Marketers all over the globe agree that a strong brand identity is crucial for the profitability and overall success of a business. Moreover, research shows that the average consumer is exposed to more than 5,000 brand messages daily, which explains why standing out and being easily recognised is imperative for enterprises.
Unmistakable brands such as Google, Coca-Cola, and Shell have distinguishing features that set them apart from their competitors. They also significantly impact the customers, leading them to associate factors like visual elements, feelings, and past experiences with the brands mentioned.
Below, we’ll delve more deeply into the process of brand building and how your business will benefit from a solid branding. But before we get into the nitty-gritty aspects, let’s begin with a brief overview of what a brand is.
What is a Brand?
According to Sonia Gregory, CEO and Creative Director of FreshSparks, your brand, in its purest sense, is defined by how customers ultimately perceive your business. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, expresses its meaning accurately when he said: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
More specifically, Allie Decker of HubSpot affirms that a brand pertains to any features that make an organisation distinct. The main components of a brand include a name, logo, tagline, design, and voice. It also describes a customer’s overall experience when having interactions with a company as a random passerby, social media follower, or buyer.
As for branding, it’s a systematic process centralising on the research, development, and application of the distinctive elements or features to your company, which will push consumers to associate the brand with the services or goods being offered.
Arguably, an organisation’s brand is one of its most significant assets, as it provides the enterprise with an identity, allows it to be more memorable, encourages people to make a purchase, aids marketing and advertising initiatives, and gives its employees something to be proud of.
Building Your Brand
Brand building’s primary purpose is to generate awareness about the business with the use of multiple strategies, tactical actions, and campaigns, therefore crafting a lasting, exclusive image in its respective market.
Brand image can be amplified in a lot of ways, and the fundamental channels utilised for boosting brand awareness include the company’s website, pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing, search engine optimisation, content marketing, and email marketing.
Here are several steps that you can follow if you’re planning to start with your brand building.
- Identify your target audience
Successful branding results in improved awareness, which in turn stimulates recognition, emboldens public trust, and potentially increases revenue. However, to achieve the said outcomes, your brand must resonate with your customers and target audience first.
Target market research enables you to tap into relevant data and information about consumers, so you can customise your brand building to suit the needs, preferences, and demands of your customers. Ask yourself: To whom will the brand be speaking?
Prioritise determining your target audience because every detail you collect about your ideal buyer persona will profoundly affect the rest of your branding decisions.
- Create a mission statement
After answering the “who,” you should now evaluate the “why”. Why did you start your business in the first place? Your answer to this will help you establish a mission statement, which generally defines the organisation’s passion, purpose, and direction. Additionally, the mission statement explains why your company exists and why it should be relevant to your customers.
Before building a brand recognised, trusted, and valued by your target audience, you should convey the purpose being provided by your business. That way, your mission can be reflected on your brand’s components (i.e. tagline, logo, voice, and design).
- Delve into competitive intelligence
Researching your competitors helps you determine the strategies they do best and the aspects they fail at. Hence, the goal of this examination is not to imitate their initiatives, but to differentiate your organisation from the current competition so you can persuade customers to pick you over them.
- Define the qualities that make your business unique
After doing competitive analysis, focus on identifying the distinctive characteristics of your brand. These are features that belong solely to you, which no company can offer or mimic. Determine what your business is comprised of or your qualities and benefits.
In addition, explore beyond standard product features such as capabilities and appearance, and centralise on how your products can add value to the lives of your customers.
- Design your brand’s visual elements
Now that you’ve identified your unique qualities, you can move on to visual design. In this step, you’ll be creating your logo, typography (fonts), colour palette, iconography, and other aesthetic components of your brand.
It’s essential to develop a brand style guide during the process of creating visual assets. This will contain guidelines governing the composition of visual elements so that when your branding is applied in different platforms or utilised for marketing campaigns, it can be replicated with consistency and accuracy. It’s also helpful when you face the need to do rebranding.
- Establish a voice for your brand
Your brand voice depends entirely on your mission statement and target audience. In a nutshell, your voice is how you interact and communicate with customers. It could be professional, service-oriented, technical, authoritative, friendly, promotional, informative, or conversational.
