Ep 1: What is Branding?

On this episode we dive into the world of design to help give you a better understanding of what that goes into successful branding. On top of that, we’ve come up with 5 key principles that you can immediately apply to improve your current brand strategy. Let’s get into it!

What is Branding?

The Juicery by citrus studios, a podcast where we serve up sweet, simple bites of information about design, marketing, and business. I’m Kalika, yap, founder and CEO of Citrus Studios. We’re all about helping entrepreneurs innovate and grow through design driven solutions, tune in as our amazing team of creatives show you how to turn your business into everyone’s main squeeze.

When you think of branding, what companies come to mind? Companies like Nike, McDonald’s, Sony, and Appel probably find their way to the top of your list. But if someone asks you, what is branding? Or, even more specifically, what is a brand? Generally, most people can tell you something about branding without understanding the deeper nuances that form such a simple word.

Even seasoned designers have difficulty sometimes defining what branding is because like culture branding is always evolving. The truth is, is that branding and other forms of cognitive grouping is natural to human beings as breathing. Even before we had spoken word, we utilized symbols and pictographic images to quickly develop and recognize patterns. This was to inform one another of our surroundings, and this allowed us to make quick determinations about things that were helpful, harmful, and even what groups we belong to.

As we become more aware, we can see both the dangers and negative implications. This allows us to confront our own human nature so that we may make more informed decisions and avoid pitfalls.

Today, we may break things down into aspects like logos and fonts, graphics, and color, all of which come together to help convey how a brand company or individual wants to be perceived in terms of positioning. These elements might be considered as part of a larger branding system.

But what is it that truly defines a brand? Seth Godin says that a brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that when taken together account for a customer’s decision to choose one product from another. Like Seth, I believe that branding is an emotional connection that people have with a product or service, and the world around them.

This being said, how much control does a company actually have when it comes to shaping how the brand is perceived by the public? If you’re an airline and your planes consistently fall out of the sky, your brand won’t be defined by a beautifully modern logo or savvy slogans.
You may have heard of the saying form follows function. This points to the responsibility of a designer to focus on function rather than aesthetics. This principle when applied to designing branding systems should serve as a guide.

A successful brand system communicates clearly. Brand voice and tone, help create cohesion that allows for flexibility and maximizes efficiency.

Overall it’s serves to support the value of product service, individual or company. Good branding can’t make a good product. A brand system creates guidelines and parameters for a brand and its mediators help position it and ensure that there is cohesion as it’s been applied through multiple types of marketing tools and platforms. The goal is to avoid confusion.

Trying to create content for a brand without parameters in essence is like trying to build a house without blueprints. Sure. You might be able to construct some sort of shelter, but unless you’re a gifted carpenter and mason, it probably won’t pass a city inspection. In other words, you’re taking a gamble when it comes to your brand. You want to be the confident choice that delivers and surpasses expectation without confusion.

It can be difficult to fully understand all of these factors and how they contribute to a successful brand system. So, to help you out, we here at citrus have defined five key factors that will help improve your own brand. With no further ado, here they are.

No. 1 Identification

brand recognition is the key to effective marketing and outreach.

Depending on the industry, branding can be expressed in many different ways. Icons, fonts, colorways, and language, all help in establishing voice and tone of your brand. However, if not, done carefully, these elements can easily harm rather than help. The most important aspect of a brand to have a clear voice.

Well-known brands can easily be associated with attributes that guide their branding decisions. Let’s think about this for a moment.

What words come to mind when you think of Nike? When you look at their marketing and advertising, you see competition and confidence winning.

How about Apple? Innovation forward-thinking, progression.

And how about McDonald’s? Convenience, affordability, familiarity.

These brands drive marketing and strategy around simple ideas that resonate with their audience. What attributes define your brand? Remember less is more, keep it simple.

No.2 Attention

Sometimes you need to shake things up a bit. Attention allows for customers to easily identify you part from your competitors in a market that is saturated.

It’s important to stand out. In 1959 Volkswagen design and effective advertising campaign that helped make a German car as American as Apple pie. All this during the height of America’s automotive industry. The ad that Volkswagen design placed its small compact Beetle alone in a vast expanse of white. The negative space dwarfed the already small car, which helped emphasize its simplicity with a headline that read, think small. at the time, it was common practice to pick people, having fun while driving through beautifully painted scenes that recreated the American frontier. By being disruptive, this small car grabbed people, talking everyone’s attention was on it because no one had seen anything like it. Their simple, but effective branding made them iconic.

No.3 Dialogue

The ability to engage in conversation with your audience should never be overlooked. An elevator pitch is essentially a 30 second sales pitch. It’s designed to explain an idea, product or service. Now, when it comes to advertising shelf appeal, or even social media marketing time, you have to engage with your audience is processed within seconds. Make them count.

No.4 Trust

Would you trust a lawyer that walked into court wearing shorts and flip flops was prepared to win their case for their client? There is a possibility that the lawyer is so prepared that they’re completely confident in their own abilities and there’s no need for any sort of businesses attire that would convey the lawyer’s professionalism. But based on first impressions, I wouldn’t want to bet on it.

Don’t force your audience to make a choice that they’re uncomfortable with. Be the clear solution that fulfills their needs and speaks directly to your audience in a way that they understand and that will resonate with them. This is especially true when it comes to advertising and copywriting. Do everything you can to make the audience feel secure when they’re purchasing your product.

No.5 The Whole is Greater Than the Sum Of All Its Parts.

Your brand does not find individual value in cool logos or catchy taglines, or awesome copywriting. It takes all of these things to come together that create the brand narrative and that evoke motion in your audience.

It takes time and consistency. In return, it will create leverage within the market. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Now this should your brand. There you have it, put it all together. What do you get?


A Clear and direct message that speaks directly to all of your demographic. Well, driving up trust and injecting value into your company.

If you find that the current branding system might be holding you back, don’t be afraid to rebrand. Many companies find it difficult to take the leap in fear of losing or shifting away from their current brand loyalists. However, rebranding can be an opportunity to improve your relationship with your current base while opening the door to new potential clients. A rebrand, lets people know that you’re for thinking. And if executed properly, can create leverage and increase optics as well as visibility through a well strategize marketing plan. One of the most important things to take away from this is that you are limited in control. But just like that big job interview that you spent countless hours preparing for that eventually helped you grow into the position you are now. You want to put your best foot forward and present yourself with confidence.

Thank you for joining me. Until next time.

Thank you so much for tuning in. The Juicery is produced in house here at Citrus Studios. Music for the podcast was produced by Otis McDonald. To learn more about Citrus Studios. Visit us on the web at citrusstudios.com. You can also follow us on social media at Citrus Studios across the board. Thank you. And remember when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.