Six Key Points for Effective Branding



Written by Russell Shaw

Published on October 07, 2013



This is a list constructed over the past year to help shake some misperceptions and false expectations about brand creation. It is common to have someone request a “brand design,” when what they mean is they would like a logo. In truth, effective branding is a more holistic approach that looks beyond just a logo, website or advertisement, and understands that a strong brand is built upon a strong brand promise


A strong brand promise is one that knows who the audience is, what the audience needs, and how the brand can meet that need in a new, unique, and better way than its competitors. Once that promise (story, narrative, warranty, guarantee – what-have-you) is established as a communication strategy and messaging piece, a brand’s visual identity will follow organically and be built off of clear thinking, rather than just visual flash or good style. The work of brand design is not creating a logo – it's creating a visual voice.

So, here are six key points for effective branding that I have found helpful as a basis for finding a company's unique brand promise, from which that visual voice can be built. 

To new companies thinking of brand design: Pursue a more holistic view for your branding process. Think through every customer touchpoint, and question how you can design an experience to carry your brand’s promise through every customer interaction.

To other designers: Educate your clients on matters like these. We have built our own esoteric industry language and often put up a barrier between ourselves and our clients because of it. So tear the barrier down. The better that you can explain yourself in order to get everyone on the same page before starting the work, the more you will avoid frustrating miscommunication later in the process.

  1. A brand is more than a name, a logo or an advertising campaign. A brand is a promise – a promise that answers emotional questions about a company like “Who am I?” or “What do I stand for?”
  2. A brand has a personality and a style, and is expressed through emotional attributes.
  3. Modern consumers feel loyalty toward brands that share their value system. How do they feel when they read a newsletter, visit your office, view your collateral or attend an event that you sponsor? A brand is experienced at every touchpoint with the consumer – each an opportunity to shape the overall brand image.
  4. Brands are perception – the audience’s perception, not yours. Consider the words and associations you want people to think of when they think of your business.
  5. Effective branding is the result of understanding the audience’s needs first, and then defining the communication strategy.
  6. A successful brand does not attempt to be everything to everyone. It knows who its audience is, and appeals directly to them. Narrow down, and focus.


The work of brand design is not creating a logo – it’s creating a visual voice.”