Branding Decisions: A Marketers Checklist to Strategic Decision-Making

Category

Branding

Read Time

20 min

Published

25 September, 2023

Making informed branding decisions is key to driving business success.

In any industry, competition is fierce and consumer preferences shift rapidly meaning the significance of effective branding cannot be overstated.

Understanding the intricacies of branding and its impact on customer perception, loyalty, and market positioning is essential so that you can continue to attract and engage your audience.

Branding decisions are complex, and some you might not have even considered. They go beyond the typical decisions such as naming the brand, or thinking or a funky slogan, as you need to consider each and every part of the brand.

The Branding Brief Template

The Branding Brief Template is a free template that will help you get the brief for your branding project right. W...

This includes deciding on brand positioning, tone of voice, brand messaging, the means of communication, and much more. It can be easy to cast over some of these key branding decisions as you get wrapped up in the excitement of creating a new brand or rebranding an existing one.

But that’s what this blog is all about as we’re going to delve into the pivotal choices that can either propel a business to new heights or leave it struggling to connect with its target audience.

Before we jump into the different branding decisions, let’s first recap the crucial role of branding for a company.

The Role of Branding

Branding plays a pivotal role in creating a unique and easily identifiable identity for a company, product, or individual.

Its purpose is to forge a powerful, emotional bond with the intended audience so that people ultimately want to invest in the product or service.

By harnessing the potential of branding, businesses can convey their distinctive values, qualities, and commitments. This, in turn, creates a sense of trust leading to increased consumer loyalty.

However, as mentioned in the intro, branding goes beyond logos and slogans; it touches every part of a company’s products and interactions with its customers. This leads to a complete coordination of experiences that shape how customers see the brand and affect how they make decisions.

One prime example of a B2B brand that underscores the importance of effective branding is Cisco. Specialising in networking hardware, software, and telecommunications equipment, the company demonstrates the power of strategic branding to establish itself as a trusted partner.

Cisco’s branding revolves around providing solutions to complex business challenges. Whether it’s improving network security or optimising cloud services, the brand’s messaging is centered on addressing real-world business needs. They also place a lot of emphasis on trust, consistently highlighting their commitment to safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring dependable networking infrastructure.

Cisco is a great example of a business who has carefully considered key branding decisions, ensuring their brand identity, brand positioning, and brand messaging are aligned.

You could replicate their success by running your own branding workshop.

Why Are Branding Decisions Crucial in Marketing?

Branding is a company’s key differentiating factor as this is what sets it apart from all the other company’s offering customers exactly the same thing.

To achieve this, branding involves a series of complex branding decisions that allow a company to consider each and every aspect of their brand. Instead of rushing into anything, they must address these branding decisions, identifying a way forward that ultimately leads to success.

Branding decisions are key as they help with:

  • Differentiation
  • Consistency
  • Memorability

infographic showing 3 things a brand does

Who Is Usually Responsible for Making Branding Decisions?

The responsibility for making branding decisions typically involves a collaborative team involving marketing leaders, creative professionals, senior management and external branding consultants.

This ensures a comprehensive and well-rounded approach to shaping the brand’s identity and perception.

Marketing Leaders

Marketing leaders bring their expertise in market research, consumer behaviour, and industry trends to the table. These professionals provide insights into how the brand should resonate with the target audience, what messaging will be most effective, and how to position the brand.

Creative Professionals

Creative professionals take the strategic direction provided by marketing leaders and transform it into tangible assets like logos, taglines, marketing materials, and digital content.

Senior Management

Branding decisions directly impact the company’s overall strategic direction. Senior leaders ensure that branding efforts are aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and long-term goals.

External Branding Consultants

In some cases, company’s partner with external branding consultants as they bring an outsider’s perspective and specialised knowledge to the process. They often conduct in-depth assessments of the company’s current brand positioning and offer strategic recommendations.
stationary icons pointing upwards

Critical Branding Decisions for Success

Now we’re getting into the most important bit – the key branding decisions.

Some of these you might already be aware of, and might have had to answer in your current role whereas others might have been overlooked.

By considering all of these branding decisions you can ensure that your brand is set up for success.

