What is a brand?
A brand is more than just a logo. Neither is it your product offer or service (although both of these feed into your brand). A brand is defined by how your company looks (your visual identity), how it sounds (your tone of voice) and how it behaves (your personality and values). It’s what sets you apart from other businesses offering a similar product or service, and what will make or break your business in the long term. That’s why it’s vital to establish your brand before marketing your business to consumers, and why it’s important to apply it consistently across every touchpoint your audience engages with.
What is brand strategy?
Before you can even think about marketing your business to customers you need to have your brand clearly defined, and for this you need to know exactly who your business is targeting. That’s where brand strategy comes in. Brand strategy is a process of getting to know your customers and the market you’re entering. It involves an element of competitor research and audience analysis. Once you’re armed with this knowledge you can begin the work of establishing how your brand will look, sound, and feel, which is the foundation of your brand identity.
What is brand identity?
Your brand identity is a combination of visual elements, such as fonts, colours, icons and (of course) your logo, and the language you use across your website, social media and other brand-building platforms your business leverages to market to customers. It’s essentially all of the ingredients that, combined, make up your brand. And it’s how customers will come to know and trust in your business.
How to create a brand people love
A brand that engages and connects with its customers is a brand that people will love, and to achieve that you need to do three simple things:
1 – Discover your brand’s personality
It may surprise you but people and animals aren’t the only thing that have a personality. Your brand has one too, and it’s establishing this that will play a crucial part in building engagement with your audience. When mapping out your brand personality, it can be helpful to think of your brand as a person.
What attributes does it have? What are its principles and values? What are its goals and motivations?
People tend to align their purchasing choices with brands who sound, think, and act like they do, so ensuring your brand personality is appealing to your target audience is essential.
2 – Research target audience and competitors
Listen, your brand won’t be for everyone and that’s OK. To be successful your business only has to appeal to the people who represent your target customer and that’s where audience and competitor research comes in. Never assume to know your customer. Actually spend some time learning about their behaviours and what makes them tick. Getting inside your audience’s head is the foundation of marketing. Know your customer, and you’re well on your way to building a successful brand.
3 – Truly create your brand
Once you know your audience and you’ve nailed down your brand’s personality you can finally start to create your brand. This is where you put all that valuable insight you’ve acquired to use, so don’t be tempted to skip steps one and two and go straight into the design process. Remember, people buy into brands they relate to, so harness this when establishing your tone of voice and when deciding on your brand’s visual identity.
Determine your brand’s vision
Your brand vision is the reason your brand exists. It’s not what you do, but rather why you do it.
A brand vision usually takes the form of a mission statement that outlines what your brand represents, the difference it strives to make in consumers’ lives (or to the world in general) and what it hopes to achieve in the long term.
It’s not necessarily something you will share publicly with your audience but a brand vision plays an important role in ensuring you stay consistent and focussed as your business grows.
Brand name and strapline (slogan)
Your brand name is your legacy and it’s the one asset that isn’t going to change, so you definitely want to invest some time in getting this right.
That said, a name isn’t everything. You only have to look at iconic brands like Apple, Google, Starbucks and Nike, to know that a name doesn’t need to have a literal meaning to be successful. It’s how you position your brand that will determine its future.
Some brands also like to adopt a strapline or slogan as part of their identity. This is another asset that can help to convey your brand’s personality. Nike’s ‘Just do it’ and Redbull’s ‘Redbull gives you wings’ are just two iconic slogans that have enforced their brands in consumers’ minds.
Your brand logo is your business’s main visual asset and it will appear on everything from your website and business cards to social media and advertising, so it’s important to make it clean, memorable and easily scalable for digital and print applications.
A brand logo doesn’t have to include lettering or your business name. It can be an abstract icon that, over time, becomes symbolic of your brand, such as Twitter’s blue bird or Nike’s tick. In fact, simple logos such as these are often the ones that prove most successful.
Example of brand building
Building a successful brand is all about giving consumers a sense of how your product or service will improve their lives.
Coca Cola, for instance, puts social interaction and moments of happiness at the core of its brand proposition, showing how sharing a coke with a friend can bring people together.
Apple, one of the most successful tech brands on the market today, uses benefit-led messaging that demonstrates how its products enhance peoples’ lives, while TOMS shoes has gone down the social enterprise route, with its promise to gift a pair of shoes to someone in need with every purchase.
All of these brands are successful in their own right, but their messaging is different. What they have in common is that their respective brands appeal and connect with the mindset of their target customer.
Let your branding shine
Is your business failing to convert customers or connect with its target audience?
If you’re struggling to make inroads with your customers, attract traffic to your website, or convert site visits into sales or bookings, it could be time for a brand refresh.