When considering ‘what is a brand?' one of the most common perceptions is that it's a company's name, logo and product.
The word ‘brand’ is often a grey description that rolls off the tongue when deciding which font to use for your next marketing campaign.
But it's so much more than that. In fact, branding is at the core of most, if not all, successful businesses.
What is a brand?
Your brand is the perception that people get when they think of your business.
Yes, I know! Still grey, right?
That's because your brand is subjective. Your job is to put the right elements in place for your target market to have thoughts and feelings about you which will help you sell your product or service.
Your brand can be corporate; it can be cheeky, it can be fun! Your brand should be present in every social media post, product release, and blog you publish – you can decide what you want your brand to be; it is your businesses' personality, and it’s up to you to create it!
So now you know it's more than just a logo; the all-important question is ‘how do you create a brand?’
Well, that's the next hurdle because you don't create a reputable brand; you build it.
Rome wasn't built in a day and nor is a strong brand. But Rome was built to last, and by following some simple tips – your brand will also stand the test of time.
Here are ten things you need to do to lay those solid foundations on which to build your long-lasting brand.
1) Outline your brand.
To describe your brand in detail, you need to document some relevant information about your business. This is a brainstorming process, so you need to unearth the 'why's and wherefores’' of your business. Here you will identify which specific problems your products solve for the consumer, and recognize how and why you're different to your competitors.
You have already defined your target market and buyer persona in your previous marketing strategy but how you propose to connect with them will be documented here. Are you talking to busy mum's, up-and-coming Millennials, or another group entirely? And more importantly; do you know what they want to hear?
Points to brainstorm:
· Who does your product solve a problem for?
· How do you want people to feel when they think of you?
· What is the specific problem that you're solving, and who for?
Defining your brand can be a complicated, time-consuming process which requires you to understand the needs of your target market thoroughly. It's common for people who aren't experienced to get a little lost at this stage of the process which is where many engage with a freelance branding expert to help them find clarity.
2) Create your logo.
Once you've defined your brand, your next step is to create a logo which talks to your audience. Most designers have brand expertise which will help them achieve outstanding results in this area. Your logo is a visual representation of you, and your target market needs to become familiar with it so that they form an association between your logo and your product. That's only possible through repetition so every image, social media post and every piece of collateral that you publish must have your logo on it. When people become familiar with a logo, it evokes emotion in them every time they see it which brings them back to you every time they have a need that your product can fulfill.
3) Define your tone of voice
The voice you use should match the way your target market wants to be spoken to. Are you selling a product to well-to-do corporates? Or do you want to appeal to academics? Both of those groups require entirely different tones and language, and you need to define this first to make sure that the next stage is of value…
4) Create your company slogan.
Your company slogan is a tagline which is used in all communications that your market will associate with you every time they hear it. It needs to be catchy, concise, relevant, spoken in your voice and appeal to your target market.
5) Create key messages.
Your key messages are a group of central messages about your product and business that you want people to remember. They define the problem your product solves, are a description of the features, and relevant facts and stats about your services. Key messages should be consistently used in your marketing and sales literature and in all communications with the public. As well as your target market, all staff should also be aware of your key messages and should refer to them at every opportunity.
6) Create a style guide.
Your company's style guide is a document which defines everything related to the aesthetics of your collateral. The color scheme, the size of and recommended placement of your logo, text font and size, and anything else that gives a visual representation of your brand. For people to become familiar with your brand and the feelings it instills in them, you need to be consistent on every piece of literature you churn out. The style guide is the document that all staff members will refer to which will guarantee that happens.
7) Be unique.
Your brand is the personality of your business, and it is vital that your companies' personality is as unique as your own. If you try to emulate another successful brand, you won't be seen as genuine which won't engage your market. Truly get down to the core of who your business is, and what you want to convey when creating your brand.
8) Be brave!
If your voice and tone are ‘out there' then go with that. If you water down what your target market want to see and hear because of the risk of offending people or causing controversy you will dilute your messaging, and you won't appeal to anyone! Define your brand and go forth and execute it with bravado.
Your brand promise is the connection between your product, your strategy, your target market, your positioning and your execution; and you need to deliver on this. If you say one thing and do another, your brand is as good as meaningless and it will take years to build. Make sure that everything you do links back to your brand promise.
10) Be consistent.
This is the most important, non-negotiable aspect of creating the building blocks for your brand.
Everything you do must be consistent so that your audience all have the same, flawless experience with you and your company. Consistency refers to everything you do, everything you say and everything you deliver.
Creating the building blocks for your brand is complicated and time-consuming, but it's crucial that you get it right from the outset so that your customers become familiar with you and always come to you when they have a need for your product or service.
Due to the range of elements involved in creating a strong brand, if you don't have experience in this area yourself it's important that you use the skills of someone who does. The success of your business relies on how well your brand is executed so always use the skills of a freelance business advisor or brand specialist if you are in any doubt. They will ensure that your brand strategy is so successful it will carry you on your road to success.