We often see branding being mentioned at the core of an excellent marketing strategy, but what is branding and why do we need it? Let’s dig deeper into the idea of branding.
What is branding?
Branding is commonly defined as the act of creating a name, term, design, symbol or any features for a product, services or a company to create an identity and differentiate itself from its competitors.
While we can vaguely understand the definition, an effective branding goes beyond being a visual identifier – it is the establishment of an emotional connection between consumers and the product, service or company through patterns of messages, actions and personality. It helps to trigger emotional and physical cues in your target audience, leading customers to manifest a bias towards your brand.
Why is branding so important?
Branding is absolutely crucial to a business as it can alter consumers’ beliefs and perception of the brand, causing a tremendous impact in the relationship with the brand. Let’s dive in depth into the importance of brand in businesses:
→ It creates brand awareness & generates new customers.
The first stage of the customers’ purchasing journey is through brand awareness – how your business is being perceived by consumers. A strong brand awareness can create opportunities for businesses to grow through word of mouth as existing consumers gain a sense of familiarity and trust towards the brand.
→ It makes your business stand out and creates customer loyalty.
By establishing a positive impression of the brand, consumers are more likely to trust the brand hence increasing the brand value and customers’ loyalty towards the brand.
→ It creates a sense of pride among the employees and attracts the best talents.
Keeping up with a good working culture is key to establishing a good brand. As the employees’ satisfactions grow, it creates a sense of pride among employees in their work. This can highly motivate employees to produce better quality work. Recruiting is one of the constant challenges a business will face. Having a good brand recognition can help solve this problem as it can attract and keep the best talents.
Looking at one of the world’s most valuable brands, Apple, we can see how focusing on building a strong bond with customers can lead to purchasing decisions based on emotions instead of necessity. It is said that Apple’s consumers can’t be paid to use any other products. Although Apple products are priced higher than its competitors, it continues to pull consumers in with its humanistic branding approach.
Building a brand
There is no one size fits all solution to building an effective brand as different businesses have different target audiences, objectives, values and solutions. However here are some tips and guidelines that can help you build an effective brand:
→ Identifying the brand mission.
A brand mission helps to create an identity and persona for the brand by expressing the purpose, values and direction of the brand. The brand mission should also clearly outline the strategic plan of how the business is going to achieve its goal.
→ Establishing and keeping to a brand promise.
Gaining trust and a sense of dependability from the target audience is essential in building a successful brand. A brand promise should highlight the strength of the business – what solutions can the business solve for the target audience?
→ Managing consumers’ expectations and experience.
We might not be able to manage all consumers’ expectations, however it’s important to do our best in making the consumers’ purchasing journey a pleasant experience, starting from welcoming the consumers to post-sales service, a brand should aim to build a good repertoire in the eyes of the consumers.
→ Creating and sticking to a brand story.
A brand story encourages the target audience to engage and create a sense of familiarity with the brand. By giving the brand a background and story, it humanizes the business and enhances the connection between the audience and the business. It’s important to build meaningful relationships with consumers in order to encourage long-term loyalty towards the business.
→ Find your brand’s voice.
A business can take different approaches in building a voice for the brand, however it should make sense and can entice the target audience. For example, a brand voice can sound friendly and take on a first person’s view or it can sound respectable and take on a third person’s stance.
→ Creating brand style guide (visual elements)
Visual elements are a combination of assets that provide an identity to the brand, it’s usually one of the first things that the audience will notice from your brand – the look and feel of the brand.
The most important asset in branding, the logo acts as a symbol that represents the business. It should be easily recognizable and clearly defines the brand’s values.
Selecting the right color palettes can be quite tricky as it’s an element that will be implemented across most visual elements, it can heavily influence the brand perception in the audience’s mind. Understanding the link between color psychology and consumer purchasing decisions can help with choosing the right colors.
By selecting the right typography that aligns with your overall brand identity, it shapes your brand to connect better with like-minded audiences.
Imagery, Illustrations, Icons and Vectors
Being consistent with the brand identity is important, hence it’s essential to select the right imagery that will represent your brand and properly fit with the other visual elements. We recommend sticking to one type of imagery, choosing between illustrations (isometric, 3D or flat) or photography (stock or original photos). The color of the imagery should also match the color palette you’ve selected.
The current technology has allowed us the opportunity to conveniently market our brand digitally, meaning we are able to reach out and communicate to a bigger target audience pool. A website serves as a hub to attract, promote, sell, educate and inform potential and existing consumers.
Other marketing assets and visual materials
There are many more assets that a business can have, here are some examples:
- Business cards
- Email signature and writing style
- Graphics for social media and digital newsletters
- Presentation decks or proposals
- Letterheads for invoices, quotations and other writing materials
As we build our brand to take on a persona and identity, it’s important to consistently implement your brand across all touchpoints, making sure the brands’ identity is engraved into the audience’s mind. This means that all elements such as brand mission, brand promise, brand voice, brand story and visual elements are all aligned and consistently used in all platforms.
Building and managing a brand is an ongoing and complex process, it’s important to have a great understanding of the target audiences’ behaviors and interests – what will catch their attention and how to maintain a meaningful relationship with the consumers. It also requires deep reflection and review of the brand’s value and position. It may sound like a lot and might not always yield the same results as you’d want, however not investing in branding may actually cost us to miss out on some enormous opportunities.