The basics of branding are often overlooked. But, what is branding?
The dictionary basically defines branding as “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design”.
In its older usage, it also means to mark something with a branding iron. Which is probably why a lot of people tend to think branding is mostly about having a good logo and a snappy tagline.
Of course, visuals do make up an important part of the branding process. But there is so much more involved with building a brand. It is a promise from your business to your customers of what services they can expect from you and how you will provide it.
At its core, branding is about how you communicate with your customers.
Branding is such an important part of building a successful business. By creating a strong brand image, you are building customer recognition and loyalty.
In fact, branding statistics for this year indicate that 77% of consumers say that feelings of shared values contribute to them forming brand loyalty while 65% state that feeling like a brand cares about them as an individual helps them feel more connected to that brand.
With that in mind, the purpose of this article is to help you learn more about the basics of branding.
Let’s jump into it…
The Benefits of Branding
A strong brand allows you to clearly communicate what makes you stand out from your competitors, the products or services you’re providing, your company values and the value that you can offer your customers.
That ability to make yourself stand out is especially important if you are entering a saturated market, such as e-commerce or financial services. Strong branding is a good way to achieve this. By creating something eye-catching and having a strong message to deliver to your target audience, you are far more likely to stand out.
Good branding also helps build brand recognition and customer loyalty, as well as providing an extra layer of legitimacy to your company.
By having clear, consistent visual and tone of voice branding, customers will be more likely to open an email from you or click on one of your ads.
Strong, thorough branding will also make it easier in the long run for you to tailor your branding and marketing campaigns to your target audience. While it might be tempting to put out a broad strokes marketing campaign, you are far more likely to build strong customer relationships and get sales conversion if you have a good understanding of who your customers are and what matters most to them when making purchasing decisions.
Defining Your Brand Strategy
When you’re starting to work on defining your brand strategy, you should begin by answering the following questions:
Who is my target customer?
Before you start building your brand, let alone any kind of marketing campaign, you absolutely need to understand who your customers are and have a solid understanding of what makes them tick.
Think about what kinds of products or services you’re providing and ask yourself who you want to see using them. Create customer personas to help you dig deep into who your customers are. This way, you can start to build a picture of where your company currently stands and also if there are changes that need to be made.
Who is my Competition?
Next, take the time to research who your main competitors are. Look at what you can learn about what they are doing, what their website and social media presence looks like and what their customer service process is like.
This information is incredibly useful in figuring out how best to position yourself.
Where Do I Currently Sit?
Once you have identified who your competitors are and what they do, you’ll be in a better position to identify where you fit in within the current market, as well as any gaps that you can develop your brand to be able to fill.
Consider what makes you similar to your competitors, as well as identifying what makes you different. Are there any areas that your competitors are less active in that you could capitalise on?
You should also consider your competitors’ different price points and where you would position yourself within that scale.
Incidentally, we have also written a separate article on creating a brand positioning statement, if you want more of a deep-dive into this subject.
What is my Brand Story?
Ask yourself what led to you starting your company and developing your brand.
This is an area of your brand strategy that you can really develop your brand voice and personality. You really want to tell a compelling story that will hook your target customers in and make them want to hang around and spend money on your brand.
What Are my Brand Values?
What matters the most to you and your brand? Are you passionate about sustainable fashion? Maybe you’re focused on diversity matters within the workplace, or you’re keen on promoting green energy. Whatever you’re passionate about, be loud and proud about it!
Apart from helping to set you apart from your competitors, openly promoting your brand values can actually go a long way to building customer loyalty.
What is my Brand Mission?
This is basically your brand mission statement of why your company exists, what your goals are, the purpose of the products or services you offer your customers and how you will deliver on your brand promise.
Your brand mission statement is where you can really highlight what makes you different from your competitors and communicate the value and difference you want to bring to your customers.
What Are My Brand Touchpoints?
Very simply, how will your customers interact with your brand? These days, consumers quite rightly expect there to be more of a two-way communication between themselves and the brands they buy from (or are considering buying from).
Of course, there are so many forms of communication that brands can use to interact with their customers. You will have to consider the following options;
- Social Media
- Live events
- Word of mouth
- Direct mail
- Case studies, interviews and FAQs
How you use these different types of interaction will depend on the products or services your brand offers and, most importantly, your target customer base.
