Re Perez is a branding guy. He’s the founder and CEO of Branding for the People, an award-winning agency that creates world-class brands and accelerates business growth with core branding principles. Since 2011, Branding for the People has advised thousands of visionary CEOs, marketing teams, and conscious businesses worldwide.
He’s also the author of the best-selling book Your Brand Should Be Gay (Even If You’re Not), and hosts global leadership conferences.
Re started out as a design major at NYU and had a naturally good eye for design, but was more fascinated by linguistics, culture, psychology, and the way people behave. For this reason, he ended up getting a degree in organizational behavior and communications.
He started working with designers and creative directors and connected them with some of the big ad agencies and branding firms in New York. One of Re’s clients ended up hiring him, and he started working for one of the top global branding firms. However, on a personal level, he was still very passionate about leveraging perception. He found himself in his early thirties, working at one of the top global branding firms, wondering why he was getting passed up for the next trajectory in his career.
In response, the global human resources director said that Re didn’t have enough gray hair, meaning he didn’t look old enough. At that moment, he realized that people’s perceptions can alter the trajectory of your career.
Oftentimes, people equate branding principles with a logo, certain colors, or the name of the company. While those are all valid and important aspects to building a brand, that’s not what brand truly is. For Re Perez, branding has a three-word definition: the desired perception.
Branding is the process of creating, shaping, and influencing the desired perception you want in front of your target audience or customers. From that premise, as an entrepreneur, small business, or even a midsize company, why wouldn’t you want to create the right perception to attract your ideal customers, and maybe even repel your not-so-ideal customers?
Branding is a very powerful discipline to influence and shape the way that we live our lives. It’s about making an impact, standing for something, and having a set of values and beliefs. When companies and even entrepreneurs and small businesses get branding right, not only can it have a dramatic impact on their business growth, but it can transform or improve the quality of consumers’ lives.
The Evolution of Branding
Branding is foundational, whether you’re applying the marketing activities online or offline. If branding is about creating a desired perception, marketing is one of several tools to create that desired perception.
You may market on social media, organic or paid, you may market through virtual events, but either way, you have to make the distinction between branding, marketing, and social media. While the tactics may change from a virtual environment to a physical event or location, your branding and approach stay the same.
The Branding Principles
Below are Re’s three fundamental branding principles.
- Have a clear brand strategy
What’s your movement? What is your value proposition? What’s the personality of your brand? What are the core brand values? What is the voice? How does the brand sound? These are all layers that contribute to brand strategy.
For example: If you’re building a house, you don’t necessarily start with choosing the colors or furniture you want to use. You start with the blueprint: three bedrooms, a basement, where the bathrooms are located, etc. After this, you can apply an identity (a look, a feel) to it.
- Have a brand identity
First, you have the visual identity, which often includes logos and colors, but also the style of your photography, etc.
Second, there’s verbal identity. What are the language and the tone you want to be associated with? For example, Starbucks uses its own terms for small, medium, large.
- Have a brand website, or other marketing collateral
While Re and his team focus on websites, this could be a wide range of touchpoints. It could be your social media, events, signage, all that sort of stuff.
Over the last 10 years, a lot of brands have become more casual in their language, more playful.
Building a Website with Branding for the People
The starting point for anyone who asks Re’s team to work with their brand, is understanding what they want their website to do. They start with the objective and the scope of work for the website. A website can be three pages, or it can be a hundred pages. Do you produce content? What are the technical requirements? Will your website need to be able to collect payments? Where’s all that data going once they submit their form or any type of information?
From there, they start building out wireframes, or the structure, using the house analogy. Where are the rooms? Where’s the bathroom?
Then, you apply content – before design.
Why? Because, according to Re, content drives design. If you have a paragraph or two, that’s a different design layout than if you have ten paragraphs.
What’s on Brand in Branding?
Now more than ever, authenticity is important. Branding principles are all about creating an emotional connection with your customers. Most people are really looking to spend their money with companies that share the same values as their beliefs – movements that they support.
It’s more than just buying products and services, it’s getting behind an organization that fits a belief system.
But how do you do social good authentically, without it simply becoming a ploy? If it’s true to your brand, then it’s safe to assume that it comes with the identity of your brand. If it’s not authentic to you, the audience will know.
Organize, Simplify, Amplify
These are the three words that Re and his team use in their methodology of building a brand.
Building a brand is both a linear and non-linear process. Part of that process is organizing all of your ideas, your thoughts, your desires, your wishes, your vision, your business goals, and your data points.
Then, you can simplify this data into a strategy, or a brand platform. It’s through that lens that you can then amplify the essence of your brand. Ideally, this should be articulated using two to three words as a concept.
For example, Harley Davidson is in the business of motorcycles, but the essence of its brand is freedom in the open. That core concept, when you simplify the data, can be used as a lens to amplify.
A brand that creates an experience that makes people feel a particular way is part and parcel of the amplify phase.
Getting Started Today
What’s really important about building a brand in today’s society is to have brand principles that are not only authentic, but a brand that is polarizing (e.g., Your Brand Should Be Gay (Even If You’re Not)). You want to attract ideal fans and then repel the not-so-ideal fans.
Your brand should also evoke emotion and peak curiosity – it should get you to want to learn more.
Finally, a brand should spark a conversation. You want people to experience your brand, engage in a conversation with you, and then ultimately buy from you.
If you’re interested in Re’s tactics, you can find out more or contact his business here. For more free content about the constantly evolving world of business and marketing, see more episodes of my podcast here.