Sharing our Expertise: Crafting Authentic Brands
For most people, asking if a brand is visual is like asking if the sky is blue – yes, of course it is! We can all agree on that. But in the same way that the color of the sky is actually just the color of the light we’re seeing the most of, branding is far more than just any visual that meets the eye. Seem confusing? That’s why we turned to Kara, our long-time creative director and branding extraordinaire. Having grown up in and around the creative world, Kara breaks down what actually makes a brand successful and offers insight into how any business, with any budget, can improve on their brand right where they’re at.
Who is Kara?
“Mama of three, wife, daughter, sister, auntie, friend // Travel & nature lover // Metal music connoisseur // Astrophysicist wannabe // Extrovert in the making // Creative Director, Shareholder, and Director at the greatest agency in Montana!”
How would you describe your role at Wendt?
“I am the leader of all things creative, including branding, conceptual and messaging development, and design work. Though, my specialty areas include brand development, TV & video production, and campaign messaging concepting, I am fortunate to work alongside and guide a very talented and passionate group of creatives that bring a wide range of individual specialties. I am also a shareholder and help to guide operations at our agency as one of four sitting on the Board of Directors.”
What drew you toward choosing a career in the creative realm? Have you always been creative?
“My father is a fine artist, so my entire life has been filled with creativity. I grew up talking about form and figures, portraying stories through art, and presenting these artistic visions to the outside world. And, despite barely being able to draw a stick figure, I still managed to retain some of that creative gene. In high school, I joined yearbook and quickly found it suited me. I was the editor-in-chief for both my junior and senior years and knew then that design was my path. It felt like a natural way forward and I’ve never looked back.”
Over the last 15 years, how have you seen branding trends change/evolve?
“It seems that it’s only been the last few years that “branding” has become a common and well-known concept that people outside of the agency world understand. Long gone are the days when you told the world what your brand was and could expect that they would just simply buy it (both figuratively and literally). Now your brand is just as much driven by your consumer as it is your product/service. And with the digital space, anyone can participate and connect with your brand – even if they aren’t a loyal brand evangelist (yet).”
What’s the key to creating a successful brand?
“Value and authenticity. It’s vital to make an emotional connection with your consumers. The way to get there is to focus on the value your brand brings to them, not just the product/service itself. And, be true to your brand – don’t try to be something you are not. Otherwise, you will never be able to deliver what you promise.”
At Wendt, how do you go about helping a brand create that emotional connection?
“Wendt has developed an immersive experience that allows participants to step outside their normal mindset and open themselves up to thinking from a different perspective. Our Brand Discovery Experience is a process that we have crafted to help unearth the value a brand brings to its customers. It’s all about big thinking, aha moments, and connecting. We then take these insights and help a brand unite who they truly are with how they communicate that to the outside world.”
Do you think a brand can be successful without a huge budget?
“Absolutely. Focus on your core target audience. Speak to them in only the methods they prefer. Utilize the social space strategically to foster the brand loyalists you already have and inspire them to spread the word about your amazing brand.”
What advice would you give to a small business owner looking to “up” their brand?
“Strong visuals matter – don’t overlook the power of a quality logo and visual identity to give your business/organization clout. But, also realize that visuals only go so far. A powerful and effective brand isn’t only a logo or a tagline, it is how you communicate your brand – and that touches every aspect of your business and outreach.”
We’re dying to know: What is one of your favorite brands?
“I’d have to say Athleta, because they position their brand as more than a clothing company. Their brand message speaks to me as a busy, working mom who wants to be comfortable while conquering the world!”