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What Even is a Brand?
“Brand” is one of those words that we all know, but none of us really know. What even is a brand? Generally when I ask this question I hear responses like “Coca Cola”, “The stamp on a cow butt”, “public image”… and all of these are sort of right.
Brand is one of those businessy words that sounds so official and corporate that many small businesses and solopreneurs assume it’s not for them. I have talked to many CEOs who have said things like “I don’t need any branding, I just need social media”, or “Isn’t branding for global companies? I just want a website.”
Here’s the thing, everyone has a brand. And if you aren’t defining it, your audience is. And you don’t want that.
Your brand is essentially your identity, and we would all agree (I hope) that we have an identity. But identity is a huge nebulous concept that takes years to wrap our heads around. There are a lot of different elements to a brand, and they all need to work together to create a whole presence.
Your brand tells people who you are. When it is solid, people will know it’s you without needing to explicitly see you. It’s how you know that you are looking at an Ikea catalog vs. Better Homes and Gardens without needing to see any logos. It’s how you know that Chuck E. Cheese is budget kid-friendly and Disneyland is a more elaborate kid-friendly. It’s how you know that Gordon Ramsay will savagely tell you how it is and Chip and JoJo will paint your shiplap and give you farmhouse-chic.
When you are branding a business, the little things matter. The fonts you use, the colors, the language and tone, the photos/illustrations, your prices, your philosophies, all of these pieces create your brand. The hard part is that it starts with you. The better you know yourself, the better you can brand yourself and your business, because you won’t be creating a brand out of nothing, you will simply be introducing the world to what already is.
I’m excited to spend these next few months working with brand photographer Robin Terhune as we walk through personal branding together. We will be using our personal businesses as a case study for you to follow along and learn all of the necessary elements that go into creating a cohesive brand- from identity, to visuals, to content strategy and business models.