What Does Branding Mean in 2020?

There’s a bit of a buzz word happening on the internet right now – and that word is BRANDING.

But branding isn’t what it used to be and that can leave a big discrepancy in people’s understanding of what they should and shouldn’t do to strengthen their business’s brand right now.

Picture this.

A searing hot rod sizzling on hide. That’s how branding started.

It was a way to mark what was yours. It showed ownership over your herd.

Moved into human practice, the iron was removed and each employee proudly put on their embroidered shirt carefully stitched with the mark of their company.

In both applications, the logo or icon represented a sense of belonging to something.

But as society evolved, the definition of branding continued to expand.

Storefronts had to match the logo that represented the company. Brands transformed from a simple icon into a business’s entire visual identity. Which included all of the touch points from signage to packaging, everything had to be a similar colour and theme that represented the business.

Then the internet was born.

Suddenly people could see you, without ever seeing your storefront and visual identities became relevant in a whole new way.

Websites and social media pages became additional brand touch points that lived completely separate from the entity of the brick and mortar business.

The human element was removed. Customer service was no longer at the forefront of your reputation. Instead, your reputation became highly influenced by the perception your business’s home page gave.

Websites have evolved a lot and businesses have begun to understand just how important adding the human element back into your web pages are.

Afterall, humans connect with other humans. And people buy based on emotional response – in other words feeling a connection.

People now look for authority indicators, ad scent, and transparency before buying online.

Let’s talk more about these three things…

Authority Indicators

Authority indicators can include things like:

1. Having a specific plan to guide your customers through a transformation

2. Giving the answers to the questions your audience is asking

3. Sticking to absolutes

Let’s talk about these indicators a little more in detail as they will help you to stand out and have a strong identity online.

Having a specific plan to guide your customers through a transformation:

You wouldn't follow a tour guide that asked you for directions at the start of your journey. Similarly, people won’t want to follow you if you don’t have a clear step-by-step process for how you are going to change their lives.

This is especially true for online coaches and consultants, but also for B2B or B2C businesses offering any type of result.

Process and systems are necessary both in business and in marketing. You need to be able to advertise the journey you’re going to take people on so that they can trust how you’re going to get them the result they desire.

Give the answers to the questions your audience is asking:

This may seem super obvious, but a lot of businesses get so caught up in talking about the things they love that they forget to answer questions at the level their audience is asking from.

Addressing FAQs means you’re willing to meet your audience where they are at. And it gives them the answers they are looking for, which in turn leaves them feeling a sense of reciprocity towards your business.

They’ll look to you the next time they have a question.

Sticking to absolutes:

Having a big vision is another part of having a strong brand. Your vision and mission should come with absolutes.

Absolutes are things you firmly believe about why you exist and what you need to do and how you need to do it to make your vision come true.

People don’t listen to wishy-washy statements.

Using words that imply certainty like all, always, none, never, best, worst, fact, etc. help show you are an organization with purpose and certainty.

These authority indicators can position your business as a go to expert in your industry.


Ad Scent

There has always been something called ad scent. Think of this like a dog tracing your scent. People trace the scent of your business by following visual ques in your advertising.

Before, it might have been an ad on TV. The customer would go to a store and find the item as advertised. But if the product were advertised looking one way and showcased in store looking completely different, the customer would quickly lose the scent they went looking for.

Now, it’s a bit different. People aren’t following a scent over days (and losing some of the memory of the initial scent along the way). People are now seeing an ad, following it to a landing page, and then purchasing or opting in. The scent is fractional, it’s only second - so the visual congruency between ad and pages needs to be that much stronger. Not only visuals, but also messaging.

This is why it’s important to have your brand messaging dialed in so that your marketing message can be followed easily.

This leads to our last topic of discussion.



Video has become a prominent way to showcase the human side of businesses, whether it’s showing the branded inside of a physical store, promoting the people working behind the scenes, or training and teaching to build trust – video has become the way to show the reality behind the screen.

Photos of staff, client meetings, or customer transformations are another prominent way businesses are showcasing reality online.

Then there’s social media, which is more of a living, evolving form of brand promotion.

Social media is a great way to engage with your audience.

If used correctly, social media can showcase your authority indicators and position your business as an industry leader.

But there are a few hardships in trying to be transparent online...

I watched the social dilemma recently, and they say that on twitter people click on false news 6:1 over true news.

That means people are seeing lies 6 times more on average than truth.

This statistic is both shocking and eye opening.

No wonder we question everyone. No wonder we hold onto our email and credit cards so tightly.

It’s harder to convince people to TRUST nowadays.

The thing about transparency is, you can’t be transparent if you aren’t crystal clear on your own WHY.

Picture this, you have a glass and you fill it with a little tomato juice, a little OJ, bit of lemonade, some water, maybe a bit of rum… what do you have now?

Right. A stinky concoction no one wants to partake of.

Your brand’s WHY needs to be concentrated. It can be flavourful like OJ and the flavour doesn’t need to be for everybody (better that it isn’t).

But when someone picks up that glass, they should see right through it and know whether or not your brand is something they want to partake in.

Trust comes from consistently showing up online with one clear message.

Let people see who your business is, what it represents. Show them you are an expert and don’t let them lose the trace along the way.

These are the keys you need to have a successful brand online in 2020.

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formerly Vantage Point Design

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