Brand identity

Brand identity is a pivotal branding decision because it forms the visual and conceptual foundation of how a brand is perceived by its audience.

It covers elements such as logos, colours, typography, and design style that create a distinctive and memorable image in the minds of customers.

A well-crafted brand identity not only fosters recognition but also communicates a brand’s values, personality, and promises. It sets the tone for all interactions, building consistency and trust.

Brand name

Naming a brand is a crucial branding decision, as it forms the core of the brand’s identity.

Often a brand’s name is the initial point of contact, shaping consumer perceptions and building a foundation for the brand’s essence.

The name of the brand is maybe what you think of first when imagining a brand – it is the base of the brand:

Therefore, it should:

  • Suggest something about a product’s benefits and qualities.
  • Be easy to pronounce, recognise, and remember.
  • Be distinctive, so that consumers don’t confuse it with other brands.

Brand positioning

Brand positioning is crucial in branding as it shapes how consumers see the brand by creating its space in their minds. Successful brand positioning effectively communicates the brand’s value while connecting with customer aspirations.

Brand positioning can be done at any of three levels:

  • On product attributes – Focusing on tangible features.
  • On benefits – Emphasising experiential advantages.
  • On beliefs and values – Aligning with ideologies.

Each level shapes how consumers perceive the brand, enabling it to stand out and forge connections.

Brand tone of voice

Brand tone of voice is a core branding decision, defining how a brand communicates consistently to establish its personality.

It’s about creating a distinct way of speaking that resonates across all communication channels. This voice embodies the brand’s character, building recognition and trust.

When crafting a brand tone of voice, define the desired personality and values of the brand, then craft a set of consistent language guidelines that resonate with the target audience.

We’ve already covered the complete guide to crafting a brand tone of voice in another post so make sure you give it a read. But for a quick recap, this usually follows the process below:

  • Defining your brand’s personality
  • Choosing the language you want to use
  • Speaking directly to your audience
  • Being consistent across all channels
  • Crafting a unique and recognisable brand tone of voice

infographic to show tone of voice

Brand messaging

Crafting a compelling brand messaging strategy is essential to effectively communicate a company’s value proposition and messages.

Clear and consistent messaging conveys the brand’s story, benefits, and identity, fostering trust and loyalty. This narrative resonance not only distinguishes the brand from its competitors but also shapes its engagement, creating a lasting impact on consumers’ perceptions.

To craft compelling brand messaging, define the brand’s core value proposition and key messages, then tailor them to resonate with the target audience’s needs and aspirations.

Brand story

A brand story helps guide consumer perceptions, fostering a sense of emotional connection and authenticity. It humanises the brand, making it more relatable and memorable, ultimately cultivating lasting customer loyalty.

To create a brand story, companies should delve into their origins, missions, and unique selling points. By aligning these elements with their target audience’s needs and challenges, brands can create their own brand story that piques genuine interest.

Brand values

Your brand values act as guiding principles, defining the brand’s character, and influencing decisions, behaviours, and relationships. By aligning with values that resonate with their target audience, companies can forge a strong emotional bond, foster trust, and differentiate themselves within the market.

To create their own brand values, companies should start by assessing their core beliefs, aspirations, and the impact they aim to have on society.

These values should be reflective of the company’s mission and vision, and meaningful to both internal stakeholders and external customers.

Brand mission

A well-crafted mission statement solidies the brand’s intent, allowing customers, employees, and stakeholders to understand the brand’s goals and aspirations.

To create their own brand mission, companies need to think about how they exist and the impact they want to make. A successful brand mission statement should be concise yet impactful, capturing the brand’s unique value proposition and its commitment to fulfilling a specific need.

This statement should not only resonate with the company’s internal team but also resonate with its target audience, instilling a sense of shared purpose.

Brand touchpoints

Brand touchpoints relate to every point of contact a consumer has with a brand, ranging from email, to social media, to the in-store experience.

By orchestrating these touchpoints effectively companies can craft a unified brand narrative, reinforcing their identity and value proposition consistently across all platforms.

