Brand: Your Most Valuable Asset
Your website is the digital representation of your brand to the world and it should not be taken lightly.
Vin Agency is a creative agency that is as passionate about design as they are about fine wine. It's their mission to bring the stories behind the wine alive with custom-tailored solutions.
We asked Annie Jefferson, the Brand Strategist at Vin, to share her take on branding and how Vin communicates visual identities to enhance the customer experience.
You have heard it before: Your brand is much more than your logo. It is an amorphous concept that exists apart from your work, an abstract idea that is removed from the daily practicalities of running a business. And in order for your winery to achieve success, it is essential to first define and express your brand.
At Vin, we know that your brand is your greatest asset. And we’re aware that most busy professionals—even some working in branding and marketing fields—can’t clearly comprehend and define for themselves the elusive concept of “brand.”
We’ve spent a great deal of time mulling this concept over in an effort to unlock the potential within our clients’ businesses. And we’d like to share with you some of the brand-defining strategies we implement with wineries every day.
So what exactly is a brand?
Your brand is the external world’s perception of your business. It is less about logic or rationality and more about how your business makes consumers feel.
Your brand perception is created by the combined effect of everything contributing to your brand’s presence in the world. David Ogilvy, the “Father of Advertising,” called this “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.”
This “intangible sum” is an amalgamation of elements such as: visual identity (colors, imagery, typography, and yes, logo); business title; tone of voice; social media and communication; customer service; internal engagement; signage and packaging; public relations and advertising; partnerships; events; physical environment and location; history, reputation and so much more.
Taken as a whole, all of these attributes create a comprehensive impression in the minds of consumers about who you are, what your business is, and whether your values align with theirs and ultimately how it can affect their lives.
Why is brand important?
Business owners—especially those of small or boutique wineries—are often bogged down by day-to-day operations. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that our brand carries our greatest potential for success.
But when your tasks include reviewing your finances, consider this: A fully realized brand that is clear in its identity and consistent in its execution is extremely powerful. Simply put, it is your strongest sales tool.
As your key opportunity for differentiation, your brand is your answer to making your voice heard in a noisy space. Competitors may offer a similar product or service, but it is virtually impossible for another winery to make a consumer feel the way your brand does. This is because your brand, on its best day, is a truly authentic representation of your uniquely personal business.
Clarify your brand
To hone the unique identity of your brand, start by brainstorming your keyword attributes. Are you down-to-earth, modern, edgy, elegant, rustic, youthful, classic, innovative, traditional? Keywords like these will help define your personality and serve as pillars upon which to build your visual and verbal identity.
For example, a brand like Dragonette Cellars might describe themselves as traditional, sophisticated, yet down to earth and rustic. Outside of the wine world, if we look to a well known and successful brand, such as Apple, words like innovation, simple/intuitive, aspirational and friendly come to mind, with all activities and brand touch points - from customer service to packaging - stemming from these core pillars of their identity.
Now think about what makes you different from your competitors. This can be tricky in an industry, such as wine, where differentiation tends to be subtle or subjective. Start with your founding story. How has your journey been unique?
Perhaps there was something you have done differently or an unusual angle you have emphasized in your work. Maybe you have a background in a different industry that has helped to inform your approach to winemaking. Whatever it is, find that thing that makes you unique, the thing that no one else can imitate.
Take Casino Mine Ranch (new website launching soon from Vin). Their brand is centered on a non-conformist, irreverent and unbounded way of life where their approach to winemaking is similar to exploring the wild west. Another example is Seavey, who is set apart through their robust library of wines, having held back a handful of each vintage since 1990, an approach that is nowadays rare.
Finally, get clear on your purpose. Why are you here? What is your fundamental purpose for doing what you are doing? Think about which parts of your day energize you the most, what you are most proud of, or key areas of your work that you find yourself returning to over and over. Your purpose is like a compass: No matter how tied up you get in the day-to-day, your purpose sits at the core of your brand and can help guide your activities back to center.
— This is the first of a series of posts on brand strategy and development that we hope will help you further understand and evolve your brand. —