Building a Memorable Brand

i. What is a Brand?

ii. Finding & Developing Your Voice

iii. Get Emotional

i. What is a Brand?

The most important branding lesson to learn is you cannot create a brand using design alone. Design cannot dictate what you are: you dictate that.

People determine your brand. A business is not brand either. People make up businesses and it is those people’s ideas, thoughts and voices driving the brand.

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
–Walt Disney

Your reputation is formed by every single second you spend interacting with your customers. Each word, photograph, tweet or ad. How those interactions make people feel when they engage with them is your brand. Being aware of your values and culture as a collective group of individuals is key in understanding how to build a consistent brand for your organization.

What Role Does Design Play in Branding?

Design helps to communicate your values, culture and the experience your brand offers it’s visitors. Every color, font choice and graphic has something to communicate when you aren’t there to tell the story.

Take Visit California for example…

California Travel Logo

When you see this logo what do you think about?

The rounded font implies a friendly, laid back feeling. The colors are bright and sunny, much like California weather (a great reason to visit) and the spirit of many of the people who live there.

The wavy line under California symbolizes an ocean wave to represent the Pacific Ocean and numerous other lakes and rivers the state has to offer.

This logo is brilliant, but in and of itself doesn’t “brand” the organization entirely. It’s a combination of how people in the organization talk to visitors, how they display their content on their website and advertisements, who they associate with and even something as small and insignificant as how comfortable their employees feel in their work environment on a daily basis.

One small comment to the right person (or the wrong one) can make all the difference to tell the true story about a brand.

One logo does not a brand make.

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.”
–Paul Rand, Designer

When you are working on any design project, you should think first about who you are as a company and what you stand for. Think about the experience you provide to your customers. Great design should communicate all of these characteristics in one way or another, but always remember it is only a small component of a brand

Don’t start a design project for the sake of providing pretty images for your customers to look at. Design should always meet a goal and have a purpose. It should help communicate your ideas and beliefs.

ii. Finding & Developing Your Voice

The hardest part in building a successful brand is figuring out who you are. It is easier said than done.

First, spend some time thinking about what you think you represent and write down the ways you are already communicating these values to your customers.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. When an angry customer interacts with you, how do you want them to feel after they are done talking to you?
  2. When you deliver your product or service, do you do so in a very speedy fashion or very slow and careful?
  3. When you promote your products or services do you focus on quality or price first and foremost?
  4. You receive a positive tweet on Twitter. How do you respond?
  5. A visitor makes a negative comment on your website. How do you respond?
  6. A local non-profit comes to you for a business donation. You haven’t donated yet this year. How do you respond?
  7. A new employee brings you a suggestion for how to improve one of your processes after being there for just a few days. How do you respond?

After you answer questions 1-7, ask yourself these questions about each of them:

Is this how your company should handle this situation?

What can you do to communicate this value to the public?

Do your employees know this is an important value they should be putting into practice?

Value Chart

Where do you think you fall on this chart? Select only one per row.

Brand Value Chart

Download Printable Worksheet

Write down each of the values you chose and talk them over with your team.

In what ways can you communicate these values through your online marketing efforts?

Areas to consider:

  • Static Website Pages (homepage, services, products, menus, rooms, contact pages)
  • Blog
  • Social Media Posts & Profiles
  • Profiles and Listings on Third Party Sites (TripAdvisor, State/City Destination Websites, Other Directories)
  • Email Newsletters
  • eBooks
  • Photos/Videos/Podcasts/Audio Guides

We’ll go through some examples in upcoming chapters to help you generate ways to sell the experience of your brand online.

iii. Get Emotional

It’s easy to forget how people connect with other things in the world with such a large technological presence in our everyday lives. We’ve never had more content available to us so easily before. It’s important to focus on what people connect with, not the quantity of content you throw at them.

We are emotional in every sense of the word. We laugh, cry, yell and get frustrated. Brands that can tap into emotion will win the race.

“If a piece of content draws no emotion, it will not be remembered.”
–Sarah Shuda

What’s the last blog post or tweet that made you laugh out loud or go “Oooh, I’d love to be lying on that beach right now”?

Take a look at some travel brands and destinations that are tapping into human emotion.

How will your visitors remember you?


Travel Wisconsin posted some pins that grabbed my curiosity featuring mazes found throughout the state, including a popular Simpsons labyrinth.

I’m curious to know how long it takes to make it through some of these mazes…

Labyrinths in Wisconsin


Disney might be the king of delight by default, but this tasty pretzel shaped like Mickey Mouse sure gained a lot of attention on Instagram. Over 85,000 people liked this simple pretzel photo. Sometimes all it takes is a simple photo to make thousands of people smile.

Disney Delight

Elegance & Class

W Hotels promoted keyless rooms using a brilliant photo showcasing a view from one of their hotels in Hong Kong. What a breathtaking view! Followers of W Hotels further promoted the brand by providing social proof that they’ve enjoyed their past experiences right in the comments.

W Hotels Instagram

Southwest Airlines is notorious for promoting their free checked bag policy. Nothing looks better on you than not one, but two free checked bags. Such swagger.

Now that you’ve defined your brand’s values how do you sell the experience of your brand online?

Onward to Chapter 2

Sarah Shuda

Sarah Shuda

Designer. Mom. Wife. Loves Gilmore Girls, healthy living and a good cup of coffee.

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