What is branding?

What is branding?

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We all know what it’s like to curate our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok etc feeds to reflect certain sides of our personalities. 

But for most of the general public, all of those accounts are rolled into one big display of our personality. Truth be told, most of us don’t even know we’re building personal brands. Our posts are just what we happen to think about stuff but that in itself becomes a brand because our followers and friends start associating our names with food pictures or cat memes or revolutionary leftist commentary.

And because all of us have experience of playing up certain sides of our personalities and playing down others, we have a somewhat intuitive understanding of branding. We can tell when someone’s being genuine versus when someone’s being performative. We’ve developed a sixth sense almost that tells us “x post by Burger King makes sense for their brand” but “y post by McDonald’s is a blatant cash-grab”. That intuitive understanding is going to come in handy when we discuss how branding works in this post so hold on to that thought while we discuss how we got here to begin with.

A Brief History

You know how the word “brand” can also mean to stamp your name on something? Yeah, that’s basically how this whole thing started. Farmers used to brand their cattle with the names of their farms so they could keep track of which cows were theirs. That evolved into more forms of branding. Early cave painting artists would have a symbol to tell others that “yo Klarrggg made this one cheggit”. Think of cave-people as early versions of Banksy, but interesting and with a more cohesive viewpoint on the world.

In advertising, “branding” didn’t really become important until the 50s or the “Mad Men” era, where creatives started associating values with brands. Up until that point, you would have three or four companies making cornflakes and you’d choose the one that you liked. Packaging wasn’t flashy and colourful. They were boxes and tins that just had the name of the company on them. With the advent of more and more companies, it became important to set your product apart from the crowd. So you had the Coca Cola ads that spread the message of friendship and companionship. You had Campbell’s Soup which associated itself with wholesome meals. The values of a company became arguably as important as the product itself. 

Today, it’s almost revolutionary for a brand to not have flashy packaging. When a brand chooses to be minimal, like say Muji or Brandless, they’re making a statement about what their values are. Muji prides itself on simple, well-designed products that are tied together by a philosophy of an uncomplicated life. Brandless’ whole schtick is that their products promise nothing but simple, good functionality. The Brandless soap doesn’t promise to make you happy by making your skin glow; it’s just a pretty darn good soap.

Which brings us to our current dilemma. 

What exactly is a brand? If a brand is all packaging and copy and colours, Brandless and Muji consistently prove us wrong. But if a brand is nothing but the product, then why do we only know the names of two or three types of soda? Maybe there’s a great soda out there with no consistent design language that no one drinks because no one knows it exists. Where does the balance exist? How does one break into an already crowded market and have any hope of success? 

The Answer

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of brands in our lives. So let’s go back to the basics. We know what it’s like to build our own personal brands. We do it everyday without even knowing we’re doing it. 

Remember the intro? This is what it boils down to: your personal brand is you. 

Everything that makes you unique goes into your brand. You’re a passionate designer who enjoys the spectacle of Marvel movies but is known to dabble in arthouse cinema. You love electronic music and are always looking for new artists to follow because there are so many wonderful musicians in the world. You’re a vegetarian by choice and don’t identify with any particular religion, though you do believe that you’re spiritual. You enjoy yoga as much as you enjoy krav maga. I could go on but you see the point, right? Your personal brand is just a collection of the things you enjoy, love, think and post about. Your friends identify all of those things with you so when they throw you a surprise birthday party, they take care to make the menu exclusively vegetarian and get you a Mubi subscription as a birthday present. 

Building a brand’s personality works the same way. Your personality seems authentic because you authentically enjoy everything you post about. It’s necessary for your brand to feel authentic, too. So you associate it with things that fundamentally influence it. Building a brand isn’t about creating a personality for your company. Building a brand is about finding the personality that’s already hiding in there. If your products are organic and cruelty-free, then congratulations your brand believes in protecting the environment. Your brand believes in lessening the suffering that animals face in scientific trials. Your brand can proudly associate itself with those things. 

It’s all about finding the truth of your brand.

Here are some questions that you can ask your brand to get to know it better, and each of these questions is linked to an essential part of branding:

#1. Brand Identity

How does your brand look? 

What’s in a logo? 

What can be the one image that ties all of your values together?

Which colours best suit the personality of your brand?

#2. Brand Positioning

How is your brand placed in the market?

Who are your competitors?

What does your brand do differently than those competitors?

#3. Brand Image

What does the public think about your brand?

