If I say toothpaste, what comes to mind? Or if I say happy meal? If you said Colgate and McDonald’s, you have successfully identified a brand. Over the years, companies have heavily branded themselves that their name is almost synonymous with a product. Xerox and Jacuzzi are taking it up a notch that replaced the product name to that of their brand name. Xerox is a photocopier manufacturer, and Jacuzzi is a hot tub manufacturer. That’s some #brandgoals!
The best part? You are in control of what your brand can be. Meanwhile, it’s not easy to dictate brand perception, i.e., how users interpret the brand(ing).
As you’re building your product or company, it’s essential to realise the importance that branding holds in the success of the said product. It’s like introducing yourself, the first impression to a new customer. It’s what they think about you after engaging with you. So, for example, you can have a beautiful store inside, but people will not want to enter your store if your entrance is filled with garbage. Similarly, you could have built a great product, but if your brand doesn’t convey your intended message correctly to the target audience, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
But that’s not what we want, and we’re here to help! Let’s dive deeper:
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Brand vs Branding
Brand and branding are used nearly interchangeably, but they actually hold different meanings.
A brand is what your consumers think about you. What emotions do they feel when they see your product, your name, logo or when they’re using their product.
Your brand is determined by your values and how you want a user to feel.
For example, take TikTok, a short-form (now long-form) content sharing and video editing app. When you think of TikTok, you would probably think of feelings around fun, casual, happiness, cool. Whereas, when you think about Adobe Aftereffects, another video editing software, you’d probably think of adjectives like professional, high quality and refined.
These companies have built an image that makes you see them in a certain way; that’s the brand.
On the other hand, branding is the sum of all the efforts that go into creating a brand. Now that’s not just a logo or a font. It includes all the steps- the design, the message, the types of creatives, the typography, the colours, and so on. It’s the marketing tool that helps your company become a brand and differentiate you from your competitors.
Although it’s recommended for startup founders of digital products to build their product first, we recommend making the foundations of your branding early on. That’s what will be the first thing a potential user sees and engages with. It helps build the image you want people to see when they look at your product.
You could have an excellent product, but if people don’t know who you are or they don’t correctly understand your intended perception, it’s going to cost you a lot. On the other hand, even if you have an average product but have nailed your branding, you could flourish. Take Apple, for example, every year, Apple releases a new iPhone, and many critics claim that there’s usually not a significant update compared to its competitors. However, the price shoots up, and people are still lining up each year outside the Apple stores at 4 am to get their hands on an average phone.
It’s Apple’s branding that attracts the masses. Over the years, Apple has built such a brand where their phones are considered symbols of status in society, synonymous with rich taste and quality. Building hype around their launch events and how they’re revolutionising the tech industry is all part of their branding efforts. However, something as simple as naming their keyboard and mouse as ‘magic keyboard’ and ‘magic mouse’ is still responsible for creating the idea of a luxury brand.
Importance of Branding
Differentiate from your competitors
With 67284373 startups opening every day (exaggeration much?), everyone is in a rat race to get their product to market first. That product you’re building now? Yeah, someone is already in the process of beta testing it. No, we’re not trying to discourage you. Quite the opposite, we’re trying to encourage you to go for it, but with additional investment in branding, that’s going to help you stand out in the crowd.
Case in point: Up
Just based on this image, could you guess what Up does?
Answer: It’s a bank.
No matter what country you’re in, you will agree that this type of branding, i.e., those colours, visuals, and font, will not be seen in the banking industry. Instead, we’re used to seeing simple logos, subtle colours, muted colours. All in an attempt to build a brand that screams, ‘We are trustworthy, you can give us your money’.
But Up decided to change that. It decided to press unmute on those colours, creating a loud and fun brand identity. If you ask a senior citizen to open their account with Up, they will laugh you off. On the other hand, if you ask a Gen Z or a millennial, they’d take a second to download the app and go for it. Up identified a gap in the banking industry and decided to go completely astray from the ‘standard’ bank image. Now one may ask, how’s that going for them? They have a user base of 450k+ while the product only launched in 2018.
🚀Lesson: Don’t do what everyone else is already doing. Don’t be scared to share your message, the correct target audience will always listen.
Reach and convert the intended target audience
Continuing the example from above, you need to realise that if you don’t implement your branding correctly or your brand doesn’t convey your product/message accurately, you will lose out on many customers and quality leads. It would help if you used relevant creatives, visuals, channels and messaging to get the right message to the right audience.
What’s crucial is to take an inside-out approach. Start with setting internal branding efforts and understanding what branding you think would shape your brand’s identity? Next, try to understand your target audience empathetically- what would they like to see to be on the same page as you and go from there.
How do you approach this issue? First, conduct a branding workshop to solidify your visual appeal during your early stages. Something as simple as your logo could be a decision-making factor for the user. Your branding will evolve when you start growing as you learn more about your audience until your brand image is so strong that you dictate the brand while your users follow you.
Drives the passive conversation
The purpose of building a solid brand is to make sure people remember who you are and what you do and go to the point of recommending you to others.
Have you ever just bought something because the packaging was great? Or did a friend recommend an app because of how easy it was to use? That’s good branding driving the conversation without any active efforts to get those users to convert.
Your branding is not only meant for marketing purposes; it also speaks into your product UI design. It’s important to remember consistency. Your branding must be consistent across all touchpoints.
Tank Stream Labs: Logo Refresh
We had the opportunity to work with Tank Stream Labs, a co-working office space company from Australia that enables businesses to grow, evolve and succeed through collaboration, community and innovation.
Going through a brand discovery workshop, we understood that TSL’s current logo was not an accurate reflection of its values and offerings. The existing logo was more of a ‘heritage’ feel, whereas the brand wanted something more inclusive, experienced, and modern.
Learning from the conversation, we highlighted some key themes that represented the values of TSL some repetitive keywords that ultimately drove the design direction.
We gave TSL a fresh new logo and an updated, brighter colour scheme, and relevant brand guidelines. The more brilliant version of existing colours, instead of a new colour palette, enabled the brand to showcase a ‘new, modern’ feel and helped existing customers feel connected to the brand.
A happy client now, TSL revealed that the refresh allowed them to let go of the brand image they started with and, therefore, give their competitors a hard time keeping up. And if we may take a second to toot our own horn:
Branding is a crucial pillar for the success of your product. Think twice before you decide to cheap out on a $5 Fiverr logo. Your branding invites your users in to have a look at your product.
Ready to get cracking on your branding? Give us a shout; we’re here to help!