Put simply, branding is what differentiates your company or product from its competitors. With a market already heavily saturated and filling up by the day, it’s never been more important to make your mark and create a lasting impression that will make customers want to come back to you. Without branding, there’d be no meaningful way of distinguishing one brand from another.
Effective branding is key to creating loyalty and retaining customers. It means that consumers know what they can expect from you, what you believe in and how you will deliver. Keeping your brand identity consistent across all customer touchpoints – logo, website, products, social platforms – offers a sense of familiarity. Human nature suggests that we’re more likely to trust someone we know than a stranger, and it’s the same with the products we buy and the brands they belong to. Studies show that consistent brand presentation across all touchpoints increases revenue up by 23%, proving that branding can maximise your sales by nearly a quarter.
The power of branding isn’t just evident in profit margins, the true signifier is in a brand that lasts. Think Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Toyota, Disney and Nike. Brands that have been around long enough to create such a strong impression that you can automatically picture their logos in your head. You can instantly summon up their straplines and ad campaigns. You could probably even guess what they believe their values to be. These brands have formed solid foundations based on iconic marketing, high standards of customer service and quality, consistent products – things your brand should always be striving for. The mark of truly successful branding is a lasting, positive impression.
Discover our top branding tips to apply to your business today to help you attract and retain customers.
Big name brands aren’t built overnight. Results take time, and each step to get there is carefully crafted with purpose and research to support. The first step is to identify who your brand is. Who do your customers see when they interact with you? Shaping your business profile is vital as it’s not only going to be the foundation of your branding, but it’ll be stressed at every touchpoint. Your brand’s identity should be a personification of your company’s ethos. First impressions are crucial, so your brand’s personality is the perfect place to highlight your strengths and show off what makes you different.
1.What are your strengths?
Plenty of brands have strong marketing and good products, so what sets you apart from the pack? How can you do what they do, but better? Your mission statement and promise to your customers will be the unique selling point that they’re looking for.
2. What does your brand do well?
In what areas does your brand shine? Hopefully all, right? If you simply list all of the areas that your brand excels in, customers probably won’t believe you. It’s down to you to show them instead of telling them. Prove that you have the means to provide them with everything that they need, as well as the aftercare and follow-up support that they might require.
3. What does your brand do differently?
Find that thing that’s going to make your audience want to choose you over somebody else. In today’s economy, price is a deciding factor that can be hard to overcome. But for many brands, price isn’t the point. So what’s your ace in the hole that’s going to be powerful enough to sway customers away from your lowest cost competitor? Whether it’s convenience, quality or confidence, you’ve got to make sure that it can stand up and stand out from your rivals.
4. What does your brand stand for?
“Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”
— Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
Your brand messaging needs to be strong enough to represent your values, even when you’re not physically present.
Identifying your audience
Your next question should be, “who are you trying to sell to?” Identifying your audience means you can target them specifically with techniques that are more likely to lead to conversions. Your brand must resonate with your customers in order to gain trust and relevance, so scoping out your target audience is one of the most important preparatory steps in building your brand.
5. Who are they?
Audience research will be your first port of call. Whether you turn to surveys and questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, or keeping an eye on your competitor’s target demographic, you should always be working on building a profile of who your brand will be appealing to. Collecting as much information about them will give you a fuller persona to work with, making it easier to figure out what makes them tick.
6. What are their interests?
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself”
— Peter Drucker, Business Consultant, Educator and Author
If you want to capture your audience’s attention, you need to know how. Once you’ve identified who your audience is, you need to work on building that profile to include their behaviour patterns and interests and dislikes. Dig deep to uncover what their needs are.
7. Why do they need you?
You don’t need to be best friends with your audience, they just need to need you. After you’ve discovered what problems they suffer from, you can begin to work on how you’re going to resolve them. Formulating a solution for their troubles is exactly why your audience needs you.
Identifying your space
You’ve figured out who you are and who your audience is, so where exactly do you fit? Carving out a spot in the market is easier said than done, but once you’ve achieved it, you’ve got a solid foundation on which you can begin to grow your brand.
8. What does the market look like?
Your audience isn’t the only demographic you need to get close to. Getting under the skin of your competitors will give you a good idea of what environment you’ll be working in. Familiarise yourself with the way the market behaves and how your audience responds to that behaviour.