To ensure the success of their brand touchpoints, companies need to understand the customer journey, identifying key interactions. Consistency is key here as brands need to ensure a uniform tone, messaging, and visual identity to improve recognition and strengthen brand recall.

jigsaw puzzle with icons around the side

Competitor research

Competitor research provides insights into market trends, consumer preferences, and potential opportunities, enabling companies to refine their brand identity and value proposition to better resonate with their target audience.

To carry out successful competitor research, companies should start by identifying their main competitors and analysing their strengths, weaknesses, and market strategies.

They can then use this information to identify gaps in the market, potential areas of improvement, and ways to position their brand distinctively.

Audience personas

Audience personas provide a humanised representation of different customer segments, helping companies create more personalised experiences. This understanding enables brands to establish emotional connections, anticipate consumer desires, and foster loyalty by addressing their audience’s pain points and aspirations.

To identify their own audience personas, companies should analyse data from various sources, including market research, surveys, social media insights, and customer feedback.

Segmenting the data based on demographics, behaviours, interests, and pain points helps to create distinct persona profiles. Each persona should have a name, a backstory, and detailed characteristics that represent a specific customer segment.

infographic showing questions to ask when deciding on target audience

Brand architecture

Brand architecture is a key branding decision that outlines the hierarchical structure of a company’s brand portfolio, providing clarity on how different brands within the portfolio relate to each other.

To identify their own brand architecture, companies should start by categorising their different brands and products based on their relationships, target audiences, and value propositions.

There are various approaches to brand architecture, such as monolithic (where the parent brand dominates), endorsed (where sub-brands are connected to the parent brand), and freestanding (where sub-brands operate independently). Analysing customer preferences, market trends, and competitive positioning aids in making informed decisions about which architecture strategy best aligns with the company’s goals.

Brand sponsorship

Effective brand sponsorship not only showcases a company’s values but also creates memorable experiences that resonate with consumers and differentiate the brand within the market.

To manage brand sponsorship successfully, companies should first identify sponsorship opportunities that align with their brand identity, target audience, and marketing objectives.

Once a partnership is established, clear communication of brand values, expectations, and objectives is essential to ensure alignment. Regular monitoring and assessment of the partnership’s impact, including metrics like brand visibility, audience engagement, and return on investment, help determine the sponsorship’s effectiveness.

Brand communication

Effective brand communication fosters understanding, resonance, and emotional connection, reinforcing the brand’s identity and shaping consumer perceptions.

To manage brand communication, companies should start by defining clear brand messaging and guidelines. These guidelines cover tone of voice, visual identity, and core values that resonate with the intended audience.

By understanding their audience’s preferences and behaviors, companies can tailor their communication to deliver relevant content through the appropriate channels. Regularly monitoring and adapting strategies based on consumer feedback and market trends helps maintain relevance and effectiveness.

Brand experience

Brand experience refers to the impression left on consumers through various brand touchpoints, from products and services, to customer support and online presence.

By managing brand experience, companies can curate memorable, meaningful encounters that align with their brand’s identity.

To achieve this, companies need to understand their target audience’s needs, preferences, and expectations. Consistency across all touchpoints, from visual design to customer service, is vital to create a seamless and coherent brand journey. Aligning internal culture and values with external communication further ensures authenticity.

Brand equity management

Skillful brand equity management ensures that a brand maintains relevance, sustains positive consumer perceptions, and consistently delivers on its promises, fostering long-term success.

This means companies should prioritise maintaining the brand’s authenticity and relevance which involves regularly assessing consumer sentiment and preferences and adapting branding strategies accordingly.

Being consistent in how you communicate, your visual identity, and the quality of your products is important to strengthen your brand’s essential qualities. Companies can use marketing efforts, engaging with customers, and coming up with new ideas to build positive connections with their brand.

Brand development

Brand development is the shaping of a brand’s identity, personality, and perception in the market. It’s a strategic process that involves defining a brand’s values, mission, and unique attributes to resonate with its target audience.

To develop their brand successfully, companies should start by conducting market research to understand consumer needs, preferences, and market trends. This insight guides the crafting of a unique value proposition and brand story that resonate with the intended audience.

