Building a brand is definitely a process that requires a strategy. However, the ongoing effort will result in establishing long-term relationships with your customers. This can lead to a steady increase in leads and sales, word-of-mouth referrals, and advocacy for your products or services. Your brand is your reputation! A successful brand has to be consistent in communication and experience, across many applications. A good brand doesn’t just happen, it is a well-thought-out and strategic plan.
What is your brand?
When you think about your brand, you really want to think about your entire customer experience. Your brand is everything from your logo, your website, your social media experiences, the way you answer the phone, to the way your customers experience your staff. In short, your brand is the way your customer perceives you. It is critical to be aware of your brand experience and have a plan to create the brand experience that you want to have.
What is brand building?
The definition of brand building is to generate awareness about your business using strategies and campaigns with the goal of creating a unique and lasting image in the marketplace.
Branding can be broken down into three high-level phases:
- Brand Strategy will map out how you are different, trustworthy, memorable, and likable by your ideal customer. It will convey your purpose, promises, and how you solve problems for people. You can think of it as the blueprint for how you want the world to see your business. An effective and comprehensive brand strategy should include the following components as part of the process:
- Brand discovery
- Competitor research
- Target audience
- Brand voice
- Brand message & story
Brand strategy is a critical and foundational piece for building a successful brand. It’s one of the areas that most businesses overlook because they jump right into design and marketing.
- Brand Identity is the way that you convey this to the public with visuals, messaging, and experience. Your brand strategy will influence how you present your identity and align it with your purpose for the most impact. Your elements of brand identity should be applied across all channels consistently. It’s the way that your business becomes recognizable. This includes your:
- Colors and fonts
- Patterns and icons
- Website design
- Content and messaging
- Print or packaging
- Brand Marketing is the way that businesses or organizations highlight and bring awareness to products or services by connecting values and voices to the right audience through strategic communication.
Steps to Take When Building Your Brand
1. Discover the purpose behind your brand.
Every successful brand has a powerful purpose behind it. And so should you. It’s what you wake up every day loving to do for other people (and the world) through your product or service. There are four questions you should ask yourself when defining a brand purpose:
- Why do you exist?
- What differentiates you?
- What problem do you solve?
- Why should people care?
You’ll use these ideas to inform the foundation of your branding, through a tagline, slogans, value propositions, voice, messaging, stories, and more.
2. Research competitor brands within your industry.
You should never imitate exactly what the big brands are doing in your industry. But, you should be aware of what they do well (or where they fail). The goal is to differentiate from the competition. Convince a customer to purchase from you over them! We’re always thinking about how to make a brand stand out from what’s out there already. For a brand name to be effective, it needs to be easy for consumers to recognize and remember. Competitor research is one of the key components in discovering and defining your brand positioning. One of the biggest brand-building goals is to differentiate from the competition. Convince a customer to purchase from you over them!
3. Determine your brand’s target audience.
The foundation for building your brand is to determine the target audience that you’ll be focusing on. When brand building, keep in mind who exactly you are trying to reach. You’ll tailor your mission and message to meet their exact needs. The key is to get specific. Figure out detailed behaviors and lifestyles of your consumers. Solidify a picture of your consumers, then learn how to create a brand identity that they can understand and relate to. Identifying the target audience for your services or products is an exercise that will affect and benefit all areas of your brand-building process, particularly marketing efforts. You want the right person consuming your content, clicking on your ads, subscribing to your email list, etc. As a result, determining the ideal audience for your business will support your overall digital brand-building strategies. It’s definitely an important first step! When brand building, keep in mind who exactly you are trying to reach. Tailor your mission and message to meet their specific needs.
4. Establish brand mission and vision statements.
Have you thought about your brand mission and brand vision? In essence, you’ll have to craft a clear expression of what your company is most passionate about. This is your why; the reason you get up every day. Before you can build a brand that your target audience trusts, you need to know what value your business provides. Your brand vision is a future, someday, an aspirational statement that your brand drives towards achieving. Envision a projection of where your brand aspires to go, what it aspires to be, and what impact it will have on the environment you are in—think 10 years out.
The mission statement is a now, everyday, statement of commitment that is a roadmap for accomplishing your vision. It will inform how you execute your brand-building strategies. Everything from your logo to your tagline, voice, message, and personality should reflect your mission and vision. Your website is the most important marketing tool you have for business growth and brand building.
