When you think of branding as a whole, what is the first thing that appears in your mind? A logo? A colour scheme? A typeface?
For a huge number of businesses, the visual aspect is the only part of the brand that matters… It’s not uncommon for designers to hear, “Can you design us a new logo?” or “Can you build us a quick website?”
In reality, a brand is much more than visuals. A brand is essentially everything about your business: it’s the personality that connects your audience to your business philosophy. A new brand is something you should take your time on.
So what is the brand-berg?
As you can see, your company logo is probably the most visual aspect of your brand and business, but it only makes up a very small part of what your overall brand is about.
So let's take a quick look at what really makes up the bulk of the brand-berg
Your brand strategy can be considered the unglamorous part of your brand, most likely sitting at the bottom of the brand-berg, hidden from view. But it is undoubtedly the most important part of your brand as without a brand strategy, you have nothing to glue the visual system together; there would be no underlying philosophy or values.
So what makes up the brand strategy?
Values - What does your business stand for? What are your company beliefs? Your brand should be centred around a set of values that are completely personal to your business. Not only does this help to differentiate you from your competitors, it also helps your business to sound more established and trustworthy.
Your clients and audience - What is your brand without someone to see it? And not just someone… people who want to actively engage with your brand and business.
Your audience and customers are just as important to your brand as anything else. Your brand strategy should be designed to appeal directly to the people you want to talk to.
Tone of voice - Your company tone of voice will be prevalent throughout your website, content and any type of communications you send out to clients.
There is no point having a corporate, formal tone of voice if you are trying to appeal to a young audience. On the other hand, if you offer a more serious service, like life insurance, then you don’t want to come across as too informal. That is why your tone of voice is something you should spend time on.
Core purpose - It goes without saying that your brand should represent exactly what services or products you offer as a business. Obviously this shouldn’t be in your face; for example, if you are a financial services firm, your strapline shouldn’t be ‘providing financial services for the north west’. But your brand should provide some sort of subtle insight into what you offer as a firm.
Brand guidelines - Your brand guidelines document is the holy grail resource for your brand. It should be the guide to all of your brand assets including: typography, logo variations, colour schemes and tone of voice.
Also, if you are working with a design agency, they will love you if you have a brand guidelines document!
Your visual system is the visual representation of your brand and it encompasses all of the brand assets a person would see, whereas your brand strategy is the unseen part of your brand.
Website - Your website is your online shop window and it is an online representation of your business. Remember that most consumers do a lot more online research on services now, so having a well built, clear, concise website is a must.
Your website should be built using your brand guidelines and should fully encompass everything to do with your brand.
Social media - Your social media presence can project your brand to a huge number of people, so it’s just as important to make sure your channels are properly branded.
This means using the same logo and header images across all of your social media channels and talking in the right tone of voice when you post your content.
Video - Video is widely used across all industries now and for good reason. Video is the most engaging and impactful type of content out there and it can help elevate your business and brand to the next level.
Again, branding comes into play with video whether it’s a branded intro and outro, or your logo and brand colours, using brand assets. Video can help tell your brand's story in a compelling way and can help capture the imagination of your audience.
Stationery - Even the simplest form of marketing collateral, like a business card, needs to be on brand. From the type of card it is printed on to the colours and logo used, it all has to fit together with the rest of the business.
Often, physical types of marketing collateral are overlooked when it comes to branding, when really it should all match up directly with the rest of your online and offline presence.
Forget about the logo and start from the bottom
So as you can see, the bulk part of a brand is often below the waves under the sea and it’s really easy to just concentrate on the tip of the brand-berg.
But stand back from your brand and take some time to really assess it from the bottom of the brand-berg up. Before you undertake any sort of brand work or a re-brand, you should focus on the strategy behind your brand before you even look at the visual aspect.