by Kelly Hobkirk
This post reviews some common branding questions and answers. If you have branding questions of your own, please send them via our contact page.
Q: What is branding?
A: Branding is the process of creating a brand. Once the brand is created, branding is over.
Q: What steps are included in the branding process?
A: Branding is an 7-step process. It starts with your product or service as a concept, and continues with brand positioning. Next is brand strategy, followed by brand naming. After your strategy and brand name are solidified, we design your brand identity and write your brand messaging. Finally, we craft a series of documents, called brand standards, that succinctly communicate how to use your brand for maximum success.
Let’s summarize the 7 branding steps:
1. Product Concept
2. Brand Positioning
3. Brand Strategy
4. Brand Naming
5. Brand Identity
6. Brand Messaging
7. Brand Standards
Q: What is next in the branding process?
A: After the brand is created, branding is complete. There are no more steps until the process is undertaken again, usually 10-15 years later. Sometimes the period of time between branding efforts can be shorter, especially when a company direction changes.
Q: If I am promoting my brand, isn’t that branding?
A: No, promoting your brand is centered around marketing, most often in the form of advertising.
Q: If I am building my brand, isn’t that branding?
A: No, building your brand is, well, building your brand. In short, it’s sticking to your guns so to speak, following your brand standards, reinforcing what has already been created, and promoting it.
Q: What about my website? Isn’t that branding?
A: Your website is part of your brand identity, yet also may be used as an advertising medium, and even as your store. Just as brick and mortar retailers use advertising to drive people into the store, we often utilize parts of a website to drive people further into the site. For instance, home page banners might direct people to store pages.
Q: Why isn’t advertising branding?
A: Advertising, when done correctly, has a specific purpose. The purpose can be many things, but it cannot be the creation of a brand, which is what branding is. In order for advertising to be effective, the brand must already exist.
To better understand the important distinction between branding and advertising, consider that advertising generally does not work without a brand already in existence. If you advertise for an unknown brand, what would the result be? What would people remember? What would they identify with? What would be their next step? Nothing. There would be nothing for them to connect with, and no next step.
Your brand introduces and illuminates the product people want. Your advertising stimulates a desired action in the direction of the brand.
Q: Is social media branding?
A: No, social media is marketing. Here again, your brand must already exist for the effort to have marketing value. Marketing is all about forging connection. In order to forge connection, your brand must already exist. Otherwise, there is nothing to connect with. (This is not to minimize the value of personal connection born of social media.)
Q: What about branding actions? Isn’t that part of branding?
A: Yes, we consider Branding Actions to be a critical part of creating Brand Standards (Step 7 above). This is where we define the specifics of how to utilize your brand at virtually every touch point. That means discussing and scripting everything from graphical usage to phone demeanor.
If you have branding questions that require fast answers, or need to create a brand that works, give us a shout.