One of the most common misconceptions of branding is that a “brand” is a logo or an identity.
Yes, your visual identity is the “face” of your brand. It communicates your brand personality in everything from your logo to your website. But what identifies your brand with customers is subconscious. It’s the feeling of how they know and relate to your brand.
Every aspect of your business contributes to your “brand,” but it is the emotional impact and perception of your brand that matters the most.
Most entrepreneurs go to market not with a brand, but with an idea — an idea that can be so soulful and personal that it can be challenging to present and explain to others. You think everyone should intrinsically understand it, as you do, but they don’t. And that’s why you need to develop effective brand messaging and a brand strategy.
One of the most frequent comments we hear at Sticky Branding is, “Our company is the best kept secret in our industry.” That is a red flag! Your brand is your story, and if you can’t tell it, how will anyone understand it, know it, or share it?
If you ever catch yourself making that sort of statement, take a step back. This is business, and if you cannot communicate the value of what your organization brings to market, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy.
When you’re building a brand strategy there are many elements to consider.
1) Vision and Purpose
Every brand should be built around a core foundation: a reason the brand was created, or a larger mission.
Understanding your brand strategy is essential if you want to successfully communicate who you are, what you do, and what you believe in. It includes:
- Purpose: Why do we exist?
- Vision: What future do we want to create?
- Mission: How will we get there?
- Values: Who are we? How do we work?
When you know who you are and what you stand for, you can find clarity in your brand. This clarity will help others begin to form an emotional attachment to your brand.
Without understanding the core of your business, you are not going to be able to express your company’s “personality” to your customers. This provides your market tangible insights into the values and benefits of your company, and that helps them form a bond with you.
Customers are more likely to care about a brand when they understand what the direction of the company is.
2) Buyer Personas
A core component of developing a brand strategy are buyer personas.
Buyer personas help you understand your brand in relation to your customers, prospects, and users. They help you realize who you are, who your customers are, and to ensure that everything you create is relevant and of value to the people you’re trying to reach.
Whether it’s through education, entertainment, or inspiration, the content you’re creating should be true to your core values and consistently meaningful to your audience.
3) Brand Messaging
Your story is what sets you apart from the pack. Everything you create should have elements of your brand’s story — whether it’s reinforcing your messaging or promoting your values. This includes:
- Positioning: What makes your brand different and unique in the market.
- Value Proposition: The functional and emotional benefits of your brand.
- Tagline: A one line summation of your brand’s positioning.
- Storylines: The supporting reasons someone should choose your brand
Great brand stories make customers want to remain with the company and then tell others about their experience.
Customer advocates are the most valuable marketing tools your company can use to change minds and persuade leads.
4) Visual Identity
Maintaining a strong visual identity is one of the most important parts of branding. A cohesive look across all external communications and resources enhances your brand story.
A strong visual brand identity is able to express the importance of their products, mission, policies or services to their customer base with good branding. In order to form a bond with your customers, your brand needs to be transparent and authentic. Branding is essentially the combination of marketing and advertising elements that form a cohesive snapshot of a company.
Social media has made visual identity the first thing people see relating to your brand. Creating consistent imagery, stories and content themes is one of the best ways to develop and maintain relationships with your audiences.
5) Content Strategy
Too many brands have fallen into the trap of quantity over quality. They pump out content that doesn’t connect and, therefore, doesn’t help their brand perception. This is often due to a lack of brand strategy.
A good content strategy not only helps you create better content, it helps you do it more efficiently, saving time, money, and energy. However, many marketers are too busy to take the time to actually craft a strategy. Without a well-documented content strategy, it is very hard to maintain consistency, which becomes obvious to your customers.
Above All, Remember that Branding Is About the Experience
While communication tools are important, remember that your brand perception isn’t just influenced by what you say; it’s what you do.
Great branding can make it easier for your employees to do their jobs. With a clear brand messaging and personality, branding allows all employees to be proud of the company they work for and to spread the word wholeheartedly.
Creating a healthy culture, providing genuine and quality products or services, and actively contributing to your community says as much (if not more) than a sales brochure, vision statement, or e-book.
It takes a genuine commitment to your brand to create a truly great brand experience — at every touchpoint.