Branding vs. Marketing Part One: Branding 101
If you’ve ever seen the yellow arches of McDonald’s and thought, I know precisely what product to expect from that place no matter where in the world you are - you’re not alone. McDonald’s has some of the best branding and marketing in the world and the company spends roughly $2 billion a year on advertising. Similarly, Coca Cola and its main competitor, Pepsi Co. each spent billions on their own marketing and advertising campaigns in the last several years. For the everyday consumer, you’d probably start to ask yourself why such already highly visible brands needed to market so heavily.
The fact of the matter is that brands are only recognizable due to the space they occupy in consumers’ or clients’ minds. A brand by itself is nothing. Kylie Jenner has a brand, but can you tell me what it is without using adjectives? Is it makeup? There’s plenty of other makeup out there. Is it style? Wigs? Skin care? Herself? No. A person is not a brand. They are always a human being first and foremost. So what the hell is a brand?
A brand is nothing more than a promise that you are making to a customer. The same way that I know what to expect when walking into a McDonald’s, you know what to expect from Kylie Jenner.
Sure, there are people that make their living by being a branded version of themselves, but this is an IMAGE. It is not the real person. A lot of scary people come out of the woodwork when they believe that a person’s image or persona - their brand - is who they really are inside. It is easy to fantasize about an image, your own personal projections and desires can re-write an uncomplicated 2D version of a person. It is much harder to put all of that on a living, breathing human being.
Kylie Jenner and individuals like her are not their image. Their image is their brand, what they are selling to the customer. It is curated and packaged and distilled down into readily consumable chunks for a target demographic that can be persuaded to purchase the product either for quality or affordability or even simple emotional attachment. It’s the same reason brands like Nike readily pay celebrity athletes to endorse their products: you, the consumer, believe subconsciously that if you buy the same product, you’ll be better at sports. This is nonsense, but it is effective marketing and it works.
It’s nothing to feel badly about. I know all of this and it still works on me all of the time. It’s just human nature. Businesses succeed when they capture the essence of human nature - its wants and needs - and deliver exactly what you asked for but better than the competitor.
So how do you build a brand and market it? Which comes first and why? What is the difference between the two anyway?
To build a brand, you’ll need several things in place:
A style and/or design type
A tagline or catch phrase
Templates for consistent delivery
Methods of communication
Not every brand will need all of the above. FatChix’s logo is our name in bold black against pink. This was a conscious decision made by us, the co-founders, with our graphic designer. Some brands use the name itself as the logo like Coca Cola. Others use the name along with a visual symbol like Starbucks.
The path you choose should be based in your brand identity, but we will get to that. The first step in branding is choosing your name, logo, and basic color schemes that speak to your brand’s messaging. Your logo and name are the face of the company; they are what sticks out in the customer’s mind, so they’d better be dope as hell.
You also need a message. The message of your company is a distilled version of what you stand for. Our message on FatChix, Inc. is represented cleverly in the design of the website and the content we produce. It is inherent from the design that we make edgy choices for our clients, and our catch phrase when pitching is that we bring authenticity with an edge. That is the most basic and most truthful version of what we do. We take brands, companies, individuals, and products and we create marketing campaigns that represent that brand’s voice - just a little cooler.
Are our campaigns cool because we just have a cool team? Absolutely not. ALL of our campaigns are data-driven and chocked full of trend forecasts, analytics, research and constant metrics tracking and adjustments. It’s all numbers and science. Yes, our team is awesome and cool and very talented, but we’re not stupid. In fact, we're the coolest nerds you ever met. You can make cool stuff all day long, but if nobody sees your cool thing, what’s the point of spending all that money on it?
You need a balance of numbers and research with the creative side of things to make a truly great campaign that gets visibility. And above all else, it needs to be honest, an honest message with an honest voice that belongs specifically to that brand. Audiences can spot a fake from a mile away.
Do be fake about your message because something is trending. Be authentic, but keep track of long-term trends in your industry.
If you work in fashion and hate athliesure, you’re going to have a tough time for a while. That trend is still going strong. What you can do for yourself and your company if your demographic is still pulling for that style is to define the human desire behind that style and work on delivering an alternative answer to that trend.
Don’t fight human nature; repurpose it.
People want stylish, comfortable clothing that they see celebrities wearing. They want to look cool like the people they admire. Those people don’t wear only one type of thing. Make a list of other trends you see them sporting and see if any of those line up with your brand’s message and products.
Once you have a pretty clear idea of what your brand is, you can dive into the design realm to come up with consistent themes for your company’s representation. For FatChix, we stick with modern black against pink and lots of pops of our signature teal that ties in with the overall pops at our sister company, FatChix Films.
If you have a lot of different companies or services that are related, you might want to share design elements like font, accent colors, style, etc. This is not always necessary; it just depends on how interconnected your businesses are and how you want to communicate that connection to the customer.
This brings us to our final point in Part One: communication. How you choose to deliver your message is just as important as what the message is for your customer or client. If you’re trying to reach a demographic that avoids Instagram like the plague, then that’s probably not the social platform for you. You definitely need a platform, however, because the classic form of advertising has been dying out for quite a while. Influencer marketing is the new jam, and as much as people of all ages and backgrounds try to resist it, it is the best tool out there for reaching new heights of success when used properly.
For now, concentrate your efforts on your brand, who you are, what you want to say and how you want to deliver the message. And be consistent with your messaging!! Make templates if you can to bulk produce the message you want to send.
We’ll be covering the basic tenets of marketing next, so keep an eye out on the blog for our next article.
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