Branding: What to Think About & What Works
You probably hear the term used all the time. Whether it’s ‘big brands’ and their latest products, the lucrative ‘personal brands’ of celebrities and influencers or a new and exciting brand that is changing the game – brands are all around us. But what actually is a brand? What do we mean by the term ‘branding’? And what should we be thinking about and doing when building our own business brands? In this article, we answer all these questions.
What is Branding?
Your brand is everything.
We don’t mean this in a ‘branding should be your one and only concern’ way, but more in a way that highlights how EVERYTHING you do as a company will impact your brand. From how you pick up the phone and how your office is maintained to how your products work and are packaged – it all contributes to how your customers see your brand.
A brand is often mistaken as a set of brand assets such as your logo, the colours you use in marketing and your website. Of course, these do play a crucial part in communicating your brand to customers, but your brand is in fact so much more. Your brand is how your customer sees your business and your products as a result of their experiences and interaction with you.
For example, a business may have a super sleek logo and website, but if their products are known for falling apart or their customer service is known to be poor, it doesn’t mean they have a ‘luxurious brand’. Rather that business will be known for having a poor-quality brand with rather bizarre, mismatching marketing materials.
What to Think About
There is a lot to think about when it comes to running a successful brand. Below we outline some of the most common areas that should be considered when developing a brand.
Your brand identity is the look and feel of your brand. Ultimately, your brand identity is what a customer experiences every time they interact with your business. For example, this could include:
- The look and feel of your logo
- How your website works
- The colours and wording you use in your marketing materials
- How customer service representatives interact with customers.
Unsurprisingly, brand awareness refers to exactly how aware your target audience are of your brand. Good brand awareness can lead to your brand becoming synonymous with your product, a few examples include:
- Vacuum Cleaner – Hoover
- Tissues – Kleenex
- Lip Balm – Chapstick
- Hot Tub – Jacuzzi
Even when a brand is not synonymous with a product, good brand awareness can also lead to it being ‘front of mind’ when a product is mentioned. Some common examples include:
- Fast Food – McDonald’s
- Mobile Phone – Apple
- Chocolate Spread – Nutella
- Trainers – Nike or Adidas
Brand trust is ever increasing in importance. This is especially true as the spread of information becomes faster due to social networks.
Brand trust can be earned simply by delivering on your promises and meeting common expectations. For example, if you offer a cheap and cheerful product your customers will expect to pay little but receive a no-frills option. On the other hand, if you sell yourself as luxurious your customers will expect to pay more in exchange for higher quality products.
Trust in a brand can be negatively impacted when a company is found to be dishonest. One good example of this is when automotive brand Volkswagon was found to be fitting their vehicles with devices to cheat emissions tests. This resulted in a massive dip in trust in the brand, which has reportedly led to a dip of over 20% in company profits.
What Works in Branding?
The scope of branding is vast. However, executing a few simple tasks can have a vast and positive impact on the value of your brand. We cover these steps in some detail below.
Set a Clear Vision
What’s the point of your business? No really. Why do you and your colleagues get up every day and put in the hard work? If the only answer you could think of was ‘to get paid’ – you might be in trouble.
Great brands have clear visions that go way beyond making money. These statements are powerful for several reasons, including:
- Motivating employees by allowing them to buy into a joint purpose
- Helping make fast business decisions that align with the vision
- Helping investors understand the brand direction
- Allowing customers to buy from a brand with a purpose they align with
A brand vision can be described as a somewhat lofty statement that describes what a brand is ultimately working towards. Unlike a mission statement (also important) which is usually quantifiable, a vision statement is usually highly inspirations and occasionally abstract in nature. A few good examples of vision statements include:
Disney – “To make people happy.”
IKEA – “Create better everyday lives for as many people as possible.”
Zoom – “Video communications empowering people to accomplish more.”
Define Key Values
If a brand vision statement is a business’ ultimate goal, then a brands values are the self-imposed guidelines they will play within to achieve that goal. These guidelines aren’t specific, such as ‘all employees will be in the office by 8 AM’. Instead, they offer general and ethical guidance for all business decisions and actions to be measured against. A few examples include:
- To always take the most environmentally friendly option when financially viable
- To make every decision based on a goal to better serve the customer
- To think big and apply innovation to every challenge
- To hire the best people possible and then leave them to do what they do best
Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is possibly the most powerful thing you can do when looking to create a strong and valuable brand. Taking the time to research your audience will help you tailor your messaging and marketing materials to ensure you are communicating with your audience well.
Once you have researched your audience it can be a good idea to creator ‘buyer personas’. These personas are fictional individuals who are based on your key audience metrics (location, age, gender, interests) and offer you a go-to point of reference when making business decisions.
Develop Brand Guidelines
Finally, developing and distributing a comprehensive set of brand guidelines is crucial to ensuring consistency across your business. These guidelines can contain anything such as rules on colours and logo usage to customer service information.
Branding is a vast subject and can be a little daunting. However, by taking a little time to think about your branding and applying some best practices you can have a big impact on brand success. Use the tips in this guide to become ‘brand aware’ and take your brand value to the next level. To find out more about the companies we’ve helped with their branding, check out our Java Bean Case Study or Contact Us today!