Branding a business is a good investment that could take your growth to new heights if done correctly. With this in mind, business owners would often enthusiastically come up with their ideas for building their brand, and would prefer to do so on their own because it is much more personal and they have more control over the final design. It is an admirable thing to do, for sure, but building a successful brand is more than just making up catchy slogans, unique logos, and all that. It is a whole process of research, timed execution, and consistent messaging for your branding. Moreover, building a brand strategy isn’t just for the products, or services, you could also brand your company, and you as an employer as well.
This is why successful companies refer to branding experts to take care of this, as it would take time and effort away from other critical parts of running a successful business, something that executives should take care of instead.
If you are stuck in a loop in building your brand on your own, don’t worry, this guide will tell you all things brand building that you need to know to effectively brand your business.
Let’s get started!
What is a Brand Anyway?
If you hear the word ‘brand’, you see yourself imagining the logos, the mottos, and the mojos in how businesses present themselves. A brand can manifest through visual presentation, or in your communication. While it is expected that we associate the brand with the products or services themselves, a brand can also be introduced on some things like:
- Employer Brand - branding yourself as a business owner.
- Personal Brand - branding yourself as an individual.
- Retail Brand - branding a physical establishment/store.
- Corporate Brand - branding the workplace.
- Cultural/Geographical Brand - branding business with adjacency to a culture or geography.
- Online Brand - branding your online presence.
Choosing what you want to focus on is the initial process of building your brand as it serves as the framework for the following strategies. Companies can do branding in many aspects, but the key factor in doing so is consistency.
For instance, the e-commerce brand ASOS states in its mission statement that it aims to ‘become the world’s number one destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings’.’ Thus, its social media content conveys youthful and engaging themes and messages to attract younger audiences.
Why is it important to Brand your Business Effectively?
All business owners have a shot at building their own brand and may have already done so unintendedly. For example, simply posting a video blog about your B2B business on your social media platforms already imparts a brand to it - people may see how you present yourself: whether you are professional or casual, whether you exude a personality knowledgeable about their B2B industry or not. If left unmanaged, this could leave a lasting mark that could potentially damage the company's image.
This is why branding is an inevitable move in running a business - particularly effective branding.
Here are other reasons why successful companies invest in branding their business:
Stand Out and Get More Recognition
One of the defining goals of branding your business is to be a recognizable brand identity against your competition. Branding experts look for an aspect of your business that sets you apart from the market and capitalize on it and build a brand around it. It could come from how you present your product, services, or the company itself. Clients’ purchasing decisions rely on how trustworthy you are to deliver their expectations and keep true to the values associated with your brand.
Increase Client Loyalty
Building trust in your market is a significant effort, and it takes a one-of-a-kind customer experience and consistency to create an emotional attachment between the customers and brands.
Loyal customers are also willing to share their wonderful experiences with their friends and relatives, which reduces your marketing campaign costs, as you have yourself a set of voluntary marketers and referrals, which then creates more loyal customers, thus snowballing your business growth.
Recruit and Retain Employees
Branding your business doesn’t just save marketing costs, it also reduces your recruitment costs, and a higher salary, for seeking skilled job seekers. According to LinkedIn statistics, more than half of qualified candidates are more likely to choose companies with strong employer branding even without a higher salary. Top-tier talents do their research before applying, and their expertise gives them more options, thus what they seek in a working environment are things like learning opportunities, career development, a pleasant working environment, and a good work-life balance.
Moreover, company branding also gives an image of the employees to be proud of. High morale in the workplace directly translates to better productivity.
How to Brand your Business Effectively?
Effective business branding strategy takes a serious effort and the roadmap to do so is expected to be a long period. Moreover, it also involves maintenance of the brand image, and rebranding must also be on the table, to show that you are willing to adapt, change, and grow with the ever-evolving market.
Here are some key steps in building your business branding strategies:
Research and Identify your Target Audience
A powerful way to start your brand strategy is to identify your target customers. You can set your scope to as many potential customers as possible but doing so incurs a huge investment, and could often turn into a net loss. This is especially crucial for start-ups: you must pinpoint a certain group of people who are most likely going to be your repeat customers and most likely to be loyal to your brand. Doing so allows you to save costs in your marketing campaign and marketing materials and also guarantees ROI. You can specify your target audience a bit more by creating a customer persona: an idealized person who is most likely going to purchase your product or services. Customer personas have the following characteristics:
- Who they are - Not only does it include demographic details like age, gender, and location, but it also includes their interest, purchasing power, lifestyle, etc. You can focus on location if you want to build your brand out of convenience and accessibility. You can focus on age if you want your brand voice to communicate effectively to a certain age demographic.
- Their biggest problem - Supply is created to fill a demand. Target their specific desires and issues and try to seek if you can create a solution for them. You can also start by building your customer persona out of yourself by identifying what frustrates you the most as a person, and see if there is a group of people out there that feel the same way just like you.
- Why they chose you over others - Expect that every niche already has a market that serves them. Branding experts look for a certain angle in your customer persona and target it to separate you from your competitors. Certain aspects of branding your business can range from, specific advocacy, exceptional customer experience, and free services - all depending on what the customer persona is looking for.
You can also apply these factors to identify your employee persona if you're building your employer brand.
Research for Market Trends
If you are stuck in the building of your brand, especially if you don't know where to start, you can also gather some insight yourself by looking for market trends. These are some of the factors in checking the movement of the competitive market:
- If the existing customers already have established brands they are loyal to.
- Factors that influence the purchasing decision of your target market.
- What makes up the market and its challenges?
