What is Branding Anyway?

Marty Neumeier and Chris Do (founder of the Futur) set the record streight on what is branding? How can you measure effectiveness of a strong brand and why is it important in the first place?

You don’t buy brands, you join them...

Quotes and thoughts

The term branding, unfortunately, is being used interchangeably with logo design, as identity and sometimes typography and maybe we need to set the record straight. What is branding?“Let’s start with what branding isn’t. Branding isn't a logo. A logo is a very useful tool for a business but it’s not the brand, it’s a symbol for the brand. A brand is not a product. Sometimes people say they are going to buy a brand but they are actually talking about buying a certain product. People say a brand is a promise a company makes to customers, and there is some truth in that but that’s not what it is either. Advertising people like to say that it’s the sum of all the impressions a company makes on an audience. If you are trying to reach a lot of impressions, it’s clear how this definition can be useful, but that doesn’t help creative people to understand what they are doing.None of those things is what a brand is. A brand is the result, a customer’s gut feeling about a product, a service or a company. They take whatever raw materials you throw at them and they make something out of it. So, in a sense, when you create a brand, you don’t create one brand you are creating millions of brands - as many customers as you have. A brand is like a reputation. It’s your business reputation.
Marty Neumeier, The Futur

We tend to look at branding as we are telling a story, a pitch but a brand is actually the result. If you don’t start there, it means that you don’t know what you’re doing.
A designer would have a gut feeling and then try to sell the idea as best as he can. The client goes over the checklist of the things he needs (logo, tag, ad campaign) and they think they are done. But what actually matters is what is happening in the people’s heads - what did we achieve. What’s the reputation that we created with the product, culture etc. branding takes most of the business. Almost everybody in the company is affecting the brand - doing something for the brand, or hurting the brand.
If designers learn this and learn more about the business, then the work is perceived valuable. When you get really good at this you can stop charging by the hour and actually charge per results and finally for being involved.
No matter what skills you have creatively, once applied in the world of branding, they become more valuable. You have the confidence to know what you are doing and that you are doing it really well.

So many people in the design community are having really difficult time answering the question: what value does design or writing creativity have on a company. What is design and what is the value of it?
A business, among other things, is profit driven. While, design has its own history and it is somewhat divorced from business unless you connect it yourself. Branding is the area where business and design actually connects. This is the area everyone can play together. So, whatever skills you have as a designer/ creative person they become weaponized when you understand branding. Suddenly, you know where to aim those skills and that talent. It’s a force multiplier. Branding in the area where we can play together, where we understand the business and what we are doing.

How to measure the effectiveness of branding in terms of ROI?
Traditionally, people said that you can’t measure it because it’s too soft but you can measure it in terms of engagement with the customers and you can measure this from year to year. The brand flip has an interesting formula called the brand ladder. At the bottom of the ladder there are customers satisfied with the company. Next step is delight. Delight is when you’re saying - oh wow this is really cool, I’ll tell all my friends. The next one is engagement. As a customer, you feel like you belong with this company. *Automatic repurchase tells you there is engagement. The *emotional attachment. And a *sense of belonging. The top of the brand ladder is empowerment.
You don’t buy brands, you join them
A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. So, it’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is. Once you understand that, it changes everything for you. That’s the big flip - it’s not about you, it’s about what the company achieves. How is the customers life can be transformed in some way, and not aim to get your big success.

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What is Branding Anyway?

Marty Neumeier and Chris Do (founder of the Futur) set the record streight on what is branding? How can you measure effectiveness of a strong brand and why is it important in the first place?

read short