally cool. You don’t have to spend zillions to have a strong brand message.
But, having a strong brand message will set you apart. So, let’s come back down to the local market for a bit. Every company should have a unique brand.
Because it will set you apart from all the other businesses in the area that offer similar services.
For example, a local cafe in Beacon, NY just underwent some major branding shifts that have helped immensely. The Pandorica, formerly the Cup and Saucer Tea Room, went from an everyday, simple, old-fashioned looking British lunch and tea spot, to a themed cafe based on the show Doctor Who. It completely transformed the business, taking it from mostly empty to lines out the door! That’s the power of having something unique. Before, it was just another cafe on Main Street, now it’s a niche, trendy spot.

How to Figure Out Your Own Brand

I’m not British. I don’t have a cool accent and I don’t watch television. How can I find my brand identity?
No problem!! You don’t have to jump on a trend train to create a brand message. …But, you do have to get real close and comfy with yourself and your company.
First, just start by doing some reflection on why you got into the business you’re doing in the first place.
Next, consider your own background and interests. Then, consider the type of people you want to help and how your services/products solve a core problem for them.
Finally, put this all together and determine your unique message(s) and philosophy.
For example, if you are a mom and you are trying to build a business selling Arbonne products, start by asking yourself why. The answer might be that you want to build a side business so you can eventually quit your job as a teacher and spend more time with your family.
Great, then think about core elements of your identity and beliefs. And think about how that fits into your desire to sell Arbonne products and build a team of sales people.
Perhaps the Arbonne products reduced the stretch marks from having your babies and you are passionate about helping other mom’s with the same issue. You believe in the power of organic and botanical products, etc. and want to connect with other moms that feel the same way.
Figuring out your core beliefs and philosophies helps determine the type of people you want to work with, which helps you get more specific and ultimately makes it easier to accomplish your mission of building a business because it makes it easier to understand where to find these people and how to connect with them.

Now that I’ve figured out what I want to say, how do I get the message out there?

Once you’ve done the deep work and figured out what you want to say, it’s time to get the message out there. There are many ways to convey the ideas you want to share, and this is where the marketing part comes in. This is where websites, advertising, social media, and other types of promotion start to be a part of the equation – only after you have an idea what to say.
When you have your brand ideals figured out, then you can begin to create marketing materials that convey these ideas through writing, photography, graphic design, colors, illustrations and all other tools of communication. This is where and when you start to develop your visual brand and identity.

How we can help you succeed.

Whether you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed in this process, or you have a super clear understanding of your brand, CC Photo & Media can help.
If you’re unsure what your brand is about, contact us and we’ll help you sort it out.
If you do know what your brand is about, and you’re ready to start the communication process and develop the visual representations of your business, contact us. If we’re a good fit we will work together to bring your vision to life.

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