The Basics of Branding
Brands are absolutely everywhere — so what makes some more memorable than others? According to a study, 77% of brands could stop existing entirely and nobody would really notice. And that number is growing. So what’s the key to developing a brand that people do care about? Making it meaningful. The same study found that meaningful brands perform 134% better than the stock market.
A meaningful brand is more than a nice color palette or a catchy slogan, although those are core parts of your branding. A meaningful brand has a strong sense of how it makes people feel when engaging with it — also known as a strong brand identity. It’s based on other people — the customers — and their perception of the business. Because of this, it might seem like that’s something out of your control when creating a brand, but it’s not. Developing a strong brand strategy can make all the difference in creating a business that actually makes a difference in people’s lives, and we’re here to tell you how to get started.
Why is branding important?
Branding, and the strategy behind it, has many purposes. At the most basic level, it should help you out. By creating guidelines for your brand to follow, you have something quick and easy to refer to every time you are creating new assets or products. If you work in a team or collaborate with others, you can show them these guides to ensure everyone is on the same page. These guidelines should be strategically decided in order to best meet your customer’s needs. Plus, you want to make it easy for them to choose your product or service. Research shows that good branding can help customers decide on their purchases.
Not only does it make the difference when customers are deciding between several products, but effective branding can help establish brand recognition. If it’s something memorable and meaningful, people are more likely to remember it. And when they do, you’ll be the first place they look when they’re looking to purchase something that you produce. They will also be motivated to tell their friends and families about your business.
Great branding is also important because it will help you stand out from the crowd. Certain industries can be oversaturated, but a good brand will highlight what they bring to the industry that none of their competitors do. Plus, it shows that there is additional value in a well-branded product or company, and consumers may be encouraged to pay higher rates. As long as your business is delivering on the quality your branding promises your audience, they’ll know they can trust you and will quickly become repeat — and loyal — customers.
How to start building your brand
It’s easy to understand why good branding is important, but it can still feel intimidating to jump into creating a brand that works. That’s okay — we’re here to break down the core parts of building a brand that sticks.
The first thing you want to decide on is your brand’s values. These are the things that matter the most to your company. Your customers should also share your main values, since they’re more likely to connect with businesses that resonate with them. For example, popular outdoor company REI highly prioritizes getting outside. Because this value is at its core, it has attracted a very loyal customer base who are also interested in spending time outside.
Hand in hand with your values is your mission. Simply put, why does your business exist? What purpose is it serving? This has to be something that is more than just selling a product. Maybe you’re a candle company — your mission isn’t just to sell candles. Your mission might be to offer people a way to destress, something cozy they can use at the end of a long day. More people can relate to the feeling of being stressed out and needing a way to care for themselves than just blindly purchasing another candle on the market. Both your mission and values should emphasize your strengths as a business. This can include the skills you have that are particularly different or innovative than your competitors.
Once you have your values and mission solidified, it’s a good idea to think of your target audience. This is the group of people who you want to be interested in your company, and you can do research to help you identify the right group for your product. There are a few different factors you should consider when thinking about your target audience. For example, how old are they? Different age groups have different priorities and interests, plus different levels of finances. For example, if you sell children’s toys, you could make your brand appeal to children, but it might be a better idea to target the parents who would actually be purchasing the toys. What about their gender? More and more, we see brands that are targeted toward a certain gender, such as skin care products for women. Of course, anybody can use a certain product, but thinking about who will mainly be interested in it is a good way to decide on your target audience.
Next, think about your brand messaging. What are you trying to tell your audience, and how do you want to say it to them? This is another way to communicate your mission to your customers, so you want it to be authentic and cohesive. For example, if you’re a health food brand, you might want your messaging to come off as educational and compassionate to meet your mission of helping people be healthier. Developing your brand voice won’t happen overnight, but you can think of some adjectives to help you get started. Do you want your messaging to be funny? Smart? What about trustworthy? These qualities will translate to how you write your copy and respond to messages from customers. You can even think about your brand as if it were a person; how would they talk? Use that as a guide when working on your brand messaging to keep it as authentic as possible — if it sounds forced or like you’re trying too hard, people won’t buy into it.
Your business needs a name, of course. It doesn’t necessarily need to relate to your product. Think about Apple; their product is computers, and they are still a wildly successful brand. As long as it is something that is meaningful to you and is catchy, it will work. You also need a tagline or slogan to accompany your brand. The use of taglines varies from business to business, but you should make sure yours is memorable and stands out from others in your niche.
Once you have all of these core parts figured out, you’ll want to come up with the more aesthetic parts of your brand, like your brand colors. This will be a set of two to five colors that will remain consistent throughout all of your branding. Your colors should compliment each other and work to continue telling the story of your brand. Don’t forget — colors have their own meaning behind them, so you want to make sure you’re picking colors that are both appealing and meaningful in the context of your business.
You can use your main color or colors to develop your logo. This picture or symbol is a small but highly used representation of your brand, so make sure it’s relevant and attention-grabbing. You shouldn’t be afraid to use it frequently — on your website, your products, your social media. Your logo is one of the biggest ways to build brand recognition. (If you need any hints, check out our blog post on developing a gripping logo here.)
Now that you have memorable and meaningful branding developed, where do you go next? Some say the ultimate test of your brand identity is thinking about every one of your touchpoints and how you can incorporate your branding. Your touchpoints are the places where customers interact with your brand, so your social media, website, products, customer service, and more. If you can keep your branding consistent throughout all of these areas, you’ll know you’ve been successful in creating a cohesive brand identity. If everything feels a little disconnected, like each part could belong to a different business, you might want to go back to the drawing board and see how you can work on creating a more consistent brand experience.
Once you have all of this figured out, congrats! It’s time to start marketing your brand to your target audience. Making sure that the products and services you’re offering are just as high quality as your branding will help your customers develop a sense of trust and loyalty with your brand. You might even find out that the customers who flock to you aren’t who you initially intended it to be, and that’s okay! An authentic brand should be able to evolve over time, just like people do.
Take time every now and then to reflect on how your brand is performing. If there is something that isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it! You can even ask for feedback from your audience so you know how to better meet their needs. At the end of the day, your brand exists to help them solve a problem, and that might look different over time than when you originally set out.
If you’re just getting started creating your brand and you need a bit of help, don’t worry. Creative Juice is here to help you create a great brand strategy and a brand identity that you (and your future customers) will love. Just send us a message and we can help you with any part of your branding journey! 🍑