Remember those customer profiles you built? These will be useful in helping guide you in how to best navigate the best touchpoints for your brand.
What is my Brand Messaging?
This is where you get to think about introducing a catchy tagline to your brand.
Of course, that is easier said than done. Your brand messaging needs to be able to communicate to the world your brand values, mission and story, as well as indicating what sets you apart from your competitors.
Consider the brand messaging of some of the world’s leading brands;
- “Just Do It”
- “I’m Lovin’ It”
- ‘Because You’re Worth It”
Chances are, I don’t need to tell you who those taglines belong to as they’ve become so synonymous with their brands. But as well as being short and catchy, they also communicate the value and position of their brand.
Your brand messaging should be consistent and be able to speak across multiple audiences, from potential customers to potential influencers and partner brands.
What is my Brand Tone of Voice?
Your brand tone of voice is basically your writing style across your brand touchpoints.
Again, consider your target audience when developing your brand voice. For example, if your target demographic is mainly the elderly, your tone of voice will be completely different to if your brand was aimed at Gen Z fashion enthusiasts.
And remember, consistency is key!
Defining Your Brand Identity
This is where we get into the fun stuff of creating your brand logo and colour palette!
Of course, creating a logo brand sounds a lot easier that it is. There is a lot of thought that needs to be put into making sure that the finished product is perfect for your brand identity and hits all the marks needed to be implemented successfully.
Building your brand identity can be easily broken down into a series of steps to follow.
We take a more in-depth look at creating brand guidelines here but the short and sweet version goes as follows;
- Designing your logo
When designing your brand logo, as well as wanting to make sure that you’re creating something that is clearly representative of your brand, you should also be sure that your logo isn’t going to be generic or too similar to another brand’s logo.
- Logo Variations
Once you have your main logo image designed, it’s time to start considering logo variations. This is simply about ensuring that your logo is fully flexible by having vertical versions of it, as well as versions with or without text.
- Reversed and Single Colour Logo
Another important logo variation to have is a reversed and single colour version as well. This is for if you need to set it again a different colour background or if the logo needs to be photocopied at any point.
- Responsive Logo
Put simply, your logo needs to be viewable on multiple types of screens and devices. This means that you need to ensure that your logo has a responsive design so it is still recognisably yours, even if viewed in a smaller size.
- Logo Spacing
As well as setting how big or small your logo size can be set to, by designing your logo with space padded around it will go a long way to ensuring that your logo never looks overcrowded, which will help make it look sharper and more professional.
Not just about your choice of fonts and how they relate to and compliment each other, your brand typography should also consider the font size, weight, etc for your logo itself, as well as for headlines, subtitles and paragraphs
- Brand Colours
This is basically your brand’s colour palette, which needs to be consistent across your logo, website and all forms of communication and touchpoints. You will need to consider your brand’s primary and secondary colours, as well as web (RGB) and print (CMYK) colours. Naturally, this is in addition to choosing colours that compliment each other!
- Brand Imagery
Consider if you want to use photography or illustrations to help visualise your brand. Whichever you choose, once you have decided on the overall style, it’s important that you are consistent with it from the get-go.
- Brand Stationery
These are how you present your brand on business cards and letterheads. Consider your contact information layout and ensure that they are consistent. You may also want to make a note of your brand’s preferred paper stock and finishes.
- Social Media Assets
Finally, think about how you will appear on social media. As well as your profile picture and header image, consider how you will share content on social media. While brand tone is also at play here, if you are going to be using visual content, it’s good to have preset templates that you can use to ensure brand consistency across all your social media channels.
Brand Management Strategy
By now, you might have noticed a bit of a theme. That being the importance of consistency in your branding. Your brand management strategy should be no exception.
Of course, it’s not just consistency that is important in brand building and management. In fact, when considering brand management, it’s generally a good idea to remember the “three C’s of branding”:
These are just some of the important things to consider when developing your brand management strategy. After all, your management strategy isn’t just about maintaining your brand, it’s also about looking at how you can improve and grow your brand in the long term.
The first part of your brand management strategy, you will have already done a fair bit of already when you first identified who your main competitors are. Of course, business is never static, so you will need to keep abreast of your part of the market regarding your existing competition, as well as any new competition. This way, your brand is less likely to appear outdated.