- An unaddressed niche that could turn into a selling opportunity.
- How people see the pricing of your product and services.
The nature of your market research depends on the business brand that you want to build. If it's effective product branding, the key analysis that you may want to do is to set up competitive research to see what guides your customers to purchase a product. If you are setting up employer branding, a good way to start is implementing employee surveys to see if there is consistency in the company values and branding of your company. If your focus is on retail branding, offline and online, a good way to refine your branding strategy is to ask for customer reviews when they visit your site or store.
Set your Brand Mission and Core Values
A strong brand is anchored on a powerful mission statement and core values. Defined by the analysis you’ve made from your buyer personas and market trends, you must also assert a statement to the public about the core values that best embody your business brand identity. The brand positioning must be clear, simple, and direct to the point.
Here are the 3 types of core values that you have to make:
- Brand Mission - this is a statement of why your business appears in the first place. You can define what sets you apart from your competitors and what problems you seek to solve.
- Brand Vision - this is the statement of how you see the future of your company and things that you have to accomplish through time
- Brand Values - the set of standards that you impose and uphold to keep true and consistent with your brand mission and vision.
This serves as your framework for your decision-making in building your brand. If you have already set it up, the key point that you must commit to your brand guidelines is consistency. You don’t want your audience to feel alienated. However, trends may also compel you to rebrand your business and this plan of action must be on the table - you also need to tell your market that you are willing to adapt and grow as a business.
Pick your Brand Focus and Brand Personality
As was discussed in identifying your target customers, audience, and market trends, is to determine the specific customer need that you want to focus on. Creating a brand promise will save you time and money when you can determine the core group that is most likely going to take interest in your business brand.
You can start by creating your value proposition and incorporating this statement into your branding strategy. Determine what aspect should only be unique to your brand. You can start with specific products or services, advocating for movements, or learning opportunities that your employees can enjoy when they work with you.
Another to consider afterward is your brand personality. This must be the identifiable and relatable human image that serves as the front of your transactions and communication that you want to assert in branding your business. Different personalities serve different target markets and identifying what makes you approachable, trustworthy, or professional is a key factor in branding your business.
Here are some examples of brand personalities that you can take note of:
- Sophisticated - this type of brand personality is common to avant-garde branding and mostly came from fashion brands.
- Sincerity and Kindness - this type of brand personality is appropriate for a brand that stands with particular advocacy.
- Athletic - this type of brand personality is brands that focus on outdoor lifestyles, and sports.
- Professional - you can expect this type of brand voice from B2B companies that want to emanate an aura of trustworthiness, industry knowledge, and integrity.
- Humorous - brands that have a sense of humor mostly serve the general public. Casual, relatable, and youthful, this brand voice tends to be seen in social media as a way to relate themselves to their customers and want people to know that they are updated on things like memes and other latest cultural trends.
Design your Brand Look
A Brand’s visual identity is the first thing that people would recognize when you showcase your brand. It is the metaphor, the mascot, and the abstract concept that represents your value proposition properly. Creating a strong brand identity and look depends on your creativity, but it has to resonate well with the core values that you have asserted.
The first thing you can do is create a concept. What is the visual identity of your values? If you have particular advocacy, what is it? Is it environmental? Humanist? How about the lifestyles of your ideal customer - do they love hiking? Self-help? Is your target market a specific age? What about gender?
Once you’ve thought about your concept, create a mood board/brand style guide. Gather all the closest visual signifiers and think of something that unites them. Do they have a consistent color profile (Trees, grass, rural mountains, etc.), metaphors (Lion for courage, an owl for wisdom, raccoon for cunning, etc.)? While color schemes and symbols aren’t exactly based on science, you can observe that they often present a consistent meaning. Creating a mood board can also be used to determine what fonts you want to use.
Creating a brand's logo is also important, and what type you use depends on how consistent it is with your core values. You can choose from these types of logo designs:
- Abstract symbol
It must also depend on a brand personality. But doing so must adhere to the company's core values.
Create a Brand Story
Every business has its own unique story that touches its brand identity. It is essentially the “why” of your company.
Here are some examples that you can use for your brand story:
- The inception of the company and what is the driving force behind building it.
- A relatable story of a problem that the business owner has faced before, and set themselves to solve it not just for themselves but for their target audience.
- A customer’s special story about the product reflects the brand's promise.
- If you are rebranding, it could be a story on why you had to change.
Remember, building your brand story must focus not only on profit but on your value as a brand. The bottom line for brand recognition is that you offer something unique and memorable to the market.
Integrate Your Brand across all your Business
A well-thought brand is meant to be shared. To establish your brand image, it is crucial that your brand logo must be present on your website and your brand voice must represent how you communicate your statement. Here are some other channels that you can leverage in showcasing your brand assets:
- Online store
- Social Media platforms
- Marketing campaigns
- Email marketing
- Corporate communication
Branding must be consistent
Consistency is key to creating a strong brand. You must leave a memorable impression on your target audience. Your customers should know you based on the established brand identity in your consistent branding. When managing your brand, stay true to your brand style guide for your branding elements and marketing materials to increase brand awareness. When you are consistent with your branding, it builds familiarity and loyalty with your target audience.
Successful branding of your business takes a serious effort and the return on investment might take longer than you wish. This is something that you have to expect. But doing so not just showcases yourself with a unique identity, but also can save costs in your operations.
Invest in building your brand today! Branding your business is one of the key factors in business growth and savings. If you are interested in learning more about what we do in Evolv for your branding and brand management needs, check out our resources and learn to start creating a powerful branding process today!