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The Ultimate Guide to Branding

Branding! When you think about products you buy it’s never just about the products. Nike, Adidas, Nando’s, and KFC – when you think about these products it’s never just about the products. It’s the story behind them, the personalities, and how they interact with you on a daily.

The experiences you’ve had with these brands are what keeps you coming back for more of their products. What you might not know is the marketing agencies behind these brands have crafted an experience for you. These experiences are what drive you to make a decision to buy or consider buying their products. Hence, they create a brand.

Today, more than ever before, having a strong brand is critical to your business growth. The visual world we live in is more competitive than ever and you need to stand out from the crowd with a rock-solid brand.

And it doesn’t stop there. Your brand needs to be consistent across every touchpoint and platform. After all, what’s the point of having a strong brand if your audience can’t recognize it?

From your Facebook, Twitter – to your website and billboards, your language needs to be relaying the same image. When building a brand it’s important to consider where your brand will be talking and who will be listening.

This guide will equip you to create and manage a brand and build trust, and strong relationships with your audiences. It will help your business be memorable and the preferred choice for customers.

But, first, let’s define a brand.

What is a Brand?

A brand is the sum of people’s perception of a company’s culture, customer service, reputation, advertising, and identity. This perception is to customers, the experience they have interacting with your brand.

It is what differentiates your organization from another. A brand is typically made of a name, tagline, logo, design, personality (voice and tone), and more.

What is Branding?

Branding is the process of researching, developing, and implementing unique features to your brand for customers to associate your brand with your products or services.

Branding requires understanding of your customers and your business. It does wonders for your business if done right and here is how and why.

Why Branding is Important?

Your brand is one of the most important parts of your business, if not the most important. It improves recognition, builds trust with your customers, supports your marketing efforts, drives leads to your business, and gives your employees a sense of pride.

Branding makes it easy for your customers to recognize you and buy from you. Customers prefer buying from brands they know and like.

When your customers understand who you are as a business, and why you do what you do, they will trust you. This trust results in your customers making purchasing decisions easily – by favoring you.

A brand that’s memorable drives leads to your business. Your brand is the identity of your business, how your customers perceive it. Being memorable helps customers recognize you even without your logo there.

If you haven’t noticed already a good number of adverts don’t show the company name from the start. Great brands tell you a story first to form an emotional connection before you see their brand.

That’s because their audience can recognize them from the tone of their writing, and adverts – which leads us to point number 4. Branding supports your brand’s marketing efforts.

When you build a good brand, your employees will love being a part of it. Think about Google, Apple – who wouldn’t want to work for the tech giants?

Brands are powerful. They create a sense of identity for your company, products, or services, which in turn can influence consumers’ behavior.

Whether it’s Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Uber vs. Lyft, Apple vs. Samsung, or Budweiser vs. Heineken, brands play an important role in consumer decision-making every day.

A brand is more than just a logo or your company name. It’s the perception people form in their minds when thinking of your business. As consumers interact with your company differently than competitors’, so should your brand messaging reflect the desired behavior.

Branding Terms you Must Know

These branding terms will help you further understand why branding is important to your business. Make sure to keep them with you at all times.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is simply defined as the extent to which consumers or your target audience are familiar with the image of your brand.

When people know about your brand and what you do, it leads to your brand being popular. This results in sales because consumers buy from brands they are aware of.

Brand Equity

Brand Equity is the commercial value that comes from customers’ perception of your brand rather than your product.

Think about Nike, consumers are willing to pay more for Nike products than they are for other products. Look at this marketing discussion from marketing students on how Nike was able to drive up sales by increasing prices.

Brand Extension

A brand extension is sometimes a category extension. This is when people know a brand for one type of product and starts selling different products. One big example of this is apple moving from personal computers into MP3 players.

Brand Architecture

Brand Architecture is the organizational structure of your company’s portfolio of brands, products, and/ or services. It can be a house of brands, branded house, Endorsed, and Hybrid.

Alphabet the owner of google is an example of this with google focusing on what they know best, search and advertising, while brands like sidewalk and calico operate as individual companies in their own market verticals.

Band Identity

Brand identity is the visible elements of a brand, such as color, design, and logo. These elements identify and distinguish a brand in consumers’ minds. In today’s competitive business environment, a bad perception of a brand can be harmful.

This bad perception could result from a bad-looking logo or even a bad choice of color. It could lead to the termination of relationships with current or potential customers.

