When it comes down to it, this is ultimately the question that I am constantly trying to answer for prospective clients, partners, heck, even myself.
Why is branding important? Or maybe even… Is branding important?
As the founder of a design + branding agency answering this question honestly means a lot to me. I ultimately WANT our clients to grow and thrive and achieve their dreams. I would love it if we get to be a part of that journey, but I have to prove the value of our services. So I try to look at this deceptively difficult question from all angles. Viewing it from as many perspectives as possible.
And I come back to the same answer time and time again. Yes, branding is important.
I think the importance of branding can fall into 3 main buckets.
First, Branding acts as a Primer.
Branding is how you communicate to your audience about how you are going to make their life easier. Great branding offers a shortcut so that your message reaches the right people and they are primed to receive your message.
Okay so stick with me.
As consumers, we are inundated with messages all day every day. If we were actively conscious of every single message that came our way, we would be frozen in our tracks. We are already a generation that suffers from decision fatigue on a daily basis, imagine if we had to actively engage with every single piece of content, messaging, advertisement, website, or product, that crossed our path. I shiver just thinking about it.
But this is where branding comes into play. Branding acts as a shortcut. It helps you decide, almost subconsciously, “Is this product/service for me?”. When the average American sees over 4,000 ads a day, this skimmability is key.
By investing and being intentional in your branding, you’re able to better ensure that people who should be paying attention to your message are in fact paying attention.
Second, Branding as a Desicison Shortcut
So while branding can help you prime the audience for who you are speaking to, it also can act as a decision-making shortcut when you’re in a crowded market.
Imagine this story.
You sell premium deli meat. Your differentiated visual identity speaks to millennials who are busy in their careers and looking for a new kind of product. Something that is sustainable but also delicious. Over time, more and more customers are buying your product and thus you’ve become a more household name.
Now is when strong branding has its second benefit. A customer who is outside of your original target audience recognizes your brand from being part of the zeitgeist and when they are overwhelmed by the number of deli meat options, they gravitate towards your brand because it feels familiar.
Your brand helped to create a decision shortcut.
Thirdly, Branding Offers Another Form of Differentiation
This is the superpower of branding that can be wielded for good or evil. In fact, it is this element of branding that has given so many people a bad taste in their mouths when they think of branding.
Great branding can act as a core differentiator that customers will pay more for, even if the product is essentially the same as the competition. That’s the bit that can rub people the wrong way; asking for more money because a product has a pretty label but is equal in quality.
Luxury brands have built their entire empires off this concept. The cost of a luxury item is not reflected in the quality of the product, but rather in the brand itself. Sure, on average, these luxury brands are going to have superior products to their average competitors but in some cases only marginally.
This doesn’t only happen with luxury brands. People are willing to pay more for brands that speak to their values, align with their esthetic, support their worldviews, feel more trustworthy, are consistent, the list goes on and on. This is what I mean by your branding offers another form of differentiation. You have something that makes you stand apart from the market that isn’t simply price or features, which can quickly turn into a race to the bottom.
Really great branding latches onto this idea and then reflects it consistently throughout the entire business, but that’s an entirely other conversation that we touched on in “What is branding?”
So when it comes back to the question, “Is branding important” I can continue to say with confidence, yes it is.
Interested in chatting about design, branding, or even just cool shit?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Author
Olivia Wisden is the Founder + CEO of TwoLips Creative. She has worked with dozens of brands over the years ranging from city initiatives to product launches and beyond. When she’s not fan-girling over the design team’s illustrations she can probably be found reading a novel or attending a boxing class.