What IS branding, anyway? How a logo is like your best friend’s hairdo

Only work with clients you love. Charge premium prices. Have wide-reaching influence and recognition. Question is… can a logo and color palette really do ALL that for your business??

The answer is …

NO! It can’t!

But your brand can do all that for you.

You would certainly not be the first if you’re guilty of thinking your brand is just your logo and colors. It’s a notoriously murky subject, and even the savviest business people I know find it hard to put their finger on it.

Here’s what a brand actually is

The way I like to explain it is that your brand is the way that people perceive and experience your business. 

You don’t even own your own brand, technically. A brand solely exists in the heads of other people.

While a brand seems like it’s only for big corporations, that’s not true. Since a brand is basically just the opinion of others, every business, solopreneur, and freelancer has a brand, whether they’ve put thought into it or not. 

So if you’ve never put much thought into it, you may be stuck in a position where people are thinking things about you and your business that you don’t want them to think

And if you’re struggling with clients you don’t like, they’re not respecting your expertise, and they’re arguing with your prices, that’s exactly what’s happening.

The process of branding is purposefully crafting that perception in your favor to meet your business goals. 

You want Holy Grail Clients™ to be drawn to your business like you’re drawn to your best friend

All of this is easiest to understand if you think about how we perceive and experience people

Think about someone you know, and then think about all the little things about them that make them who they are and, therefore, different than everyone else.

Sure, it’s what they look like and how they dress, but that’s such a small part of it – it’s also their personality, how they speak, the words they use, the things they’re passionate about, their little quirks, their unique story.

Now think about your significant other or your best friend. Think about everything that makes them who they are and how you became so drawn to that person above everyone else. 

There’s just something about them, right? It’s hard to explain, but they’re one of a kind, and you just jive on this more profound level. Because of their unique characteristics, someone else couldn’t easily replace them. 

You see where I’m going with this, right?

Your business’s brand is how people perceive your business based on the same factors. You want them to feel like they just met the love of their life and that there’s no one else they’d rather work with.

Saying that your logo and color palette is your brand is like saying that the sole reason you love your best friend is because of their hairdo. Sure, you like their hair, and maybe it’s something you noticed about them from the get-go, but that’s obviously not it!

Humans are judgy lowlifes, and appearances do matter though

As you’ve probably learned through the school of life, appearances do matter.

Humans are essentially a bunch of judgy lowlifes. People’s appearance and dress absolutely shape our perception of them. Before we speak to them, it’s the only information we have about them, and in a split second, we’ve already made unconscious assumptions about what type of person they are. 

The fact is, you may be completely wrong about them. But due to your unconscious assumptions based on their clothing and grooming choices, you may never speak to them and find out what they’re all about. 

If they look unkempt with outdated, poorly fitted clothes that don’t match, what impression are they giving? What snap judgments are people going to make about them?

In other words, if your visual brand – i.e., your logo, colors, fonts, and graphics – looks low quality, people will make a snap judgment that your service is low quality.

Since we all know you’re the best at what you do, that’s a problem! If they dug a little deeper, they might find that you really are a match made in heaven, but too late… you’ve already lost them. 

So yeah. Your business better look good. But it’s certainly not the only thing that makes clients fall in love with you.

Next article, we’ll talk about the rest of the things that make up your brand and how good branding can lead to making more and working less.

Want the free mini-version of the BrandSauce interview I give all my clients so you can start figuring out your special sauce? DL it right now:

Tracy Raftl

Tracy’s a small business branding expert who’s been featured in the Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Creative Impact Magazine, and various podcasts. She helps entrepreneurs like you snazz their brands so they can work less, make more, and get clients that don’t suck.

Grab her free comparison guide here and learn 10 reasons she gets you better results than 99% of the brand + web designers out there.

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