The Basics of Branding
The Basics of Branding
What does this critical business term mean and what you can do to establish a brand for your company or products?
Branding is a key aspect of any business, global or local, retail or b2b. An effective brand strategy gives you a huge advantage in ever increasingly competitive markets. But what is the definition of ‘brand’? How does it affect your business?
In its most simple form, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services and it differentiates your offering from your competitors'. Your brand is a tangible reflection of who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.
Are you the innovative non-conformist in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can't be both and you can't be all things to everyone. Who you are should be based, to a certain extent, on who your target customers want and need you to be.
The key stone of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials should all display your logo and communicate your brand.
Brand Strategy & Equity
Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where and how you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your route to market is also part of your brand strategy. And, what you communicate visually and verbally are also part of your brand strategy.
Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity. Brand equity is the added value brought to your company's products and / or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what another identical, unbranded product could command. The most obvious example of this Kellogg’s cornflakes compared to other identical supermarket brands. Because Kellogg’s has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its products and customers are prepared to pay that higher price for them.
The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with the world’s greatest athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it's not just the shoe's features that sell their shoes.
Defining Your Brand
Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time consuming and uncomfortable.
At the very least you need to consider the questions below:-
- What are your company's goals?
- What are the key benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and potential customers already think of your company and / or products?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company and / or products?
Defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complicated. Consider consulting a specialist ‘branding’ agency to advise you on how to create and establish your brand.
Once you've defined your brand, the next step is to get it out there!
Here are a few simple, time tested tips:
Create a great logo. Use it everywhere!
- Write down your brand essentials. What are the key brand messages you want to communicate? All your employees should be aware of your brand attributes.
- Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business including how you answer your phones, how your employees dress when attending meetings with clients, your e-mail signature, quotes, invoices; …..everything.
- Create a "tone of voice" for your company that reflects your brand. This ‘tone of voice’ should be used in all written communication. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Are you an expert in your field? Sound like one. You get the idea.
- Create a strapline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. Make sure it is easily understandable and recognisable.
- Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same colour palette, logo positioning, look and feel throughout. Consistency is key!
- Be true to your brand. Customers won't return to you or refer you to someone else if you don't deliver on your brand promise!
- Be consistent. Consistency involves all the above and is the most important tip in this list. If you can't be consistent, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.
At after.marketing, we are experienced brand experts with a proven track record of successfully helping business define their companies and products giving them a unique identity and helping them to stand out from the crowd. Your business is unique, so are we.