If you’re a blogger or business owner and you’ve spent even the tiniest amount of time on Instagram or Pinterest, chances are you’ve seen this word thrown around A LOT. But what is a brand really!?

I can tell you what it isn’t. It isn’t your logo, or colour scheme, or even the fancy fonts you use. These are all PART of your brand, but your brand itself is something much more extensive than that.

Its the emotions people feel when they hear your name.

Take Amazon as an example.

When you think of Amazon, you might imagine their logo or the way their website looks. But more likely, the thoughts that pop into your head will be something along the lines of value for money, speed and efficiency.

These associations are all part of Amazon’s brand. One that has taken years to cultivate.

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon

So what are the three main elements of a strong brand?

Your Values

WHO you are
WHAT you do
HOW you do it
WHY you do it

Your values are at the very heart of your brand. They are what make you, you! They are what your business is all about and, more importantly, they are what make you stand out from your competitors.

Let’s say you own a little cupcake shop in your hometown. All the cupcakes are freshly baked in-house and decorated beautifully. But lets say there are 3 other shops in town all doing the exact same thing. All freshly baked cakes and all beautifully presented.

How do you stand out?

Well, maybe you are committed to supporting the community and are the only shop who buys all of your ingredients from local suppliers. Or maybe you donate a certain percentage of your sales to charity. Or you add a quirky little quote or thank you note into each box of cakes purchased.

These are the elements that make your business special. The little extras that keep your customers coming back for more instead of buying their cakes from one of the other shops.

They are your brand values.

“People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories & magic”

Seth Godin

Your Voice

Your voice is exactly what it says on the tin – its how and where you communicate with your customers.

An edgy, fashionable business, for example, will be much more likely to use humorous, informal language and speak to their target audience on social media than an accountancy firm who will be more formal and probably use more traditional marketing and networking methods.

Your Visuals

The way you look!

This is the aesthetic side of your branding – its how you represent everything we talked about above and build up brand recognition.

Your visual brand identity is what most people think about when they hear the word branding. Its your logo, colour scheme and font choices. Its the images and graphics you use and the way your website looks.

So Why Do You Need a Brand?

Why is Coca Cola so successful? Is it because its product is far superior to its competitors? Probably not.

Its because Coca Cola has one of the most recognisable and successful brands in the World.

Take it from the mouth of one of Coca Cola’s very own executives:

“If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business”

Coca Cola Executive

Just because you’re a small business, it doesn’t mean your branding is any less important than it is for Coca Cola.

In a World saturated with small businesses and hundreds of people offering identical products, branding is essential to stand out from the crowd.

A strong, cohesive brand that speaks directly to your target market builds trust, gives your business credibility and persuades people to buy from you.

It adds value to your business. It tells people what you do, why you do it and how you do it. It tells people why you are better than your competitors.

Even better, a strong brand enables you to position yourself as THE person to go to in your niche and allows you to charge way more money.

You could be working your ass off creating, selling, blogging and tweeting, but if you don’t have a strong brand you are putting yourself on the back foot right from the get go.

Okay, okay I get it! But where do I start?

Well that’s where we come in! Stay tuned for lots more branding tips over the next few weeks.

We will be writing about how to create a strong brand, quick tips for improving your existing brand and how to brand your social media.