The essential elements to creating a great brand are purpose, understanding and positioning
Your brand is one of the most enduring aspects of your company. It is used to differentiate you from your competitors in a busy marketplace and attract the attention of potential customers. A brand that is well developed will not only attract attention but become a platform for your brand personality to be projected from.
Enduring companies understand how the concept of ‘branding’ is central to your business functionality. It isn’t a logo or type font, a brand is the culmination of the values, goals and community of your company. Your brand is your voice, and if well established, it can solidify your company in social consciousness.
What is branding?
A brand is the promise of an experience that has been created through the sum of various elements:
- Brand personality
- Visual elements
Creating your brand should be a long process of research and analysis. There is much to consider, from the business name to the colours you choose, each element must have a reason and be working towards the ultimate communication of your business to your audience.
Advantages of branding
Branding is a way to create a clear identity that separates you from your competitors. A clear brand will communicate with your target audience in a clear and concise manner. This can lead to tribe identity with your brand, which is great for customer loyalty and brand growth.
Your business direction
A brand gives your business a sense of purpose and can guide your business decisions in the interests of customers. The decisions that you make and the directions you choose can reinforce or undermine your company values.
Stating what your business values are, like ‘we want to be the no. 1 paper supplier in western Europe’, will guide your decisions.
Your business growth
A brand provides a template for growth. Your brand is the embodiment of your core values, so changes to products or services don’t change your brand but fold into your overall message. Your brand provides consistency for your customers when you are choosing to expand and lends a sense of security to your business operations expanding into new markets.
Your customer base
Your brand is the foundation that attracts a loyal customer base. If you have developed a brand with clear intentions you will ask yourself at every message, ‘what does this tell my customers?’ and with that, you will focus your message and communicate with clear intent. Customers have confidence in consistency.
Your business reputation
Your brand gives you the ability to stand out from the crowd, particularly in competitive markets. How well you deliver on your brand promises ensure that every part of your business reflects your brand message and determines your reputation. A good reputation is one of the most valuable assets a business can have, but it needs to be created, nurtured and developed to be real.
Your customer communications
Every customer touchpoint with your business should enforce your brand values. The way that your employees interact with your customers should be consistent and reflect your values, your brand should be felt rather than displayed, and should invite customers to identify with your brand.
What to consider when creating a brand
Creating your lame and logo is a timely research task, however, it should not be the sole focus of your brand development. To create a well-rounded brand with the appeal you need to also consider the following elements before committing to any ideas.
Your core values
All your employees, all your products or services, all your communications – every aspect of your business should be based on your core values. It should be plain to see from the outside what your business represents. It is easier to observe a value than to try and enforce one.
For example, if you are selling ball bearings for machine manufacturers and your team does an exceptional job of being attentive and friendly in all interactions, your core value might be customers first.
However, if you are promoting yourself as service-oriented, but your customer feedback suggests your company is flippant and disconnected, you have failed to understand and find your core value. This brand dissonance can have detrimental effects on your business. Brand dissonance reads as insincere and can have people questioning the motives of your company, so it is important to get it right.
Find your value rather than trying to manufacture one.
What feeling is your product or service going to give the consumer? Your product or service fills a need or a desire, or even both.
Understanding your audience is key. Your customer persona – the type of customer that is your target audience – will help you understand what it is that you want to communicate. Identify the age, gender, education, background, interests, socio-economic status and employment type of your customer. You can create more than one customer persona, and then understand the common thread and refine your target audience.
This understanding becomes the basis for your mission statement. Your mission statement should reflect the vision, culture and goals of your company. It should capture the feelings you want your customer to have on their buying journey. It should be the basis for what your company stands for.
In B2B, this is often overlooked as an essential step in branding. However, those B2B companies that do take the time to build a brand are also the companies that are well-known in their respective industries.
By writing an evocative mission statement, you are then able to connect. In commercial branding there are three parts to writing a mission statement:
- Key market: the target audience.
