A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another – Seth Godin
Branding your business is one of the most important steps in building a successful company as it forms the very core of a company, its culture and character. Building a great brand is central to a successful business because a great brand wins customers. It gives your company a unique personality and establishes a differentiated position in the market that attracts the right customers. We live in an era where marketing has become a requirement for getting noticed, garnering a loyal audience and making a lasting impact.
Outstanding brands should have personalities. These refer to a set of human characteristics that are attributed to the brand. It comes into existence when human-like adjectives like unique, caring, funny, trustworthy or creative are assigned to the brand. An effective brand increases its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits that a specific consumer segment enjoys. This personality is a qualitative value-add that a brand gains in addition to its functional benefits. Below are principles of building a great brand that stands out.
1. Audit your market place
“The first step is to determine where you stand in the marketplace and to understand who your customer is.” – Matthew Dinnerman
When you enter into the business industry, it’s important for you to research about already existing businesses. You have to look at the competition and see how they are doing well as well as to note what they are struggling with. It will provide a good basis for you to find an angle that your company can leverage. Start by identifying who your competitors are and do your due diligence to identify the right ones.
Looking at a broad spectrum of competitors can lead you to analyzing companies whose customer segment is vastly different from yours. Similarly, narrowing that spectrum too much can lead to the exclusion of some companies whose customer segment is essentially the same as yours. Ask yourself whether or not a customer will end up in a scenario where they have to choose between you and your competitor. If such companies exist, then they qualify to be in the list of your competitors.
In-depth competitor analysis is an obligation. It entails reviewing competitor websites, search engine optimization, brand identities and advertising. Competitor analysis informs you who your competitors compete with for market share. At the same time, it helps you to differentiate your brand and what strategies to employ. Benefits include competitive advantage over other companies in your respective business niche. You cannot defeat your enemies until you know who they are.
2. Create a unique value proposition
A value proposition refers to a business or marketing statement that a company uses to summarize why a consumer should buy their product or service. This statement serves to convince a potential consumer what one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offers will. It is a statement that paints a clear picture of what your brand has to offer for prospects. Great value propositions serve to introduce you to prospects buyers and to help you to make a strong first impression.
Good value propositions should describe how products or services solve or improve problems, what benefits can customers expect and why customers should buy from you instead of your competitors. Having a strong value proposition is a step towards building a great brand that stands out and wins customers. Value propositions usually go hand-in-hand with your mission statement. It should be succinct, memorable, unique, clear and realistic.
3. Determine your brand target audience
Targeted audiences are individuals or businesses that purchase goods or services produced by another business. Attracting customers is the primary goal for any business because it is the customer who creates the need for goods and services. It is therefore important to identify the individuals who will buy your products. Knowing your targeted customers means knowing who you are creating value for.
These are individuals who share similar needs or characteristics that your business hopes to serve. They include organizations, colleagues and enterprises only to mention but a few. You have to know who they are, what they do, why they buy, how much money they have and what they expect from you. By clearly identifying the targeted audience, it becomes easier to capture someone’s attention because their needs and goals are in the front line.
Having a well-defined target is more important than anything in building a great brand that wins customers. Targeting a specific audience does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria. Target marketing allows you to focus your marketing budget and brand message on a particular market that is more likely to buy from you that other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.
Steps to identifying and understanding your target audience
i) Profile your current customers
If they are already established, looking into your current customer base will give you great insights into who your products or services appeal to. You can also look at how they interact with your current communications to see what you should continue doing and what you should improve.
ii) Define demographics of who your products serve
Demographics have to do with age, gender, income and professions. However, it goes beyond age and gender as it also includes marital status, family size and ethnic backgrounds. Knowing the demographics of who your products serve will help you create value for the people at the right time.
iii) Consider your audience’s psychographics
Psychographics are a step further than demographics. While demographics explain physical aspects of your customer’s lives, psychographics are intangible and dive into what your audience believes and how they act. It entails their beliefs, values, habits and lifestyles. These play a pivotal role in how your audience shops and what they choose to purchase.
iv)Determine the value of your product and who will benefit the most from it
Successful brands are specific. If you are able to identify exactly who wants to purchase your product, you can tailor your content to speak directly to them to increase conversations. For example, a manufacturer of a nut butter product that is alternative to peanut butter should target mothers with children or health enthusiasts who want other options.
v) Look at your competitors
It’s most likely that your competitors have a target market that is similar to, or the same as your target audience. You can browse through their websites and social media feeds to observe how they interact with their audience. It makes it easier for you to gauge their success to learn some great ways to communicate better with your audiences.
