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Branding your business can seem like an overwhelming process. Most people only focus on the tangible aspects such as their logo, brand name, fonts, and color palettes. Yet most people forget to build the whole personality around the brand. Who is your brand as a person, what are their values and purpose in the world? Who are you talking to? Most forget the sheer volume and diversity of people there are to serve. If you do not take the time to make your target market crystal clear, you will end up eating none of the pie.
From an intangible perspective, how does the whole of your tangible elements make you and others feel? Have you looked into the psychological impact of your main color and font and what they unconsciously communicate to your customers? Businesses fail because they have no brand promise, no brand strategy, and no brand identity. The most essential question you can ask to evaluate your brand value proposition is: Why does your company matter? Only once you answer that question can you strategically win.
Put simply, a brand is how you make people feel and how you want to be remembered so that you can stay top-of-mind and build brand loyalty. Marketing is how you build brand awareness and get your brand voice and message out to your target market so you can be discovered and find new clients. Building a brand is where the marketing fundamentals that come before learning Digital Marketing come into action.
Whether you’re working on launching a clothing line, building Designer Brands, or creating an online bakery, these concepts remain the same. The only thing that changes is your brand positioning and everything that revolves around it.
At its core, the process of building a brand involves applying well-studied psychological concepts, triggers, and reactions to position your brand in your customers’ minds. In short, your brand equity is how much of your consumer’s available brain space you can conquer and occupy and how much each of those consumers will spend within their lifetime of your brand.
Why is defining your brand positioning so important? So that you can build a loyal brand following and benefit from the coveted CLV (customer lifetime value). If you try to talk to everyone on the market, you will dilute your reach by getting discovered by a certain demographic one week, only to lose them the following week in the hope that the next segment you try out will be the one to immediately go viral.
You will often hear that brand loyalty is dead, yet everyone still has their favorite go-to brands. This ends up becoming the confirmation bias failing companies convince themselves of instead of re-evaluating their branding. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to see successful companies with large followings try to rebrand their names and logos without a proper brand strategy and who never recover from the blow. We will go more into successful rebranding strategies in another article. To be blunt, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Motivation is critical. Marketing and branding have endless motivations to serve and build long term cohesiveness. The current behavioral attitudes will matter as much as the overall monetary performance of the business. Research has shown that 80–95% of purchasing decisions depend on an emotional reaction.
Some of the most persuasive research in this area is done by Deloitte Consulting Group. The company performs in-depth psychological opinion polls on its clients, asking accurately probing questions, in order to better understand customers. The behavioral responses to brand messaging are as accurate as looking directly into the client’s eyes. The takeaway from this study is companies that don’t do a good job building a persona lose out against their competition. Masking is still a very accurate method of eliciting the expected social response, but it can only go so far because it is not sustainable long term. Align your brand with personal values you share and will be capable of upholding for years to come.
The underlying problem across many businesses that fail stems from missing the whole picture. Your brand voice is often an overlooked component to your overall marketing and brand strategies. Given a choice between two companies, which would you trust far more to deliver a glass of water to your tap and why? You may think you are making an ethical choice, but old habits die hard. Research has revealed a clear preference for brands that want to know us and value us. Customers pay more for customer-centric brand positioning than for less personalized marketing or mass-produced products.
When deciding between two brands, the decision ultimately came down to how can the brand best address the needs and expectations of its customer. The brand that has a personality and label that resonates with that of their target market is going to be far more successful than the one that is focused on visual branding alone. Building a brand takes effort. This process can be frustrating and daunting. Especially these days with so many voices competing for our attention. When building a personality, it is helpful to think in these two ways; we know you from your writing, but not from your actual experience. When you build a persona, you are speaking to your customers as if you have known them for years.
Even if you build a solid brand, it still may feel like you lack personality and distinctive elements. Three key elements simulate personality that are called The Three Pillars of Personalization. There are other ideas of marketing to achieve a brand, but these three pillars hold a lot of power.
When someone goes to a website or reads an article, the world outside influences their spending habits. In their minds, the website or article is a work of art, as they must have looked at it first. Your brand is the expression of who you are. When you create your brand identity and company statements, your brand message comes with you.
Just like a brand’s identity, a person’s identity is not fixed. When we create a brand, we subconsciously convey our business values to the world. The format of our company page makes a significant difference between ourselves and our competition. For example, your strongsuit, a solid reputation, may be clearer to customers if you use plain English, visually uncluttered, have color-coded folders, and three or four images. These examples illustrate the concept.
People form brands with two-to-three anchor points. In the branding process, the overall message is anchored at the bottom of the page. Anchoring points are the core aspects of the brand that define it. For example, “any experience”, “lowest price”, “largest print run”, and “best” are common anchor points. Think about company names like Pfizer and Microsoft, which are anchored by a foundation of a success story.
Again, people will anchor with reference to these three pillars, but every company is different and will reflect its vision. If your goals are mainly around the entertainment value of your brand, don’t put much effort into creating a nice website. If you want to attract target markets with sci-fi names, get creative with the logos and colors. If you want to stand out with unique fonts and colors, use something modern and bold. For entertainment, use your logo with a strong color scheme. For a profession, use a business card with a fantastic brand design.
