The Sad Story of the Frankenbrand.
(aka - The Vital Difference Between Brand Content and the Container)
Cue the music
You know, that Sarah McLachlan music from those animal PSAs that (admit it!) make you shed a tear each.and.every.time.
"Every day, innocent business owners are left feeling frustrated, deflated. Their bank accounts, virtually emptied...
✓ They hired an award-winning logo designer to help them make their mark (literally).
✓ They waited 6 months to be able to work with the rockstar web designer du jour.
✓ They got their pictures taken by a celebrity photographer.
✓ They hired a pulitzer-prize winning copywriter. (Bit of a stretch - yep, but I’m making a point...)
And what they ended up with: Looked great. Sounded great...But SAID absolutely nothing.
Sadly, all it created was a frankenbrand — a decidedly disjointed brand that sent mixed-up messages and worse, didn’t speak to those that mattered most in the whole equation: their target customers. And so their investment, both in time and in $$$ was all a waste. Square one again.
The thing is, they glossed over a critical step (wait for it) – BRAND STRATEGY.
"…So won’t you help me help you save the brands?"
..Sarah McLachlan music fades off into the distance...
Stepping up on my Soapbox (...is this thing on?)
I feel like I am CONSTANTLY having to educate people as to what BRANDING actually is and convince them of the importance of it.
People come to me all.the.time saying “I need to rebrand,” and the sentence that always follows that up is “I need a website.”
Even people/brands that I think should know better — who actually should know better.
They think it’s all about the website.
So let’s set the record straight:
A WEBSITE is a CONTAINER and the CONTAINER is only as great as the CONTENT that lives inside it.
So what is content? Words + images - maybe even videos.
But unless those contents work in unison and are communicating the same things - and even better - are communicating the right things to the right audience, all of that hard work and money on the container is for naught.
It’s like selling diamond earrings in a tupperware container and serving up your leftovers in a silk-lined box: it’s messy and makes exactly zero sense.
How do you make sure you have a great website that has great content and communicates to the right crowd?
That’s right folks. B-R-A-N-D-I-N-G.
How do you create content and a container that match
This is why branding is so much more than a container — more than a website, more than a logo, more than colors and fonts.
It’s a Brand Platform:
A solid foundation for your brand, like the perfect bra that can lift and separate you from your competitors, boost your bottom line, and bolster your business.
It’s that thing that ensures that the contents match the container, and that the whole package is attractive to your customer. (Just like ill-fitting undergarments give you lumps and bumps you never had, the right package makes you look and feel ah-mazing.)
A brand platform is a cohesive framework to guide all communications and creative. It’s the BASELINE for your brand identity, key message.
What does it include?
(I thought you’d never ask)
1. Your Values
a. What are your company’s core values?
b. What is your company culture?
c. How do these impact your vision? Your mission?
2. Your Message
a. What problem do you solve for your customers? What value do you offer?
b. How are you different from your competition?
c. How do these combine to create your overall brand narrative?
3. Your Persona
a. Are you a personality led or personality driven brand?
b. What personality attributes (yours or the brand’s) do you want your customers to see and identify with?
These are the main parts but of course, there are a lot of questions to be answered to arrive at each.
When these three pillars come together, THEN (and only then) you have the strong foundation on which to build your brand’s style and identity. These pillars will influence:
- The design elements you choose
- The color palette we design with
- The style of your photography
- The visual ID of your brand, including your logos
- The tone of your copy
- AND MUCH MORE.
In fact, once you’ve got those pillars well defined, they will influence everything you do in your business. They will inform how you name your products, what you post on social media, even who you hire to fill that key position, and so on.
How TO set those pillars (so they don’t crumble)
Once you know what a brand platform is, naturally you want to know HOW DO I GET ONE?
Let me just tell you: it ain’t necessarily easy.
Public Persona started off in 2012 as a design studio.
But what I found was that everyone who came thru my doors hadn't done the necessary work BEFORE diving into design... Which was pretty much like putting lipstick on a pig.
People rush over or skip the process of branding because they think it's just about making a logo or playing pin the tail on the donkey picking a target market without doing the proper research to see if their products or services are even relevant or desired in that market.
But I learned from big boys of branding the importance of the process of branding, of digging deep to find a great hook/theme/overarching concept that can serve as a great throughline across all touchpoints.
And while the process itself is valuable, it’s hard for the untrained to do on their own. There are lots of formulas and blueprints and quick fix workbooks out there but let's face it — Trying to brand yourself is basically like trying to cut your own hair. You lack the proper perspective (and doublejointedness)... and unless you collaborate with a consultant (vs having them do the work for you and prescribe the answers) or take the time to study it as a craft for your own purposes, you're doing yourself (and your business) a huge disservice.
It’s also of course imperative that you do PROPER research into your target market and study your competitors.
Because it’s not just about how to LOOK or SOUND different… you have to actually BE different.
That’s why the branding process can be SO in depth - many times you’ll end up actually REWORKING your business model and/or products and services to TRULY differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd.