From the moment you start managing a business, chances are you will hear the word “branding” thrown around more times than you can count. Everyone from the Creative team to Human Resources seems to have opinions about it too.
They'll say things like:
- This photo isn't branded properly Tyler.
- Our brand image will benefit from sustainability initiatives.
- I love UnDigital's brand tone. They must have fun writers!
And, quite frankly, everyone—especially that last person—is correct.
But how do all of these people, with entirely different backgrounds, skillsets, and opinions play their part in shaping the branding at your organization?
Today, let's take a look at what branding is, what it means, and how you can incorporate it into your marketing strategy.
|An Introduction to Branding|
Branding can be a relatively vague term and one that is used a lot, but we are here to make it simple and straightforward. This way, you can start implementing the best branding practices for your business and start seeing the benefits of great branding for yourself.
Before we can dive into branding, you first need to be clear on what a “brand” actually is. Here is what the American Marketing Association has to say about it:
“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.”
What is a Brand?
A brand is essentially the image or idea that people have in their minds about a company. For example, Apple. When you see that sleek, silver apple logo, you think of modern technology, excellent customer service, and innovation.
You recognize the company and what you expect from that said company right away. You likely have feelings and perceptions about the brand and the products it offers.
A brand is typically made up of names, logos, symbols, taglines, brand voice, colors, customer experience, and identifying factors that all come together to create a recognizable personality for your company. It’s about how people feel and what they expect from your business.
What is Branding?
Your product is what you sell. Your brand is the perception of that product. Your branding efforts are what you do to make sure your customers believe that perception.
Branding gives your business a personality beyond the products or services you sell. It is the process of creating a strong identity or perception of a company, with the ultimate goal of consumers associating your brand with your products or services.
The easiest example of this is your company colors. If you picked out a beautiful organic pallet of browns and greens for your natural supplement company, those natural colors should appear on your logo, your website, and the customized boxes and packaging for your product.
These are all essential elements to help relay to customers that you have a safe and natural product. It is showing people who your brand is and what it stands for.
You wouldn’t just send out a blast email with loud fonts and neon colors one day, because it doesn’t reflect that calm, natural and tranquil brand identity you’ve created.
Colors and style are easy examples, but it’s important to remember that your branding efforts include far more than that. It’s about the message you put out into the world.
Why is Branding Important?
The goal of branding is to attract and retain customers, supporters, and shareholders by delivering products or services that are always aligned with what the brand promises.
So, if your brand promises organic, safe, natural supplements, it isn’t a good idea to partner with a soda company or to take pictures of you eating fast food on your social media page.
These things don’t align with your brand.
And you need to be as consistent as possible with maintaining that brand identity to earn the trust of your customers and to show that you stand behind the identity you created. It may seem overkill at first, but customers notice.
In fact, according to one Zendesk survey, 87% of consumers stated it was important for companies to have consistent branding across all online and traditional platforms.
The only way that your company will be able to stand out from a highly saturated is to create a unique and recognizable brand. And when customers recognize your brand and are happy with the product, they are more likely to become repeat customers. And that is the key to growth.
How Can You Implement Basic Branding Strategies?
You have a basic understanding of branding, so how do you get started creating a brand for your new business, or creating a new brand for your existing one?
These are the essential steps to get started.
1. Define Your Target Audience
This is the foundation of any marketing effort and is particularly important with branding. Your entire goal of branding is to deliver a message to customers, but not just any customers, your customers.
You need to know to whom your branding efforts will be speaking. What type of customer will buy your product? Who did you create this product or service for?
The more you understand your target market of consumers, the easier it is to create a branding message they will resonate with.
2. Pen a Mission Statement
Why did you make your business in the first place? What is the purpose? It can’t just be to make money or to be your own boss. You need to be able to define the purpose of your business.
This is your mission statement. It is the why behind you showing up to work every day. You must be able to communicate that purpose to others and then make sure that every component involved in your branding efforts reflects that vision and that mission.
3. Define Your Values
Every company has certain values that they stand behind, just as every person does. You should be clear on the core values that define your business and that help you stand apart.
You should be able to define what qualities you possess; the benefits you offer and the values you hold dear that are entirely yours. These are the things that make your brand what it is and what makes your company stand out from the competition.
These values are going to be your guiding light in your branding efforts, you just need to make sure that you stay true to the company you set out to be.
4. Create Your Brand Style
We’ve already touched on your brand style earlier, but once you know the “who” “what” and “why” behind your business, it is time to focus on the fun part—your visual assets. This means the colors, fonts, and all the visual components that make up what your brand looks like to the public.
Everything you put out into the world, from your blast emails to your website, your unboxing experience, and your merch should reflect this brand style, so make sure you choose designs that you not only love but that are authentically your brand.
5. Establish Your Brand Voice
This one can be a little more difficult for some people, but it’s still very important. If your company could speak, what would it sound like?
Authoritative? Casual? Funny? Relatable? Young and trendy?
You want to define a voice for your brand and stick with it. All of your written content including emails, blog posts, and website content should relay this voice. Your audience should feel like all communications sound like your brand.
If this seems like a lot to take in, one of the easiest tricks to ensuring you’re staying “on brand” is to stay consistent. Consistency is key across every marketing and communication platform. This not only means using your brand’s logos and colors but making sure you carry a consistent tone of voice and commitment to your values across everything you do.
If you stay true to the identity you created for your business and stay consistent, customers will notice. And you will start establishing yourself as a recognizable entity in your industry.
You've made it this far and you've learned so much. Congratulations!
If you still have questions about branding or marketing in general, you can always reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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