Many business owners, web designers and marketers use the terms “logo design” and “identity design” as synonyms to “brand” and “branding,” but these aren’t synonyms.
To clear things up, let’s look at what a brand is versus what it isn’t.
Once we get that straight, we’ll dive into why branding is so important, steps to take to build a strong brand from scratch and how to position your brand using key messaging framework.
Branding: What It Is vs. What It Isn’t
First of all, let’s define what a brand isn’t.
A brand is not simply:
- A logo – a logo is a symbol for a brand
- A color scheme and typography – these are only parts of a brand’s visual identity
- A product – a brand is not about one specific product or service
- A claim – it’s not something that company owners claim themselves
- A promise – a brand can end up acting as a promise, but it’s not a promise in itself
So, what makes up a brand?
As Marty Neumeier, a designer and author of eight books on branding, explained:
“A brand is a result, a customer’s gut feeling about a product, a service or a company. It’s in their head and their heart. They take a raw material you throw at them and they make something out of it. But it’s them who are making it, not you as a business owner.”
In other words, a brand is an abstract set of associations, expectations, characteristics, emotions and experiences related to your business that comes to your customer’s mind when they interact with your products or services.
Branding, then, is a strategic process that helps you develop your brand, build your reputation, make a promise to your audience and deliver on that promise. You can build your brand by yourself but for bigger companies it’s advised that you consult with a digital branding agency.
Why Is Branding Important For Your Business?
Branding is all about putting your customers first and seeing things from their point of view. If you continuously manage to exceed your customer’s expectations, you’ll be on the right track to creating an outstanding brand.
Branding can help you:
- Define the core values of your company
- Link the brand to your overall business strategy
- Express the brand by creating its name, style, personality, logo and visual identity
- Identify key business processes to translate values into proposition
- Position your brand the right way to speak clearly to your target audience
- Build trust and long-term relationships with your customers
- Grow a cohort of loyal customers who will recommend your brand whenever they can
Having a strong brand can also increase the overall value of your company, allowing you to gain a higher market share. Once you’ve developed a trusted brand, it’ll be much easier for you to market new products as well.
How To Build Your Brand
To build a brand from scratch is not something you can do overnight. It takes time, creativity, patience and hard work. You’ll probably need good remote team organization, which means using an online scheduling tool and multiple SEO tools which will track your progress and organize your workflow in real time.
To develop an attention-worthy brand and really connect with your target audience, follow these nine steps:
- Articulate your core values – know exactly what your company stands for and craft your brand mission, vision and purpose to reflect your values
- Clarify your target market – be as specific as you can in terms of industry, category, niche, your competitive advantage, differentiators and opportunities for growth
- Define your target audience – define all different audience groups that you serve and create separate buyer personas to represent each group
- Find out what your audience wants – talk to your prospective customers and learn what drives them, what obstacles they are facing and figure out how your products can solve their problems and help them transform
- Research your competitors – look through their websites, marketing channels and materials, identify pitfalls and mistakes they’ve made so you can avoid them and find the gaps in their positioning strategy that you can fill
- Specify why you do what you do – figure out what drives you, why you care about bringing your brand to people, why your customers should care, what goals you want to accomplish, etc.
- Create a brand style guide – document your logo, color scheme, fonts, icons and every other design element and its use in corporate communications, marketing materials and on your business website
- Build a voice and tone guide – define the voice of your brand (for example, is it going to be friendly and humorous or strictly professional) and specify tone of voice for addressing your customers in different situations (for example, when you want to celebrate something with them, when you want to apologize for making a mistake or when asking for personal information from your customers)
- Create a content style guide – make sure everyone in your company is on the same page when it comes to content production, editorial management and content marketing guidelines
One of the key points of developing a good brand is consistency.
Getting into the mind of your target audience, creating a brand voice and personality and communicating your mission statement, along with the rest of the points above, will help bring your brand to life. Remember, you can always get extra help by hiring external copywriters and content professionals to perfect your brand voice and content.
Brand Positioning: How To Do It Effectively
After defining the points above, it’s time to position your brand. To do it effectively, start by creating a pitch deck.
This can be a set of slides or a single document in which you define the problem you solve with your products, showcase the solution you provide, explain what sets your business apart from competitors and layout a future development roadmap.
Once completed, a pitch deck can serve as a good starting point for crafting a compelling elevator pitch – a single sentence that explains what you do, for whom and why it matters. An elevator pitch should be concise and immediately understandable.
Another important asset of a brand messaging framework is the value proposition.
A value proposition is a single line, a sentence or a set of sentences that states the benefits for your customers, how you solve their problems and why they should choose you over the competitors.
Your key messages can also include a brand tagline in a form of a catchy phrase or a slogan that represents your brand and relates to your audience and you can develop a complete brand manifesto if you want to emphasize the core values and everything that you stand for.
All in all, branding statements help you speak loud and clear to your audience, cut through the noise, define your business and set it apart.
To sum it all up, branding is not just about your company name, logo and color scheme. It’s so much more than that.
Branding helps you articulate your business values, learn more about your audience’s problems and how to solve them, define your brand voice, document your visual identity, know exactly what differentiates you from competitors and position your brand to speak clearly to your target audience.
Remember: your brand isn’t set in stone. It’s a living process that develops as your customer loyalty grows. It’s a reflection of your company culture and your reputation, so handle it with great care and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.