Branding is a marketing term you probably hear thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Should you have a brand for your business? If so, how on earth do you create one?!
In answer to the first question, what is a brand:
“A brand is the way a product, company or individual is perceived by those who experience it. The brand is more than just your name or logo, it’s the recognisable feelings that are evoked by these.”
The second question, should you have a brand for your business, the answer is yes, absolutely! Why?
Branding is a long-term marketing tactic that is used to influence buyer behaviour. It helps you attract your ideal customers, through specific targeting. Effective branding will give your business the power to command higher prices, win more customers and build better customer loyalty.
One of the common misconceptions about branding is it must be expensive but that simply isn’t true. Creating an effective brand can be 100% affordable, the key is consistency.
What Makes up a Brand?
A brand usually consists of the company name, logo, tagline, design and voice. Each of these play a part in influencing the overall experience your customer has when interacting with your business.
Your branding will appear across all your marketing assets:
- Social Media
- Marketing Collateral
- Email Marketing
The importance of having brand consistency across each of these is so that they are easily distinguishable amongst your competitors and recognisable to your customers.
The First Steps to Creating a Brand
The very first step to take in creating your brand is to define your target audience. This is perhaps what you would consider your existing customer base to be, or it could be a new audience that you would like to target. Maybe those who are more affluent or from a different area.
The way to define this is to create a buyer persona. This is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on data and research. These can be as in-depth as you would like.
Here is an example:
When creating your buyer persona, think about what information is useful to you about this person, what will help you market to them more effectively.
Creating a Brand, what’s next?
Once you have established your buyer persona and therefore your target audience, it’s time to think about how you will best appeal to them.
This will involve creating your ‘brand voice’ and deciding how you will communicate with your audience. When doing this, consider these factors:
- What are your company’s values?
- What do you represent?
- How do you want your customers to see you?
Below is an infographic to help you build your brand voice:
Now you have decided on the voice of your brand, it’s time to determine the design. The elements of the design will include:
- Your Logo
- Your Colour Palette
- Brand Image (Mood Board)
Using the words, you have selected when creating your brand voice can help when deciding what your brand design should be. For example, the two images below, although of the same thing, represent two very different brands.
This is the stage where we would recommend hiring a professional designer. That way you will be able to communicate the style you are looking for, but the designer will have the knowledge and creative flair to bring that vision to life.
A designer will also provide you with your colour palette, font types and a mood board presentation to help pull together ideas for your brand design.
You should end up with something like this:
Building a Consistent Social Media Presence
At this stage you should have a very clear idea who you are talking to (target audience), what you want to say (key messaging), how you are going to say it (brand voice) and what it will look like (brand design).
That means it is now time to put it all into practice. Other than your website, social media will be the main platform for communicating with your customers.
While you may have your brand sorted, the next challenge is typically what content you should be posting on social media. One of the easiest ways to create a content plan in line with your brand is to work from content pillars.
You can discover more about how to create content for social media in our next ‘You Ask We Answer blog post’.
Starting your Company Blog
Blogging is one of the most crucial parts to building your online platform. It is an extremely effective method for communicating to your audience and providing them with all the information they need to:
- Solve their problems
- Help them identify opportunities
- Get to know your business
- Build trust with you
- Make a buying decision
Having a company blog is a core part of the inbound marketing flywheel. Its role is to attract the attention of your target audience, provide useful content and eliminate any barriers as they try to learn about your business.
Writing a blog is a fundamental step of inbound marketing, this is because it helps you reach your target customers by matching your content with what they are searching for.
However, to achieve this it is important you conduct keyword research, which will tell you what your audience is searching for online.
What to Avoid when Creating a Brand Identity
Don’t Copy your Competitors
The most important element of your brand identity is its uniqueness. You won’t achieve this if you have called upon your competitor for inspiration! Always think about what makes your business different and ensure this is clear in your branding.
Don’t give Mixed Messages
Always remember that just because you understand something, doesn’t mean your customers will. Take the extra time to consider if what you are communicating is absolutely clear and if you’re not sure ask a few people! Sometimes if you are doing something all day, everyday it becomes second nature but don’t expect a new customer to read between the lines.
Don’t Lose Consistency Between Online and Offline
Yes, there are some key differences between online and offline marketing but that shouldn’t be your brand. Make sure you are using your logo, the same type, themes and messages across ALL your marketing communications.
Breaking Down the Marketing Terms
This refers to how familiar your brand is amongst the general public.
This is the personality of your business which is communicated through the elements of your brand (logo, voice etc.). It is usually comprised of your values and how you make your customers feel when they interact with your business.
This is when companies ‘extend’ their brand to develop new products or service lines that appeal to a different target market.
This refers to the process of creating and maintaining your brand. Because your brand is a living asset, it should be treated as such.
This is how well a customer recognises your brand, without seeing your business name. For example, just by seeing your logo or tagline.