Do they know you exist? If not, why?

Do they know what your brand believes in?

How can you let them get to know your brand better?

#4. Brand Personality

Does your brand have a sense of humour?

Is your brand more real and down-to-earth?

If your brand was a person, how would you describe that person?

#5. Brand Messaging

What does your brand want to say?

What is the one thing that it really wants to communicate?

What are your brand’s views on your industry, in general?

#6. Brand Values

What does your brand believe?

How does it show people that it believes in those values?

Are there hidden values that the brand has, but the public doesn’t know about?

#7. Brand Story

Where did your brand come from?

Why this brand and not any other?

Why this personality and not any other?

#8. Brand Equity

What is the emotional/financial value of your brand? 

Has it made itself indispensable in its audience’s lives?

What more could your brand do to connect with its audience better?

A combination of all the above is what’ll help you start building a brand.

Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to start your journey.

Brands aren’t built in a day, they’re built over time as you keep on consistently showing the world who this brand is, and why this brand exists. These aren’t the only questions you’ll have to answer either. You’ll find more questions as time goes by, but soon enough you will be able to look back and see that you’ve built a relationship with your brand. 

Just like your audience.

And if you’re having trouble with some of these questions, well, that’s what we’re here for.

CKC Campaign – Art Direction and Production

C krishniah chetty & sons - #mywaymystyle

Redefining Heritage Brand for a New Age audience

ART DIRECTION | PRODCTION | AD CAMPAIGN

C KRISHNIAH CHETTY & SONS is a 150 year old heritage jewellery brand. Already popular with the older generation, CKC wanted a campaign that would build Brand Esteem among the Millennial Generation.


We created an Instagram-led Digital Campaign using 6 real, inspirational women styled in their own aesthetic.

We worked with 6 incredible women who rule social media and pop culture in Bangalore and styled them to their own aesthetic. 

#MyWayMyStyle features role models from all industries like fitness, creative arts, fashion, and radio, celebrating their personalities through Instagram stories.

By working with @ckcjewellers we were able to break the mound of what traditional jewellery ads looked like.

These are the women of today. Powerful, fierce and unapologetically themselves.

Go Behind The Scenes

#MyWayMyStyle #Flawsome #Kween

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The definitive guide to building a brand

The definitive guide to building a brand

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“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”

– ancient human wisdom as found on wikipedia.com

There are a lot of fancy ways to define branding, but we’re here to make it easy to understand. As branding consultants in Bangalore and Singapore, trust us when we tell you that putting your mark on something is known as branding. It’s as simple as that. 

What started, 4000 years ago, as an a simple exercise of farmers branding their cows, is now grown to a large industry that has the ability to change perceptions of companies. 

Today, brands are built on it’s values, personality, and visual design elements like typography, logo design, colour theory, etc. These tools are used to help the brand build positive associations. 

Let's look at some brands we LOOVE.

Apple : 'think different'

For Apple, that association is an assurance of premium quality, innovation and ease of use. But from an emotional side, when you see an Apple logo on a product, you think of innovators, creatives and people that are unapologetic about their goals and ambition.

That’s what Apple really sells. It’s an attitude, not just a computer or a phone. 

Coca-cola : 'open happiness'

For Coke, that “thought” is friendship. Since the iconic 1971 “I want to buy the world a Coke” campaign, Coke’s brand has been associated with the feelings of happiness and warmth.

Now that you see the thought, you gain an understanding of why they use such an iconic shade of Red. That colour is the colour of warmth, friendship, happiness and, in Chinese culture, good luck. It’s a colour that, on a very primal level, enhances human metabolism, making you hungrier and thirstier. Arguably a great thing for a company that sells soda.

"So what sets my Brand apart?"

These are questions we solve for in brand discovery meetings. 

A branding discovery or strategy session is a brainstorming session, where everyone the stakeholders of the brand, gather to focus and consolidate the brand’s values, business aspirations and vision for the future.

We need to understand who our target customers are, what are their worries and inconveniences, and how our brand can associate to them.

This is how we start building a brand strategy. The strategy stage sets the tone of your communication, and provides a rallying point for the team in terms of brand values and business direction.

How is your Brand placed in the market?

Apple positioned themselves as thought leaders in technology that also happened to be easy to use. They knew their market. Their market wasn’t limited to just people who know about technology, like IBM and Microsoft who positioned themselves for business-oriented use, but focused on people who didn’t really waste much time thinking about technology.

