A brand is a critical element of a company’s identity. Through your branding, you differentiate your goods or services from that of your competitors. A good brand reputation is a testament to the quality of the goods or services that you provide. The reverse, of course, is also true. But do you know the fundamentals of branding?
We’ve got you covered. This guide will discuss the key fundamentals of branding, as well as how to implement an effective branding strategy. To discover how to build a brand identity that lasts, read on…
1. Assess your current positioning
The starting point for your branding strategy will depend on where you are as a business.
If you are an established company, you will need to do some type of review. Many companies employ a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats, and Opportunities.
If you’re a new company, you should start by considering your goal and developing a 5-year business plan. That plan will define what you hope to accomplish, as well as provide you with the information to develop your branding strategy.
For the remainder of this guide, we’ll work on the assumption that you are a new company, meaning you’ll need to set up the fundamentals of branding from scratch.
2. Identify and research your target audience
Here’s a fact: companies that conduct market research enjoy faster growth and higher profitability. A poorly defined – or too diverse of an audience – will dilute your marketing effort and results. Remember, there’s a difference between being inconclusive with your business, and simply marketing yourself too vague!
One of the best ways to define your customer is the creation of a buyer persona: an idealized representation of who you are targeting. Your buyer persona should include demographic information, alongside things like interests, pain points, and goals.
Below is a great example of a buyer persona:
You need to keep your customer in mind when developing your branding strategy – a customer persona will remind you of who you are targeting. It will impact your messaging, positioning, and more within your branding.
3. Consider your positioning
Marketing guru Philip Kotler, defines brand positioning as:
“the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market.”
In simple terms, you are defining how you are different from the competition. A brand positioning strategy reinforces how the brand wants its consumers to perceive it vis-a-vis the competition.
One way to consider your positioning is to map your company against the competition.
The two most common metrics to measure on the fundamentals of branding are price and quality. However, they aren’t the only metrics. You can map your company against the competition using other metrics that are relevant to your business.
Your positioning will impact the kind of marketing material you create, the brand voice you use, and more. If you already have a company, you need to continually assess the difference between customer perception and your goals.
For example, if you want to position yourself as high quality, but your customers say you are low quality, you have a brand problem.
4. Define your brand elements
For a second, think of your brand as a person. This person has unique characteristics – including how the person speaks, how they dress, personality, values, etc. Similarly, you need to develop those key elements for your company.
Below are some of the important considerations with the fundamentals of branding:
- Brand voice: The tone you use in all brand communications. You might have a formal voice or be more conversational.
- Brand logo: Your logo is one of the main visual elements of your brand. You might want a responsive logo, which means you have two or more versions of your logo that is scalable.
- Create a tagline: Your tagline should encapsulate what you do. It’s something that your audience will associate with your company. For example, “Just do it.”
- Develop your style guide: A brand style guide defines the look and the feel of your brand. It includes elements like typography (fonts, sizes, and spacing), color palette (primary and secondary colors), and brand imagery.
Those four bullet points listed above are the fundamental building blocks of your brand. You will draw on the customer persona research and positioning to define your style guide, brand voice, and logo.
5. Develop your sales and marketing strategy
Once you’ve got the fundamentals of branding in place, you need to start creating that brand recognition. Most businesses do this by focusing on marketing and sales.
A critical part of your sales and marketing strategy will involve selecting the channels you plan to use and then allocating budgets. You’ll also need to design a content strategy you and your team will use to create content that your target audience will find relevant and interesting.
Discussing how to run effective sales and marketing campaigns is outside of the scope of this guide. However, it’s important to maintain consistency across all of the sales and marketing channels that you use.
Consistency will help your brand stick in the consumer’s memory. Maintaining consistency ensures that people know what to expect from your brand. You want your customers and prospects to engage with you across your social media, website, and other channels and come away with the impression that everything feels connected.
The company, AppSumo, is a nice example of this in action. They have a quirky, irreverent brand voice. They inject that brand voice into the email content that they send to subscribers.
They use a similar brand voice on their social media profiles too.
Ensuring that the type of visuals, colors, and brand voice remains consistent will help you connect with your audience faster. That familiarity will build up over time and can result in customer loyalty. We’ll discuss that in more detail in the next section.
6. Provide a quality product or service
Effective marketing aims to bring new consumers to your company to test out your goods or services. Once you generate that conversion, you need to deliver on the promises that you made to your customers through your sales and marketing material.
That means ensuring that you provide the best product or service possible.
Focusing on the quality of your product or service delivery is critical to the success of your brand. A nice example of a company that has taken this ethos of trying to provide the best products is Tesla. They are probably one of the most innovative automobile manufacturers.
They have a global presence and instant brand recognition.
Surprisingly, Tesla does not have a marketing budget. It relies on word-of-mouth advertising and recommendations to generate sales. Well, word-of-mouth advertising and the headline-grabbing antics of its CEO and founder Elon Musk.
It’s pretty amazing that a company has grown so large without a marketing budget. The automobile industry is ruthlessly competitive. To put their success in context, Ford spent $2.28 billion on marketing in 2019 for the US market.
Hopefully, this example highlights the importance of impressing your customers with the fundamentals of branding.
7. Focus on brand equity & customer retention
Through successful branding, companies hope to raise their business profile so that consumers will purchase their goods and services. You can achieve this through effective marketing and the delivery of a great product or service.
When combined, these two things result in something called brand equity.
A nice example of a company that has used marketing effectively to maintain a high profile is Red Bull. They’ve established themselves as a fun brand for people who love extreme activities through their marketing activities.
All of that marketing activity raises the profile of Red Bull.
Meanwhile, the quality of the Red Bull drink remains consistent. Consumers know what to expect from the product. They are happy to pay a premium, even though cheaper alternatives are available, because of their fond association with the brand.
Apple is another example of a company with a lot of brand equity.
The company is famous for its effective advertising and for the high-quality user-friendly products they sell. Existing customers are loyal.
You can measure your brand equity by surveying your customers to find out how they perceive your brand. Ensure that your survey covers issues of brand awareness, brand sentiment, and customers preference patterns. In addition, look at financial metrics like market share and company value.
Once you’ve discovered what your customers think about your brand, you can start creating campaigns designed to increase customer retention. These include email newsletters, exclusive gifts, and loyalty programs.
8. Implement, track, and measure
Last but not least, the final step of your brand-building strategy is to implement what you have decided and continually track and measure the progress against predefined targets and goals. A winning brand development strategy is worthless if it isn’t implemented, tracked, and measured.
This is incredibly important – not just for brands that sell physical products, but also for SaaS branding where metrics are everything. Since your product is software, collecting data goes a long way to improving your branding.
That’s why tracking is so important. We recommend tracking both the implementation of the plan as well as results. For instance, was the brand strategy implemented in full? Where do you stand against your measurable objectives like site visitors, search traffic volumes, and lead generation? Where are you on lead conversion against your target?
These are questions that can only be answered when you track and measure the implementation of your brand-building strategy. Only by tracking the entire process through concrete creative metrics can you make sure you draw the right conclusions and make the right adjustments.
This guide discussed the importance of branding for a business. We also looked at eight steps you should take to establish a memorable brand that attracts new prospects and retains your existing customers. The ability to get those two variables right will ensure that your company grows and profits.
The fundamentals of branding start by defining your business goals. You should then consider your target audience and positioning. After completing your initial research, you will be ready to create your branding elements. You then need to develop effective sales and marketing strategies and ensure you’re delivering stellar products or services.