Um, what is a brand anyway?
Your brand represents your business identity. It’s more than just a name and a pretty logo.
Similar to you and me, brands have personalities and they tell people who and what your business is about. When you meet someone for the first time, you can often get a good sense of what their personality is like and whether or not you’d like to connect with them further. Likewise, your brand is the first impression that consumers get to experience and the brand perception that you create for your business will determine the customers you attract.
Your brand represents what people associate your products and/or services with, and the values it aligns with. A good brand differentiates you from other competitors in the market.
Think of Nike for example, what do you associate Nike with when you hear their brand name? These buzz words might come up:
Just do it
Nike has successfully created a brand where people are instantly able to recognize who they are, and what they are about through their name and/or logo. That’s a successful brand.
What's the difference between branding and marketing?
I get this question a lot, so let's break it down for you. Marketing involves the processes and strategies to help you connect with your customers, the way that you promote your products, services or business.
Branding is a marketing practice that involves the development of the identity of your business that helps people associate your products and/or services with.
You can think of branding as your business personality, and marketing as a way to engage new people to check out your brand. In summary, marketing involves strategies to get people to engage with your business, and branding is the reason why they choose to engage with your business.
So, what's included in a brand?
Branding refers to the process of developing all the different elements that make up your business’s identity. It’s one of the most important investments you should make for your business as it sets the foundation for the success of your business.
There are different approaches people take to branding. We’re going to focus on purpose-based branding in the content below, which is arguably the most effective branding strategy.
Tell me about the brand development process
To find out who else is in the space and defines why customers should use your products/services instead of theirs.
History of the business, why it started (outside of monetary reasons).
How customers currently perceive you.
What do people think about when they think about your business. Remember that Nike example from above?
Purpose - This is the core driver of your entire business, the authentic reason why your business exists. This goes beyond ‘to make money,’ and speaks to how your business contributes to the greater good of society.
Positioning - This defines what makes your products/services different from others. It answers the question customers ask ‘Why should I choose your business instead of someone else’s?’
Values - What are your company’s fundamental beliefs and guiding principles?
Pillars of communication - If you only had 3-5 key messages to differentiate from your competitors, what would that be?
Tone of voice - How do you communicate to your customers to influence the way they perceive you?
Naming - Decide on a name, based on the identity that has been developed above.
Design - Invest in an experienced brand designer to develop a logo based on the identity developed above. This will include the fonts, colour palette and logo itself.
If you have the opportunity to start a new brand from scratch, you should always start at brand strategy development first, and then let that strategy guide the design of your logo. However, not everyone starts this way. You can always redefine what your brand is- this may be a work in progress.
It's always good to get a set of fresh eyes to help you with your brand strategy. If you're interested in this, contact me here. I work with talented brand designers that can help execute the strategy in the logo development phase.
Alternatively, if you’d like to take a stab at it yourself, let me know if you have any questions.
Why you need a brand strategy
Anyone can design a beautiful logo and call it a day! But what identity does the logo represent? What do your customers associate your brand with? Does it answer any of these questions below?
What are the values that you hold?
What is your company’s purpose?
What gap does it fill in the market?
Why should your customers choose your business over another?
How do you communicate all of the above?
The purpose-based brand strategy digs deep to find the core reason of why your business exists, the problem in society that your business solves, or a need that your business helps meet. That forms your brand purpose.
Your brand purpose informs everything that you do, from the way you market your products/services, your business processes, the people that you hire, and more. This purpose should drive every aspect of your business and is a fundamental base that every business needs for success.
63% of consumers would choose purpose-based brands over other brands.
You can view more statistics on how purpose-based branding can have an immensely positive impact on your business here.
Free branding tips
1. Invest in a brand strategy
Whether you’re a new business or you’re looking to rebrand, it’s never too late to make this investment. If this is done by an experienced branding professional, this investment will have a great return on your business in the long run.
Example: I’ve worked on a rebranding a business that existed without a brand identity for over thirty years (yes, they had a logo, but no one understood how they were different from competitors). After launching their new brand, we saw record sales in the following year and x10 brand recognition.
2. Get a third-party partner to brand your business
Get an external branding professional to execute this strategy for you, as you want to ensure that this is developed from an unbiased standpoint. A fresh set of eyes will always help!
3. Refer to your brand identity in every business decision
You should be constantly using your purpose and values to evaluate every action your business makes. Your brand purpose should be the core driver for your business decisions. Hire people based on how they align with your values. Make marketing decisions based on your purpose.
4. Stay consistent
Everyone on your team should be the brand police. All colours and fonts should be consistent; ensure that all colours and visual assets follow your brand guidelines. You don’t see McDonald’s ever using green in their design, do you?
*A brand guideline is a document that outlines all of your design assets, the colours to use, the way your logo should be presented, the fonts used and more. The designer you work with should provide you with at least a basic design guide.
To learn more marketing tips for small businesses, check out my blog post here.