What is branding?
My definition of branding is the process of creating a unique experience that excites a person’s sight (through logos, symbols, ads and other visual identity), hearing (through recognizable sounds, music, etc.), and feeling (through their emotions and customer interaction). Branding is about positioning your brand to be identifiable and remembered. The key to this is to focus on your customer’s/client’s needs and wants. You want your customers/clients familiar, comfortable, trusting and loyal to your brand. And in order to get these things, your brand has to be relevant to their needs and wants as well as cohesive. Every element of your brand from your messaging to your business card has to work together and make sense. The process of branding is making your brand the leader and preferred choice among your competitors. Think about your favorite fashion brand or fast food restaurant, what is the first brand that comes to mind? Now think about why you chose that brand. Is it because of the taste, the customer service, the look, the funny ads, the joy you feel when you encounter it, the ease to purchase or eat/wear it, or the price point? You should want your business to have the same positive response and thoughts.
Is branding just for businesses? Can branding it be for individuals too?
Branding is not just for businesses, branding is for you, too. There is something called a personal brand and it works the same way as a business brand. You are your personal brand. What you wear, your tone and speech, your personality, your quirkiness, how you connect and communicate with others; it's all a part of your personal brand. When you see a barber or cosmetologist, makeup artist or fashion designer you are expecting to see a certain thing. For example, their hair should be nice, they should be fashionable or their face should be “beat”. They are their brand’s billboard, and so are you. In the age of social media, even if you do not have a business, your social media profile is a part of your personal brand. It is oftentimes your introduction. Research has shown that employers will Google you before contacting you for an interview or for a job, so you have to make sure your online image is cohesive with the image you portray on your resume, in the interview and in real life. At the end of the day, branding is about leaving a memorable and preferably positive mark on individuals.
What are the key components of branding?
The key components of branding are mainly understanding and coherence. You have to understand what/who you are and what/who you are targeting. Everything is not for everybody, in other words, your brand is not for everyone so you really have to figure out who benefits most from what you are offering. You have to be in touch with your brand and with those you are trying to attract. Once you have an understanding of your brand and target market, you can begin building the foundation for your brand which includes messaging, positioning, focusing on your creative direction, etc. After you have built on your foundation, you must ensure cohesion. Having a diverse, creative and logical connection (cohesion) in your brand is very important. It has to make sense and work fluidly together. For example, you can’t have a persona or core message that states that you help and love people, but then get on social media and curse everyone out. That is hypocritical and is not cohesive. Or, you cannot have a logo on your advertising and business cards that is of a particular symbol like a heart, but on your website, this logo is nowhere to be seen. It has to work together and be consistent and cohesive.
Can “the brand” be turned off? For example, I have a professional career and I’m a PhD student but then there’s the Pink Gumbeaux side of me.
No, you cannot turn your brand on and off. As long as there is the internet, your brand definitely cannot be turned off...you are still “Googlable!” When I started, I tried to separate my brands like that; I had my PR and Branding Consultancy, the resource development girl, the publicist, the consultant, the business planner, the adviser, and the student, but I realized that I was my brand, I was all these things, and that I should focus on that first. For example, instead of focusing on my company, Poised Publicity, LLC, I decided to focus on Robyn B. Kennebrew and to let everything be an entity under my umbrella (my personal brand). The same is for you, instead of solely concentrating on being a PhD student, Planner and owner of Pink Gumbeaux, you (Ashlee Theodore) are your brand and all of these things fall under your umbrella. Look at it like you are General Motors (GM), you have Buicks, Chevy’s, Cadi’s, and GMC’s. They are all different brands, but they all belong to you, your brand.
How can readers get branding tips from you and utilize your services?
Your readers can visit my personal website and sign up for my mailing list. If they sign up, there is a free goodie, my Brand Style Planner, a 5-step process to getting your business on track in the new year, for them.
They can also follow me on my personal Facebook and Instagram. My business is also on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or visit my website.