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Tuesday December 10 2013 Branding 101 Everyone seems to be excited when it comes to branding their great idea, but what really is the branding step? Dusting off your copy of Photoshop followed by a crash course on graphic design? Or perhaps, forking out some cash to consult a top tier designer?

Unfortunately, the word 'brand' has been misused as much as the word 'weight' (for which the correct word is 'mass'). Many people associate branding with logo design, creating much confusion in distinguishing the two. Branding is a process that creates an emotional response upon the presentation of your company logo. Logo design is just the beginning of it (A very important beginning nevertheless).

One thing we need to remember: Branding is not just visual, it affects all five senses.

Think about New York Slice Pizza, what comes to your head? That naughty, greasy, late night satisfaction? Or perhaps, a tingling sensation on your taste bud? Hole in your wallet?

Now think about Apple. Can you smell the fresh unit out of the box? Or maybe the lively environment in their Apple store with all their open wooden tables? Sleek, clean and fashionable with a massive line of people waiting outside.

Notice how all of your senses are being used when you are associating a brand? Simply put, a brand extends beyond what the customers see. It is a full experience from the moment they see your logo, all the way to the post purchase customer service. In this case, to people who never experience Apple or New York Slice, these brands doesn't mean anything more than just a picture of bitten off apple or a blue/yellow graphic of the Liberty Statue.

As designers, branding is a strategy that we employ to kick off clients' business. Logo design is just a part of the process. Indeed, a beautiful logo will capture customers' attention, much like love at first sight. However, what the business does afterwards is what defines whether these first loves will convert to be loyal devotees.

Before rushing off to start your logo design, stop for a second and ask yourself these questions:

Why does the brand exist? And who is the target audience? What sort of values will be shared between the brand and the customers?
How would you describe yourself and your brand? And how would you like the customer to describe you and your brand?
What makes the business unique? Why should people come to you instead of the guy next door?

These are some examples of questions that will get you to think beyond just the logo design, and ultimately define the whole brand experience. Moral of the story? A successful brand is not just about paying top dollar to great designers that make beautiful graphics. It requires careful, thoughtful planning and consideration from yourself.