What’s In a Brand?
“Branding is the art of becoming knowable, likable and trustable.”
That John Jantsch pearl of marketing wisdom is the kind of statement that gets our wheels turning, because it speaks volumes in just a few short words. It’s not wrong, but we also think there’s more to branding. It’s an art, for sure; but it’s also a science.
And what if you’re already knowable, likeable, and trustable? Have you arrived? Are you finished? Heck no. You can always get MORE knowable, MORE likeable, and MORE trustable. (We actually spoke with John Jantsch himself, and he’s enthusiastically on board with our tweaks.)
So: “Branding is the art and science of becoming more knowable, likable and trustable.”
Your brand is NOT just a symbol or type treatment or logo (but you can learn more here about, “What’s In a Logo?”). It’s not just your nonprofit or church name. It’s not just your ministry story. It’s not just a word that comes to mind when people think about you.
Your brand IS an embodiment of your organization’s unique personality traits. It’s your behavior. It’s your vibe. It’s what people sense and feel when they encounter you, because of everything you do. And all of that--that’s art. The visual elements, the name, your story--it’s art.
But your brand isn’t just about the feels. We see, in our line of work, so many passionate leaders. And passion gets you somewhere, but not everywhere. Where the art and the feels leave off, science takes over. People (like, ahem, us) study marketing and branding for a living. We track the statistics and study the psychology, and it means something.
The science of branding: nugget #1
Different visual elements (anything that can be seen) evoke different responses from the people who see them. Canva, a popular online design software, says this:
“Because of its structure, the triangle is often used to represent perseverance and achievement. Its wide base alludes to the struggle or the journey, while...the peak, embodies the goal.
The square’s hard angles can also symbolize masculinity … strength, stability, and dependability. However, its rigidity can also be interpreted negatively … inability to flow visually prevents it from connecting emotionally with people.”
And those are just two geometric shapes. There’s color, too. And font. And spacing. You can really dive in deep on these. It’s not a bad idea to bring in design help if you do wade into the deep waters, especially if you’re choosing a logo or other visual element that will have a longstanding and significant presence in your brand.
The science of branding: nugget #2
Science in branding isn’t just collecting and reporting data and statistics. Yeah, people want proof that their time, money, and hearts are being given to causes that are real and significant. But there’s more to it than that.
Inc.com, a small business supporter, says “studies show that when people are presented with facts and figures, smaller areas of the brain are activated … when those same facts and figures are packaged in a story, the entire brain becomes engaged.” Do you need data to drive goals and successfully apply for grants? Without a doubt. But the science of branding goes beyond data.
Weaving the elements of your brand into a story is critical to resonating with your audience. Our Clarity process includes an option for us to engage in developing your brand narrative, for those seeking to go next level in how your brand is connecting and engaging with your audience.
The science of branding: nugget #3 (we could write for days, but Bible readers know it’s best to just end here on #3):
A reaction to your brand requires a catalyst. Chemistry 101. By definition, a catalyst is “any substance that increases the rate of a reaction without itself being consumed.” Wow. Do we forget about that “without itself being consumed” part sometimes? What’s the catalyst for your brand? What really sets it apart from the other nonprofits that could be compared to yours?
This is not a trick question. There’s no wrong answer here.
Maybe it’s you. Honestly, maybe YOUR charisma, your life experience, or your ability to connect with people is what brings people through the proverbial door. How do you keep from being consumed?
Maybe it’s the community where you’re located, the team of people who are on board with you, or your unique mission statement. How do you make absolutely certain to keep your eye on the ball, to retain what’s special or unique about those things while also affecting positive changes?
If your mission is succeeding, but you haven’t really pinpointed why—we know all things are possible through God, but we also know he gives us brains to pursue wisdom and work hard towards improving and stewarding the spheres he has allotted to us—maybe it’s time to zero in on your secret catalytic ingredient to make sure you don’t lose it.
Conversely, if you’re struggling to make your vision become a reality, maybe it’s that catalyst that’s missing. How can you differentiate your brand from the others? How can you connect in a way that tells your audience they need you, and without you, they’ll be missing something?
Artistic talent + scientific diligence = brand success.
One of our clients had been noticing their international audience regularly sees the cross emphasized in Christian ministries, but what about the resurrection? In their cultural context, they believed that the hopefulness of the resurrection which flows into all their interactions with the people they engage with is a catalyst to their success as a ministry. So we created a visual identity for them that reflects the resurrection in a unique and metaphorical way—a Phoenix rising from the ashes. This captures a catalytic part of their theology and missiology, solving for perceived need in Gospel outreach efforts, and creating a unique differentiator for their organization.
Branding decisions will never fully encompass your personality, theology, mission, vision and values—so don’t put that pressure on them. But when deliberating between branding decisions, ask yourself and your team, “What best reinforces our core DNA and creates opportunities for our ministry to multiply resonance and impact?”
How to Protect Your People and Your Brand from Quiet Quitting
At Resonate, we believe that Brand stewardship extends to all areas of your organization. Brand should be more than your logo or even your external reputation, but it should also be something meaningful and motivating for each person on your team. Team alignment is critical to organizational advancement.
Sales and Brand: the Dance
What is the most popular space at a middle school dance? The snack area! That’s where young boys are free to congregate and talk about baseball while ignoring the core problem facing them: they don’t know how or whether to ask a girl to dance. The gulf between the snack bar and the dance floor may only consist of a few feet, but on a deeper level, it spans galaxies.
Why Brand Strategy is Important
Branding is not just about becoming recognizable, it is about becoming and staying knowable, likeably and trustworthy to the people you are trying to reach. In a noisy world—please, for the sake of humanity … but also for the sake of saving ad dollars—don’t try to reach everyone, just try to reach the people you can best serve ...
What’s in a Logo?
Internally, we actually use the language “Visual Identity” to describe the logo and brand color palette. Eventually, your visual identity will also become other key aspects of your brand design, certain elements or strokes to supplement your logo and add robustness to your brand. We just said logo in the title because we thought you’d be more likely to click it. ;-) Were we right?