The Black American Veteran
A comprehensive guide to creating and understanding the difference between Brand, Branding, Brand Identity, and Brand Strategizing for the Black American Veteran.
The Origin of Brand
The term brand is said to have originated with ancient Egyptians who would use a distinct symbol to brand their livestock in order to tell it apart (differentiate) from other livestock. Over time Brand has evolved to be referred to as a name, term, slogan, phrase, design, or symbol which differentiates one brand, or business, from its competitors.
The purpose of your brand is to communicate products or services offered and how they’re offered with the intent to establish credibility & trust with potential customers. Your brand is responsible for the experience customers have with your company which ultimately shapes how they perceive your company.
Customer experiences are also shaped through brand interaction in the form of images such as the logo, which is used to differentiate your Brand from your competitors.
The Brand Logo will always be the first interaction customers have with your company as it represents the promise or committment you make to customers about your products.
Basic uses of the logo include it being combined with content created on a website or in marketing materials, or added in posts on social networking platforms highlighting offerings or deals.
Once you have an idea of what will be the Brand for your personal or business marketing venture you can begin to work on Branding.
Branding involves the actual ‘process’ of creating the name & logo for a personal or business product or service.
The purpose of branding is to properly define company values, the manner in which products & services are advertised by the company, and to aid in building the company’s reputation with the intent of generating awareness & loyalty around, towards, or for its Brand.
Types of Branding
- Co-branding – partnering with other brands to amplify reach across relatable campaigns.
- Digital branding – utilizing web, search engine optimization, social media, & commerce on the web.
- Personal branding – branding via self-marketing
- Cause branding – partnering with a charitable organizations.
- Country branding – using a country to attract tourists and businesses.
Branding terms & definitions you’ll need to know:
- Brand Assets – these are visual assets created for the brand.
- Brand Associations – items or efforts linked to a brand.
- Brand Awareness – elements of a brand that differentiates it from its competitors.
- Brand Personality – the brand’s personality traits (e.g. innovative, socially conscious, trustworthy, friendly)
- Brand Positioning – how your brand is perceived against its competitors.
- Brand Promise – your brand’s unique selling proposition.
- Brand Values – factors guiding your company’s decisions and behaviors.
- Brand Voice – how does your brand Speak?
What is Brand Equity?
‘ Brand equity is the measurable totality of a brand’s worth and is validated by observing the effectiveness of these branding components. As markets become increasingly dynamic and fluctuating, brand equity is built by the deployment of marketing techniques to increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, with side effects like reduced price sensitivity. A brand is, in essence, a promise to its customers of what they can expect from products and may include emotional as well as functional benefits. When a customer is familiar with a brand or favors it incomparably to its competitors, a corporation has reached a high level of brand equity. Special accounting standards have been devised to assess brand equity. In accounting, a brand defined as an intangible asset, is often the most valuable asset on a corporation’s balance sheet. Brand owners manage their brands carefully to create shareholder value. Brand valuation is a management technique that ascribes a monetary value to a brand, and allows marketing investment to be managed (e.g.: prioritized across a portfolio of brands) to maximize shareholder value. Although only acquired brands appear on a company’s balance sheet, the notion of putting a value on a brand forces marketing leaders to be focused on long term stewardship of the brand and managing for value. ‘
If a brand is the symbol used to differentiate a business from its competitors, and Branding is the process of creating that symbol, then Brand Identity represents the elements which make up that symbol.
What is Brand Identity?
Brand Identity is the physical representation of Brand design in the form its colors, the brand logo, it’s shape, and other elements which are used to help customers identify & distinguish the brand in their minds.
Brand Identity is what I physically see when I look at a company’s brand (logo). This is its identity.
Purpose of Brand Identity Design
The purpose of brand identity design is to make your brand recognizable to potential customers.