There are many possibilities with how you want your brand voice to be perceived. The main goal is to ensure that it backs up your key messaging. Using a suitable brand voice enables your organisation to connect better with its customers.
Moreover, it should resonate well with your target market. Thus, when you publish content, such as social media posts or blog articles, you’ll be able to sustain a voice that supports your brand personality and image so you can get recognised by your community of followers more easily.
- Apply your branding
After you have completed all of these elements and brand is good to go, the final step is to integrate it into all the channels used by your business. Make sure to have it showcased anywhere your business reaches customers, such as in the organisation’s environment (office or storefront), online advertising, website, print, packaging and signage, sales and customer service, and publishing of content.
The Benefits of Branding
Having a consistent brand provides plenty of benefits to your company, which include but aren’t limited to the following:
- Heightens familiarity
Being consistent equates to being recognisable. In fact, simply using consistent colours can increase brand recognition by a whopping 80%. Moreover, when your brand is easily recognised, you are more likely to attract customers. A Nielsen survey shows that 59% of consumers choose to purchase goods from brands they already know.
In addition to boosting sales, improved recognition also influences your credibility and helps you create viable opportunities. Consider this: When a real estate agency publishes blog posts about laws that apply to sale transactions, and its readers benefit from them, the brand will eventually be seen by its audience as a reliable source of information.
Hence, with the consistently helpful experience that the blog provides, potential customers will be sold on its services even before they get the chance to purchase property directly from the company.
- Fortifies a loyal following
Over time, your audience will start expecting a specific image, personality, and voice that they have grown accustomed to whenever they consume your content. This familiarity will turn into trust, given that the business continues to deliver satisfactory services.
According to the Global Banking and Finance, there’s a 71% higher likelihood for customers to buy from a brand they trust. Thus, upholding a reputable and trustworthy image is critical for your brand’s success. Moreover, maintaining consistency in messaging, publishing content regularly, and using the same channels will all contribute to building your followers’ trust.
- Keeps messaging consistent
As previously discussed, it’s essential to retain consistent messaging throughout all campaigns and channels. This is attained through brand guidelines, which standardise the brand’s public representation. However, why is it essential to uphold consistent messaging?
Mixed messaging can confuse your audience, making it difficult for them to build expectations. It also prevents them from associating distinguishing features to your brand. In comparison, conveying a consistent key message allows your audience to understand how you can help them, so it’s easier for them to visualise potential business engagements with your company.
- Increases revenue
The combination of consistent branding and reliable experiences expresses a dependable image. Because of this, consumers prefer to engage with a brand they can depend on. Lucid Press affirms that brand consistency spikes revenue by an average of 23%.
Considering that familiarity and trust influence consumers’ buying behaviour, if you want to generate more revenue, you have to keep your brand assets as accurately consistent as possible.
Best Practices in Maintaining Brand Consistency and Quality
With branding concepts and principles out of the way, it’s time for the fun stuff—putting them to work. We leave here some ideas that you can try to get you started in your branding campaigns.
- Establish branding guidelines
Also known as a branding style guide, branding guidelines are the go-to resource for your teams in design, editorial, marketing, web development, and product packaging on how to represent your brand every time.
This rulebook lays down the dos and don’ts regarding your brand’s aesthetics, covering such elements as colours, typography, sizing, placement of logo, and the like. The idea is to convey a distinct look or feel for your brand so that there’s no way that anybody could mistake your business for something else.
Aside from the visual aspect, your branding guidelines should also touch on the communicational aspect. Thus, it should define the writing style, tone of voice, and vocabulary that will best deliver your message—including your purpose, values, and unique selling proposition—to your audience.
- Make branding a team effort
Consistent branding has to be a company-wide initiative instead of something that you do for the sole purpose of engaging your customers. This means that you need to work on your internal branding as well by communicating the meaning behind your brand to the entire organisation.
The truth of the matter is that you can’t drive brand awareness or customer loyalty without first having your most important ambassadors buy-in on your brand: your employees.
