There’s so many articles, books, interviews and even courses on branding. Enough to sink a ship of brandy-swigging sailors.
I heard people moan “branding is great if you have millions in marketing dollars, but Jane’s Little Beauty Salon can’t afford it”. I strongly disagree, so much so, because I know the complete opposite is true. Jane’s Little Salon can’t afford NOT to take branding seriously!
Companies with millions of dollars in their marketing budget can sometimes get away with being sloppy in their branding, by spending more on marketing they may still obtain the required awareness to keep them afloat. However, companies great and small are realizing the potent potential of effective branding as the foundation of great marketing… and the winners will win BIG!
1) Know What Branding Is
What is a Brand?
A brand is an identity that engages customers on an emotional level.
What is Branding?
Branding is defining your brand’s personality with the purpose of customers feeling something specific and emotional about the business.
A Brand’s ammunition is Emotion!
Brands are all about Emotions. People buy using emotion and justify their purchases intellectually. Without using your brand to connect on an emotional level you are going to fail miserably. The emotions you could evoke could be as varied as; trust, awe, anticipation, adventure, luxury, protection, fear, excitement, shock, passion or joy.
If our regular Jane Littles and Joe Smalls are ambitious and driven to grow their businesses, they need to put some thought and effort into establishing their little brand – as just that – a brand. Building a brand rather than a business can ensure scalability to a larger audience.
A brand should feel more like an idea, movement or revolution instead of a broken down corner store.
So what if our little friends have started their business and realize their branding is almost non-existent? Rebranding is here to help…
REBRANDING: Jane’s small business doesn’t have to stay “Little”!
If she started poorly, great! (at least she started)……… She can rebrand!
“Jane’s Little Beauty Salon” isn’t the worst name for such a business as it is at least self describing to an extent and does communicates what kind of business it is, however where it falls flat on its face is; it doesn’t engage any emotions, so potential customers are often disengaged as they have no idea what type of experience they can expect to receive.
Let’s say – for example – Jane wants customers to feel her brand is luxurious and want to come in to be pampered by a friendly smiling beauty therapist in a relaxing atmosphere. In this case, a far better brand name for her Beauty Salon business would be “Lushola”. Mixing the words; “Lush” meaning abundant, thriving and luxurious with the Spanish word for hello “Hola”. This brand can introduce it’s customers to an opulent array of delights, while remaining friendly and approachable. This made-up word has power and purpose to evoke suitable emotions that customers are looking for in a premium Beauty Salon.
If Jane, were to rebrand to Lushola and utilise these branding hooks in all her marketing activities, Lushola would be a force to be reckoned with. This made-up word, packs feeling even before marketing money has started to promote it and could become a widely-used term to describe a beautifully decadent & pleasurable beauty salon experience.
Jane doesn’t need millions to build a powerful brand, but with some hard work and consistency, building this brand might make her millions.
Your brand identity works by engaging emotions to get your customers to feel a specific way about your business.
2) Define Your Brand
Whether you’ve already started your business or are still in the planning stages. Take a close look at your branding strategy, and if you don’t have one yet, great, you will hit the ground running with a defined emotionally powerful branding strategy:
1. Brainstorm a bunch of feelings that you want your brand to make customers feel. Do this multiple times over one week.
2. Focus on the ones that are the most powerful and meaningful to a large amount of your customers.
3. Define the feeling-based brand statement. This will become the main drive behind all your branding efforts, so don’t fluff it!
If the feeling fits your company’s solutions in a meaningful way, some people may still reject the feeling after engaging with it, possibly because they disagree to the feeling itself or the connection of it to your brand. These haters still invest some emotion towards your brand, albeit negative ones. On the other hand, others will engage with your brand far more positively and invest some of their positive emotions your way. This is usually what people mean when they say “you either love it or you hate it“.
If you define your brand effectively connecting it to the beneficial emotions it can deliver, you will be one-step closer to growing a beautifully balanced brand personality!
When people become that emotionally engaged with your brand, love it or hate it, you have achieved greatness in branding.
EXAMPLE: A Grandmaster of Branding: McDonalds always seems to win the hamburger wars against Burger King, even though most would agree The Whopper tastes better than a Big Mac. McDonalds realized that it was selling a feeling not just hamburgers and used that motivation to build their brand into “a happy place to eat a hamburger”. All their branding unifies around this purpose, such as their smiling clown mascot and “happy meals”, their marketing slogans with the most recent “I’m loving it” that followed “We love to see you smile”, “Nobody makes your day like McDonalds can”, “It’s a good time for the great taste of McDonalds” and “Food, folks and fun”. McDonalds have stuck to their branding guns, built upon the same message over many years and this has entrenched a feeling of happiness amongst millions of people.
A great brand should be polarizing, as it actively engages with emotion and evokes a feeling.
3) Name Your Business With Branding In Mind!
Once you have defined your brand, you can begin to brainstorm and search for names available to register (along with trademark & domain name searches). Even if you’ve already named your brand, please read this section as it’s never too late to rebrand if the perfect situation presents. These days it is becoming almost impossible to find a great brand name with an available .com to register, but there are still some great brandables being hand registered to this day.
TIP: Browse Brandable Domain Name Marketplaces (such as BustABrand, Brandroot & Namerific) for ideas and potential names. These marketplaces offer ready-to-use highly brandable names covering a range of industries and each name comes with a logo & the matching .com domain name.
