What is brand communication?
According to the Cambridge Business English Dictionary, brand communication is defined as "the combination of activities that influence customers' opinions of a company and its products."
But what does that mean?
In real world, perception is as important as substance. After all, we shape our sense of reality through our perceptions of what we see, hear, touch, and feel. By creating positive perceptions, you can open the hearts and minds of your audience for your message, products, and services. Our world is largely image-conscious. Even the best ideas and best products on earth can go unnoticed if they are not presented in a way that can be relatable to your customers or audience.
Is "branding" or "brand communication" the same as logo design?
No. While visuals such as logo can be an important ingredient for a good branding, it is way, way more than that. Too often, small and micro businesses do not realize the importance of a consistent and well-planned brand communication strategy.
Brand is a personality.
Brand communication is an art of storytelling. It is usually a combination of verbal and visuals. The purpose of brand communication is to convey an inspiring message to your customers and the general public whenever and every time the name of your business, service, or product is mentioned. A solid, coherent brand helps evoke a specific mental image and feeling toward your goods or services--for example, what do you think when you hear "Coca-Cola"? "Walmart"? "Whole Foods Market"? Big corporations spend millions of dollars each year on brand communication to foster a positive public perception of their companies because they know brands are powerful.
Brand communication is never a one-time event. It is not even a short-term project. Brand communication is a continuing and evolving process that takes place every day and every moment.
Is brand communication the same as marketing or sales?
In general, sales is a "push" process. The goal of sales is to push your product to would-be buyers and hope they will open their wallets and buy.
Marketing, on the other hand, is often said to be a "pull" process. The marketers seek to draw the audience into a "sales funnel" and use a variety of techniques to make these prospects "convert" (translation: from a curious observer to a buyer).
Both sales and marketing can be morally and ethically questionable, and ultimately, perpetuate the systemic injustice in our society. For example, pharmaceutical companies and tobacco companies are adept at marketing but we know their success has led to public health problems such as lung cancer and opioid addictions.
Brand communication is distinguished from both sales and marketing because of a different approach. Unlike the former, it is interested in nurturing and fostering continuing relationship. Brand communicators seek to engage with the public while presenting the stories of the business and its founders. They encourage two-way communications and build public credibility and confidence in the company or products. If sales is a "push" and marketing is a "pull," brand communication is a conversation.
Is brand communication same as public relations?
Usually, "public relations" refers to a management of information flow and public reputations in the wider and larger scale. Public relations often address the press, concerned general public, community organizations, broadcast media, and public entities. While public relations is an integral part of brand communication, its focus is less on customers or prospective buyers, but rather on a wider community in general. Public relations could also include contingency plans in case of rumors, bad publicity, accidents, or negative press coverage. In any case, PR communications engage with the press and often result in free (and more authoritative) coverage by established broadcast and print media.
Is branding just a way to make up a story to make ourselves look good to others?
Contrary to popular misconception, brand communication is not an art of spin doctors. You cannot lie or deceive others when you don't have your own stories together. You cannot base your brands on a total fantasy detached from the reality, either. One of the most important points that I emphasize is that branding must be persistent, consistent, and constant across the board both internally and externally. It is crucial that everyone who is part of your team actively use your brands and associated style guidelines in all forms of internal communications so that your business can cultivate a unique culture that is shared by everyone who is part of your company. Branding is a discipline that builds positive habits in shaping and conveying your own narratives. As with any discipline, it takes a dedication and an effort.
Another important thing for you to understand is that brands are not a way to cover up falsehood, one's lack of substance, or negative impacts on the community or the environment.
What are some of the things you do as part of brand communication?
- At inception: facilitated brainstorming sessions to generate a foundational branding strategy document, which could include company name, servicemarks, trademarks, wordmarks, logotypes, color schemes, and other public communications style guidelines.
- Online: Website templates, stylesheets, etc.
- Public relations: press releases, media advisories.
- Product development: product naming, visuals such as labels/packaging, and advertisements.
- Sub-branding of specific product lines or segmented services.
- Continuing brand communications and engagement: content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), competition research, social media management, social media engagement, online community management (such as forums and online groups), event planning, and event management.
- Periodic brand implementation review and if necessary, rebranding.
I only make and sell a handcrafted item. Is branding relevant to me?
People buy from you not only because they need what you have to offer, but also because they like the designs and the stories behind what you make.
Imagine if I had two ballpoint pens, exactly the identical item that I bought from a dollar store. If I said one of them was used by Barack Obama to autograph his book, that pen will sell very quickly and at a premium price (I don't condone lying, though!). My point is that there are two identical items but the one with a story is valued more than the one without. Branding adds value to a product.
Especially for makers, artists, and crafters whose works are unique, their brands are the identity that unites their products and creates an anticipation and expectation for future products for which they will come back--and in turn grows a community of friends who will support your artistic and creative endeavors.
Why should I work with you?
Growing up with autism, I was obsessed with visual details as a little kid. I was intrigued by different brands and how colors and words they used made everything just feel different and special. I have developed a keen eye for color schemes, typefaces, and graphic designs.
The other childhood obsession of mine was media. I was fascinated by how newspapers were produced and radio stations operated. I would publish my own little newspaper using mimeograph (and later, photocopy machine and Apple Macintosh Classic). For a middle school science project I even built a tiny FM radio transmitter and had my own radio show!
In my young adult days, I studied fine art, graphic design, and journalism. I learned to publish a real weekly community newspaper as a paid internship, where I did most of the writing, editing, layout, and pre-press works (fortunately, I had a team of volunteer reporters and photographers!).
There are many brand professionals who are good with either words or pictures. I am both. For many micro businesses owned and operated by one person, Limeadestand Works is a one-stop shop that provides affordable branding solutions with personal attentions.
Additionally, I am committed to a socially-conscious, anti-oppressive brand communications practice. I welcome working with entrepreneurs who are equally committed to a more inclusive and just society.
Why are you a brand enthusiast?
Brands are magical! I believe that words and images are very powerful and inspire a social change. While some corporations abuse the power of their branding to promote their own greed and to whitewash the evil, the same power can be used for the good. Words mean something and ideas have consequences. As a social entrepreneur, I use brand communications to foster a more just community, nurture authentic human connections, and to empower those who are socially, economically, and politically disadvantaged.
Do you specialize in any industry?
I specialize in independent makers, artists, and crafters, as well as social enterprises, worker-owned cooperatives, community grassroots organizations. Additionally, I work extensively with women-owned, minority-owned, and LGBTQAIP-owned microenterprises.