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Updated on October 11, 2023.
What is good branding?
Branding is the complex art of making brands.
To define branding in depth, we must first define a brand.
At Mental Breakdown, we have identified two pretty accurate definitions.
Definition: a brand
The first definition is by Marty Neuemier, a leading branding authority.
This definition shows us that a brand is not just a logo, a typography, a graphic charter, or a product.
A brand is the feeling shared by a group of people about a product, a service, or a company.
There is a second definition we find very accurate at Mental Breakdown, which comes from Brian Collins. This other big shot in branding is behind his company's branding of Spotify, Dropbox, Twitch, and many others.
His definition is as follows:
A brand is a promise delivered consistently over time.
What this definition implies is that a brand must always exceed the expectations of its customers, users, and community through the experience it provides.
Branding: the creation of brand images
Since these two definitions explain a brand, we can deduce branding.
These two definitions present us with two issues:
How do we create that shared feeling?
How to define and deliver this promise all the time?
Branding is, therefore, a compound of methods that allow us to answer these two questions.
Answering these two questions in creating a brand image is like shaping a brand's reputation.
To understand how branding shapes a brand's reputation, we need to talk about the two fundamental objectives of branding.
To inspire trust
When we talk about reputation, we necessarily speak about trust. Having a good reputation means delivering, consistently over time, what you promise.
This is what Brian Collins talks about in his definition. He evokes the profound objective of branding by telling us about a consistently delivered promise that creates a bond of trust.
Branding has existed everywhere since the dawn of time, and we can find very concrete examples of it.
To illustrate, let's take the example of coins in the time of the Roman emperors:
Marcus and Brutus are two friends. Marcus fishes for salmon, and Brutus harvests beans.
To their great delight, Marcus and Brutus have always exchanged salmon and beans.
One day Marcus wants to make a nice meal of salmon and beans.
Marcus needs more salmon to make an exchange with his friend Brutus.
As the idea is born from the constraint, Marcus takes out of his pocket a small metal circle and offers it to Brutus in exchange for his beans.
Brutus is a bit doubtful and wonders what he can do with this small object.
By taking it in his hand, Brutus notices the head of the Roman emperor of the moment struck on the back of the small circle.
He recognizes the object, a coin issued by the Roman Empire.
Brutus accepts the deal and everyone leaves happy with this deal.
If we take a step back on this story, we quickly understand that this is about branding. Brutus would not have accepted the deal if there weren't a Roman emperor's head on the coin.
Without the "Roman Empire" brand logo on the coin, Brutus would not have considered the coin to have any market value.
The face of the Roman emperor on the coin is a symbol of trust. Brutus knows instantly by whom the coin was issued and can give his faith in the object.
Branding is the art of creating captivating symbolic elements that build trust.
Making a mark
Now that we know the profound objective of branding, we need to bounce back on an important word: captivating.
There needs to be more than just creating symbolic elements. You have to captivate your audience. If your brand image doesn't make an impression, all is lost.
To have confidence in the coin's value, Brutus must remember what the face of the Roman emperor on the coin symbolizes.
That's why everyone talks about differentiating themselves from the competition in business. The goal is to be more memorable than the others so that people remember they can trust you.
How to inspire trust?
Here are the ingredients for your brand's success:
Being trustworthy is your job.
Inspiring trust is the job of branding agencies and studios.
There are no secrets to inspiring trust, only methods. These methods teach you how to intelligently communicate who you are.
These methods generally consist of three main steps:
In other words:
Your plan for defining why you can be trusted.
Your way of showing that you can be relied upon.
Your captivating trust-building symbols.
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