Back to the basics with branding

Sentinel Digital Agency

Though the days of walking into a small shop may seem extinct, we are here to say look again. The connections that were once made with a shopkeeper are not lost, they merely appear in a new form. A solid brand and brand strategy are the cornerstone of connection in the age of consumer choices. There’s no argument in the basic necessity of good service, affordable prices and quality products. However, a lasting company looks at return business through customer relationship building and branding.

When we’re working with a client, whether it be for a website design, social media management, search engine optimization, marketing, photography, logo design, or public relations, it’s surprising to see that oftentimes a company will have so much potential for success but has skipped the key ingredient of branding.

Q: What is branding?

A: Branding is a way for your potential customers and employees to get a sense of who your company is before ever engaging in a business transaction. The old warning to not judge a book by its cover is one that need not apply when a company has a real understanding of who they are and can convey that message through the use of color, graphics, font, image editing, taglines, logos and tone of voice. These concepts are derived from who you are and exemplify your company culture in your website, advertisements, blog, social media, etc. The concepts will set your content apart from the competition, showcase your company’s personality, and build a rapport with the public when you utilize them throughout your brand strategy. The more consistently your brand is used over a long period of time, the more brand equity it builds.

Think about a brand in terms of a small shop owner. Just as the public — more importantly, the target audience — begins to recognize a shop owner’s face in the community, prospective clients or customers begin to recognize the brand and what it’s about. This offers a key competitive edge in relationship building with your target audience.

Q: How is branding used?

A: Branding is more than a logo to use on every business card, sign and letterhead. The logo is simply the foundation of branding; the brand strategy happens when you use the logo as a tool and leverage it to build your audience and long-lasting relationships. For example, Ben & Jerry’s is a quirky ice cream company that’s best known for its creatively named flavors. Ben & Jerry’s was founded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who opened up their first ice cream shop in a rundown gas station in Burlington, Vermont, in 1978 and has since grown into a national brand that can be recognized through its consistently used, witty branding on all marketing platforms.

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when, and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. In a competitive market, the brand strategy is what sets a company apart from the others. Your product might be the highest in quality, you may be an innovative newcomer ready to shake things up, or your company may find its strength in years and legacy. All of the incredible things that you see, however, must be communicated to your target audience in a way that engages, educates and empowers them to take action to connect with your company. This is the power of brand strategy.

Small and large businesses often make the mistake of not believing in the importance of having a brand strategy. What these companies don’t realize is that no company is too small, too insignificant, or too exempt from needing a strong plan for branding. We’re not saying that every business needs to invest thousands of dollars into the process; we’re saying that it’s an integral piece of your overall business planning that should not be overlooked. With a world of options, connecting with your potential and existing customers is key.

From your digital brand experts at Sentinel Digital Agency, happy branding!

Julie Norman and Mollie Shepardson are digital brand specialists with Sentinel Digital Agency, a sister company of The Daily Sentinel that provides marketing services to businesses across the Grand Valley. To submit a question for our digital brand experts to answer, email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or give us a call at 970-256-4387.


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