Brand Management

Brand management is the use of marketing techniques to build and maintain a brand over time. This includes managing the tangible elements of your brand, like your visual style guides, and intangible – how your customers perceive your brand – especially done through a verbal style guide.

Your brand has a personality and it should stay the same all the time, the only thing that can change is your tone.

How to Create a Brand in 7 steps

In order to drive a business forward, a company has to have a brand identity. By having an identity, it is easier for the company to create a cohesive strategy and create a better customer experience.

Creating a brand identity is not easy work. It takes time and effort. There are many steps that you need to take to make sure that the brand has the exact look and feel that you want it to have.

1. Define Your Brand Mission

Defining your brand mission is crucial for a business to proceed. It sets the tone and helps you create a strong and sustainable identity.

A brand mission should be short and concise, it should be easy to remember so that customers can easily associate with it. It should also be clear so that customers know what your business stands for.

The brand mission should be in line with the vision of the company so that it is something credible, believable, achievable, and desirable by customers.

2. Find Your Brand’s Values

If your business doesn’t know who they are or what they stand for, then they cannot produce anything of value for their customers or their employees.

Your brand can have personality, attitude, or style. These are all created by the values that you choose to use in your company and on your products. You should know what values you want to represent and how your customers will see them.

Values define who we are as a person and company. You need to understand what you want customers to feel about your brand before we can say that we know our values

Look at your product or service and ask yourself what you want it to represent. One way of doing this is by looking at how others experience it.

Find out if your customers think of your product as something they would like to recommend.

3. Find Your Brand’s Personality

To find your brand’s personality, it is important to know what your brand stands for. You need to know what you want your customers to think of you.

You want to make sure that the perspective of the customer is the perspective of your company. The concept of branding goes beyond just logo design and color schemes.

It’s about knowing who you are, what you stand for, and how that can translate to colors, logo design, and marketing campaigns.

An essential part of determining a brand’s personality is its tone of voice. A business must decide whether they want their tone of voice to be formal or if they want it to be more conversational or emotional in nature.

4. Find Your Brand Voice

The power of a brand voice is the ability to connect with people on an emotional level. It speaks to their personal and professional needs and fulfills them. It is so important for companies to have a strong, clear, and consistent voice across all their marketing channels.

This ensures that the message of the company is always coming from a unified source. The personality of the company has to come through in every interaction with customers, whether it’s through social media or by answering customer service inquiries via phone or email.

5. Define Your Audience

The definition of a brand audience can vary. But in general, it is the key demographic that the company is targeting. A company will want to use this information to know how it can best appeal to this type of audience.

A successful marketing campaign will need to target the correct audience for the product or service that is being marketed. If not, then it will not be effective and the product or service will fail as a result.

6. Create Brand Style Guides

A brand style guide is a set of guidelines for how to use the branding and design elements of a company. Design and communication experts write these guidelines to help you create a consistent and recognizable identity.

You can use A brand style guide can in many different ways, such as:

  • A tool for designers
  • A reference point for marketing
  • A communication tool with employees
  • A training aid with partners
  • An educational book for customers

7. Get Your Brand to Work

When you have developed a brand, you have to take it to your customers. Make sure this is also well done because communicating with your audience with the same voice, visuals at all times is important for your brand.

Here is how you can start to apply your branding assets to get your brand in front of your audience.

Packaging

Product packaging applies mostly to physical products. In addition to usable packaging, it needs to be consistent with your brand identity.

Your physical product is the most tangible thing your customers interact with, it should reflect your branding in its design.

Website

Use your logo, color pallet type, and photography across your website. Only use the assets predefined in your brand style guide.

It should guide all assets of your website including the site copy -take your verbal style guides to account. Make sure your copy reflects your brand voice.

Social Media

Your profile photos on different social media platforms should reflect your brand. One of the best ways to go about it is using your logo or icon as your profile picture.

Similar to your website, your social media pages should carry the same color pallet and illustration designs as defined in your visual guide.

Additionally, your social copy should reflect your voice – only differ in tone depending on the platform you are distributing content on.

Advertising

Prepare your adverts with the right copy, style, and design to introduce your brand. This will establish your brand awareness, and give consumers an idea of who you are. Your branding should be at the forefront of your ad creation process. 

You can archive this using your visual style guidelines and verbal guidelines. This is because, with your style guidelines, you already know how your ads will look like and what your copy sounds like.