Use every opportunity to make your employees experience, understand, and live your brand. How can you possibly expect them to reinforce your branding efforts on social media or through word-of-mouth marketing if they’re not clear about your company’s mission and vision in the first place?
- Organise your digital assets
The world going digital calls for a dedicated strategy in planning and managing your digital initiatives at every touchpoint—from your blogs to ads, social media posts, and influencer marketing campaigns. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Plan your content calendar, including what type of format to use, and where or when to use each piece of content. For example, if you’re positioning your brand as a thought leader, you should be producing more case studies on LinkedIn instead of posting random quotes on Instagram.
- Work closely with a marketing or advertising agency. Ask them for clarifications if you notice that your ads are deviating from your branding standards.
- Monitor your social media accounts to find out what others are saying about your company. Be ready to address any misinformation straight up.
- Choose your influencers carefully, making sure that they possess the same values that your brand represents.
- Conduct regular audits of your branding materials
As your business grows, be sure to assess and update all of your marketing collaterals to reflect organisational changes or promote new products and services. Include in your audit things like your webpages, social media profile, brochures, email newsletters, audio-visual presentations, product packaging, and so on.
Equally important is to look at the other elements of your business, which consumers also associate with your brand. These include your office interiors, on-hold messaging, employee uniforms, and even piped-in music.
The journey to accomplishing brand consistency is challenging, and you may encounter paths that don’t lead to desirable results. Hence, it’s essential to steer clear of branding beliefs that have already been disproven. Here are some branding myths that you must take note of:
- To achieve success, it’s critical to stay the same.
Brand consistency should not restrict your brand’s growth. With the prevalence of social media, it’s a must to tailor-fit your marketing strategies to the platforms in which they will be communicated. Therefore, flexibility should be an added ideal to brand consistency.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to display a different brand image for each channel. While suitability is crucial, you still have to strive to maintain a consistent brand image, personality, and voice. This can be done by retaining the core elements but adapting them to match audiences in varying contexts.
- Perfect product guarantees success.
Products are irrelevant when not supported by strong branding. Remember, you are facing competition from several companies offering the same services and products you have, so having a good brand is not enough to stand out. Moreover, there are plenty of factors at play when consumers decide what to buy, and their concern is not limited to how excellent a product is.
Savvy package designs and compelling campaigns can effectively bolster a product. To add, utilising vital brand elements can make your product highly recognisable.
- There’s only one correct way of brand building.
While having a brand guide to refer to is extremely beneficial, you shouldn’t think inside the box all the time. Context significantly affects the brand building, so while standardising steps is necessary, you should keep in mind that there’s more than one right way to develop a brand.
In fact, the methods of building a top-notch brand are infinite, so as long as you stay consistent with your mission statement and values and use reliable marketing data when crafting campaigns, it’s perfectly fine to deviate from the guidelines whenever needed.
- More is always better.
Having several features doesn’t mean that your brand is superior. Quality is not directly linked to quantity, and sometimes, too many brand features will make it harder for your audience to take in the message being conveyed.
Simple and refined branding that is stripped of unnecessary elements such as lengthy descriptions and excessive designs can deliver higher value to customers than overly decorated products. Focus on relevant features and highlight them, instead of adding more.
- Aesthetics should be the top priority.
The overemphasis on visual elements such as the colour scheme, font, and logo can be misleading to novice marketers. Remember, strong branding transcends the limits of design. While aesthetics exhibit a visual representation of your brand’s identity, they still don’t make up its entirety. Hence, rebranding doesn’t entail creating a new logo or refreshing the brand’s colour palette.
A brand is more complex than its visual assets. It’s a set of qualities and values that should be imbued in every inch of the organisation. Moreover, if your brand is strong, your customers can recognise it even without seeing the logo.
It’s Time to Build Your Brand the Right Way
Designing and managing a brand can be quite a daunting task, especially if you’re just getting started on the process of brand building. If you need direction, it’s vital to seek the assistance of a professional marketing specialist. SEO.uk consists of a team of experienced and creative marketing experts that can help place your brand on the right track.