Many of the world’s most famous brands are instantly identifiable by their logo. For instance, the ‘Golden Arches’ of McDonalds, the apple with a bite of Apple, the wing of Nike… and the list goes on. So it’s not hard to see why when most people think of branding they think of it as being purely ‘the logo’. But in reality, the logo is just a very small part of a company’s brand, which also includes less tangible factors such as corporate culture, customer service, and many more factors making up a company’s DNA that is in essence its ‘brand’.
So what is a brand?
This famous quote from Jeff Bezos, the founder, chairman, CEO and president of Amazon, perfectly answers this question. Simply put, a brand is defined by a customer’s overall perception of that product, service and company. It is essentially a company’s voice, telling consumers how to feel and think about a brand, emphasised through the use of brand equity enhancing strategies and tactics.
Why is building a brand important for my business?
Building a brand will not happen overnight… or even in a few months for that matter! It needs consistency of communication and experience to generate the required level of awareness. However, the ongoing effort will undoubtedly result in establishing long-term relationships with your customers, building customer loyalty and a positive company reputation, all of which will ultimately lead to an increase in sales, word of mouth referrals and advocacy for your products and services. This is essentially why building a brand is important to your business.
So where do I start building my brand?
In truth there is no definitive method to building a brand. But a good starting point is our 8 step guide to a brand development strategy:
1. Identify and describe your brand
A well-thought-out brand identity will help to create a strong brand image that will form the foundations for positive customer perception. To develop your brand identity, think about factors such as:
- How you want your brand to be perceived by your target audience
- What is the emotional reaction you want your audience to have when engaging with your brand
- What do you want them to remember about your brand?
Marketing collateral such as your tagline, logos, product description, packaging etc. can then be developed based on your answers to these questions. But above all, remember that for a brand to be effective, it needs to be easy for consumers to recognise and remember.
2. Determine your brand’s target audience
Determining the target audience that you’ll be focusing on is a crucial part of the foundations for building a brand. Always keep in mind who exactly you are trying to reach and be specific in terms of defining lifestyle and detailed behaviours of this audience. For example, does your brand appeal to high income couples with no dependants, or single parents who work from home? From this information, you can then tailor your mission and message to meet their exact needs, and create a brand identity that they can understand and relate to.
Identifying the target audience for your products/services is an exercise that will affect and benefit all areas of your brand building process. It will ensure that you have the right person consuming the right content, clicking on your ads, opting into your email list, etc. By narrowing your audience focus, this will help to ensure that your brand message comes across crystal clear.
3. Stand out from the crowd
Whilst there may be bigger players in your industry sector, possibly with greater resources, your products and services, and their benefits, belong solely to you. That is why brand differentiation and positioning is so important as it will help your company to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Defining the unique qualities, benefits and selling points that bring added value to consumers will provide you with points of differentiation. Dig deep and figure out what you offer that no one else is offering that will give your identified target audience a reason to choose your brand over another. Research your main/nearest competitors or benchmark name brands, considering factors such as:
- What they are doing and how they are expressing themselves
- What is the quality of their products or services
- Is their visual identity and messaging consistent across all marketing channels?
- The ways in which they market their business both online and offline
Identify core commonalities, and also look for opportunities where you can innovate and differentiate. You should never imitate exactly what the big brands are doing in your industry, but be aware of what they do well (and where they are failing).
4. Determine your brand tone (your voice)
Brand tone is very simply how you communicate with your customers, and how they respond to you. The tone of voice adopted will be dependent on your company mission, audience and industry. Ultimately, you should choose a tone that resonates and makes sense to your target customers, as finding and using the correct brand tone will give you the strongest chance of connecting with consumers.
Brand tone is especially important when publishing online content such as blog articles or social media posts. Maintaining a consistent voice will help your brand image to become recognised on multiple channels, and your community of followers will come to expect a certain brand voice and brand personality when they consume your content.
5. Build a brand message and let your company personality shine
Before you can build a brand that your target audience trusts, you need to know what value your brand provides – this is your brand message.
This brand message is in essence a clear, succinct expression of what your company is most passionate about and should be conveyed in one to two sentences. This part of the brand development process goes beyond your logo and tagline as it defines the key aspects of:
- Who you are
- What you offer
- Why people should care
The objective of a brand message is to make a direct emotional connection with your target audience, which means that the brand tone and language used should be understood immediately to strike an emotional chord. Therefore, the most important factor when creating a brand message is to highlight why your product/service is important to your customer as opposed to what your product can do.
Source: Straight Marketing
A very important part of brand messaging is to let your brand personality shine. Customers aren’t looking for an ‘also ran’ – they are looking for a user experience that is genuinely personalised to their needs. So make your brand/company personality stand out in every aspect of your brand building process and be consistent across all points of contact.
6. Develop your company culture
A brand is more than just the company: it’s the sum of the parts, i.e. the CEO, the management team and individual employees’ personal brands as well. And it is well known that people do business with people. A strong positive culture that runs right through the company from CEO to employee will undoubtedly help to build a positive reputation overall.
The vast majority of people prefer to buy from/do business with companies that are people-oriented and actually care about their customers. By showing that your company has a people-first attitude in all that you and your employees do can only strengthen your brand’s reputation. After all, your employees are the best advocates to market your brand, so encouraging them to establish a personal brand that aligns with your company branding will further strengthen reach. Give them a voice by encouraging them to share your content and spread the good news by word of mouth.
7. Integrate your brand into every aspect of your business
Make your brand visible and reflected in every touch point that your customers encounter. So for example, display your brand image in your offices anything tangible such as packaging, business cards, advertisements etc. needs to bear your brand logo. Always ensure that your brand looks the same across all your online platforms and social media networks. This can be done by creating brand style guidelines to provide consistency with visuals such as colour and logo use, fonts, photography etc., and by using your unique brand voice and personality for engagement. Within website design, incorporate your voice, message and personality into the content.
In conclusion… build your brand to create your customers
Renowned management guru, the late Peter Drucker, observed: ‘The purpose of business is to create a customer’. Brands help businesses create and keep customers, therefore brand building is one of the most significant things you can do for your business.
A solid brand building process that integrates your brand into every aspect of customer experience, from your website to your personal interactions, can transform your business from a small player into a successful competitor. It can help your customers to develop a deeper level of trust for your company, and be more likely to purchase what you are selling. Successful brand building requires equal measures of creativity, innovation, the right value proposition for the business, and constant evaluation and monitoring to help ensure the very best customer experience possible.
We can help
If you need help and guidance with any aspect of your branding strategy then get in touch. From website design and marketing collateral to public relations campaigns and search engine marketing, our team of experts can help guide and create every element of your branding and marketing strategy, integrating our services to suit your business needs and objectives.