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1.2 What Is a Brand?

Before we get started with creating our own brand, I want to first use this lesson to talk about what a brand actually is, and why branding is so essential when businesses establish or look to reposition themselves in the marketplace. So what is a brand? Everyone sort of has an answer to this question. We're exposed to brands constantly in our daily lives, from cereal brands first thing in the morning to fast food logos when we head out for lunch and TV adverts when we switch on the box in the evening. We are inundated with branding, so we feel we know it pretty well. But the subliminal power of brands to make us aspire and ultimately purchase things can still take us by surprise. At its most basic, a brand is a distinguishing mark of some kind. Perhaps a name, an image, a symbol that marks out the seller's product as being different from others. At the root of all brands is this absolute quality of difference and uniqueness. All brands, however poorly or successfully constructed, will have their own uniqueness to some extent. In this course, I'm going to show you how to develop a brand from a visual perspective. So that's how to create a design led identity for a brand. But of course, at the core brands run much deeper than just a logo and a color palette. To be able to design a good visual brand, we need to deconstruct the underlying features of successful brands and break them down into manageable digestible chunks that we can learn something from. So, what are these elements that make up a brand? I want to emphasize to you that we can look at brands in a dual way.. First we have the underlying psychology, and then interacting with this is the surface design. Let's take a look at these underlying qualities first. You simply can't design a visual brand out of thin air. It has to have some incentive, some underlying meaning and purpose. Let's take the brand that we'll build in this course as a working example. In the lessons that follow, I'm going to encourage you to create a brand identity for a fictional design agency. Okay, so a design agency, Google design agency, and there are literally thousands of results. Thousands of competing businesses aiming to win design projects from clients big and small, local and multinational. But how can we make sure that our agency's brand helps us to win a chunk of that business? First of all, we need a name, and a name can be very significant in branding. For example, Name & Sons or Name & Co might communicate a family business, a solidarity, generations of experience, a steady loyal business that can be relied upon. But you'll notice there are a lot more lawyers' firms and undertakers of that sort of name, not quite as many design agencies. Design agencies, on the other hand, need to communicate that they can balance creativity and innovation with an ability to deliver results in a short turnaround time. As a result, the name needs to be snappier, and it needs to mirror the creativity and work ethic of its employees. Let's try the name Buzz Studio. For me this conjures up the buzz of delivering on a brief, the busy bees at the agency working to generate the next big idea. And if you're really digging, you can imagine it being symbolic of the Sweet Honey, the completed design project at the end of the process. So what else makes up the psychology of the Buzz brand? Okay, suppose they're selling services, not products. So we don't need to worry as much about making the brand seem aspirational and desirable like many retail or food brands would need to do, for example. The Buzz brand needs to encourage clients to choose their services over others, and the way that the bBuzz brand develops will be a direct result of the sort of client the person wants to target. No brand can be a one size fits all sort of brand. It has to exploit a niche in the market, and this niche need to either have not been exploited before or Buzz need to prepare itself to be better than its competitors in dominating an already exploited niche. Let's say that the owner of Buzz, and let's say that that's you, has noticed a gap in the local offering of agencies. So there are a few good agencies out there doing decent work, but you've noticed that there's a breed of more trend aware clients who would probably pay a premium for design services that really do something cutting edge, on trend and fresh. So this is your market niche, and once you've found that, your job is then to design the brand to appeal directly to that source of client. And this is where we can learn a very important lesson about branding. Design the brand for the consumer, not for yourself. The underlying power of a brand is that it acts like a personal catnip for a particular kind of consumer. Your personal tastes and preferences become relatively obsolete when tasked with creating a brand. Your job is to design a brand that appeals to your chosen market. If that market includes your own demographic, that's gonna make the task a lot easier. But if you want to create a successful brand, it needs to be completely selfless. And this might mean seeking out a demographic that is very different to your own. Let's return to our original brand diagram. So we can update this with a bit more information about Buzz and the psychology and target market that is at its root. What I wanted to show you of this diagram, is that you can have the nicest looking brand in the world but if it's not aiming at the right consumer and appealing to that consumer directly, it's not going to be a successful brand. With this in mind, I want you to do a little bit of homework before you head over to the next chapter of the course. I want you to look at these three well-known brands. So that's Coca-Cola, Chanel, and McDonald's. And I want you to think about their underlying qualities. What does their name say about their position in the marketplace? Who is their target consumer, and how does the brand tap into that consumer psychology? And finally, how can you link these underlying qualities with the way that the logo is designed? Does the design actually reflect these qualities accurately? So, have a think. I will be revealing more about these three brands over in the next chapter. Until then, I'll see you over in the next lesson, where I'm going to take you through your essential checklist for tackling any brand design projects, and tell you a bit more about how we're going to use this checklist as a guide for developing the Buzz Studio brand.

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