Elements of Brand Identity
Basic elements of a brands identity will include, but aren’t limited to:
- Logo Variations
- Logo Wordmark
- Logo Mockups
- Colors & Color Palette
- Fonts & Typefaces
- Image Style
- Library of Graphical Elements
- Slogan / Tagline
- Style Guide
Brand Identity Examples:
- McDonalds – Golden Arches
- Apple – an apple with a bite in it
- Mastercard – two round circles
- Nike – the Swoosh
This information is documented inside of a Brand Identity Guideline.
Brand Identity Guideline
The purpose of the brand identity guidelines is to not only protect the integrity of your brand but to help maintain consistency when it comes to the overall look and presentation of your brand.
Instruction on how the brand is to be used both internally & externally is documented inside of the brand identity guideline. Also included:
- Brand identity system
- Brand personas
- Brand platform(s)
- Brand messaging
Once you have this information defined your next step is to create a Brand Strategy.
What is a Brand Strategy?
A detailed plan outlining steps taken by a company to build & share their brand with the public which can include:
- Family & Friends
Purpose of a Brand Strategy
To help shape public perception of your brand.
Developing a Brand Strategy
When attempting to develop an effective brand strategy for your business consider the following components to use as your starting point:
- Brand Purpose – Ensure your brand is comprised of your company’s core competencies & characteristics to include personality & image.
- Brand Objectives: develope a plan of action centered around meeting objectives you set for your company. Two objectives to consider:
- What does your brand do for your company?
- What response about your company are you expecting from your customers?
- Emotional Impact – developing imact-based campaigns centered on forming connections, or bonds, with your customers.
- Target Audiences – perform market research & competitor analysis to determine & zero in on target market(s). Elements to consider include:
- Size of market?
- Age of target audience within market?
- Ethnic make-up of target audience?
- Income range of taget audience?
- Professions & interests of target audience?
- User Personas to identify target customers. These can include:
- Who are your customers?
- What are their needs?
- Where are they located?
- When are they the most active?
- Why do they make certain decisions?
- How do they interact with your products & services?
- Brand Barriers – perform analysis to sport market conditions which can impact the growth of your business.
- Identify Core Identity – this can include but isn’t limited to:
- Company vision – why the company exists.
- Company mission – what the company does.
- Company values – beliefs which guide company action.
- Define Brand Positioning – a statement explaining how your company differentiates in the marketplace and how you’re different from your competitors.
- Define Unique Selling Position – what does your business stand for?
- Develop Brand Identity Assets – this can include but isn’t limited to:
- Printed advertising material
- Product packaging
- Develop Brand Voice – the manner in which you consistently & uniformly talk about your brand, both internally & externally. This can include:
- Picking a consistent brand voice to ensure that your communications are focused and in clear support of your positioning.
- Make sure your brand is clearly & consistently reflected in your content, digital, and offline marketing strategies.
- Execute – the methods in which you communicate about your brand through marketing.
Brand Design Characteristics
Who Are You?
Before deciding which elements will be used to make up your brand identity, you need to have an understanding of who you are as a brand. This can be determined from the following elements:
- Your Mission – why?
- Your Values – what beliefs drive our company?
- Your brand personality – what type of personality does our company have?
- Your unique positioning – how do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
- Your brand voice – if a person, how would your brand communicate?
These are the elements which define your brand, and it’s important to have a clear understanding of each before you start building your brand identity.
Answer the following questions:
- Why did I/we start this business?
- What is it that I/we do better than anyone else?
- What is it that makes me/us special?
- What beliefs & values are important to me/us as a company?
- How would I describe my/our brand in five (5) words or less?
- What are five (5) words I/we want our customers to use to describe us?
Once you have a solid understanding of who you are as a brand, you’re ready to begin bringing your brand identity to life and presenting it to the world.
Brand Identity Design Foundation
Your design is responsible for building the brand identity of your company.
