Blowing the Whistle on 3 Brand Development Myths

We figured that much like storytelling, in the world of branding, it’s important to untether fact from fiction. So, in this short post, we’ll pick apart, debunk, and dissect three huge branding myths we hear all too often as a strategic branding agency.

1. “Branding is purely visual”
This myth is the most common of all; so common, in fact, that it’s become a sort of in-joke within branding agencies. A company’s logo is akin to a nametag. It identifies them but the name alone can’t carry the weight of their values. A brand, too, is often (quickly) visually judged by its appearance (font, colour, imagery, and style). However, just as a person’s personality doesn’t start and end in what they wear, and is much more entwined with their values, morals, and feelings – a brand is a composite of so much more. For a brand, the underpinned and invisible elements are brand strategy, positioning, messaging, tone of voice, mission, and modes of communication.

2. “Visual identity informs brand development”
Although we can’t speak for other branding agencies, here at Wololo, when working on a brand, before committing to anything visual we audit the company’s communication, culture, and competition. Sure, building a brand is about growing your business through design. But the key is intentional design, such that it echoes your identity and clearly communicates your company’s values to your intended audience. Remember that no amount of great design will overcome bad communication or an unclear brand strategy. Reverse engineering a brand from a logo is in stark contrast to the design school of thought we subscribe to—form follows function. 

3. “Branding = Marketing”
In a nutshell, branding is who you are, while marketing is how you build awareness. Branding is your strategy, while marketing speaks to your tactical goals. To determine what your brand is, you need to ask yourself several questions. Questions that go beyond industry generalisations. When speaking of marketing vs. branding, marketing refers to the tools you utilise to deliver the message of your brand. Marketing will continually change and evolve, just as the products and services you offer will continue to change and evolve. Marketing will be directly and specifically geared towards sections of your target audience, all while supporting the core values of your brand. Branding is at the core of your marketing strategy, so branding must come first. Even if you are a startup, it is essential to clearly define who you are as a brand, before you begin to work towards your specific marketing methods, tools, strategies, and tactics. Your brand is what will keep your clients coming back for more, it is the foundation upon which you build trust with your customer. Your branding is what generates a timeless connection. While marketing efforts are designed to engage, it is the ongoing branding that keeps customers coming back.