There will always be terms we use in everyday life that we might not fully understand. For me, branding is one of those terms. I have discussed the branding of different products, decided whether or not it's working, and one day (hopefully soon) I will be responsible for the actual branding. For now, I'm on a path to determine my own definition.
My first assignment at Chicago Portfolio School was given by Jeff Epstein, director of the school. We were told to visit a restaurant then come to the next class with a presentation describing its story. Which aspects of the restaurant fit with its overall story? The menus? Decor? Bathrooms? The objective was to determine how well the brand's story was being communicated. A simple and eye-opening assignment.
Now I can't eat at a restaurant without commenting on the art on the wall, the wait staff's outfits, and just about everything else I see. Branding is so much more than a name and a logo.
To further understand branding, I attended an AIGA Chicago event with Debbie Millman. A truly captivating speaker, Debbie discussed the journey of writing her newest book, Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. This book is a compilation of interviews with twenty-two industry professionals about branding in our world.
After interviewing each person, Debbie found that she had twenty-two different definitions of branding. There were commonalities between each definition with a couple key buzz words, including: promise, experience, and connect. These words represent intangible interactions that are necessary to build a relationship between a consumer and brand.
Two quotes stand out from Debbie's presentation:
- "Branding demonstrates that sense of belonging" - Wally Olins
- "human beings metabolize these things very quickly" - Dan Pink
Obviously there is more to life than the car a person drives, and it is important for everyone to keep that in perspective. But, if you make the driver feel connected to their peers because of the car they drive, then your brand has a place in the driver's life.
If you ever have the opportunity to hear Debbie speak, go. She is an inspirational designer and kept us all hanging on her every word - especially impressive considering there was free vodka and no visuals.
My journey to define branding has been exciting so far. If you have your own insights on branding, please share. I would love to read about them!