“Branding”—we’ve all heard this business catchword thrown around, but few people really understand all the moving pieces required to properly brand a business. Having a firm grasp of branding can often make or break an organization’s success.
The term actually originated with farmers who would “brand” their livestock so they were easily identified. And although different, the main ideas of branding your goods or services still apply today.
In the business arena, branding is an investment in the reputation or position of your organization. It can take the form of a logo, tagline, or specific design style, but it is also experiential and social. Branding builds an emotional connection with your audience— how does your brand make people feel?
If you don’t know how your brand makes people feel, then the conversation around your brand is being decided for you—perhaps by consumers, publicity, and third party players. Whether you invest in building your reputation or not, branding still takes place.
I’ve watched so many business owners get stuck in the comparison trap. They search for the latest trend and—without having a clear strategy—jump ship to look like everyone else. While this may make your business seem hip, trends are not a stable game plan—they will always let you down when it comes to branding. Trends come and go, but distinct values and impressions last for decades. There should be a clear purpose behind everything you do, again, to invest in your distinct reputation and position.
This is the biggest challenge for businesses in the 21st century. How do you stand out against profit-driven companies that have much larger budgets? Be memorable, and focus on your unique message. As Donal Miller says in Building a StoryBrand, “People are drawn toward clarity and away from confusion.” So when it comes to making a memorable brand, you need to invest in a clear purpose statement that quickly and easily communicates what you do, ultimately leading people to support your cause.
And finally, an effective brand is always consistent. You can have a distinct and memorable brand, but if you do not fight for consistency, your reputation will become muddled and confused in the long run. Simplify your brand into one primary logo, color palette, and tagline. If you’re investing in the reputation of your organization, make sure you’re investing in a brand strategy that will withstand the test of time!
Branding doesn’t have to be intimidating or involve guesswork. At HeartSpark, we use research-driven strategy to help you build a brand that will evoke the right feelings in the right audience. Without an excellent brand, your cause will get lost in the noise. It is our mission to make sure every nonprofit has an effective brand that amplifies their cause.