Branding is a concept that can sometimes be a little vague and therefore confusing. But a brand can make or break a business. Today, we’ll explain the concept of branding, why it’s important for your business – and how you can build one yourself.
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
– Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder
What is Branding?
Branding is defined in the dictionary as “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.”
It’s more than a logo, colours, or design. Your brand is the experience and identity offered at every touchpoint of your business. It’s the single ‘personality’ that serves to identify and differentiate you from your competition.
A brand is not tangible, but it is arguably the most valuable intangible asset on your company’s balance sheet. It exists in the minds of your consumers – and is ultimately defined by them too.
A brand is critical because of the impact it can have on your company. It can drive new business, increase the value of your proposition, and retain customers for the long-term. But if done incorrectly, or not at all, it can also do the opposite.
Why is Branding Important?
Your reputation will build in the eyes of your customers whether you do something about it or not. The results can be good, or bad. Understanding and using branding means you are taking control and trying to shape what that reputation looks like.
A strong brand will influence how your business is perceived. It will provide a promise to your customers and communicate just what they can expect from your business. Customers are also much more likely to remember your business and refer you to others if they have a positive feeling about your brand.
A clearly defined brand will ensure you stand out from your competition. By establishing how you are different, and being consistent with it, you will build brand equity. As a result, you will be able to charge more than identical, unbranded products.
Contrary to popular belief, branding is not an expensive marketing tactic that’s employed only by large conglomerates. It is important for businesses of all shapes and sizes – there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to defining your brand.
Nine simple steps to build a great brand.
1. Determine your target audience
Before you start getting creative, it’s important to understand your target market – who are your current and potential customers?
You can’t be everything to everyone – nor do you want to be. When starting to build a brand, you need to know exactly who you are trying to reach. You can then focus your mission and value proposition on their needs.
The key here is to get as specific as possible. Deep dive into behaviours, lifestyle, and pain points. It’s only when you truly understand your target audience that you can commit to a more defined and focused brand.
2. Research your competition
A successful brand identity will differentiate you from your competition. Therefore, it’s crucial that you understand who your competitors are, and how your company is different to them. Through researching your competitors, you can compare yourself to companies that are similar to you – which can sometimes deliver some surprising insights.
3. Establish your brand position
Once you have an in-depth knowledge of your target audience and competition, you can establish your brand position. You can’t be a high-end fashion retailer, and a budget-friendly clothes shop at the same time. You need to decide where you’re going to enter your market.
The easiest way to do this is to build a positioning statement. Here, you write a couple of lines that will help you establish who you are, and what you’re doing.
Whilst doing this, make sure you remember to consider how you will be different from your competition.
4. Define your mission and vision
Your brand mission defines the purpose of your business both for employees and customers. It is an action-oriented statement, that is the reason you get up every day. It should excite your consumers and employees but remain focused on what you want your brand to achieve.
Your vision on the other hand should describe how your brand will move forward. It should describe the world that your brand will create in the future. It should be aspirational and inspirational, whilst clearly aligned with the ambitions and the mission of your brand.
5. Outline your key selling points and USPs
While there will always be bigger companies with larger budgets and more resources, your products and services belong solely to you. So, when establishing your brand, it’s important to define just what you’re offering – that no one else is. These qualities and benefits make your business unique.
This is your chance to understand just why someone will choose your brand, over one of your competitors.
6. Form your voice and personality
Your brand voice and personality forms how you will communicate with your consumers. Do you want to be professional, authoritative, and conservative? Or would you rather appear friendly, conversational, and relaxed? There’s no limit to the adjectives that you can use to build a brand voice behind your messaging.
Being consistent with your brand personality is key.
7. Establish your brand’s look
It’s at this point you can get creative with the visuals. Your logo will appear on everything that relates to your business. It is the visual representation of your promise, your mission, and your vision.
Be willing to invest some time to create something exceptional that will reinforce your visual identity and help your brand stand out.
8. Determine your brand guidelines
Your brand guidelines will ensure consistency for the application of your logo, colours, fonts, and imagery. It should include key components such as logo use, colour palettes, typography, iconography, and photography styles.
These guidelines will help inform your team and any external stakeholders working with your brand
9. Integrate your brand into everything you do
Now that you’ve defined your brand, you need to share it – everywhere.
Businesses should show their brand across everything they do to make them memorable. You want to appear consistent across every application. Think social media pages, your website, marketing campaigns and emails.
The more consistent you are with your brand, the more familiar your company will be to your target audience. It also demonstrates that you are stable, reliable, and trustworthy.
A strong brand is a must-have in today’s competitive business world. Without a brand, you won’t successfully connect with your customers on an emotional level, which means you’ll lose them as soon as they find a company they do resonate with.
Building a brand will keep customers coming back for more, set you apart from your competition and turn one-time customers into brand evangelists.
If you need some assistance in running through your brand strategy or creating your brand identity, please speak to us. A member of our team will be happy to chat everything through in plain English and get you started on your journey to becoming a successful brand owner.
“People do not buy goods and services; they buy relations and stories and magic.”Seth Godin