Branding Tips & Tricks: How to Make Your Message Clear

ArtExplored
5 min readOct 12, 2023

Branding is one of the most exciting and complex parts of launching a product, which aspiring business owners often underestimate. Contrary to popular belief, it is not limited to product design. Branding happens not in the moment when you design your logo or write a statement for your website: it happens in your customers’ heads when they see it. In that sense, branding depends not only on you but on the perception of your target audience. That does not mean, however, that you should shift responsibility and expect your customer to create your brand’s image on their own. Inventing a coherent and exciting brand could be the key to the creator’s success — or a path to failure.

To create a correct impression of your work, simply having a passion for your business is not enough. Your instruments are fonts, color palettes, illustrations or absence of them, shapes, textures, thoughts and ideas — and the way you express them both verbally and visually. But how does one come up with a great and understandable message? Read on to find sources for inspiration for your own unique business that would capture the minds of your prospective customers.

  • Get Inspired by Your Predecessors
Not Your Mother’s Tiffany campaign; via Retail Jeweller

No matter how obvious it sounds, do not refrain from learning from your predecessors’ success and, more importantly, their mistakes. Business branding and advertisement have a rich and prolonged history that can give you insights into customers’ responses and evaluate your chances.

However, be sure to think through all possible contexts of your message. If something could be understood incorrectly, it almost certainly would be. The infamous case of Oldsmobile proved how a poorly formulated nostalgic remark could ruin a company’s reputation overnight. In 1988, they launched a campaign This Is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile, aimed to attract younger customers. The result was disastrous: older clients felt offended, and their children who often kept childhood memories of family trips, felt no inclination to rewrite them. In 2021, jewelry company Tiffany & Co. launched a similar campaign with the slogan Not Your Mother’s Tiffany, resulting in similar misunderstandings and resentment.

  • Don’t Focus on Your Own Niche
Vintage Schiaparelli label, with signature pink color and font inspired by Surrealist art, via Wikimedia Commons

While it is no doubt necessary to become an expert in your niche, when it comes to inspiration, you will need more than one domain to succeed. You may have noticed that most examples in this article concern beauty and fashion brands since they mostly use the most radical and obvious references. That does not mean, however, that you cannot learn from them even if you represent a different sector. The key rule here is to remain consistent and construct coherent branding from whatever elements you see fit for your product.

Studying art and history could be a great way to broaden your expressive vocabulary through deep symbolism, historical references, and the use of line and color. Over the years, artists have been searching for new ways to express feelings, emotions, and events in visual form using various means. The Surrealists explored the unconscious through fluid forms and scenes from their dark dreams, the Futurists created imaginary visions of the future, and the Neo-Classicists expressed conservative values rooted in the ideals of Antiquity. Studying their ideas could tell you more about the way the human brain reads visual references and interprets colors and forms, attributing meanings to them.

  • Imagine Your Brand as a Physical Space
Chanel’s Lucky Chance Diner, via 10 Magazine

Even if you are dealing with non-physical services, a little visualization sometimes can help come a long way. Imagine a space entirely dedicated to your brand. What would it be? A fancy event venue, a conference hall, a small room filled with trinkets and curiosities, a desert landscape, or a lush garden of exotic plants?

Think of your customers as a diverse group of people, not an impersonal mass. What kind of person would be comfortable in this space? What would they do there, simply explore the surroundings or somehow interact with objects around them? Keep in mind that these imaginary actions do not necessarily have to be connected to the product or service you offer. A successful brand offers not a particular object but a piece of lifestyle that goes with it and may extend beyond.

In September 2023, Chanel opened a diner in Brooklyn. The pastel-toned Lucky Chance Diner, designed as a dreamy version of a 1950s restaurant, did not serve food or drinks but served as a venue for promoting Chanel’s new line of fragrances. The brand built a diner not because they planned to offer branded milkshakes or burgers but because the space reflected the playful and dreamy vibe of their new scents.

  • Work with Assosiations
Isamaya Beauty Industrial 2.0 Campaign, via Cosmetista

Another mental exercise would be drafting a list of associations. Take a sheet of paper and write down in column concepts and ideas you associate with your brand. Try not to think too much — register the first words that come to your mind. The results may puzzle you, but they can also give you valuable information about what happens in your mind when you think of your business. When you finish the list, think of expressing it in visual form. Is there something that could unite all the words you have written down?

British make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench is known for her bold artistic creations that go far beyond traditional makeup techniques to the domain of art and body modifications, challenging beauty norms and the traditional appearance of human bodies. The branding of her own beauty brand reflects this approach, using dark and often aggressive designs, sexual references, piercing, and technology. All these details send an unambiguous message about the brand, its creator, and its target audience — brave, daring, and a bit eccentric women unafraid to step out of conventional standards and expectations.

  • Finally: Don’t Be Afraid to Go Your Own Way!

Here’s the last suggestion on how to get your branding right: don’t take other suggestions too seriously! In the end, you are the one in charge of your dream and business. Sometimes, your gut feeling can do much more than hours-long consultations and fool-proof manuals.

Your customers can smell insincerity from a mile away. Today, more and more people are ditching huge faceless corporations in favor of small local brands with personality and individual approaches to their target audience. Whatever you do, try not to lose your authenticity exploring safe grounds of traditional branding. Be brave, be yourself, and don’t be afraid to be different!

About the author:

Christina Ioannou is a seasoned PR professional supporting brands and entrepreneurs in the cultural and lifestyle industries get media attention and shape their narrative. Find out more here

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