Business Branding: Why, What, and How?

WEofC Workshop, July 2017 | Keynote provided by Erika Firm, Analog Creative Co | Summary written by Joanna Harrison, WEofC Director of Community

What made you want to start your business? Was there an event, or feeling that sparked your idea? What do you want to bring to your customers? Maybe it’s trust and transparency, maybe it’s joy and laughter, or safety and security. That feeling is your brand.

Your brand is a message, a story. It’s not a logo or a tagline.

Branding is achieved by communicating an authentic message. You articulate your brand through a combination of... 

  1. Storytelling

  2. Design

  3. Copywriting

  4. Marketing

  5. Public Relations

  6. Advertising

All of these marketing efforts contribute to a brand, but the brand itself is “what remains after marketing as swept through the room.” Think of a brand that you love. You may remember specific advertisements, taglines, or products - but the reason you love that brand is because of the way that it makes you feel.


Patagonia. Adventure, fresh air, new experiences, overcoming challenges.

Apple. Hip, exciting, simplicity, future, bright ideas

Can you think of some other iconic brands? The best brands paint a picture in your mind.

  • So how thoroughly have you thought through your own brand? Take some time to sit back and really think through what it is that you offer. How do you want your customer to feel at the end of their experience? Once you have a strong grasp on your brand, use it as a compass for all of your business decisions. All of your design elements, messaging, and business practices should reflect your brand.


    • A logo is an important part of a brand. It is a symbol that represents your brand.

    • “A brand is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.”

  • Businesses that have a strong and clear brand are more likely to have loyal customers. Did you know that millennials are the most brand-loyal generation? Pair that fact with their $200 billion in buying power...and I think you get the idea of why a good brand is so important.

  • In addition to brand loyalty, a brand evokes emotion, and emotion is what usually triggers a purchase. Strong branding inspires action. Action = sales.

So how do we curate our perfect brand?

  1. Authenticity

    • Your consumers will see right through an inauthentic brand. This is why it’s important that your brand be a reflection of who you truly are.

  2. Brand Story

    • Your messaging stems from your story. Consumers connect with an authentic story, and it shapes your brand as a whole.

      • Example: Clif Bar

        • It began with a 175-mile bicycle ride ...

        • Clif Bar is named after my father, Clifford, my childhood hero and companion throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In 1990, I lived in a garage with my dog, skis, climbing gear, bicycle and two trumpets.

        • The inspiration to create an energy bar occurred during a day-long, 175-mile bike ride with my buddy Jay. We’d been gnawing on some “other” energy bars all day. Suddenly, despite my hunger, I couldn’t take another bite. I thought, “ I could make a better bar than this!” That’s the moment I now call “The Epiphany.”

        • Two years later, after countless hours in mom’s kitchen, the CLIF Bar became a reality. And the mission to create a better-tasting energy bar was accomplished. Thanks, Mom! – Gary Erickson

  3. Differentiation

    • Figure out your “Who, What, Why, Where, How, When.” Meaning, who are you? What are you (what makes you different)? What is your unique value proposition? This is the introspective part.

    • TIP: Figure out your message, your story, and what differentiates you from other businesses before you create your marketing/advertising strategy.

  4. Understand Your Audience

    • You want your brand to be authentic to you and tell your story, but it also has to tell the consumer’s story. If a brand is going to drive a consumer into action, they have to connect with it on a personal level. So you can’t forget to dig into the “who, what, where, why” of the consumer.

    • Do a little market research

    • Who is your target audience? Do you have a niche product or service? Maybe it’s millennials. Maybe it’s working moms or the health-conscious.

    • Try this helpful exercise of creating “consumer personas,” and describing a few examples of your target customer:



5. Finally-Brand Audit.

  • This is when you make sure everything aligns. The full package. It can be helpful to put all of these elements into writing/visuals and put them into a presentation deck. Your “brand identity deck.” Not only is this helpful internally, for you and your employees, but it’s also useful if you ever need to hire a designer or partner with another business. It’s a quick and easy way to show someone - this is who we are.

  • It never hurts to get an outside opinion! Talk to your mentor, or business connections, or people that fit your target consumer. Show them your brand presentation, and get some feedback. Are there elements that aren’t getting the message across? What is resonating really well?

  • Remember! Businesses often grow through rebrands, so if you are already years down the road in your business and you think your brand could be stronger, it’s never too late to do these exercises and shift your strategy.

To learn more, or get personalized help from Erika, visit

Melissa Barker