I see it all the time. “I have my logo, I’m ready to start.” I hate to break the news, but your brand is about much more than this. Let me explain. Your Brand represents who you are, as a business and as a concept. I’ve capitalized it purely to highlight to you the importance. Your branding is about much more than just your logo. I’m here to tell you what branding is, how to create your brand and why you need to get on top of it so that you can start building a brand strategy that will resonate with people in order to initiate conversions.
THE MEANING OF ‘BRAND’
The word ‘brand’ tends to be propelled from one person to the other, and used in different contexts, often creating confusion around the real meaning behind it. Let’s get this one out the way first – your brand is the attitude and associations a person makes with your company, products or services. It’s as simple as that. The important bit is what you do behind the scenes that constitutes these attached meanings.
The executive from one of the most powerful global brands, Coca-Cola, once stylishly stated “If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.”
The associations that the world has to this company are phenomenal. Their purchases are driven by emotion, attitude and values as a result of the Coca-Cola branding, rather than the the conversion being made by cause of the physical product. It represents being ‘refreshing’ and ‘exciting’ alongside its distinct logo colors and, possibly even, the advert that initiates a bomb of social media posts after high anticipation highlighting that “it’s officially Christmas”. Coca-Cola is a prime example of a company who have created characteristics attached to their product in order to develop a deep meaning, rather than taking the alternative approach and placing a primary focus on hard selling of a fizzy juice.
As demonstrated by Coca-Cola, to have a ‘brand’ will often establish emotional attitudes towards a story or relationship despite what product or service you offer. I’m a firm believer that it is not absolutely necessary for start-ups to be based on a ‘never done before’ concept. If so, great. But effective branding can be so powerful, that it has the potential to create mass success in a highly competitive market place.
RECOGNIZING YOUR BRAND
The number one thing to recognize in the modern world when creating a brand strategy is the growth in digital marketing and the power of online speech from the public. The combination of the two has ultimately affected the way many brands are perceived, and ultimately can be a primary influencer on your own brand. Encouragement to ensure a strategy is in place that allows you to take your brand online will always be given.
Before the design phase commences, firstly ensure you understand the fundamentals of what your brand should achieve within your industry, market place and in your market position.
Your brand should add value to your audience. When supporting my clients, I often source the perks associated and the barriers overcome from their brand and continue to build the brand strategy around these elements in order to ensure the audience is aware of the value. Ensuring the audience become familiar with that the company stands for and what it achieves is a key component to your branding.
Do you create a feeling of excitement, relaxation, relief or convenience? This list goes on!
What do you really stand for right at the very core of your business?
Most importantly, your brand should also easily connect with people. A simple approach will ensure your audience can recognize your values immediately, whether it’s viewing a piece of creative, reading an article or landing on your website. Much of this connection comes through the definition and the design of your brand.
DEFINING YOUR BRAND
The definition of your brand is the ideas, values, qualities and attitudes people associate with your company.
What would you like people to ‘think’ about your company? If we go back to the fizzy juice in the beautifully shaped glass bottle with the red and white label, we of course associate ‘Refreshment’ and ‘Excitement’, but we also see ‘Quality’, ‘Happiness’ and ‘Optimism’ as close colleagues. If we take a look at Red Bull, we think ‘Extreme’ with an added ingredient of ‘Adrenaline’. They resonate these to us through their extreme events, stunts, adverts and sponsorship decisions. At the more harmonious end of the drinks industry, we have Starbucks who highlight their ‘Eco-Friendly’ coffee values to us in their ‘Relaxed’, wifi lit coffee shops.
What does your brand represent? Create a one liner that represents the brand, identify your values and determine the benefits of your brand. It is this brand definition that will influence your logo and creative design alongside your branding strategy.
DESIGNING YOUR BRAND
It is only now we are at design stage!
Designing your brand is when you will create the look and feel of your brand that will ultimately be placed in front of your audience and others. This is still not just about the logo. Brand design includes any advertisements, posters or creatives that are required for marketing activity.
On average, people are subject to 3,500 – 10,000 advertisements per day. Make sure yours is unforgettable, captivating and expresses the definition of your brand as identified previously in this article.
Your logo is the creative that will be used most regularly throughout your company lifetime, so making sure the nature of your design, fonts and colours used are relevant to your brand is fundamental. It should reflect your values, but should also be timeless, memorable and adaptable. Having layers of detail in your logo can cause difficulties if placed on different types of backgrounds or even printed on branded items. Keep it simple, consistent and straight to the point!
CREATING BRAND STRATEGY
Brand Strategy is discovering and identifying when, where and how you will place your brand in front of your potential customers? As with any marketing activity, your core audience and target markets should be identified before your branding strategy is created.
I would always encourage clients to look into routes to market through digital and experiential marketing – purely because they are two of the highest converting marketing methods that currently exist.
Your strategy should not only identify your routes to market, but should also feature the format and tone of speech – specifically for digital marketing. What approach will you take for this? Different audiences respond in their individual ways to the voice utilised in marketing activities.
Having a strong brand strategy is important for both B2B and B2C business, and the strength behind it is what will ensure you are in the minds of the people who matter to you. It is about much more than just your logo, it’s what you represent and is the core element of all marketing activity you carry out that triggers attitudes, beliefs and values.
Megan Burns is a Marketing Advisor, Online Coach, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Chairperson. With expertise in strategy, branding and digital marketing, Megan has support leading industry brands, entrepreneurs, starts ups and small businesses to create effective marketing for positive results. Megan is also often asked as a speaker at events, and is currently in the process of building an online platform designed primarily to help entrepreneurs and start-ups. You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.