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What’s in a Brand: Understanding the Key Elements



If I asked you to tell me Nike’s slogan, you’d say “Just Do It” without hesitation. If I asked you for Coke’s logo colors, you’d quickly answer, “red.” And, if I showed you a photo of Tony the Tiger, you’d immediately associate it with Frosted Flakes.


The power of brand recognition can’t be overstated. But most companies aren’t backed by the marketing capabilities of these monolithic companies. So, what can a small- or medium-sized company do to ensure its brand is performing at its best? Conduct a brand review. The process allows you to take a step back, view the overall picture, and uncover opportunities for improvement.


What is a Brand?


Most people think it’s their logo. It is, but it’s also much more than that. Your brand is how people perceive your company. It’s what they think and how they feel about you.


Brand identity, on the other hand, is the external expression of your brand, including your name, logo, color palette and voice. It’s how you differentiate yourself from the competition and communicate with the world.


You could say you are the best at what you do, but if you are not perceived that way, your brand is misaligned with your business. To build your best brand, you need to ensure all the elements in your brand identity work together to deliver the right impression. Start by analyzing the components individually.


Brand Emotion


How do you want your customers to feel? Think about how Big Brothers Big Sisters uses personal stories in their messaging to support the organization’s mission. Or how Coke commercials are intentionally staged to create happy feelings. Decide what you want your customers to feel – whether it’s adventurous, satisfied, smart, trendsetting, accomplished, or a host of other emotions – and you’ll have an easier time communicating with them.


Brand Visuals


Does your logo reflect the attributes you want to portray (traditional, contemporary, edgy, etc.)? How about your website? And how about your brochures, letterhead, business cards and advertising. These representations of your brand should all align in style and appropriately reflect your brand emotions and messaging.


Brand Messaging


Once you determine how you want your customers to feel when they encounter your brand, you can craft your brand messaging to evoke those emotions. Your brand messaging should be cohesive across all channels, from your website to marketing brochures, telling the same story of what you bring to the table and what makes it different from your competitors.


Brand Presence


Once you have the brand elements in place, you want to assess where your brand is showing up. This is a big one. If no one sees your brand, then it doesn’t matter much what it says. Your brand travels across multiple channels, including your website, social media, SEO, marketing materials, advertising, sponsorships, events, and through employees and customers.


One of the most significant ways to build your brand is through your employees. It often takes a human connection to notice a new brand. You could walk by a company’s billboard every day and not notice it until your friend gets a job there. So the more visible your employees are in the market, the easier it will be to build your brand presence.


Your Brand is Ever Evolving


As your company grows and your brand becomes more known, your brand elements become more important. By routinely reviewing your brand identity, you can ensure it supports your brand strategy, contributes to the feeling you want to impress on customers, and represents your company at its finest.


Have questions or need help getting started? Contact me at mblachly@grayreedadvisory.com.

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