Design assets are tangible elements which determine how your brand is pereceived. These can include:
- Brand Packaging
- Website Design
- Business Cards
Consider the following elements as the building blocks for your brand design:
Types of Logos:
- Abstract Mark – a symbol, or pictorial representation, in geometric form.
- Example: Nike Swoosh.
- Emblem – a mark which includes the company name with it’s image.
- Example: Harley Davidson.
- Lettermark – a uniquely designed image in the form of a letterform.
- Example: McDonald’s “M”.
- Pictorial Mark – an easily recognizable image with a unique styling.
- Example: Apple or Twitter logos.
- Wordmark – a brand name, or word, stylized as a logo.
- Example: Google.
- Simple – minimal graphic elements.
- Memoriable – simple & distinctive.
- Appropriate – relevant to the business industry & target audience.
- Round – circles, ellipses, & ovals.
- Suggests positive feelings centered around community.
- Example: Mastercard.
- Sharp Edges – squares & rectangles.
- Suggests strength & efficiency creating a feeling of stability.
- Straight Lines – vertical, horizontal, and diagonal.
- Vertical lines suggest strength & masculinity.
- Horizontal lines suggest tranquility and mellow vibes.
- Red – passion & excitement.
- Orange – high-energy providing a sense of friendliness.
- Yellow – sunshine & happiness.
- Green – multi-use, ie culture, finance, nature.
- Blue – stable & trustworthy.
- Purple – royalty & femininity.
- Pink – femininity.
- Black – modern & sophisticated.
- Brown – diversity, rugged, masculine.
- Serif – Times New Roman or Garamond font with anchors, or feet, on the end of each letter. Considered a classic topography trustworthy, traditional, and old school.
- Sans Serif – Helvicta or Franklin Gothic font with smooth edges. Present a more modern & sleek look to your brands.
- Script – emulate cursive handwriting presenting an authentic feel to your brand.
- Display fonts – contain specialized elements in the form of an unusual shape to the letters, outlines, shadowing, or artistic additions to letterings.
How do you wan to soiund to your audience?
– Corporate or casual?
– Stright to the point or conversational?
Designing Your Brand Identity
Once you’ve determined the building blocks, tangible elements, of your design, you’re ready to start working to bring your brand identity to life and transform who you are as a brand into elements you can use in your marketing.
Common Brand Elements
The most important element in your brand identity. Consider the following checkpoints as you work to have the perfect logo created:
- Communicates clearly who you are and what you value as a brand.
- Visually appealing.
- Scalable to evolve in these fast-changing times.
- Meets industry standards.
- Posses a Wow effect or at a minimum makes a last impression with your audience.
Have your logo designed and delivered in multiple formats & sizes to ensure that multiple copies are on hand and most importanly that each is in line with your brand identity.
Your website is the second most important element in your brand identity as it allows your customers to find you, your company, and information about your products.
Customers are likely to search for information about your products or services online before deciding to do business with you or your brand.
If you offer physical products, then product packaging could be the key to attracting the right customers to your brand. Good packaging goes a long way in terms of improving a customers experience likely resulting in loyalty & repeat business.
Business cards give you the chance to reinforce a positive opinion of yourself in the eyes of potential customers.
Keep business card design simple with a logo on one side of the card and contact data on the other side.
Email marketing is still a go to method for staying in contact with customers. If new and wanting to grow your business via email, you need to come up with the right design strategy to set yourself apart from clutter likely filling up the inboxes of your customers. Things to consider:
- Re-think email purpose.
- What type of connection are you trying to make?
- Are you selling, educating, or informing? How often?
- Use links to videos instead of long winded text.
- Consider using multiple formats to keep the emails appearing fresh.
Create a Brand Style Guide
Once you have your brand design assets, you need to consider creating brand style guide to dictate the manner in which your brand elements are used.
What is a Brand Style Guide
A document which outlines in detail your design assets, when and how to use them, as well as any Do’s & Dont’s for your brand. In addition, the style guide standardizes future design maintaining the right perception with your audience.