Brand reputation management is also an important part of your strategy. It helps to know what people are saying about you. As well as letting you know what you are doing right, you can also learn where you are lacking and address it.
Consumers like to feel that they are being listened to, so by actively addressing any criticism and acting upon it, you are more likely to build up customer loyalty.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of brand management is performing regular audits of your brand’s listed products and/or services.
A brand audit is a great way to find out how your brand is performing in relation to your goals and mission statement. You can also use it to find out how customers are interacting with your brand and identify which of your products/services are performing well and which ones could use a little work.
There are several ways you can carry out a brand audit. The first one is to look at your brand analytics. This involves looking at how many visits your website is getting, what your bounce rates are like and finding out how visitors are finding you.
You can also use analytics to check your sales data. This will show you what’s selling well and which products/services are underperforming. Using this data, you will be able to decide if you want to remove it or if the page, product or service needs to be overhauled or given more of a marketing push to get its numbers up.
Customer surveys and reviewing social data will be able to inform you of any changes you need to make as well. For example, if there is significant praise for a product or service that you maybe didn’t initially see as something to put more centre stage, now might be a good time to reshuffle or create a targeted ad campaign around that.
Finally, put what you’ve learned from your brand audit into practice.
A brand campaign is how you get your brand name out in front of a wider audience. It should still be targeted, but you want to make yourself more discoverable.
The first question you need to ask yourself when planning your brand campaign is “what does success look like to me?” Do you ultimately want to see increased sales conversions? What about increased website hits? Or are you looking for more people signing up to a mailing list or following your brand on social media?
You might want to see a combination of the above in response to your brand campaign. It’s entirely possible that you will get spill-over into increasing leads and website traffic. Realistically, however, it’s generally a good idea to focus on one main goal or aspect of your business to build your campaign around.
This way, your campaign can be laser focused and the message clear and concise. Then, once you know who your target audience is and where you will reach them, there is a better chance of good ROI.
Speaking of ROI, let’s talk about budget.
Once you have a clear goal and KPIs in mind for your campaign, it’s time for you to consider what your marketing budget is and how much you’re willing to spend on this campaign.
If you’re just starting out and only have a small budget for your campaign, think about your target customers and where you are more likely to get your brand campaign in front of them. This is where you will want to sink a big chunk of your budget into.
You could also look at free ways to get in front of your target customers – for example, if you sell pet care products, you might be able to get a guest writing spot on a blog or website that your customer demographic is likely to see.
You could also follow hashtags or phrases related to your brand’s products and services on social media and either have something set up to auto-follow anyone that uses these phrases and/or interact with them. I would suggest, however, that you use caution with this, otherwise you might find your brand labelled with a negative image for spamming!
Regardless of if your budget is big or small, remember to stick within your budget.
OK, so you have identified your goals and budget and your campaign is successfully launched. That’s great, but don’t just launch and forget about it.
It’s important that you track how your campaign is performing, especially in comparison to your KPIs. These metrics are hugely important to understanding how people are interacting not only with your campaign, but your brand in general.
For example, if you launched an ad campaign on Instagram, but it’s barely getting any clicks or conversions, maybe you need to retarget your campaign. However, if you’ve run the same ad on Twitter and Facebook with the same target audience, this could be telling you that Instagram isn’t a good platform to reach your target customers.
By tracking and analysing your campaign metrics, you will be able to clearly see what works and what has room for improvement. Tracking a live campaign means you can also redirect your campaign if you find that something isn’t working.
In the long run, compiling and analysing brand campaign data will put you in a better position to improve on future campaigns, as well as your overall brand messages and communications.
Conclusion: The Basics of Branding
So that sums up our guide to the basics of branding.
While having a good logo is undoubtedly a central element of branding, it’s not the entirety of branding. Clarity, character and consistency are also key components.
As well as knowing your customers, you also need to know yourself. Your brand’s voice, values, goals and positioning within your industry.
Lastly, don’t forget to keep an eye on your analytics and competitors so you don’t get left behind.
We offer a full range of branding services, so if you want to find out more about how we can help you, or if you are ready to begin building your brand, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Or, if you’re looking for some branding inspiration, why not take a look at our marketing brief guide or read this article on memorable marketing campaigns next!