Anyone can create a business, but not all businesses become successful brands. That’s why, from the start, branding should be a top priority.
Many people mistakenly believe that a powerful brand identity is just about pretty logos, pleasant colors, packaging, and slogans, so they only give it superficial attention, thinking it can be tackled later in the business’s lifespan. However, the truth is that branding goes much deeper than material and visual elements. It forms the very foundation of a business, and if it’s not established solidly from the outset, the business may struggle to grow and thrive.
If you’re about to start a business, you’re in luck. You get to learn the importance of branding first-hand and can shift your priorities accordingly. Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through this often-misunderstood aspect of business step by step.
By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of your business. You will gain the confidence to face competitors and forge a successful path for your brand.
First, let’s have a good look at what branding is and what branding is not.
What Branding is…
Branding is a promise to customers and audiences about the kind of value you will provide and fulfilling that promise in every purchase and interaction.
Branding is an identity. Just as people have identities, businesses can take on personalities, emotions, images, and tones of voice.
Branding is a value proposition. How you want to provide value and what kind of value you give will determine your overall brand.
What Branding is not…
Branding is not what you say it is, but what your target customers say you are. You can customize your identity and edit how it will look, sound, and feel, but it ultimately comes down to the target market on how they will perceive you. Their definition of your brand is true branding.
Branding is not just packaging, logo, and slogan. They’re part of branding, but they don’t command a significant influence in creating a powerful brand identity.
Branding vs Marketing
They’re often mistaken as the same thing, but they aren’t. Marketing and branding both lend a boost to the business. But they both do it in different ways. You can look at it this way: Branding is the strategy while marketing is the tool. Branding lays the plan and the long-term goal. Marketing puts up the action to achieve those goals.
They HAVE to work together at all times. You cannot choose which one to prioritize because they both can accelerate the business growth or the opposite if not incorporated well.
Importance of Branding
Now that you know the difference between the two, what makes branding important? Why is it necessary for businesses to take up?
Branding allows you to separate your business from the competition. Without proper branding, you’re just like anything else. Without strong branding, people who are used to using other brands will definitely not take the risk of trying yours. Your branding, if executed well, will subtly compel the market to go and try your brand.
Branding makes you memorable. Sure, they bought your product. But what happens next? Do they buy it again? Do they defend you among critics? Or do they Google your name? Or do they even know your name? Creating a memorable, among other important things, is one of the jobs of branding.
Marketing is easier with proper branding. You see, marketing is about telling people how good your product or service is. But your marketers might find this job a little difficult if your brand is not even really good to begin with. You’ll see later on that creating value and understanding the mission and vision of your brand is so important in branding. And if you’ve done that part, marketing will be a whole lot easier, not to mention fun, and would really gather results.
Builds pride in employees and stakeholders. A well-built brand is more enjoyable and prideful to work with. As a result, a happy worker is more likely to spread the good word about the business, becoming brand ambassadors themselves. This goes for all stakeholders of a well-meaning brand.
Guide on Branding
Part I: Understanding the Company
The first step in branding is diving deeper into the business. By asking the right questions about your company, the owners, and stakeholders, you can gain a clear picture of your value as an enterprise and its purpose in the world.
Business values, mission, and products
The business mission, vision, and values might be confusing and boring, but they’re necessary for a business to flourish. Without these, a business’s purpose might be to earn more money, which won’t resonate with people for long.
So, prepare these statements before you build your business. Here are the definitions of each of them:
- Values: Core beliefs and principles that guide behavior.
- Mission: Defines an organization’s purpose and goals.
- Vision: Describes the desired future state of an organization.
Values form the foundation of an organization’s culture, the mission outlines its purpose and goals, and the vision sets its future direction and aspirations.
Once you’ve established the values, mission, and vision of your organization, it’s time to get to the heart of your existence. What’s the point of your business? What can you offer that competitors don’t have? What value can you provide to your target customers?
A value proposition is an essential part of branding because it will help position you in the market. This will guide your future marketers and advertisers on what to promote to your customers. It can inform them about what information to include in your packaging and what captions to use in your social media posts.
A strong value proposition will increase the likelihood of brand engagement and brand loyalty. Not only will this increase sales, but even better, customers will go out of their way to promote your brand to friends and family.
Part II: Understanding the market
After a self-reflective activity – knowing the business – you now have to understand your target market and competitors. Powerful brand identity is even more effective if you know the demographics, psychographics, and more.
Determine the target audience
Not everyone is willing to buy your product. That means you should channel all your marketing efforts toward a small group of people that are likely to do so. This is called a small viable group. These are the people whose problems align with the solution you offer.
Get to know these people. First, gather their basic information, like age, occupation, geographic location, education level, income, and more. This will give you insight into their psychographics, which are also very important nowadays. These include their dreams, hopes, desires, ethical standards, and political leanings. Although these factors are harder to obtain, they will strongly affect the outcome of your advertising efforts.
Another important aspect is the target market’s problems. You need to know their concerns and challenges. Only then can you position your brand as a better solution.
