Your Ultimate Guide to Branding - What Is It? & Why You Need It

Photo by Stevie Rotella Photography

Photo by Stevie Rotella Photography

You may hear a lot of buzzwords surrounding the concept of “branding” & you might be wondering what the heck even is a “brand”! Or, you may have a pretty decent grasp on the concept but want to know more. We’ve got ya, boss! Here’s your ultimate guide to branding - what is it & why you need it.


FIRST THINGS FIRST: WHAT IS A “BRAND”?

If you’re asking for our definition, it would be: the various aspects of the physical and emotional identities representing a business (brand) or individual (personal brand). The logo and iconography is the physical (visual) identity, whereas the mission statement, value set and purpose is linked to the emotional identity. All of these things lumped together form your “brand”.

Most important is your WHY. Simon Sinek has a fabulous TEDTalk on this concept, so we’re just going to link him here below so you can get a little burst of motivation to dive in to your brand identity! This video explains why some of the most memorable brands and leaders are such success stories.

 
 

After you’ve nailed down your why, it’s imperative that you write a mission statement, figure out the value system that you are going to operate your business with and the purpose that will guide it. Look at the Donald Miller StoryBrand framework and take a few classes on business ethics.

Only then will you be able to fully pour your heart into the process of creating a visual identity that represents this emotional foundation. Discover resources such as Fiona Humberstone’s How to Style Your Brand (our branding bible, as we call it!) and start looking for graphic designers (or think about ways you may choose to DIY it). Once you pick the path you’re going to go down, stick with it!


WHAT ARE THE PERKS OF HIRING A BRAND DESIGNER VS. DOING IT YOURSELF?

Fiona Humberstone has a whole chapter on this tough decision and we bow to experts like her to help you weigh your options, but if we were to give you our personal opinion: don’t DIY it. Invest the funds and the time necessary to get it right the first time.

Back in the day, we DIY’d our design and it turned out embarrassingly rough. Once we decided to jump at the chance to hire our friend, watercolor and calligraphy artist Riana Nelson, everything was on the up and up from there on out! If only we had someone who could tell us what to do years ago.

Working with a graphic designer who specializes in brand identity is such an empowering, inspiring experience. But, you have to go into it with the right mindset, aware of how designers operate and some 101 knowledge that can help you avoid mishaps and stumbles along the way.

We like to think we’re quite stylish people (heck, it’s even in our name!), but the logistics just don’t come naturally to us - how to make intricate patterns and shapes, knowing the right export settings in Adobe Illustrator (let alone how to use this program!) and other specifics go way over our heads. We’d prefer to outsource and trust the professional to hook us up with a beautiful brand!


WHAT SHOULD I BE LOOKING FOR WHEN HIRING A DESIGNER?

Most brand designers offer a holistic “branding package” - we always suggest you opt for this as opposed to a solo logo design. A logo is great and all, but it doesn’t cohesively tell a story throughout all of your marketing touchpoints. Branding packages can range anywhere from $400-3,000 depending on the resume and abilities of the designer and what all is included.

While you should be sure to find a designer within your price range, we highly suggest saving up to get a design you LOVE and suggest that you shoot for the $700-1,000 range. We partner with a few of our favorite, trusted creative providers to offer a holistic branding package for $800. Our branding package (and most branding packages) include:

  • One logo design

  • One logo variation design

  • One (or two, three) submark (submarks are like badges or stickers, usually shaped in a circle or square and can be used for the purpose of actual badges and stickers, or on social media graphics, etc.)

  • One business card design

  • Finalized brand style guide document with usage specifications and all the information you need to replicate your brand in print and online - colors, fonts, etc. data compiled in one handy place.

Some other branding packages may include unique patterns, fonts, social media icons and cover photo design, stationery, letterhead, signage, and the like. Specifying all the items you’ll need ahead of time will greatly help your designer adequately quote the project to avoid scope creep.


Developing your emotional and physical brand identity is a very intentional and vital process to setting up your business for long-term success. If you have any questions that arise after reading this post, pop ‘em in the comments - we’d love to help out and direct you to one of our creative partners if needed! While you’re here, check out our articles on graphic design, branding photography and content marketing.

Guide to Branding
 

more food for thought…