You can never know too much about your target audience unless you research about them. To understand them better, gather data through industry reports, focus groups or even calls.
vii) Engage with your target audience
The best way to understand your audience is to interact with them. Hosting events or engaging them on social media can help you to know more about them.
4. Design an exceptional brand logo
A logo is an easily recognizable and reproducible design element that often includes a name, symbol, specified colors or trademark. Others define it as a graphic mark, emblem, symbol or stylized name used to identify a company, organisation, product or brand. It may take the form of an abstract or figurative design, or a stylized version of the company’s name as in a word mark. Logos are a quick, visual representation of a brand’s message and position.
An exceptional logo design should evoke some memory or emotion from the viewer depending upon their relationship with the brand. It is a tool that helps to communicate and represent a brand. A good logo should have a customer focus, relevancy, distinctiveness, memorability, simplicity, credibility, adaptability and depth of meaning.
Essential rules to follow when designing a logo
i) Preliminary work is a must
Preliminary sketches are important step in designing an effective brand logo.
ii) Create balance
Keep your logo balanced by keeping the ‘weight’ of graphics colours and sizes equal on each side. This is because our minds naturally perceive a balanced design as pleasing and appealing.
iii) Size matters
Outstanding logo designs are supposed to look good and be legible at all sizes. They should not be too small or too big.
iv) Proper use of colours
Use colours that are near to each other on the colour wheel. Don’t not use colours that are too hard on the eyes. Knowing how colours evoke feelings and moods is also important.
v) Design style should suit the company
Your company logo design should go hand-in-hand with the services that you provide.
vi) Typography matters
Choosing the right font type and size is very important. One font style is ideal. Avoid using more than two.
vii) Be innovative (dare to be different)
To stand out from competition, you must distinguish yourself as a designer with a distinct style.
viii) Keep it simple
The simpler the logo, the more recognizable it will be.
5. Create an authentic voice for your brand
The brand voice is the purposeful and consistent expression of a brand through words and prose styles that engage and motivate. It works in concert with your visual system, your digital presence, your social media connections, your product packaging and your event or experience branding. Brand voices are driven by brand strategies and marketing fundamentals. Therefore, it is important to note that a great brand voice maintains its consistency. The goal is to create and position yourself as an easily identified and authoritative force for your area of expertise.
Similarly, a consistent brand voice and vocabulary is essential to implementing effective localized and intelligent content strategies. A brand voice should flow from a series of strategic and internal decisions. It’s supposed to map back to the mission and vision of the organisation. Just like the human voice, a brand voice carries a spectrum of emotions and it behaves differently depending on the context or scenario. The distinctiveness of your voice should come through in its consistency. No matter what the circumstances, it should always embody the agreed upon brand values.
Steps to creating the right brand voice
i) Define your brand voice
Firstly, you have to choose words that best capture the personality of the voice you want for your brand. For example, ‘Bold but not arrogant’ and Coca-Cola’s ‘Positively Happy’.
It is important to review the communications of your competitors, their tone and attitudes. Innovation is key.
Before you write, you should listen and be aware of how your customers communicate. Are they formal and precise or casual and conventional? The goal is to build a brand affinity by using the diction and sentence structure that’s appealing to your audience and authentic to your offering.
Your brand voice should be inspiring. Be bold and speak directly to your audience. Timidity will never help you achieve the success you seek.
To evolve is to develop yourself gradually from within yourself, the evolution of your mindset, habits, daily routine, associations, actions and life. A brand voice is not fixed, it is like a fluid. Keeping pace with your audience, working across new communication channels and communicating in new ways is pivotal in building a great brand. Always leave room for growth and change.