When branding your business, start small and remember to focus on your target niche audience first. With time, your brand loyalty may grow enough to expand your reach.
5. Outline the key qualities & benefits your brand offers.
There will always be brands with bigger budgets and more resources to command their industry. Your products, services, and benefits belong solely to you. Starting a brand that is memorable means you dig deep to figure out what you offer, and no one else is offering. Focus on the qualities and benefits that make your company branding unique. Think about how you provide value that improves consumers’ lives (outcomes or results that are experienced).
6. Form your unique brand voice.
Your voice is dependent on your company’s mission, audience, and industry. It’s how you communicate with your customers, and how they respond to you. A brand voice could be professional, friendly, service-oriented, authoritative, technical, promotional, conversational, informative, etc.
Choose a brand voice that makes sense and resonates with your target customers. You’ll see that if you find and use the correct brand voice, you have the strongest chance of connecting with consumers. Maintaining a consistent voice will help your brand image become recognized on multiple channels in the same way. A community of followers, readers, or subscribers will come to expect a certain brand voice and brand personality when they consume your content.
7. Let your brand personality shine.
Customers aren’t looking for another cookie-cutter company that offers the same thing as everyone else. They are looking for an experience tailored to their needs, backed by genuine personal interaction. Let your brand personality shine and stand out. Be consistent with this brand personality across all points of contact.
8. Build a brand story and messaging.
When building a brand, tell customers succinctly who you are. Use the business voice you have chosen for your brand. Your messaging should be intricately associated with your brand and conveyed consistently. This part of the brand development process goes beyond your logo and tagline to define the key aspects of:
- Who you are
- What you offer
- Why people should care
A brand story is an opportunity to communicate on a human level, making a direct emotional connection with your consumers. What this means, is that the language you use should be understood immediately while striking an emotional chord. Make it simple and clear. When creating a brand story, address not what your product can do but why it is important to your customer.
9. Create a brand logo & tagline.
One important aspect of the brand-building process is to create a brand logo and tagline for your company. This logo will appear on everything that relates to your business. It will become your identity, calling card, and the visual recognition of your promise. A strong brand style guide will include the following things:
- Logo size and placement
- Color palette
- Typography and fonts
- Photography/image style
- Web elements
Work with a professional designer or creative agency with branding and identity design experience, to help you build your brand. Their expertise will ensure that you get a unique and timeless mark for your business. A designer can also develop brand guidelines, to ensure consistency for any future application of the logo and associated brand color palette or fonts.
10. Integrate your brand into every aspect of your business.
Your brand should be visible and reflected in everything that your customer can see, read, and hear.
Anything tangible–from business cards to advertisements, to packaging and product–needs the stamp of your logo. On any digital platform, ensure that your brand looks the same everywhere. Use your brand style guide to create consistency with visuals such as color and logo use, fonts, photography, etc. Your website is the most important tool for marketing your brand. When you design your website: incorporate your voice, message, and personality into the content. Profile pages for social media networks should be branded visually, and with your chosen voice for engagement.
11. Stay true to your brand.
Unless you decide to change your brand into something that is more effective based on measured consumer response, consistency is key. Refer back to your Brand Strategy whenever you need to make a decision about identity or marketing. Once you establish a brand voice, use it for every piece of content you create. Document all the brand guidelines you create and distribute internally for reference. What is brand-building worth, if it’s not consistent? Don’t constantly change your branding. The inconsistency will confuse your customers, and make the long-term brand building more difficult. Once you establish a brand voice, use it for every piece of content you create.
No one knows your brand better than you, so it’s up to you to spread the word. When hiring employees, ensure that they are a culture fit–aligning with the mission, vision, and values of your brand. Encourage them to establish a personal brand that aligns with your company’s brand-building process, further strengthening reach. Give your loyal customers a voice. Encourage them to post reviews, or share your content.
Branding can be one of the most significant things you can do for your new or existing business. A solid brand-building process can transform your business from a small player into a successful competitor. You’ll discover that your customers will develop a deeper level of trust for your brand, and be more likely to purchase what you are selling. Therefore, you need to develop a consistent message and visual identity to reinforce your mission. Integrate your brand into every aspect of customer experience: from your storefront to your website, to your personal interactions! Be your brand’s biggest advocate.