Without thorough competitor research, you’ll be blinded by your own aspirations. You won’t see your shortcomings and faults. Competitors are a great window to your own value proposition. By understanding them, you’ll know your place in the market even better. You’ll recognize your limitations and advantages, enabling you to create a strong brand by offering what others can’t.
Conduct in-depth research on not only your competitors’ products and offerings but also how they communicate with their customers, manage customer service, and present themselves graphically. This will guide your branding not to create the same image, message, and logo, but to understand the benchmark at which you can improve upon everything.
Part III: Creating the powerful brand identity
All the things you’ve completed before this are abstract and might not be felt by your customers yet. For them to understand your mission, vision, values, market, and competitor research, you need to create materials and items that they can see, hear, and engage with in the platform of your choice.
Create the brand assets
Brand assets are materials, collateral, captions, images, and items through which you channel your branding. This will communicate information about your brand, evoke feelings and emotions associated with your product, and educate the market about certain things.
These are the basic assets you need to create to set up a solid brand:
- Brand name – make it memorable, simple, and legible. The brand name can be related or unrelated to your product. Take Apple and Windows for technologies. Some business name generator tools can help inspire your first business name.
- Slogan – slogans can be both a partner for the name or a limited slogan for a campaign.
- Logo design – logos can be an icon, monogram, emblem, typeface, abstract, and more. The logo will be the face of the brand, so keep it consistent with your new and powerful brand identity. You can hire professional logo designers or better yet, create one your own using logo maker tools.
- Color palette – the color palette has an impact on your overall visuals. Think of Apple’s white, Coca-Cola’s red, and Nike’s black. Your color evokes emotion, delivers information, and attracts customers faster than words, so make your choices wisely.
- Images – images can come in the form of vector images, high-quality pixels, or stock images. Even the vector can be in several styles: abstract, expressionist, ink, charcoal, pencil, vintage, and more. Remember that once you’ve chosen a style, it has to be consistent throughout your content and platforms.
Choose a platform(s)
Those assets need to be seen. This is where you create or join platforms and media. These platforms will be the customer touchpoints at which your potential customers see or interact with your brand. You also get to respond to your customers, thereby improving brand loyalty and customer service.
These are the basic platforms you need to join to make a strong brand online:
- Social media – There are many options to choose from, so it’s important to select a few platforms that your potential audience frequently visits. You can use social media to share valuable content, interact with your followers, and promote your products or services. Some popular social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
When using social media, it’s important to maintain a consistent brand voice and image, engage with your followers, and measure the impact of your efforts to continuously improve your strategy.
- Website – Your website is a crucial component of your online presence, serving as your virtual storefront and headquarters. It should be professional, visually appealing, and easy to navigate, providing valuable information about your products or services, your brand story, and how to contact you.
- Email – By collecting email addresses from your website or social media, you can send newsletters, promotional offers, and other relevant content directly to your audience’s inbox.
Email marketing allows you to reach your audience directly and provides valuable insights into their interests and behavior. It’s important to establish an email marketing strategy that aligns with your overall branding and marketing goals.
Part IV: Building the brand
You know your company well enough, as well as your competitors. You understand your potential buyers, have the assets, and you have the platform. Now it’s time to build the brand.
From this moment, the building never ends. It’s a process and a cycle — a process of getting customers and a cycle of going back to basics so you can refine everything — from messages to colors.
Marketing and advertising
Marketing plays a crucial role in fostering a unique and powerful brand identity. Through various marketing campaigns, messages, images, videos, and more, brands can effectively communicate their values, mission, and vision to their target audience.
Consistency is key in all of your branding and marketing efforts. Maintaining a consistent tone of voice, visual identity, and messaging across all platforms and materials will help create a strong, recognizable brand and build trust with your audience.
From launch campaigns to influencer marketing, Facebook advertising, and user-generated content, there are many marketing tools available to help you build your brand. By utilizing these tools, understanding your audience, tracking your success, and staying consistent, you can create a memorable and impactful brand that drives business growth and success.
Enhance customer service
To create a powerful brand identity through customer service, it’s important to provide exceptional support to your customers. This includes offering prompt, friendly, and helpful service, and actively seeking feedback to understand their needs and concerns.
Proactivity in resolving customer issues can also help build trust and credibility with your audience, showing that your brand is dedicated to their satisfaction.
Personalizing the customer experience by addressing them by name, remembering their preferences, and offering tailored recommendations can also help create a positive and memorable brand experience. Furthermore, continuously evaluating and improving your customer service efforts can help ensure that you are providing the best possible experience for your customers and building a strong brand through customer service.
Develop product and service value
Constantly improving the value of your products and services is crucial for building a better brand. It shows your commitment to excellence and focus on customer needs. This leads to increased trust and loyalty from customers and a competitive edge over other brands.
Improving value also attracts new customers and expands market share. Gather customer feedback, stay up-to-date with industry trends, invest in R&D, and regularly evaluate and improve offerings to ensure they meet customer needs and provide the best value.
Branding and a powerful brand identity creation is a never-ending process that must not be swept under the rug. It has to be well-thought-out and needs to be carefully planned. Make sure every marketing and advertising campaign falls right within the brand strategy.
Above all, be consistent. Consistency will win loyalty and trust. And hopefully, this will also expand your brand to more people and markets.