This allowed them to capture the public’s imagination in a way that no technology company was doing at the time. Apple became “hip” all of a sudden because they made people feel like they didn’t need engineering degrees to buy their products. So Apple Stores started popping up in retail spaces that were traditionally dedicated to, for a lack of a better term, “geeks”. And this positioning carried on into the world of smartphones.

As a counterpoint to Apple, OnePlus and Xiaomi have absolutely dominated the tech enthusiast market by positioning themselves as the “best-bang-for-your-buck” phones.

The idea here is to figure out what positioning is right for your brand. If strategy is about what cannons to buy for your warship, positioning is literally about where you want those cannons to point.

Building your Brand Personality

Great brands come with great personalities. That’s because brand personalities are what makes them more relatable to their audience and help build brand affinity.

In this stage we identify key characteristics and insights from our discovery session and define the way the brand should speak, it’s beliefs and characteristics.

Once you have your strategy and positioning figured out, it’s time to think about how your brand communicates. You’ve solved the “What am I saying?” “When am I saying it” and “Who am I saying it to?” questions. Your brand’s voice is “How am I saying it?”

How does your Brand represent itself?

If logos are the face of your brand, the visual language is like your clothes, and we always make sure our brands are well dressed. In this stage we finalise the typography, colour, logo design and other branding elements.

Your logo, colour palette and font choices are the gateway for someone to get to know you better. Think of it in terms of how you dress yourself for a social gathering. For an interview at a corporate, you groom yourself and make sure your hair looks perfect. You choose a blazer from your closet and a tie that matches it. On the flip-side, if you’re getting ready for a date, you might choose a more casual look that brings out a side of your personality that you would like your potential partners to see.

You are changing your visual identity depending on your audience. We already figured out who our audience is above, and we’ve figured what we’re trying to communicate and how. Take those answers and try to interpret them visually.

For your font, a sans serif might be an equivalent to building a more casual relationship with your audience. If your brand is built on a rich legacy, look at slab serifs. Just do a little exercise on your computer. Write your brand’s name and switch between fonts. See how each one makes you feel. That’s how your audiences might feel when they encounter your brand for the first time.

Similar process with logo design and colour theory. It’s all about building relationships. Your colour palette establishes a mood. Visit the websites of your favourite brands or your competitors and notice what colours they’re using and where. This’ll help you establish at least a baseline understanding of these concepts that you and your creative agency can further build upon.

Building a brand is a long term process that starts with Brand Strategy. If you want to learn more about Branding or looking to understand how it’s perceived, reach out and let’s talk brand!

What running a Creative and Branding Agency taught us

What running a Creative and Branding Agency taught us

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Running a creative agency in Bangalore for 5 years teaches you a lot of things. Most important being: never fix a client meeting in Yelahanka at 10 AM. You could leave your house at 6 and still be late.

Jokes apart though, looking back at all these years of design, advertising and branding, we now know a lot we wish we’d known when we were just starting out.

Size Matters, Until It Doesn’t

#1. brands need focused and flexible attention to create great work

When you’re building something of your own, it’s often hard to know where to stop. Limitless growth is always a possibility for any venture. For us, the early years were full of hectic days with the whole agency abuzz; each person on our 15-member team working on something brilliant and different. Each following through on their own ideas of what Brand X’s logo design needs or the characteristics that Brand Y’s typography could embody. It was chaotic, yes, but never full-on chaos.

However, gradually, there was a shift in how we perceived our work and our clients. When you have a huge agency working on dozens of clients, it becomes harder to cultivate meaningful relationships between them. This is how most traditional large-scale advertising agencies still do it, which is why brands feel the need to branch out and look for smaller teams where they wouldn’t get lost on a roster.

And this led us to change our approach; from a large team, we scaled down over time to just two creative directors working personally on every project.

Shop to Boutique

#2. brands need partners, not vendors

A vendor-client relationship is inherently transactional: you give us a brief and a briefcase full of money, we give you a beautiful website/logo/TVC. The problem is that in a vendor-client relationship, the first thing we forget is what the brand needs. Sure, the clients can fill out a brief with what they think the brand needs and we can interpret what we think the brand needs, but mostly it isn’t as easy as that.

Figuring out what a brand needs is a collaborative process where you usually need to put yourself in the client’s shoes. You need to integrate with their team to see what makes them click. It’s lengthy, cumbersome, messy and something that most branding agencies neglect.

