Imagine you’re on a road trip, traversing through unfamiliar cities and towns, and you’re starting to feel hungry. A flash of red and yellow catches your eye, creating a familiar double-arch pattern that you instantly recognize: it’s a signal that food you’ve probably tasted before is available. More likely than not, you’re starting to consider what you’ll order—nuggets or a burger?—even before you’ve started to pull off the highway and take your place in the drive-through line.
If you could imagine this scene in your mind’s eye, then you already understand the power of branding. When we talk about branding, we’re evoking a range of different campaigns and efforts on behalf of a company that make us feel a certain way.
Nobody’s brand experience is identical; it’s going to depend on how you have personally interacted with the brand and what it means to you. (A vegan is going to have a different reaction to seeing golden arches than someone who lives for the return of the McRib.) But many of the most successful companies in the modern era have managed to create a consistent set of experiences and feelings across a consumer base that results in loyalty to the brand—and to its company.
Apple is one of the best examples of successful branding that we’ve seen in the past 30 years or so, and it’s also a trillion-dollar company, which is not a coincidence. Coca-Cola is globally recognizable and its flagship product is one of the most popular beverages on the planet. Nike is another example; its three-word tagline has been a staple of its ads for decades. Other examples that you might be able to conjure in your mind’s eye include IKEA, Starbucks, Uber, Tesla, and even software products like TurboTax.
What goes into a brand? How do you create an aesthetic that’s instantly recognizable as “yours” and that reminds your loyal fans why they love working with you? We’re going to get into the basics of how brand-building works so that you can take what the masters know and apply it to your own business.
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