30 November 2018

Branding isn't your logo

Branding isn’t the first thing you think about when you talk about growth marketing. Growth has a reputation of being data nerds, that stay away from “fluffy” things like branding.

Yet, branding is an incredibly powerful vector in your overall growth mix.

But here’s the problem…

Entrepreneurs misunderstand what branding is

When most startups decide they need to do a “rebranding”, they focus on a new logo, and maybe style directions like fonts, colors, and other such matters.

But that’s not branding—that’s your visual identity

That confusion of terms is widespread, and regretful… because we’ve just reduced something important to something rather marginal. Visual identity isn’t going to make-or-break your startup —but branding is.

So what’s branding then?

Branding is about owning a concept or a “name space” in a prospect’s mind

The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind. It connects your product to an identity. For instance…

Do you want to “find an answer”? —> Google Want to drive an electric car”? —> Tesla

Etcetera.

Whenever people think about a certain “concept”, they automatically connect it to a company. That company “owns” that concept, or owns that description (in your head).

This idea applies to much smaller concepts, too. Imagine you want to take your girl out to an expensive cocktail bar.

Think about that for a second…

Which place would you take her to?

For me, The Night Rooster in Ubud, Bali pops up. Of course it’s not the same cocktail bar that you had in mind right now… because that image is unique to me, and to you. Even someone who lives right next to you, might have another idea of what “high-end cocktail bar” translates to.

But in either case, someone owns that concept.

Okay, let’s move on…

How you can improve your branding

The first thing to realize, is that against the previous definition, your logo won’t make a massive difference to your brand. I don’t know what the logo of that cocktail place looks like… and frankly, I don’t care.

To improve your branding, you want to first decide what “name space” you want to own in your prospect’s mind, and then make sure that everything you do strengthens and supports that idea.

  • Problem you’re solving This is the most fundamental building block. Defines the category you’re in, so people can mentally “archive” you into a certain label. Tesla makes “cars”. Growthcasts “teaches you marketing”.

  • Unique approach / magic sauce Each category has many segments, and even if many companies solve the exact same problem, there are always different ways to go about it. What’s your unique approach?

  • Philosophy (why) Besides the approach, there’s the philosophy—the “reason why”. This is more emotional. It’s the reason you get out of bed every morning. This explains why your approach is the right approach.

  • Audience The people that you serve, and maybe the location that you’re in. Even though there are millions of Thai restaurants, you can own the best one in town. Growthcasts is online, but teaches to entrepreneurs. That’s an audience.

  • Tone of voice How do you communicate? How do you talk? Do you speak the language that someone expects from a business like yours? If it’s unexpected, is it unexpected in a way that supports your brand?

  • Visual identity Yeah, finally! Your visual style either supports or conflicts the other components of your branding. Growthcasts stands for storytelling and “making things simple”… so our visual style focuses on readability and keeps things plain and simple.

  • Origin story How did you end up here? Why do you care? Who’s behind this? —Your origin story tells where you come from. Explaining your history helps people understand where you’re headed, too.

Each component of your branding can either support the other pieces, or conflict with it. In order to win the battle for your prospect’s mind, you want to build a brand that’s clear and crisp.

It’s something you work on iteratively, over time.