ANATOMY 101: What Makes a Brand?
Anatomy, in its essence, studies and identifies the structure of living things. In a way, a brand is no different; it's a living, evolving entity. Just as anatomy dissects and explains how living organisms are composed and how they function, we dissect the makeup and operation of a brand. When discussing the anatomy or the essence of a brand, it's crucial to distinguish between physical assets and ideas.
A common misconception is that a brand consists solely of a logo and a color palette. In reality, these visual elements are merely the skin of the brand. The true essence of a brand lies beneath the surface — its ideas, character, personality, and tone; these are what breathe life into the brand and define it.
So, what are the key structures that constitute a brand?
1. Brand Identity
The visual representation of a brand is its visual branding - including the brand book that holds the logo, graphics, illustrations, color scheme, editorial and animated style, design system, and the rules governing their use. However, these visual and technical aspects come into play only after you've figured out who your brand truly is. Think of it as giving your brand a face once you've identified its core.
The visual identity of a brand is often what initially catches the eye. A well-designed logo and a consistent color palette can create a memorable first impression. However, it's important to remember that these elements are merely the tip of the iceberg.
The real essence of a brand lies in the story it tells, the emotions it evokes, and the values it represents. It's the combination of these factors that forms a brand's identity.
2. Brand Personality
Where does your brand fit on the archetype spectrum? The wheel of brand archetypes divides into 12 categories: Innocent, Sage, Explorer, Outlaw, Magician, Hero, Lover, Jester, Everyman, Caregiver, Ruler, and Creator. Assigning an archetype humanizes your brand, making it relatable. What traits define your brand's character?
Imagine your brand as a person. What kind of person would it be? Is it wise and knowledgeable like a Sage, or is it adventurous and daring like an Explorer? Defining your brand's personality through archetypes can help you create a more relatable and consistent image.
It's not just about what you do; it's about how you do it and the emotions you evoke in your audience.
3. Brand Values or Brand Philosophy
What principles and beliefs guide your brand's actions and decisions? Often, consumers look for alignment with their values when choosing a brand. Do your values resonate with your audience? Your brand's values are its moral compass. They define what you stand for and what you're willing to fight for.
When your values align with those of your audience, you create a powerful connection.
People want to support brands that share their beliefs. It's not just about selling a product; it's about standing for something meaningful.
4. Brand Story
Every brand has a story. It's the narrative of how your business came into existence. People love stories; they make connections. For example take museums - without the story it's just a room with stuff. Imagine your brand displayed in a museum. What would the description say? What's your story?
Your story gives your brand depth and context. It humanizes your business and allows people to relate to it on a personal level.
Whether it's the tale of a humble beginning or a journey of innovation, your story adds a unique layer to your brand's identity.
5. Brand Audience
Often overlooked but vital, your audience includes loyal fans and potential enthusiasts. In today's digital age, connecting with your audience is easier than ever through social media. Engage with them, learn about their preferences, and build stronger connections.
Your audience is the heartbeat of your brand. Without them, your brand would cease to exist.
Understanding your audience's needs, desires, and pain points is essential for creating a brand that resonates.
Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with your audience directly. It's a two-way street where you can learn from them just as much as they can learn from you. Tell me who your friends are.. no - tell me who your audience is, i'll tell you who you are.
6. Brand Positioning
Where does your brand stand among competitors, and how do consumers perceive it relative to others? How does your brand differentiate itself? What vibe do you convey compared to your competitors?
In a crowded marketplace, positioning is your brand's way of standing out. It's about finding your unique space and voice. Knowing your competitors and understanding how you compare to them is crucial.
Are you the affordable option, the luxury choice, or the innovative disruptor? Your positioning tells customers why they should choose you over others.
7. Brand Promise
This is what your brand commits to delivering, unwaveringly. It's often encapsulated in your tagline — the text-based logo of your brand. For instance, FedEx promises "Peace of mind," Apple encourages us to "Think differently," and Mentos is "The Freshmaker." Your promise is the litmus test for your brand's authenticity.
Your promise is the contract you make with your customers. It's the commitment that sets expectations.
Keeping that promise is essential for building trust and loyalty. Customers choose brands that consistently deliver on their promises. It's not just about what you say; it's about what you do.
8. Brand Experience or Perception
This encompasses the entire client journey, from discovery to becoming a lifelong advocate (or critic).
It's about how clients feel about your brand and the lasting impression they carry after interacting with it.
The client experience is the soul of your brand. It's not just about the products or services you offer; it's about how you make people feel. Every interaction, from the first point of contact to post-purchase support, shapes the perception of your brand. A positive experience creates loyal customers who become your brand's biggest advocates.
9. Brand Voice and Tone
These practical elements align closely with the brand's identity and visual elements.
Voice is what you say, while tone is how you say it.
It works in tandem with the brand archetype — what would your brand's personality sound like? Is it friendly, direct, inspirational, assertive, or something else?
Your brand's voice and tone are the words you use to communicate. They should reflect your brand's personality and resonate with your audience. For instance, a brand with a Jester archetype might use a playful and light-hearted tone, while a Sage archetype would adopt a more informative and authoritative voice. Consistency in your communication style helps reinforce your brand's identity.
10. Brand Culture
Your brand's inner and outer culture matter. It's not enough to have a pristine external appearance.
Who you are is reflected in how you treat your employees, collaborators, and others outside your target market.
In anatomy, culture might just be the heart — being a good brand means being a good entity inside and out.
Your brand's culture is its true character. It's how you treat your team, partners, and the community. A healthy culture radiates positivity and integrity. Your employees are brand ambassadors, and how they experience your brand internally directly affects how they represent it externally. A strong, ethical culture is the foundation of a trustworthy brand.
mastering the intricate anatomy of a brand empowers you to create a lasting and resonant identity. In the anatomy of a brand, each element plays a vital role in shaping its identity and perception.
While the visual elements like logos and color schemes are important, they are merely the surface. A brand's true essence lies in its values, personality, story, and the promises it keeps.
It's the connection it builds with its audience and the culture it fosters within and outside its walls. Building a brand is not just about creating a visual identity; it's about crafting a living, breathing entity with a purpose, character, and soul. Understanding and nurturing each aspect of this brand anatomy is the key to creating a brand that not only stands out but also stands the test of time.