- Contribution: the product or service.
- Distinction: what makes the product unique or why the audience should buy it over another.
A clear and consistent brand message
Your message needs to be easily understood and unchanging. If you step back and imagine that you know nothing about your company, what would you want to know?
What is your business operation?
How does it solve my questions?
What can I expect as a customer?
If you can tell people clearly what you stand for, they can make faster decisions about if your business is going to solve their pain points. For example:
Levis: Quality never goes out of style.
The message is simple. Levis has made its name synonymous with jeans, fashion and quality. The tagline works on the emotions with every single word. Reading the tagline, you would instantly know that Levis is about fashion, even if you had never heard of the brand. It speaks of its longevity in the industry, commitment to its products and trends, and encourages consumers to want to identify with the label.
Know your customer
You need to be certain of who your customer is so that you have a basis from which to build your brand strategy. You do not need to answer the needs of all people, and trying to do so will dilute your message. Confirm your customer persona and target your brand at that ideal customer.
Brand positioning and promise
Brand positioning refers to how your brand is perceived in the marketplace when compared with other brands selling the same thing. You need to be sure of who your competition is and how you stack up, then be consistent with your message.
Your brand promise addresses customers’ expectations about a product or service. For example;
Bunnings Warehouse: where low prices are just the beginning.
The promise is to offer more at a lower price than the competition.
Authenticity matters. Social media means that your exposure, and potential exposure, requires that you answer customers in a genuine manner. Do not try to manufacture a brand. Instead, examine the elements that you have and let the information inform your brand strategy.
If you have a great product, but your employees are not great at socialisation and customer interaction, allow yourself to lean into it a little. Be the company that says something like: we don’t speak much because we are really listening. Use your unique qualities to inform your choices, rather than force your business to conform to an imagined ideal.
Creating brand elements (logo, name…)
So now you know what to look for within your company to pull together a brand, it is time to manufacture the elements. From your business name to your font choice, putting together the image that will represent your brand should be grounded in research, and not informed by whimsy or personal preference.
It can be:
- descriptive (Toys R Us or Burger King)
- a name that means nothing (Starbucks and Apple)
Your brand name is very important. People will read it and make assumptions straight away. There are some methods you can use to create the perfect name:
- Use metaphors, but avoid cliches
- Humour or a play on words can help your business stand out but avoid deliberate misspellings
- Create your name from a story about your business, but don’t be too obscure
You’ll also need to bear in mind that your business name will dictate which Web domain you can register and your trademark if applicable. Be flexible with your business name, or be prepared to spend a lot on advertising to promote your brand.
Your logo needs to be eye-catching, and if possible, can be used in place of your brand name. The London Underground symbol, Mcdonalds’ golden arches and the ‘B’ of Bose are all successful logos.
Having a graphic designer create an identity for your brand is important. Designers understand:
- how to communicate through imagery and color
- how to create proportions and balance
Creating brand assets and marketing materials
Once you’ve created all the elements of your brand, you can start to put them together to create a whole picture. Your website, stationary, letterhead, uniforms and even office interior should be representative of your brand.
Your brand, by this point, should start to feel like its own entity. Your team should be able to understand all the elements and feel that they are representative of the company that they work for. All your materials should be emblazoned with your brand so that you never miss an opportunity to connect with customers. Your social media should include your logo, your tagline, your mission statement and all the elements of your brand in one cohesive message as well.
Register your brand
Trademark your brand in every country that you intend on using it, even if you have not yet expanded into that territory. Then create a schedule so that you know when trademark registrations are about to expire, so that you can continue to protect your brand.
This is vital to the success of your brand long term. In some cases, larger companies have tried to force smaller businesses to change their brand or name when they have wanted to enter a market. In Australia, a burger restaurant called Burger king had been operational and registered for many years. When the American giant wanted to operate in the country, they attempted to force the Australian business to change its name. The small company won the case and the American giant was forced to rebrand in Australia as Hungry Jacks.
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