Developing a cohesive visual identity, including logo design, colour schemes, and typography, helps create a recognisable brand presence.

By strategically nurturing and evolving their brand, companies can establish a meaningful and enduring connection with their audience, driving growth and success.

Rebranding

Rebranding is a crucial branding decision for a company as it represents a significant transformation of its identity, image, and perception in the market.

Successful rebranding not only rejuvenates brand relevance but also generates renewed interest and engagement among consumers.

To approach the process of rebranding successfully, companies need to evaluate their current brand identity to work out what’s working vs what isn’t. They should also involve stakeholders, customers, and employees to gain valuable insights into their expectations and preferences before rushing into anything.

A key part of any successful rebranding initiative is effective communication as this ensures a seamless transition and minimises any confusion. By carefully navigating the rebranding process, companies can implement change while retaining exisiting consumer loyalty.

Product line and extensions

Deciding on product lines and extensions involves strategically expanding or diversifying a brand’s product portfolio to meet changing customer needs, capture new markets, or leverage existing brand equity.

Companies should begin by conducting thorough market research to identify consumer trends and potential gaps. Then they need to analyse the brand’s core values, mission, and target audience is crucial to ensure that any new product lines align with the brand’s identity.

A clear understanding of the competitive landscape and potential synergies with existing products helps guide decisions. Companies can employ a clear segmentation strategy to determine which extensions fit naturally within the brand’s portfolio and resonate with specific consumer segments.

Distribution channels and marketing strategies

Deciding on distribution channels and marketing strategies directly influences how a brand reaches its target audience and positions itself in the market.

Distribution channels determine how products are delivered to consumers, while marketing strategies shape how a brand communicates its value and builds connections. These decisions impact brand visibility, accessibility, and overall customer experience.

When choosing distribution channels, whether that’s traditional retail, e-commerce, partnerships, or direct sales, the target audience needs to be front and centre. Often the best option is to leverage a mix of online and offline marketing tactics to maximise brand exposure.

The Impact of Branding Decisions on Customers and Employees

Branding decisions influence both the perceptions of your customers and also the experiences and engagement of your employees.

In this section, we’re exploring the effects of branding decisions on building strong relationships, fostering loyalty, and shaping a vibrant company culture.

Branding decisions influence consumer perception and purchasing behaviour

Branding decisions have a direct impact on how consumers view a company within the market. These choices shape the way consumers emotionally connect with, trust, and stay loyal to the brand, which ultimately affects how they decide to buy and choose brands.

It’s important to be aware of these factors when making branding decisions because understanding how their choices influence consumer perception, emotional connections, trust, and loyalty empowers brands to make informed and strategic choices.

A strong brand identity can attract and retain talented employees

The robust brand identity plays a key role in drawing and retaining skilled employees. It mirrors the company’s values, culture, and standing, enhancing its attraction to prospective candidates in search of alignment with the company’s mission and principles.

It also nurtures a sense of pride and allegiance among current employees, contributing to their lasting commitment.

The importance of aligning internal and external branding strategies

Ensuring alignment between internal and external branding strategies is crucial as it leads to a unified and coherent brand message that reaches both employees and customers.

When the internal culture and external branding strategies are in sync, employees tend to embrace the brand values, resulting in improved customer experiences. This alignment further enhances the brand’s credibility.

different types of branding infographic

Different Types of Branding

Being aware of different types of branding, such as product branding, personal branding, and global branding, is crucial when making branding decisions as it enables tailored strategies that align with specific objectives, audience segments, and market contexts.

In turn, this leads to more effective and resonant communication of the brand’s unique identity and value proposition.

Let’s take a look at different types of branding in more detail.

Corporate branding

Corporate branding refers to the process of establishing a recognisable brand strategy and identity for a company. It involves a comprehensive approach that shapes how the company is perceived by its stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and the public.

This type of branding involves crafting an overarching brand identity that includes the company’s values, mission, culture, and positioning across all its activities and offerings. Unlike product branding, where decisions are tailored to specific products, corporate branding requires a more holistic and strategic approach.

Branding decisions here extend to many touchpoints such as company culture, website design, social media presence, and more.