6. Create a brand strategy
A brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. It’s a well-defined and executed brand strategy affect all aspects of a business. It is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions and competitive environments. Your brand strategy defines what you stand for, a promise you make and the personality you convey. While it includes your logo, colour pallet and slogan, those are only creative elements that convey your brand. Instead, your brand lives in every day- to-day interactions you have with your market.
A brand strategy is crucial for products and services sold in huge consumer markets. Your brand strategy brings your competitive positioning to life. It’s main purpose is to position you as a certain ‘something’ in the mind of your prospects. Successful branding also creates brand equity which is the amount of money that customers are willing to pay just because it’s your brand. In addition to generating revenue, brand equity makes your company itself more valuable over the long term.
Essentials for a strong brand strategy
Every brand makes a promise. However, in a market in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another but having a defined purpose. While understanding what your business promises is necessary, knowing why you wake up everyday and go to work carries more weight.
The key to consistency is to avoid talking about things that don’t relate to or enhance your brand. In an effort to give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to be sure that all of your messaging is cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand recognition which fuels customer loyalty.
Customers are not always rational hence using emotional branding connects them to your brand. An example is that of the Harley Owners Group which produces motorbikes. By providing customers with an opportunity to feel like they’re part of a larger group that’s more tight-knit than just a bunch of motorcycle riders, Harley Davidson was able to position themselves as an obvious choice for someone looking to purchase a bike.
In this fast changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from competitors. In other words, effective identity programs require enough consistency to be identifiable while enough variation to keep things fresh and human.
v) Employee involvement
It’s equally important for your employees to be well versed with how they should be communicating with customers. Exceptional brand representation is key.
If you already have people that love you, your company and your brand, it is necessary to reward them for that love. Sometimes customers have go out their way to act as your brand ambassadors. Cultivating loyalty from such people early on will yield more returning customers hence more profits. Featuring them on your website or asking them to write reviews is a great way of returning the favour.
7. Create and maintain brand consistency
Brand consistency is the pattern of expression that affects what people think about your company. It isn’t just something that a lasting brand strives. Brand consistency is an essential element to any brand’s growth and longevity. Most importantly, it confirms the brand is professional and driven to achieve its purpose and social commitments.
It is when businesses attempt to communicate messages in a way which doesn’t detract or wander away from the core brand strategy, values and foundation. This means that the brand’s messaging is delivered in the same tone. At the same time, the logo is always used in a similar way, a single typeface is used and the typography and colours are always consistent. Every brand touch point and piece of marketing material should be similar. Specifically, a brand should have has its own style which enables the target audience to recognize it and differentiate it from the competition.
Thus, brand consistency shows how focused and intentional the company is, in achieving its goals and maintaining standards. It also avoids issues resulting from people confusing your brand with others in similar industries, or those possessing a similar name as yours. Sticking to brand values and maintaining a consistent image in the public eye will shape the way people see the brand, during the good and not-so-good times. As the brand gains traction, your name and logo will become synonymous with trust and value and opportunities.
8. Monitor and modify your brand
Brand modification is a process whereby an adjustment is made to an existing brand. Often times it is made for greater appeal or functionality. A modification may include a change to a company logo’s shape or a change in the company’s motto. Features are removed or added to improve the efficiency and success of a business. A brand modification is usually accompanied by a change in packaging.
Rebranding has one simple goal which is keeping your brand current. Design trends play a major role in how your potential or current customers perceive your company and all it has to offer. Ensuring that your look is always ahead of the curve shows your customers that you pay attention. It is a signal that you have practical knowledge about trends within your industry. Furthermore, it allows you to lure and connect with the new audience. Brand modification serves to set you apart from competitors, make you stay current and helps you advertise new goals and products.
Business is all about relationships and how well you build them determines how well they build your business. Building a great brand is central to a successful business. This is because a great brand wins customers and customers are the life blood of every business. Beyond just a memorable logo, good branding increases the value of a company, provides employees with direction and motivation and makes acquiring new customers easier.