TIP: Stick with the .com Domain Name. I recommend avoiding registering any of the new TLD’s (top level domains) such as .ninja .site .business .club .menu ..etc.. There are thousands of variations that are ultimately making them confusing for potential customers. Sticking with the .com domain name will avoid this confusion. It also avoids having your brand’s web traffic stolen as your customers unsuccessfully try to navigate to your website. Additionally, after you’ve put in effort to grow your brand name, it’s usually too late to acquire the matching .com domain for a reasonable price from the domain squatter. So make it easy for everyone to find you now and in the future by establishing your online presence using the .com domain of your chosen brand name.
There are TWO options when choosing a brand name:
OPTION ONE: Choosing a name that means nothing
A business with a generic, brandable, easy-to-remember name can be built into a laser-focused brand but you start the path in a tough situation with a blank page and no free branding points. It takes a lot more effort to get the first brand message communicated to the masses. For instance, Google, Nike, McDonalds all had these blank-slate type names with almost zero feelings associated to them in the beginning. Billion-dollar brands can eventually be built upon them with great branding strategy, marketing strategy and precise, consistent implementation. Starting with a name that evokes no feelings can be done, it just takes a lot more hard work, time and money.
OPTION TWO: Choosing a name that has “feelings attached”
We think a better approach is to build a brand upon a name that already evokes some feelings, even if the name is made-up! Just be sure that the emotions attached to the name are in tune with your brand definition!
TIP: Great Brands Pass The Radio Test: Keep-in-mind that the best made-up names are those that pass the ‘Radio Test’ – which means that most people would spell it correctly upon just hearing it said aloud. For instance, if the brand name “UserBait” was mentioned on the radio as a marketing company helping game developers find more users, it would be spelt “UserBait” and not “UsarBayt”.
Choosing a name that already evokes feelings in-line with your branding strategy, gives you a massive head start. In this case, your message starts being communicated the moment the brand is even mentioned allowing for better brand potency in the early stages. It can also provide a visual key linking emotions to your brand image, even with minimal marketing spend.
Here are some Epic brands that used “feeling attached” names from day one:
Uber: Derived from the German language and has been used by English speakers for more than 15 years. The word literally means “over” or “above”, but many have interchanged it with “super”. The word’s meaning and history meant it evoked feelings of playfulness, greatness and leadership.
Pepsi: Doesn’t have an alternative meaning, the word simply reminds us of the unique sound and feeling that comes from opening and taking a sip of carbonated cola. Even just saying the word Pepsi, evokes feeling of opening a fizzy drink.
Instagram: Blends the words “Instant” with “Telegram”… It also brings to mind the word “gram” which is a unit of mass, very lightweight for humans (approx. the weight of a pen lid). In other words, it says to me Lightweight Telegrams and Instagram is basically the online version of lightweight telegrams in photo format and who knows, one day they may even take on twitter partly in thanks to their fantastic name helping people understand what they are about.
YouTube: Takes the word “You” to engage directly with its customers and the word “Tube”, which is slang for Television. Their name tells customers that it’s personalised TV catered for each individual or on the other hand a TV where the customer can be a star on. Both of these realities have come to fruition thanks to the super-potent branding within the 7 letter name.
NetFlix: Although NetFlix’s business model started out fairly different to where it is now – initially renting out DVDs via mail order with a monthly subscription and no late fees, simply pay your monthly fee and you get new rentals posted out when you post back your previous – The name NetFlix brings to mind the “Net” from Internet and a slang word for films “Flix”. The word flix suggests speed & ease, as it is an abbreviated version of an already short word. Fast speeds & ease-of-use have been the two driving forces in NetFlix’s success during its DVD mail business and especially during its more recent (and epically successful) online streaming venture. NetFlix has grown to over 55 million subscribers, making over $550million revenue per month!
Both naming options have their benefits, but it’s hard to look past the significant brand boost that a carefully selected “feelings-attached” name can add to your developing brand.
4) Get A Great Logo
A great logo is one that is simple, recognizable and illustrates some aspects of your brand definition and personality. There are a range of services to commission a talented freelance graphic designers to design a simple, effective and polished logo that matches your brand. For the best designers head over to 99designs, designcrowd or freelancer. If you’re dead broke, your last resort is fiverr, but there’s a bunch of junk designers on there so use with caution.
The logo is only a part of your branding, but eventually your customer will always attach their feelings to your Logo if it is compatible with these emotions.
5) Choose Emotive Colors
A great brand should choose one or two colors at most. Color psychology has been around for a long-time and there’s a million-and-one articles too many about it. It does have merit but I wouldn’t delve too deep, just have a look at the basic emotional connections with various colors. Keep these in mind when deciding on your visual branding.
Using color psychology can help evoke certain types of emotional feeling towards your brand.
6) Create A Company Voice
Your branding includes the words and speech style spoken by your company’s marketing copy & staff interactions to its customers. You should write a few sentences or paragraphs to summarise various attributes of your brands voice, then sharpen your pencil and make it more focused. It can be a mix of playful, conversational, formal, comedic, satiric, etc. You get the idea. You may find your company voice evolving over time, just try to keep it focused, consistent and only move in a clear purposeful direction if making changes to it.
You should develop the sound of your company’s voice to align with your brand personality.
7) Integrate Your Brand
Great Branding extends to all your verbal and non-verbal communication, including website copy, email signatures, how you answer phone calls, company attire, social media posts and even the music customers listen to while they’re on hold for you.
When all aspects of Branding are cohesive in message & style, your brand thrives and forges stronger emotional engagements.
8) Be Consistent
The only way to be successful in Branding, is to be your brand consistently. Your company must walk-the-walk of your brand’s ideals every day and when dealing with every partner, supplier and customer. Before long your brand will be a powerful force engaging with the masses on an emotional level.
Believe in your brand and become your brand. Just Do It, and Just Keep On Doing It….