The Brand Why

10 Sepbranding

We all have a brand. It’s been developing the whole time we’ve been kicking around on this earth. From cute baby tricks to an adventure on our tricycle, to what we did in school, to our special way of expressing ourselves. We’re known to others based on our physical characteristics, our personality, our accomplishments, our story. It’s how we tell one another apart.

Lisa #1 joined the Army out of college, and when she finished her tour, came home and married her high school sweetheart. She had long blonde hair, but cut it when she had three kids. She has a loud laugh you can hear from across the room.

Lisa #2 does have long blonde hair, and she’s a rodeo queen. She used to do some spectacular pranks in high school.

We met Lisa #3 at a holiday party. She’s recognizable for her uptown girl flair and bright red lipstick. She started a candy business on a whim and now her company is coming on to be a national brand.

So we perform our style of ‘branding’ everyday, with people we know, with politicians, with organizations and products. It’s how our brains can differentiate and file away information so we remember which is which.

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Somehow, though, when we start a business, we think it should just pop full-grown out of the bushes, and be instantly recognizable with a logo – without any background that supports that icon.

The word ‘brand’ indeed represents a stamp like a cattle brand, like an insignia over a doorway – something that says ‘mine’.  But as you’ve noticed, the marketplace has gotten crowded, and it takes more than a symbol to differentiate your product from others.

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A complete brand is made up of elements – just like the Lisa’s – that are memorable outside of a logo:

It starts with a philosophy or mission statement. Why do you have or want to have this particular business? Do you want to make organic ketchup that is good for everyone and good for the earth? Do you want to make people happy with your ketchup? Do you want to start a ketchup revolution that saves ugly tomatoes and makes them into a beautiful product? This is your ‘why’.
[Having this sorted and put into a daily mindset will help you when you feel like quitting. It’s as essential to your business as it is to your audience.]

You can inject your own vibe, voice, personality into your brand. With what adjectives would you  describe yourself or your business? Witty? Authoritative? Fresh? Innovative? Sarcastic? Positive? Zen? This comes across when you meet your customers, when you write your copy, when you’re interviewed, when you answer the phone. This is a memorable element.

What’s your story? Did you learn to make ketchup from your grandma? Do you farm and your ketchup is organic? Did you make a batch for a barbeque and people started asking you for the recipe? Do you see how telling your story can make your brand memorable to your most likely buyers, help them to tell your product apart from the others on the shelf?

What is your unique selling position? This one is important to figure out. How does your business stack up – and I don’t mean monetary success – against your competition? What sets it apart? Why is it better? Why should people choose your ketchup over another?

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This is the first of a five-part series that will teach you about these brand elements, and how to apply them to your business. I want to give them to you for free, because I’m passionate about the success of a brand. Without a solid brand, businesses fail.

Grace Studio designs brands, graphics, and websites for artisan businesses. See her story and other stuff here.