HOW TO GET BRANDING RIGHT: Strategic messaging lessons from Startups Event Synopsis by SCC Senior Shoshana Feld-Sobol
February 16, 2017
On Wednesday, February 8, 2017, the School of Communication and the Office of IS&T brought a world-renowned branding expert to campus to share with us his wisdom and expertise. Fabian Geyrhalter is the Founder and Principal of FINIEN, a Los Angeles based branding company that has seen wild success working with startups, educational institutions, and Fortune 100 companies. We had the opportunity to learn first-hand from him as he shared with us his personal tricks of the trade that have propelled him to the place he is today. We also were able to partake in a fireside chat with Dean Lisa Sparks where we could dive deeper into the discussion of personal branding and strategic positioning.
The most powerful things I learned from Fabian Geyrhalter can be summarized in the 7 key points below.
- Branding is an “insurance policy.” It is the best protector you have against people taking your ideas. Thus, your brand is incredibly powerful; don’t treat it as anything less.
- A brand is a service product, company, or person with soul that is attractive and smart. Essentially, if you treat your brand as a human, you will create a living breathing brand that people can stand behind and that can revolutionize markets. Add qualities to your brand such as: confident, empowering, strong, etc. When you’re marketing make sure to stay true to your key attributes and in line with your vision.
- Soul is the brand platform. Having a “soul” of your brand accurately defines what your company stands for and what the emotions of the company are including the brand’s identity, name, atmosphere, digital design.
- Figure out what defines your brand. As Geyrhalter said, sit down and think about your brand dying in 100 years; what do you want people to say about it at the funeral? What emotions will your brand evoke? Constantly engage with those emotions throughout your branding process.
- Create fictitious customers for your brand by creating different storyboards. This way you will always have your customers in mind when thinking of a new marketing initiative or when collaborating with partners. When you have a clear idea of your customer base it will be easier for you to constantly be reminded of who your brand is targeting so that you don’t get off track and lose sight of your primary customer.
- Remember that brands today have values. Today we like to see a brand that stands for something, that we as customers can believe in and support. This goes back to point two: treat your brand as a person. It is much easier to rally support behind a brand that aligns with your values than a brand that merely sells a product.
- Your brand must have a logo. Something that is easily recognizable and automatically makes audiences think of your brand and how it makes them feel. Thus creating a logo is highly important as it is the thumbprint of your brand. In creating a logo, design something that is: timeless, unique and distinct, simple, and tells a story. These four points will help you create a logo that sticks in the minds of your audience and beyond.
At the end of the day, Geyrhalter made it clear to us that branding is about so much more than a logo. It’s about creating something revolutionary that inspires customers and makes them feel a certain way. The emotional component of branding centers around empathy; it’s about the give and take of understanding what your customers want and need, and then providing it in the best way possible.
Toward the conclusion of his presentation, Geyrhalter tasked us with picturing our favorite brands today: Lulu Lemon, REI, Red Bull, etc. Each of these brands stand for something much larger than the products they sell. They have a back story, a life force, an aura about them that allows us to commit and connect to them so deeply. When creating a brand, we must channel our own user experiences. Using the seven guiding points above can help us so that our brand embodies the qualities and power that our favorite brands do.