Product branding

Product branding involves creating a distinct identity and perception for individual products within a company’s portfolio. Unlike overall corporate branding, which focuses on the company as a whole, product branding centers on crafting a unique image, name, and positioning for each specific product.

In product branding, decisions must align closely with the specific product’s target audience, benefits, and market positioning. This requires tailoring visual elements, messaging, and marketing strategies to cater to the specific needs and preferences of the product’s intended customers.

Unlike corporate branding, where decisions may encompass a broader brand narrative, product branding requires a more focused approach to ensure that the individual product stands out in the market while still aligning with the overarching company brand.

Service branding

Service branding involves creating a distinct and memorable brand identity for intangible services, emphasising the unique benefits and experiences that the service offers. Unlike product branding, which focuses on tangible goods, service branding centers on conveying the value and quality of a service to customers.

With services, the emphasis is on building trust and delivering exceptional experiences. Branding decisions often revolve around crafting compelling messaging that conveys the benefits and outcomes of the service, as well as establishing a reputation for reliability and expertise.

Service branding also involves training employees to embody the brand values and deliver consistent experiences, as customer interactions play a vital role in shaping the brand’s perception.

Personal branding

Personal branding is the practice of creating a unique image for an individual, highlighting aspects such as their skills, expertise, values, and personality.

In personal branding, decisions revolve around showcasing the person’s authentic self, expertise, and personal journey. This involves creating an online presence through social media, blogs, and websites that reflect the individual’s professional achievements and passions.

Unlike corporate or product branding, personal branding often requires a more human approach, fostering connections through genuine communication. Branding decisions in personal branding also touch on networking, public speaking, and content creation to position the individual as an expert in their field.

Employer branding

Employer branding involves shaping a company’s reputation and identity as an employer to attract, engage, and retain talented employees. It encompasses the values, culture, work environment, and opportunities a company offers to its workforce.

Employer branding decisions focus on creating an appealing workplace identity that resonates with job seekers and aligns with the company’s mission. These decisions include crafting messaging that highlights company values, career growth, work-life balance, and employee benefits.

Unlike other branding types, employer branding requires consistent internal communication to ensure that the company’s actions align with the brand promises made to employees.

Global Branding

Global branding refers to the strategy of creating a consistent brand image and identity on a global scale, resonating with diverse cultures and markets. It involves adapting branding decisions to suit different regions while maintaining a unified brand.

Global branding decisions require extensive research and understanding of local customs, preferences, and values to ensure that the brand’s messaging, visual identity, and offerings are relevant and appealing.

These decisions involve striking a balance between maintaining core brand attributes and adapting to regional differences. Unlike other branding types, global branding requires flexibility in language, design, and communication style to accommodate different audiences.

Co-branding

Co-branding, also known as partnership branding, involves the collaboration of two or more brands to create a joint product, service, or marketing campaign.

It leverages the strengths and reputation of each brand to achieve mutual benefits and enhance customer appeal.

Branding decisions require alignment between the partnering brands’ values, target audiences, and brand positioning. The challenge lies in creating a harmonious narrative that respects the individual brand identities while seamlessly conveying the benefits of the collaboration.

Co-branding decisions extend to determining how much of each brand’s identity will be featured, the visual elements that represent the partnership, and how the joint venture will be communicated to customers.

Branding Decisions: A Marketers Checklist to Strategic Decision-Making

By having an awareness of and considering the above branding decisions, you can ensure you have thought about each and every aspect of a brand.

Instead of jumping into anything head first, branding decisions allow you to craft a strategic path for your brand’s development, without leaving anything overlooked.

They provide a structured framework that guides your choices, ensuring that every step you take aligns with your brand’s values, mission, and goals. It’s important to note that branding decisions are ongoing and there is always the need for continuous evaluation and adaptation.

This approach allows you to stay responsive to changing market dynamics, evolving consumer preferences, and emerging trends so that you can refine your strategies and maintain your brand’s relevance.

At Canny, we partner with brands across the globe helping them connect to their target audience and make an impact. Branding decisions are complex, but we can partner with to help you answer the questions that will ultimately lead your brand to success. To find out more, get in touch with our team.

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

Read here