Is a brand just images and jingoism? What makes a brand stick out, and why is that so important? When it comes to building a brand is there a right way or wrong way to do it?
Does it matter when you start your branding, or is it okay to play it by ear?
Creating a good branding strategy seems like a good way to go. You must plan how to develop a solid brand, but it’s not easy to know how to proceed.
You must construct a good road map before you get started.
The elements that go into brand-building must be thought through carefully, and then implemented methodically. You have to identify your target audience, choose a location, then launch and maintain your business. Brand building should be consistently happening throughout this process. Whatever contributes to perceptions about the business must be in compliance with an overall brand strategy and construction.
The Three Pillars Of Building Your Brand
Everyone says they understand the need for branding, but too often brand building is rushed, mishandled, or botched.
Most of the errors come from misunderstandings. Business people and would-be marketers mistake branding for slogans, logos, and sales. While all these elements are an integral part of building a brand, none of them alone is the thing itself.
More importantly, building any of those elements isn’t the same as building your brand. We’ll look at the nature of branding in its own right and list the three pillars needed to build your brand properly.
What Is Branding?
A brand is literally how you are perceived. Everything from thoughts, to visuals and jingles, must work together to create a single impression called your brand. Whatever personality or attitude you decided would constitute your brand must be supported by each individual element. If it doesn’t, the very notion of the brand falls apart.
All businesses, large and small, have a brand. Whether it was created diligently or grew on its own over time, a brand is one of the largest investments a business will ever make. Building a brand isn’t easy. It requires strategy, resources, and follow-through.
A brand is patiently crafted, then nurtured over time. If a brand is strong, its iconography will grow to define the business. The brand’s power – what’s been called ‘brand equity – will strengthen and mature in a symbiotic relationship with the business itself.
Identify A Good Brand Strategy
To begin any journey you must know where you’re going. This is the purpose of having a brand strategy.
Your road map must have properly defined markers to show you your way, and to measure your progress throughout the journey. You must decide what your business will do.
You should choose what you want to sell or what service you will perform. Those choices will help define the nature of your brand. You should examine the landscape of your chosen business and identify a need you can fulfill.
You should determine what would drive you on a daily basis to want to do business and enjoy selling your wares. Answering that question will help you know how to conduct business in your own way. Your brand will then be a reflection of how you choose to operate.
Choosing a name and a logo are two vital parts of a brand strategy. You must decide how the elements will look, as well as when to unveil that look. Color schemes and designs are part of a good brand strategy. How you choose those characteristics, and how you plan to use them will have a lot to do with the type of brand strategy you develop.
After you’ve chosen some basic elements, you must choose a business location. Your brand strategy will be dictated in great part by where you set up shop. You may decide to be strictly online, or also you may have a physical location. Each of those elements has its own place in your brand strategy.
How you unveil aspects of your business on the web won’t be the same as how you do it with ‘bricks and mortar’. Let each step be a strong part of building your brand.
Reveal each element in a way that enhances your business persona. At whatever point you officially launch your business, your brand will go fully before the public eye. Maintain the elements and characteristics of the brand diligently. Review your branding strategy as it unfolds, to judge the level of your success.
Identify Your Audience
While you build your branding strategy you must identify your target audience. Having a product to sell isn’t enough. The essence of any business is knowing which customers will buy your products. Are your customers young or old? Where do they live?
Do they identify with your product ethnically, regionally, or nationally? Think about your target audience with specifics in mind.
Don’t treat them like a cliché or take them for granted. Do enough research to know what your customers really want. Is someone already selling them a product like yours? Are you duplicating a service that’s already in place? When you develop your brand you must have answers to these questions. The way your customers see your products may not be the same way you see them.
Customers may want to have things presented to them in a different way than you have in mind. You must decide if you need to adjust, or if you believe your approach will work regardless. No matter what you finally decide, do so with your audience’s preferences firmly in mind.
Even if you go counter to some of their tastes, knowing their wishes will help you sell your own point of view.
Keep Your Brand Consistent
Nothing works better in business than being reliable and constant. When people know they can count on you, they prefer to do business with you. Your brand should have a sense of familiarity that makes people feel they can trust you. Naysayers often laugh at corporate strictures that demand a company logo be the same color and shape on every object. They think of it as hubris or manufacturing laziness, when in fact it is a sign of integrity. When a customer buys a brand they expect a certain standard. A consistent appearance is one-way businesses let customers know they have the genuine article and can count on genuine quality.
Consistency also means businesses can plan better. When you’re not all over the map, you can deliver a product your customers know will please them on their thousandth purchase just as it did on the first. Your brand should convey that type of guarantee.
This applies to products, advertising, logos, websites, and the rest. Don’t have commercials that scream one day then sing lullabies the next. Your logo shouldn’t be purple on Monday but upside down and green next Thursday. Unless chaos and change are your brand, you’ll only confuse people with wild variances.
Branding is about making people comfortable with doing business with you. Even if your business is about change, your brand should make people feel good about experiencing the unexpected.