9. How will you fit into it?
Make an impact to make yourself known. From offline methods like hosting events to online marketing techniques, building out your community will enable you to carve out a space in the market.
10. Where is the niche you will fill?
“Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.”
– Brian Chesky, co-founder of Airbnb
Your niche is the making of your brand. Your brand should stand out from your competitors and be something that your audience cannot get from anyone else. In what way can your brand help customers achieve success? Find your brand and you’ll find your niche.
11. How are you going to do it better than the others?
Why should your audience pick you over your competitors? If the answer’s not because you provide a more relevant, cost effective or quality service, you may need to rethink your goals. Scope out your competition and see if you can identify the gaps in their service that you can fulfil.
Creating a look and feel
The appearance of your brand can give the biggest and most lasting impression. Logos, colour palette and typography are crucial to forming a distinct image that consumers will be able to identify with ease. These creative elements should be based on a brand guideline that dictates any future visuals that your brand will produce. Consistency is key when it comes to your brand image, so once these elements are set you’ve got to stick to them. You want to make it easy and instantaneous for people to spot you.
12. What do your peers do well?
In need of some inspiration? Take a look at the brands that are nailing their creative and pinpoint what exactly makes then so successful. It’s not about taking their ideas, it’s about being inspired to create your own.
13. What do your peers do poorly?
Never a failure, always a lesson learnt. Sometimes we can learn more from where it all went wrong.
14. What makes you different?
“If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s for you”
– David Brier, entrepreneur and author
You want to make sure that your audience doesn’t confuse your brand with another. Make it distinct and easy to spot, even at a glance.
15. What’s your tone of voice?
If your brand were to speak, how would it sound? Your tone of voice will be how your brand communicates, so make sure it can capture audiences and retain customers. Your tone of voice should reflect the nature of your brand, whether that be welcoming, nurturing, friendly, or edgey, and above all else, it needs to be consistent.
Getting your name out there
You didn’t create a look and feel for your brand for it to sit and wait for customers to come to you. No, you have to go out and actively market to your audience and make them want to shop with you. The thrill is part of the chase after all. When it comes to marketing, being customer-focused is key. All of your advertising should be in response to your customers’ wants, needs and emotions. Your aim is to make your audience feel something that they can remember you by.
16. How to amplify your brand
When you get to this stage, you’ve already done a lot of the hard work already. All of the audience research that you’ve carried out can and should be applied to your marketing strategy to get the best results. Along with consumer behaviour and interests, you need to set goals to work towards and decide on which channels are best suited to advertising towards your target audience. Whether you decide to market inhouse or hire an external company to do it for you, you still need to set up the groundwork for your campaigns.
17. Where to amplify your brand
Whether you implement online or offline methods completely depends on your audience. Age, location, behaviour and interests are all factors into which channels will work best for you. Offline marketing – any media channel that doesn’t require an internet connection to run – is made up of radio, print, television, networking,direct mail, cold calling and word of mouth to name a few. Online marketing, or digital marketing, uses the internet to advertise to an audience. This may be through paid ads, organic social, search engine optimisation, email campaigns or video marketing.
Offline and online marketing each have their own drawbacks, but online marketing tends to be a more stable choice for SME businesses as it is more measurable, can provide long-term results and has the capability to target specific demographics. Digital marketing methods tend to offer a better return on investment and are more cost effective as you can manage your budget in a regular and moderated way.
18. When to amplify your brand
“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”
– Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company
There’s no peak and off peak times to advertise for maximum conversions. Marketing is a long-term investment that needs to be nurtured constantly in order to produce consistent and visible results. You should always be refreshing your marketing strategy to remain reactive and relevant.
The relationship between branding and advertising
Branding and advertising are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but it’s important to know the differences between the two in order to succeed. Branding represents your company, whereas advertising is the way that you put your company out there. Strong branding enables your customers to identify you, while strong advertising means that you’re reaching a large target market and creating meaningful connections and conversions.
19. Branding must always be at the core
Whatever your marketing methods, they must always channel the core beliefs of your company. Your customers should be able to identify you at every touchpoint, marketing included.
20. Advertising must reflect the branding
If your branding is lost or not consistent, your advertising becomes redundant as consumer’s won’t know what company the marketing they’re being served is for. Greater companies have fallen because their marketing has wandered wildy off brand.