January 27, 2021
Branding is exactly like baking. In case you just looked at the URL to make sure you were on the Design Lab’s site and not one of those hilariously long recipe blogs, bear with us. This will be fun, we promise.
A disclaimer: All opinions expressed about desserts are all our own. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints, and taste buds of all our readers.
You have flour, eggs, chocolate chips, maybe some baking soda or vanilla. A dash of salt, some sprinkles, whatever floats your boat. Now think: What can you make with those ingredients?
Nearly anything delicious. We’re talking cookies, chocolate chip pancakes, brownies, a birthday cake… you name it. Each of those ingredients, in the right proportions and flavors, becomes something entirely new.
Most business owners, whether branding for the first time or re-branding, worry about what is already being done in their industry or the “standard” they feel they have to meet. But there are a million ways to bake a cookie, and just as many ways to create a brand — and business — that is successful.
It all starts with being selective and intentional with your ingredients… and not being afraid to experiment!
We’re going to carry this baking metaphor one step further by reminding you that your design or branding recipe isn’t just for you. You don’t bake desserts just for you (all the time), right? You’re usually baking something with someone you love in mind.
The same goes for your brand. When you’re identifying the ingredients — the keywords and the overall voice — for your brand, you’re thinking about what your ideal customer wants. What speaks to them? How do you want to make them feel? We talk about this a lot in relation to brand culture, which you can learn more about here.
Now, think of your ideal audience like the recipient of your baked delicacies. You want to make sure it’s something they’ll enjoy, right? Before you choose the recipe’s ingredients based on your own tastes, ask yourself: What do they want?
Do they want something with chocolate chips (read: dependability and security) or are they more of a butterscotch lover (read: experimentation and curiosity)? Maybe they’d really love some fresh vanilla (read: a concierge feel) instead of cinnamon (read: a quick buy).
If you’ve ever been to a cookie swap, you know there’s about 4,709 ways to make a chocolate chip cookie. All of them are delicious. None of them are wrong. The same goes for your brand. You can mix up the ingredients, have fun, and try to find a new combination that feels right!
Maybe you throw on some peppermint icing on that chocolate chip cookie (refreshing and fun meets dependability and security). Or what if you added some orange zest to that vanilla cake (unconventional meets concierge!)?
You start with what your ideal customer wants — those base ingredients — and then you layer on the secret recipe on top. That’s how you come up with an all-new creation, one that is rooted in your customers’ most important needs, but that doesn’t feel like store-bought sugar cookies. Ew.
Have you ever found an old family recipe for that dessert or dish you loved as a kid? Sometimes, there are specific measurements and down-to-the-minute instructions, but most likely there are a lot of lines like “Season to taste” and “Bake until ready.”
When you’re trying to get things juuuuuust right, that can be incredibly frustrating — but think of all the magic this leaves room for you to create! Sure, we’re talking about desserts, but we’re also talking about your brand.
The best brand recipes come from people playing around and throwing in elements and ingredients that are a little unexpected. Maybe even contradictory. C’mon, people put salt in their cookies. There are no rules.
We’ve seen software providers use brand keywords like “dependable” and “sexy” in the same recipe. You can make your brand recipe whatever you want it to be. If you’re reading this and wondering just what kind of variety YOUR recipe can have… here are a few of our favorite examples to get you inspired:
When you think of business operations, you probably think of spreadsheets and SOPs. Yasmine’s brand brought in a new ingredient: play.
A calligraphy brand that teaches people how to hand letter. Instead of focusing on just the aesthetics or “skill,” they wanted to focus on the meditative practice hand lettering can be and created a new recipe…
Have you ever thought of software as “feminine”? Sleek Software Solutions is a woman-run company with an emphasis on making any idea come to life through software. They took the idea of a male-centric technology field and turned it on its head.
Content marketing might seem pretty buttoned up and straightforward… but Your Content Empire wanted to add in ingredients that felt punchy and lighthearted, reinforcing their informal tagline, “rebel against the shoulds.”
Reading aloud to your kids is a time-honored tradition — but Read Aloud Revival wanted to make sure parents who homeschool their children are embracing the tradition and feeling confident about their homeschool curriculum. Their brand recipe added structure and intelligence to the mix…
We know that you want your brand and business to be successful. We know you’re probably bogged down by what everyone else is doing in your industry or how other successful brands look. And while we’ve made plenty of cookie references in this blog, we hope that you know: Your brand can still be professional, successful, and effective while showing personality and purpose.
As long as you’re starting from your core ingredients — what your ideal customer wants — and adding in your secret recipe from there with your brand keywords and elements, there are countless ways to create your ideal brand.
Of course, if you’re totally new to branding and aren’t sure how to make the right pairing with your ingredients, it can be overwhelming! We have a solution:
The Balanced Brand Lab Kit is a do-it-yourself branding workshop where you’ll build a personalized and balanced brand recipe to guide all your design decisions. Make your own style guide and find your brand’s trusty sidekicks: from the right colors, fonts, photography, and more!
When you unlock access to the Lab, you’ll get to experiment with your recipe and plug in your different ingredients until you find what works — for your customers and for you. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to make brand decisions and create your own go-to recipe for future branding work – everything from Facebook ads to newsletter opt-ins.
Interested? Learn more about the Balanced Brand Lab Kit here.