With new brands cropping up at every turn, doing “branding” right is more necessary now than ever before. After all, your brand sets the course for how your customers will view you. Building a brand is about creating positive connections in consumers’ minds, reminding them that any product associated with your brand bespeaks of a certain quality. Your brand strategy should take your business to the point where people buy on name recognition alone—the ultimate sweet spot for every company.
Building an emotional connection with your customers is a long-term commitment. It’s more than a logo or a motto, or even a product quality. Every aspect of your company should reverberate with the elements of your brand identity. That means your messaging, your logo, your customer service, your company culture, and your methods of communicating should consistently align with your mission and values.
Your brand strategy should communicate your business’ personality, and penetrate every level of your company culture. Consistency is key to creating long-lasting connections in your customers’ minds. Maintain a consistently good image across channels and platforms to build your brand identity in consumer minds, and develop brand advocates along the way.
Why is building a brand necessary?
Your branding sets you apart from every other company in your industry niche. It communicates a certain set of beliefs and values, instills confidence (or the opposite) in your customer base, and determines how your followers and target audience will relate with you now and in the future. A Nielson’s Global New Product Innovation Survey revealed that 59% of consumers prefer buying new products from familiar brands. Whether you want to make maximum impact in an industry drowning in products similar to your own, or establish a following around a fledgling company and product, developing a consistent brand strategy is key.
What should my brand strategy look like?
Define your brand
The secret to connecting with your audience is to first know who you are as a brand, that is, your brand identity. Mapping it out will inform your brand strategy and keep it consistent every step of the way, ensuring you are relatable to your target segment. But before you can really dig into the nitty-gritty of your own brand, you need to lay the right foundation.
- Know your audience
Underneath any noble or philanthropic reasons for your existence, the main reason you exist is really for your customers. Without them, any attempt at building a brand will leave even your grandest idea a pipe dream. Identifying who your customers are and digging deep into their behaviors, habits, and preferences will help you position your brand identity in a way that connects with them. Persuading them to buy your product rather than your competitors’ depends on how well you can connect with them and address their true needs and desires.
- Know your mission
Once you know your target audience inside and out, you can begin to define your brand by creating a mission statement to guide every present and future branding endeavor. Your mission statement defines your purpose, and it will continue to be your compass as you navigate the rough waters of business in the 21st century.
- Stay consistent
Trust develops over time as customers see consistency running through the veins of your company. Branding is really a psychological game that is simultaneously visual, verbal, and interpersonal. That means that every element of your company—whether seen or unseen—from colors, logos and cover photos, to tone, message, target audience, and even company culture, communicates your values to your customers, or becomes symbolic of (hopefully) quality they can depend on. Deciding on all of these elements before you ever launch gives you the power to determine how your audience will see you, and helps everyone, from your teams to your prospective customers, get on board with you.
Align your website
Your website is typically the first place prospects will visit when exploring your brand and products. It provides a window into your company, and should maintain the image you’ve created. As a living, breathing digital representation of your company, it should exude your brand identity. At a glance, visitors should be able to see your corporate culture and values. This usually isn’t a conscious realization, but the seamless user experience with consistent colors and tones that people have come to expect from your company go far in impressing your brand on their minds. On the other hand, faulty or confusing navigation and pages that don’t work leave customers unsure of who you are and doubting your trustworthiness.
Create a social brand strategy
Put your brand identity to work for you regardless of how many users are utilizing social media channels. By consistently implementing your brand’s voice and tone, and ensuring that every social profile maintains the look, feel, and messaging of your website, you can further promote trust in your visitors. Ensure that team members keep photos consistent across channels and profiles. This extends the public-facing tone of your corporate culture, and subliminally helps set the expectation of dependability in your audience. Since social profiles are typically the second place visitors go after your website, it’s important to ensure the same edge runs through every word and page that’s connected to your brand.
Market your content
Content is king—and if you doubt that, take a look at these stats. Content marketing costs companies 62% less than traditional outbound marketing, and brings 3 times as many leads. In fact, 93% of B2B businesses market with content—because it works. So as you put together a content team, push to maintain the same consistency and brand-packaged tone across all messaging. Whether you’re creating blogs, ebooks, white papers, podcasts, videos—any type of content—it should communicate your value and expertise to your customers in the same way as everything that emanates from your company—and deliver the same promise.
Communicating the need for consistent tones is imperative whether working in-house or with a remote team.
Messaging is about more than words on a page. It includes the design and visuals, such as fonts, colors, and layouts.
Ensuring a solid understanding of your brand identity and design/messaging strategies will help prevent your writers from creating multiple brand personalities and keep your followers feeling stable.
In many cases, especially with a newly launched brand, paid ads provide consumers with a first impression of your company—so make them great. The overall design and feel of these ads will introduce them to who you are, so every ad needs to properly depict your company, per your brand identity and company culture. One of the most fatal mistakes you can make is to create a paid ad that strays too far from your original branding package.
Ensure that your ad, small as it is, is densely packed with information, both implicit and explicit, that conveys your brand personality and values. Every click counts, especially when it comes to pay-per-click (PPC) ads. You want to avoid attracting the wrong people and amassing high costs. Knowing your audience and keeping your brand identity and strategy in mind will help you tailor your paid ads to appeal to the people you actually want to attract.
Building a brand isn’t rocket science. But it does require a heavy dose of insight into your audience, mission, and values. By defining your brand identity, and developing a subsequent brand strategy package and company culture around it, you’ll have a rock-solid foundation for your thriving business.