During a pre-pandemic visit to Spain, I was taken aside by a historian in an ancient church, was eager to show me the mark of a bricklayer still left after 100’s of years.
We talked about how many people must have seen that mark. How proud the bricklayer must have been to have his sign right out front of one of the most important buildings in the city. He also told me that, in those times the bricklayer was likely paid by the brick, and it was the only proof of his work by the end of the day. Ancient. Freaking. Branding!
That being said, when we get asked, “what is branding in marketing in 2021?” my response is surely not, “slap your logo on it.”
We live in a globalized world with a lot more people, a lot more competition, and a lot better access. For a sustainable brand, that means it takes a lot more energy to be recognized, remembered, tried, and trusted. This is especially true because when it comes to branding, your competition isn’t just “other sustainable brands” – it’s every business in your niche – and your non-ethical competitors aren’t afraid to use the history of branding to get ahead.
The History of Branding
Throughout human history, wherever there has been bustling economy and/or competition, there have been brands. Not exactly like the brands of today – but brands nonetheless.
How would you know who you were trading with in ancient times? Why were some merchants trusted more than others? How did a person know the authenticity of what they were purchasing?
It happened through seals (ancient logos) that related to the quality, origin, and authenticity of a certain good. These seals started showing up regularly in trade as early as 2250 BCE!
To this day, potters, blacksmiths, and bricklayers mark their works with their own seal. For some professions, like bricklaying in ancient times, this was the only way to ensure payment and compete with your neighbor for the church in your town!
It’s hard to steal a good seal. This is something both history and branding research tells us – when a logo becomes recognizable, a person will be much more likely to have an affinity to that brand. So when it comes to branding in marketing, using a consistent logo is really important.
The Term “Brand” and Where it Came From
While a sustainable brand isn’t just a logo in 2021, there’s a damn good reason why the term “brand” has lived hundreds of years as synonymous to being a “logo.”
Between the brand, seal, mark (call it what you will, it’s a logo), of an ancient spice trader or an artist and the rise of the actual BRAND, the two terms couldn’t have evolved separately.
You see, the etymology of the word brand, comes from Germanic origins meaning “to burn.”
The term “brand” was coined in the 1400s and it was used to describe a “seal” that was permanently burned into something (like cattle). A brand made it clear who the owner was.
That’s how the term was used until the mid-20th century.
So, What is Branding in Marketing?
So we know how the logo-centric idea came to be, but what about the parting of “brand” from “logo?”
Believe it or not, current marketing trends started in the mid-1800s. Weekly publications with advertisements created competition, then TV came along and nationwide publicity was all the hype. Jingles, logos, slogans, mascots, and snappy copy all held the promise of quality. Competition came in droves – and people started to define their loyalties to specific brands.
The study of brand loyalty and the question of what makes a brand effective started really popping up in the past 50 years or so – and that makes sense, right? It goes along with the globalization and increase in competition in our greater world.
When it comes to building branding into your marketing, a modern brand takes on its own personality to pull in the type of customer it wants. A business is literally considered a person in the eyes of the law and global publicity is possible now. Whole governmental systems are built on capital competition.
6 Things Your Brand Needs for Marketing in 2021
We’ve covered logos and why they matter but a logo is a symbol for people to recognize you when they already know who you are. In today’s world, just having a logo isn’t enough to stand out and be remembered.
Because the term “branding” is ever-evolving, we get to help redefine as our world moves faster and technology advances more and more everyday. In 2021 this is what you’ll need
1 – A Brand Voice
This is a voice that you speak with all the time to the people in your audience. This requires that you know who your audience is and how they want to be spoken to. In the beginning this is something you’ll have to work through for yourself. Create audience personas and then figure out the middle ground between each of your marketing persona and your single brand voice. Remember that in 2021, you’re building a Living Brand, which means your voice isn’t 2-dimensional. You can be dynamic and still talk to your audience the way they want to listen.
2 – Overall Visual Cohesion of Your Branding in Marketing
There’s that word – cohesion. If you read our content or you’re subscribed to our YouTube channel, this isn’t a new concept for you. We’re sticklers for brand cohesion, especially visually. You know how you’ll be scrolling through a social media site and you see an image and before you look at who made the post, you already know? THAT is what brand cohesion is for. In the digital world, you don’t need to slap a logo on every post for people to know you’re making it. You just need the right branding packing.
3 – A Website that Works (and doesn’t look dated)
You can laugh and roll your eyes at this, but I bet you can think of AT LEAST one website that feels really dated when you look at it. I also bet you can identify a website that was built before 2018 if I showed you a screenshot. Does that disconnect between the current trends and the outdated website elicit trust? Nope. No. Nope. As we dive deeper into the digital age, and ecommerce sales increase year over year, you need to invest in website updates if you want to showcase your business’s branding in your marketing.
4 – Active Social Media Accounts
Here’s another one that we hope that new sustainable brands will start to take more seriously. As eco-prenuers, we see it all the time – you’d rather be in the woods than at your computer building social media followers. Tough. For a brand to make it right now, you do need to have signs of life posting at the very least. This is usually weekly at the minimum on the big channels Instagram and Facebook.
5 – A Google My Business
Like it or not, Google is what people use to find you. Even if you’re not updating it all the time, having a google my business account with boost your brand when it comes to your marketing – especially if you serve a physical location. This improves your brand as an “entity” in the eyes of Google. Optimizing your website and your content to become an “entity” means that Google will help you rank better overall for the terms that make sense for your brand to be optimizing for.
6 – Sustainable Marketing Strategy
A sustainable marketing strategy allows for your marketing efforts to be part of the circular economy of your brand. When you use a combination of transparency, data, good content, and clever branding in marketing your business will grow.
The “Branding” in Dandelion Branding
We define branding in marketing as, “the way a brand’s customers interact with the purposeful cohesion between the vision, voice, and values of a business.”
In 2021, the term “branding” holds the weight of your entire business’s marketing message. The brand you’re creating needs to be rooted in your company’s values and guidelines.
We’re not the first people to view branding as a whole picture – but we are one of the only companies focusing on connecting everything your brand puts out back to your brand values. There aren’t a lot of marketers focused on creating a holistic branding method, so we developed the Bloom Your Brand Course to teach ours. It takes about 6 months to build the digital aspect of a brand step by step, from scratch.
With this strategy not only are decisions easier to make, your content stays cohesive, consistent, and valuable to your ideal customer.
By the way, you’ll also start to see a boost in customer engagement, growth in customer loyalty, improved customer lifetime value, and a decrease in your average acquisition costs!
Are You Working on Using Your Branding in Your Marketing?
Branding isn’t just for established businesses.
This is a common misconception that we’re on a mission to deconstruct.
Defining the values of your new business right away lets you start strong and get stronger as your brand identity blossoms. You’ll find it easier to know what content is most valuable for your ideal customer, and you’ll have a guiding beacon for when decisions get tough. (and they will as you grow.)
You need to be ready for things like changes in the market, changes in algorithms, and the fall of popular platforms. The way to do that is to build your community around the centralized values that do not change. Your customers will thank you.
Did this article help you decide about how to use your branding in your marketing? Let us know with a comment!
Moore, Karl & Reid, Susan. (2008). The Birth of Brand: 4000 Years of Branding History. Bus History. 4. 10.1080/00076790802106299.