Sales and Customer Success

When done getting your brand to the people, it now comes down to the people behind your brand. Do they sound the same as how your brand on social channels and your website? The road to customer success rests with customer service, it’s more than just marketing.

It may be that you are answering questions or inquiries of your customers, encourage your team to use the right email signatures, the right brand voice, and tone

One way to make sure this happens is by creating sales playbooks for your sales and support team. To make this easier, prepare a knowledge base for your customers to answer common support questions to reduce the amount of time they spend looking for solutions.

Keep Your Brand Consistent Yet Flexible

Success for customers is success for your brand. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when branding to drive success for your brand.

When you are building your brand, remember

Treat Your Brand as a Person

To understand a brand more, think about your brand as a person. A person has an identity, a personality (behavior), and experiences other people have when with them – so is a brand.

Think about what you would like for someone to think of your brand when they first meet. Your brand’s first impressions determine what a person would say about your brand after they meet it for the first time.

When branding, the main aim is to build meaningful relationships with your customers. The best way to go about treating your brand as a person is understanding how your customer will treat your brand.

Always Prioritize Consistency

You build your brand by consistently surrounding that brand with consistent messaging. In 1984, Apple announced a product called Macintosh. It used the slogan “Think different.” This is because Apple’s brand is mainly based on the idea of innovation.

But at that time, Apple was best known for the Apple II. So the slogan “Think different” was confusing. It was confusing for Apple’s customers, who thought the slogan meant “Think different about the Apple II.”

It was confusing for Apple’s competitors, who were expecting Apple to “Think different” about the Apple II.

So they came up with the slogan “Think different about computers.” It meant different things to different people, but everybody knew what it was.

The “Think different” slogan became a success because it was consistent. It stood for one thing. And by consistently using it, Apple bought public acceptance for the Macintosh.

Apple went further. It not only used the same slogan, but the same font, the same colors, and the same bitten apple.

Use The Right Brand Strategy

Branding is not buzz. Brand strategy is how you build buzz. It doesn’t matter how wonderful your product is if it doesn’t get noticed. No matter what it is or how powerful your company is, if you don’t have a brand that gets people talking, you won’t get many sales.

There are three basic approaches to branding. The first is what we’ll call “word of mouth.” It’s the oldest and least sophisticated.

All you do is get it in front of your audience and hope they notice it. It’s a rough-and-ready approach, but it’s better than nothing.

The second approach, “branding by category,” is more sophisticated. You identify what category your product fits in, then work to dominate that category. This may be a good idea, but it’s a bit more complex than it sounds.

For example, Apple’s computers are clearly better than Dell’s, but Dell’s computers have a bigger share of the computer market. So Apple’s branding strategy was not quite as successful as they might have hoped.

The third approach is branding by product. You build a brand that is so strong that you become synonymous with the product. As Xerox’s brand grew strong, people began to think of a Xerox copier as a Xerox. It was as if they had only one choice.

Do Not Imitate Other Brands- Be Unique

If you want people to notice you, your product must be different. Successful brands are not those that copy the competition’s trademarks. They are those whose trademarks themselves are unique.

Consider Sony, which copied the Walkman cassette player from Philips but made it a technological breakthrough, the “four-track”, so that people could mix their own music.

And the venerable Volkswagen Beetle, which did not copy any of its rivals. Instead, it reinvented what others failed to do. It succeeded because it was different.

You need to find your own thing. Don’t imitate other brands, be unique.

Use Branding in Your Hiring Process

Strong branding makes your employees proud. Who wouldn’t want to work for Apple, Pixar, or Google? These brands attract candidates and make it difficult for candidates to say no when they’re courted by these companies.

What is employer branding? Employer branding is a set of marketing practices focused on attracting, developing, and retaining employees by telling a story about the company with a unified message.

This differs from traditional advertising in that you focus on creating a unique identity vs. trying to sell a product. One of the most critical elements to an effective hiring strategy is your brand, but many companies don’t consider this.

When you’re recruiting, it doesn’t matter whether you’re seeking athletes for your sports team, PhDs for your research group, or salespeople for your company. You want people that are proud to be a part of your organization.

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Nonofo Joel
Nonofo Joel is a Brand Strategist at The Brand Shop. He frequently blogs about Branding, Website Design, and Search Engine Optimization on The Brand Shop Blog and other publications.