Let’s sum up what we have learned here. Your brand is a fact of life, present it correctly, create a brand identity, and craft it with the brains of someone who throws everything at it. It may seem like a lot of work, but the rewards are so great — so worth the effort.
After defining your pillars, you can start to define your brand archetypes – who your brand is as a person – and your customer personas – the personification of your target markets. We will explore each concept further in another article.
Within the four core marketing Ps, you will first need to focus on the development of your P-product. You can create a branding mockup to get a better feel of how all your brand design elements play together, which will also serve the purpose of creating clear visual brand guides for anyone you want to outsource to as you grow, from building your website to managing your social media accounts. Unlike your Brand Personality, your Brand Identity is limited to all the tangible elements that will have a direct impact on any of your customer’s five senses and should come after defining the intangible aspects of your brand’s personality.
You can use logo makers such as Looka, and brand name generators like Namelix to brainstorm those elements. Full-service Online Brand Makers such as Tailor Brands have been on the rise as well. To stand out, only use these as a brainstorming base and not for your final brand elements.
Most importantly, what keeps your customers coming back for more? A short and effective brand strategy to boost your conversions requires you to analyse the main vocal, visual and legibility patterns of people as they browse the internet, identifying brands they find trustworthy and visually pleasing, and styling them accordingly.
The more the customer interacts with your business, the less they interact with your competitors. It is therefore crucial to obtain a customer’s attention immediately. But how are you going to get them to notice you?
To start with, look at the first few ads you see online. What characteristics are noticeable? Are there strong visual signatures? Does your tone of voice match what you are telling your customers? Is the web page clean and easy to scan? How is the information organized and presented? These are the first things I examine when picking a keyword or starting a new channel.
On the basis of this, it becomes easy to trace customer’s journeys and hone in on the right channels for your business. For instance, if I am selected for a call with an insurance company as a potential customer, I will pay attention to some key red flags when selecting a target audience. But when looking at all the information at once, it becomes difficult to discern the high-value customers. It is easy enough to notice customers with specific characteristics that draw your attention. Identifying these high-value customers empowers you to select channels that actually connect with them. And trust me, it works!
Highly targeted ads create a sense of urgency in customers while driving decisive action. Once customers have heard from their trusted friends about a brand, they are unlikely to look for another option when they need a solution. With increased bandwidth, companies have access to a better range of marketing possibilities.
The fundamental concepts to build a personal brand or a corporate brand remain the same. Before the pandemic, it was common to see distinctions between how each was applied. Most freelancers tended to only develop their personal brands, while most start-ups and SMEs only focused on corporate branding. In the end, considering these to be two separate elements ends up stunting the growth of both types of business once they try to scale and grow. Today, many customers are looking to work with smaller businesses and developing both aspects of branding can help you positioning yourself with higher pricing than your competition, and convert more clients due to increased perceived trust. More than anything, customers today are now looking for real people to interact with, a face to associate to a brand.
Freelancers and solopreneurs can benefit from developing their corporate brand to allow the brand to outgrow their person as an individual. Corporate businesses can benefit from developing their personal brand by assigning a key “face” to the company that will embody and literally personify the brand persona and values. It will also serve the added value of making their brand more accessible, more tangible, and more trustworthy in the eyes of their customer. Customers in turn will be able to feel like they are helping to better the world rather than throwing more money into the endless void that is the capitalist machine.
Whether you’re just starting out, have a small business or a full-fledged company with multiple teams to manage, you should be branding yourself with the potential of becoming a multi-million-dollar business.
The most important concept to know about brand positioning is that it is not about the product itself, but rather about how the said product is perceived in the customer’s mind. To change how a product is perceived, a business will have to play around with elements such as a product’s name, price, packaging, and anything else that might influence a customer’s opinion of it. We will explore the concept of Brand Positioning more in-depth in our next articles so make sure to subscribe so we can update you as soon as it comes out!
After having defined your product and its positioning through price and other brand elements, defining your brand strategy will require further research and analysis of the competition to define the rest of your marketing Ps. There are four main marketing Ps to define around your brand positioning, namely, your Product, Price, Place and Promotion. More marketing Ps have evolved to match the change in how business is conducted and perceived. Today, it is also recommended to develop your other 3Ps which are your People, Processes, and Partners.
Taking the time to develop these elements will result in a clear strategic roadmap to follow when promoting your business. A business plan is a document usually generated for a new company and is different from a Marketing Plan. The leveraged sales force includes all the promotion mix but is using distribution (the 4-Ps) components.
Advertising strategy has gone through several eras such as, the product era (Unique Selling Proposition), the image era (trust in companies with a good image), and finally, the positioning era, which requires companies to create a sustainable position in the potential customer’s mind. To become a top-of-mind company, a company must be first to establish themselves in the minds of customers. You can read more about advertising strategies to build brand awareness in our next articles!