What's the Big Deal About Branding? (part one)
I’m not a big soda drinker. (“pop” for you midwesterners)
But the other day while filling up at the gas station, enjoying the first sunny day in forever, I realized it was downright hot outside. As I reveled in the solar warmth, the green green trees and blue blue skies, my eyes wandered over to a lonely looking soda machine. And quite suddenly, I was struck with desire. I wanted a soda. I just really wanted one.
So I got change from the attendant, put my shiny coins in the slot, and wa-la! ~ down tumbled a beautiful, cold bottle of Coke.
Yes, definitely a Coke. Because to me, if you’re gonna have a soda (or a “pop”), it should be “the real thing”. I might even want to teach the world to sing… in perfect harmony….
You probably get my point… Coke has real brand recognition. It’s strong. So much so that I remember their ads from 20 years ago, maybe more. They’ve made (and continue to make) an impression.
So, you say, yea, well, they’re big guns. They’re a big deal with a big name and big budgets and a big audience. What does Coca-Cola’s great advertising have to do with a small business or an entrepreneur?
Take away the “big name” and all the trappings that go with it and you’ve essentially got what branding is all about: Consistency and integrity.
Coke’s example is this: a steady graphic look since its inception, modernizing with the times, but never losing its core visual ~ AND a steady message that’s upbeat, positive and rings of authenticity. By keeping both their look and their message consistent, they maintain the vital quality of integrity.
Branding isn’t just a logo. It’s not just a website. It’s not a twitter account. It IS everything you or your business presents to the public.
Every word and every image in every medium and circumstance speaks on your behalf. These are your “brand”. They represent you in person, and when you can’t be there (which is most of the time), they represent a virtual reflection.
So if you have 3 different websites with 3 different looks, if you have people with different voices handling your social media, if your visuals look clean and sharp in one place and sloppy in another, you will confuse your audience. And confusing your audience is not something to take lightly in a world where so much is vying for people’s attention.
So, yes, your brand, your “identity”, is a big deal. Keep it consistent and let it walk, and talk, with integrity. More on integrity and authenticity in “part two”… For the time being, let’s just say, make it the real thing.