Whether a business is large or small, each is going to encounter a variety of challenges along the way, but one of the most common challenges is building that solid-as-a-rock presence we as consumers all recognize in the brands we trust.
It’s easy to say that brand strength is dependent on quality products and services, but quality means different things to different people, and persuading audiences to take a chance on your business means building trust. Without first establishing credibility in our digital world, even a great product can fail to reach the people who would benefit from it the most, potentially stunting future business as a result.
What Is a Brand?
While people are highly visual in terms of how we process and retain information, effective brands go far beyond logos and other visual symbols. Any way a business interacts with the public is a piece of the larger whole about who they are to audiences and consumers.
Everything a business expresses is affiliated with public perception of that business, which can benefit or stunt growth. Great branding is often the result of business owners gaining insight into the values and preferences of their audience.
Your Brand Is Your Most Valuable Asset
Brands are effectively shorthands the wider public associates with specific companies. It’s essential that the perception of your business is understood in somewhat granular terms. A business’s brand is, in many ways, the sum of its observable parts, including the logo, icon, public-facing leadership, slogan(s), mission statement, and presence online. Consistency in image and communication (along with quality products and services) is the difference between a one-time purchase and a lifetime customer.
How to Build a Solid Brand
Whether you’re just starting out with a new business or growing an established brand, piquing and maintaining your audience’s interest is important to stand out from the crowd. The tips below are among the strongest ways to kickstart your company’s brand:
Understand Your Target Audience:
Identify your audience by creating an audience profile, usually a specific group of customers based on variables — like gender, income level, lifestyle, and personality — who are likely to respond favorably to your primary products and promotional efforts. If your products, services, and marketing match what your audience is searching for, you’ll likely gain a new customer. Targeting just everyone will make it harder for your business to feel memorable.
Research Your Competitors:
When you have a good grasp on how your audience views your brand, it’s a fine time to start researching your competitors. Understanding how your competitors appeal to their customers allows you to understand what they’re doing right and where your business might fill a need they’re missing. Keeping an eye on both direct and indirect competitors will give you a more thorough picture of strengths and weaknesses. This way of thinking provides a more objective view of the marketplace for the purpose of discovering opportunities that others may not have considered.
Write Your Positioning Statement:
An effective positioning statement is short and sweet, describing your target market in addition to an engaging view of how you would like that audience to perceive your brand. Though it is typically designed for internal purposes for your business, each service and related marketing decision that supports your brand should run in tandem with your positioning statement’s overall goals. A good positioning statement guides your brand’s more publicly visible efforts toward specific customer needs.
Define Your Value Proposition:
Determining your value proposition starts with figuring out the reasons customers should choose your business over competitors. Similar to a mission statement, the value proposition introduces your company’s brand to purchasers by informing them about what the business stands for, how it functions, and why it deserves their time and attention.
Design Your Logo:
A brand’s logo is often mistakenly thought of as the brand itself, but it’s an integral piece of it that symbolizes your business. Customers perceive logos as the most memorable aspects of a brand, so a visually appealing and thematically significant logo helps customers remember what your business is about in order to help spread recognition.
Set Your Visual Brand:
Visual branding is the process of visually communicating a business’s values and sense of character. The goal of a visual brand makes an emotional relationship between the brand and its audience through text fonts, geometric designs, and other observable aesthetic features of a company’s website and logo. Once defined, making a style guide is especially helpful toward maintaining the design principles of a visual brand for consistency.
Define Your Messaging Tone & Voice:
Impactful messaging that accurately represents your business is typically the result of well-designed tone and voice. Your business’s communicative tone symbolizes its character and values. This applies to each piece of content you offer, including social media posts, more traditional advertising, communication by emails, and more. Your business’s voice is the perceived culmination of these features by your brand’s audience across the channels of communication they use.
Activate Your Brand:
Brand activation refers to both the external and internal engagement with your business’s employees and customer audiences. Internally, your company’s board members and executives will need strong reasons to embrace your brand and all its moving parts by appealing to their own interests as consumers and practitioners of it. Externally, more established channels of marketing and public relation strategies help get the word out about what your brand has to offer.
The Bottom Line on Branding
Building a great brand takes time and consistency.
Understanding who your customers are, where they’re coming from, and why they’re interested in the first place will help guide your branding decisions. Additionally, it’s important not to ignore competitors, and learn from their successes and mistakes when it comes to establishing a brand.
For more insight into the inner workings of effective branding and the business world at large, take a look at these other blog articles from Brian France.