“The power of branding is its ability to influence behaviour. We brand companies so they can build reputations. A brand with a good reputation elicits more purchases, advocacy, donations, shares, etc.” Colin Finkle
This is why internationally-recognised brands like Apple, Coca Cola, Netflix, and Amazon are more than just the products they sell or their logo or their advertising content.
Brands are about experiences; as Seth Godin put it, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, form a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
They include a variety of subtle factors that define the way your business feels and how it is perceived by audiences.
The fascinating thing about brands and branding is that they are formed and exist, with or without our intervention.
What you can do is take action to create a brand that promotes your business effectively and positively. It’s not just about writing a catchy tagline; you will have to make sure that the experience you provide lives up to the expectations your branding instills in customers.
How to Build a Brand
Building a successful brand is an ongoing process, but here are some starting points for beginners:
Find your key differentiator
Find out what sets you apart from competitors and what makes your brand recognisable and unique. There are three main criteria of a successful differentiator: being genuine and true (you can’t make it up), being important to potential clients (such as providing easier access to a service), and being provable (people need to believe and see that the differentiator is genuine).
Create a brand strategy
In order to achieve specific goals, you need to create a branding strategy that will give life to those intangible aspects that make up your company identity. The two main steps of creating a brand strategy are creating buyer personas and creating the components of a great brand based on consumer needs and behaviour. The most important brand elements you will need to implement in this inbound marketing age are:
Your website is the main online instance of your company; a modern website should be mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, and have constant visual elements.
Arguably the most memorable branding element, the logo should be original and easy to recognise. When your customers hear your brand name, they should instantly associate it with your logo.
A good colour scheme can have such an impact that seeing those colours will make people recall your brand instantly even if the name of the brand or the logo is not visible. For instance, when you see a combination of red and yellow you instantly think about McDonalds.
Tone and voice
What does your brand sound like? It can sound funny, professional, academic, or combinations of multiple tones. You can use slightly different voices in different instances like email and social media, but your various tones all need to adhere to your unique mission statement.
Your visual identity is completed by the images you choose to include with your website, social media accounts, emails, etc. Images, in certain situations, should include your logo, reflect the tone of your business, and match your agreed colour palette.
The domain name needs to be short and easy to type. Your choice of domain name is important because it represents your first impression on visitors, it affects your SEO, and it defines your business. Extensions are also important, with .com, .org, and .net being the most popular.
The importance of being consistent
As mentioned previously, building a brand is not a one-off task; it is a continual effort of putting your business at the forefront of audiences and promoting it effectively. Building a brand is more than throwing together a logo, a couple of colours, and some graphic design ideas. It’s about how you deliver a story and how you live up to the promises in your narrative with every interaction you have with your customers. It is important to create a genuine and engaging story for your brand, but it will only touch your audience if you break it down into a good editorial plan for your digital channels and develop content accordingly.
At all times you will have to make sure that your messages, visual identity, tone of voice, and, most importantly, product and service quality are consistent. This is because customers like businesses that can be seen as trustworthy and stable. They want to know what to expect when they have an interaction with a certain brand. When their expectations are not met, or they lose trust, consumers are more inclined to switch to one of your competitors.
Tips and Tricks
Already working at your brand? Aside from knowledge on how to build a brand and make it consistent, you may also find the following branding tips and tricks useful:
Pay attention to content strategy
When developing content, use the following criteria to define what serves your brand and what doesn’t: the topic is interesting to your target customers, the content addresses their pain points, the content is in the format preferred by your buyer personas, content is presented in a way that makes users comfortable with opening your links, and the piece of content has a well-defined goal.
Create two-way conversation with your customers
While traditional marketing could only be used to send messages to your audience, today’s inbound marketing provides the opportunity of creating two-way conversation with your customers. Being able to connect with customers directly, to respond to their feedback, to answer questions in real time, and to help them solve issues makes it possible for your business to attract loyal customers and build solid relationships. A strong social media presence helps you create a sense of community between your business and consumers.
Monitor and measure
The other major advantage that digital marketing presents, aside from two-way communication, is being able to accurately measure and monitor the impact of your brand strategy. Even if you have no control on the conversation going on about your brand, you can have access to it and take action to solve any issues that arise. In terms of actual marketing strategy results, you need to look at the following metrics: keywords that result in click-throughs to your landing page, comments, social shares, inbound links, email marketing results, landing page results, social media engagement, social media mentions, growth rate of social media accounts, etc.
We also advise you to calculate your ROI (return on investment) on social media; to determine if the time and money you have spent on social media is turning into conversions, followers, or increased brand awareness.
Focus on visual
The old saying that one picture is worth 1000 words will always stay true. We are image-driven creatures and the primitive part of our brains has an immediate, emotional reaction to everything we see. An audience will see your brand and the visual elements first, and eventually it reads your content using their rational minds. This is why investing in original, attractive graphic design is paramount. Graphic design makes at least half of your brand experience and your visual identity is the first thing that pops into people’s minds when thinking about your brand.
VMA offers graphic design along with a wide range of digital marketing services to help you create and market your business effectively. Whether you are starting out or doing an overhaul of an existing brand, we can help you. Contact us now online and gain access to a variety of digital marketing services to help build a powerful brand!