Brand: An Identification
The idea of branding or having a brand is a little difficult to wrap our brains around. The word originally came from the farmers, ranchers, and herdsmen. A rancher, for example, had a herd of cows that roamed the open range where cattle from other ranches also roamed about. In order to distinguish ownership of the various cows and bulls each rancher had their own particular brand that was seared onto the hides of the cattle. The brand was unique to the ranch.
But it gets a little more complicated when you move from ranchers to you and your projects. Instead of merely communicating ownership, though that is part of it, it goes much deeper and is broadened. Let’s look at a few ways branding is viewed today.
The ownership of the brand is bigger than the “owner”. In our world the ownership is exceptionally two-sided. Not only does the Coca-Cola own the Coke brand, but so do the consumers that drink Coke- to the tune of 1.7 billion servings a day! We own Coke as a beverage, as a logo for our baseball caps and sweatshirts. That is our brand of soda.
People do this with sports teams and coffee and Disney and Disney characters jeans and cameras and cars and bikes and nations and underwear and TV show… you get the idea. A brand today has a two-sided ownership.
NOT JUST A LOGO
Logos may be the visual representation, but they are not permanent. Starbucks, regardless of your opinion of them, is the world’s dominating coffee dispensary. They have been through at least four distinct logo designs since its founding. Toyota’s logo of today is radically different from their logo of the 1930’s. My point is that they is just a representative of a bigger idea.
A strong brand, as Seth Goden (branding expert) explains, is a “set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” The more significant those memories, stories, so on are, then the stronger the attachment and the more a consumer will attach herself to that brand.
STRONG BRAND EQUATES TO STRONG RETURN
The stronger a brand, then the stronger the return. The return is at least two-fold. The first return is the loyalty of brand following. This is both numerical and intensity- and you want both. A broadening base of faithful followers is part of the goal. Just plain old number of people that like your products. But you also want a deeper emotional tie of those followers to your creations.
That depth of an emotional tie to a brand brings about the second return that strong branding brings- revenue potential. This isn’t just a result of sheer numbers. It is more an issue of potential revenue from the individual followers. The deeper the branding tie, the more people will pay. So a mug from an anonymous maker will garner as little as $10, but Justin Rothshank mug will reap between $40 to $75 and beyond per mug. That is the power of a strong brand.
Circling back to you and your “products” it’s important to take the time to not just get your stuff to market, you want to create a “name” for yourself- a brand. Your aesthetics, your quality, your story, your customer service all come to into play. But you have to remember the other side of the ownership also- your customers experience, story, impression with your product, and their interaction with each piece.
Don’t just show your work, present it. Don’t just tell everyone it is a cup, create a story for the cup. Don’t just price your work, put value on it. If your website is up and running, make sure it looks awesome. If you are showing pictures of your work, nail the lighting and setting and angle of your photos. Respond quickly and professionally and personably to your customers. And always work on raising the quality of your creations.
As creatives it is easy to think we can do it all- that’s me to a T. But outside help may be the better use of our time and resources.
Worpress Themes: There are ton(!!!) of free WordPress themes that will help your website look absolutely beautiful. I am a fan of free! The Potters Cast website has a free theme. But, if you really want to get set apart from the masses, and have an aesthetic look and feel for your theme, then use a service like ElegantThemes.com in order to get a unique look. I have zero interest in this company, but I do love some of the themes that they come up with.
Logo: Though logos are not everything, it does help. My show, Doubt the Doubts is supported by 99designs.com. This company will come up with an amazing and inexpensive logo (or website) custom made for you.
Further Reading: Entrepreneur.com has a great entry-level article on this subject. Branding should not be a one-time study and done, but rather an ongoing development and nurturing endeavor. This article makes some really good basic points and points us in the right direction.