“What’s the point in spending a day at the client’s office?,” you might ask, “How does that help me design a beautiful logo?”

Well, ask any creative and they’ll tell you: the best work is honest. The best work feels true and makes you want to believe in it. Those insights of “what feels true” can only be gained in collaboration with the people who created the brand to begin with. From a branding or a creative agency, we’ve become consultants and all the work we do is born out of a partnership with our clients.

The Meaning of Collaboration

#3. work with other experts and open up your heart to the people you’re collaborating with so everyone is proud of the work

Think of a piece of art that you love. It could be anything. A movie, a song, a play, a book. Chances are, more than one person worked on it. Even a prodigal Grammy-Tony-Emmy-Pulitzer-MacArthur Grant winning genius like Lin-Manuel Miranda needed the musical expertise of Alex Lacamoire to help him arrange the music of Hamilton.

That’s what a team does. Each person is immeasurably valuable because of the expertise they bring in. In the previous section, we discussed how important it is to look at clients as our equals and partners. This section is about valuing their inputs. 

Where our expertise lies in ideation and expression of creative thought, theirs lies in knowing their market, audience and product. When both of these worlds come together in harmony, that’s when we do great stuff. For example, in a short film we did for Wishberry, we were tasked with explaining how crowdfunding works to a general audience. Their expertise in knowing what they needed to communicate combined with our creative idea of treating the film as a cop questioning a young filmmaker led to this:

But most importantly, we learnt who WE are.

After countless projects across various industries, we realised what mattered to us, as a company. Doing focused and quality work with brands that understand the power of branding. 

Which is why we make sure that both creative directors, work on every project, that we have a focused and process driven approach to our work and that we work with the best when it comes to implementing our ideas/strategies. 

Stay small, but powerful. Pretty bold, isn’t it?

 

Game Theory Branding – India’s Coolest Sports Centre

GAME THEORY - branding

Branding India's Coolest Sports Centres

BRANDING | WEBSITE DESIGN | GRAPHIC DESIGN

GAME THEORY is a Sports and Tech Brand aiming to build an active culture around recreational sports. As a disruptor in the market, Game Theory is here encourage people to pick up a sport and just play. It’s not about winning, it’s about having fun. And what’s more fun that a game of badminton with some buddies?

Game theory strays away from traditional sport aesthetics and represents it self with primary colours, playful shapes and grid lines.

Exploring the implementation of the Brand Identity Design onto User Interface

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DYSCO Branding

dysco app + website: branding

How We Branded a New-Age Professional Discovery Platform

BRANDING | WEBSITE DESIGN | APP DESIGN | GRAPHIC DESIGN

Dysco is building a community of new-age professionals and needs to be able to entice individuals with its style which focuses on vibrancy and dynamism in shapes and colour. The branding had to be youthful, energetic yet possess the ability to evolve and be fluid to represent a person’s individuality.

Dynamic branding is when certain elements of the visual language changes. Here, the logotype remains constant while the blob and colour palette vary in each collateral. A style which focuses on vibrancy and dynamism in shapes and colour. 

This use of colours represents passion and engagement. It shows movement and energy to bring out the eclectic nature of the brand.

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Caratlane – Branding Video

CARATLANE JEWELLERY: BRANDING VIDEO

Re-creating the era of the Nizam's with 3D Animation

ANIMATION | VIDEO

The Nizam Collection by Caratlane is inspired from the Nizam Culture in Hyderabad and they aimed to revive the style through their jewellery collection. We understood their requirements and worked closely with them for a 3D animation video that promoted the brand campaign .

Built from scratch, the jewellery advertisement drives the viewer’s attention through the intricacy of the palace’s architecture to represent the rich heritage of the Nizam culture and hence, the collection. The aim with the advertisement design was to establish and convey a feeling of aristocracy among the audience.

Director: Vanshaj Kapur
Producer: Kaushal Thakkar
Animation Studio: The Magic Box
Music Director: Rajiv Bhalla

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Wishberry Branding Video Campaign

WISHBERRY - BRAND VIDEO CAMPAIGN

A Crowdfunding Platform's Explainer Video with a Twist

CREATIVE DIRECTION | PRODUCTION | FILM

How do you explain crowdfunding without making an infomercial? Watch our young film maker raise the police’s suspicion when his bank balance changes from Rs 200 to 2 Lakh!

Director: Vanshaj Kapur
Producer: Kaushal Thakkar
DOP: Varun Sud

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