How to Build a Brand

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Lesson Overview

In this series of lessons, we will pivot from web design to your business and learn How to Create Your Web Design Brand.

In this particular lesson, we will learn:

  1. What is a brand?
  2. How do you create an easily recognizable and lovable brand?
    • Brand Identity
    • Brand Reputation


Lesson Transcription

Welcome! I’m Leighton, your webmaster. In this series of lessons, let’s learn how to create a brand!

So to kickstart this series… what is a brand? It’s difficult to define, and it’s much more than simply a company name. One reference defines a brand as, “a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.” So more than simply the name, it’s includes the identity and reputation of a company. Brands can change over time — they can develop, expand, respond and shift with the times.

Further, brands involve your feelings. How do you feel when you interact with a certain company? Do you love certain brands? Do you strongly dislike any companies? A good (and bad) experience goes a long way, and that’s why successful brands today are always emotionally infused. They hold great emotional meaning for people and that’s what makes that brand loved and respected. Think about it! If you had a great experience at a coffee shop, what do you do? Tell others! What if you had a terrible experience? Same thing. Tell others! Your emotional reaction to the experience you had with that brand moves you to act. And how you act either helps or harms the brand. One person’s opinion on the brand might not seem like much, but if the majority hold a similar opinion, for better or worse, the brand forms a reputation.

What major brands can you think of? Toyota, Wal-Mart, Apple, Google, Nike, Disney, Samsung, Chick Fil-A, McDonald’s, all wildly successful, globally-recognized brands. Successful brands like those have a simple, universal logo that evokes an emotion as soon as you see it. Let’s test that: When I say the name, Coca-Cola, can you envision the logo? What color is it? What does the font look like? Is it traditional or cursive? Does the name evoke an emotion? Do you like or dislike their soda? Yes, look at all the subconscious associations you have with simply the name, Coca-Cola, and that’s because they have thoughtfully created a successful brand.

So how do you go about creating a brand that’s easily recognizable and lovable? Well, there’s 2 main components: Identity and Reputation. The first is how you project your brand, and the 2nd is how your brand is perceived. Let’s break these down, and as we do, notice how much control you have over these things.

  • Brand Identity — These are the visible elements of your brand: the company name, logo, color palette, slogan, etc. It includes the tone and wording of your marketing messages. Your identity are the things you can control. You can design your brand, make it look fun, modern, traditional, eco-friendly, or whatever you have in mind. Whatever you’re looking to project, all of your branding choices should consistently reflect that goal. In fact, do you think a brand marketing to a younger age bracket would use the same word choice as another brand targeting seniors? What would change? Well, for one, seniors have more life experience and a wider vocabulary. They’ll appreciate more complex words and a brand that projects confidence and security. With the younger generation, it’s a feat just to hold their attention! They want discounts and loyalty perks. Yes, with careful consideration, a brand can send the correct message to the correct audience, and that, they can control. But what do they have less control over? Their reputation.
  • Brand Reputation — The reputation is how a brand is perceived. How do you perceive Apple? They project “high-end, cutting-edge,” and does that align with their reputation? I think so. What about McDonald’s? Here’s some various snippets from their website: “our food uses priority ingredients, sustainably sourced, ethically produced to ensure the health and safety of both customers and animals.” But what’s their reputation? Does their reputation align with their stated goals? What do you think? What’s my point? Here’s my point: A brand can state whatever they want, but the customers will decide its reputation. In fact, there’s entire companies dedicated to PR, or Public Relations, to help shape (or save) a brand’s reputation, but ultimately, it’s up to the public, and the public can change their mind. Can you think of any brands that have “gone downhill”? Or maybe “gone uphill,” improved over time, rebounded? A brand’s reputation, much like the brand itself, can evolve over time.

RECAP: What have we learned so far?

  1. A brand includes its visible elements, like the name, logo and color palette, but also the emotions evoked by it.
  2. A brand’s identity can be thoughtfully designed to send a specific message to the appropriate audience.
  3. A brand’s reputation is decided upon by its customers. It can improve or worsen over time.

So we briefly discussed how to create a brand, but in the next lesson, we’ll talk about creating your brand for your website design business. Super exciting, and I’m ready to share my tips!

I’m Leighton, and now you know… how to create a brand!


Lesson Homework

Think of different brands and how you perceive them. Think of brands you like, dislike, and why you feel that way.