What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see this picture? If you say Coca-Cola, then you along with many of Americans have become a victim of good branding. But what exactly is branding? Branding is more than just a logo. Branding is an overall experience. For example, if I walk into a coffee shop with wooden tables and big leather couches and order a venti caramel latte with skim milk extra hot from a barista in a green apron, it’s safe to say I’m not at Dunkin’ Donuts, but more like Starbucks. It’s all of these aspects that create Starbucks’s brand. In today’s world of social media, do it yourself web sites, and smart phones, you don’t need to be the Executive Marketing Director at Starbucks to create a strong brand.
Think of someone close to you. Chances are you know the sound of their voice, how they will act in certain situations, and can even spot them from a distance away just by the way they walk. This is the same way to think about a brand; as a personality, only this personality you will create.
So let’s create a brand in 4 simple steps:
1. Find out what you want. Think of three to five words that you want your brand or personality to be. Let’s continue to use Starbucks as an example. Starbucks words would be: quality, natural, unique, calm. Starbucks wants people to think quality coffee, from natural places, a unique experience every time they come, and a place they can relax and enjoy whenever or wherever they visit a Starbucks’ location.
2. Find out what you do not want. Finding out what you don’t want to be is just as important as finding out what you do want. Again, find three to five words of things you do not want your brand to express. Starbucks does not want people to think cheap, generic, vibrant, or high energy.
3. Be consistent. Once you have figured out your good and bad words, stick to them, use them as decision points. Let’s say Starbucks wants to create a new advertisement and they use neon, vibrant colors. Not only does this go against their good words, but it’s exactly what they chose their bad words to be. With everything you do or decision you make, ask yourself “Is this (insert good word here), or is this (insert bad word here)”. If you answer yes to your good words, and no to your bad words, then it’s a good decision and a step towards creating your brand.
4. Apply, apply, apply. Until you reach the mega status of Starbucks, Coke, and Nike, apply your brand, your words, your logo to everything you can. Business cards, letters, emails. You want people to associate your logo with your work. So the more they see your work with your logo the more they will be aware, remember, and recognize it and you.
There you have it—the basic steps to creating a strong brand. Now this isn’t quite as easy as baking a cake, it will take lots of work, decision making, patience, perseverance, and let’s not forget determination. But creating a strong brand is essential to creating a successful business.
by Maggie Dadey
Maggie Dadey is a senior at California University of Pennsylvania, double majoring in Graphic Design and Marketing. Currently, she is interning at Accordia Global Health Foundation in the Development and Communications Department working on marketing and fundraising. Upon graduation in May, Maggie hopes to find a job in the DC Metro area.