A beginner’s guide to Branding
For a newly created company, sales volume and immediate revenues are oftentimes deemed the most important short-term goals to achieve. But branding your business is just as vital. Defining your brand’s personality and conceptualizing its visual identity are indeed key components of a healthy company.
This article is meant as a guideline to follow in order to dominate Branding through 4 key basics topics:
- Defining goals
- Understanding your audience
- Defining your brand’s identity
- Creating and maintaining consistent marketing channels
Before we get to it, let´s make sure we agree on why Branding is such an important component of success for your business.
Branding encompasses all activities conducted to increase the visibility of your company, from a quantity or quality standpoint. A strong brand image means a positive perception by the consumer. It also generates an identity which potential customers will recognize across all of your promotional channels, such as social media, newsletters, packaging, print and wherever else you choose to appear.
Apple is undeniably the champion of brand recognition and homogenization
To keep it short, branding is more than just a fancy logo, it’s how your company is perceived, what it stands for, and how business is conducted. Without further ado, let´s dig into the beautiful world of Branding!
Define your key goals
It is out the utmost importance for you and your business to draw out your goals as a corporate entity. This is the most basic step, the big bang to the universe that will become your business, but we found out that this step is almost never fully conducted by companies in their startup phase. Big mistake!
As an entrepreneur you should be able to instinctively answer theses few basics questions:
Who are we as a company? What are our core values? What do we want to achieve? What unique traits we want our future brand to carry? What market segments are we targeting? What is our added value to the world? How do we want to communicate our existence to the public?
Answering these questions and having an honest, hard look at yourself as an entrepreneur or a company, at your product and at the way you want to be perceived will give you a great foundation for any decisions you’ll make from here on out. There are meant to create an identity frame to your business. This frame will not only complete your financial goals but will also help you to achieve them!
Knowing your audience
Knowing who is your public means stronger connections
This could be the biggest paradox to all good business: to increase your chances of success you absolutely need to narrow your potential customer base. In other words: your answer to the question “Who are you trying to sell to?” should not be “Everyone.” Knowing who is your public, who is your typical customer will allow you to naturally attract leads who will be more inclined to purchase from you. Most companies tend nowadays to develop a muse: a customer persona, designed as a reminder of who their key audience should be. For example, a famous footwear retailer who was at a crossroad in terms of strategical direction developed a new muse to further anchor and symbolize the new era the company was entering. This company, which will remain nameless, came up with a muse customer named Mike, a fictional character designed to model who the audience of the company is and used internally as a marketing guideline. Mike is 22 years old, buys three pairs of sneakers a month, spends 2 hours a day on social media, leads an active lifestyle and is addicted to sports…)
While designing a muse might hide the whole spectrum of consumers that can be touched by your products, we highly recommend this exercise to new businesses as it tends to help them to find a purpose and identity in their early stages. Why not spending time thinking who your muse(s) will be? To begin, you’ll simply want to look at your current customers and those of your competitors and start to generate an average customer persona.
Next, list the benefits of your products and services, and make sure they match this persona. The idea is to start thinking about what the customer needs from you before they’ll open their wallet. Once you understand that, you can move onto developing your communications.
Defining your brand´s identity
Following points 1 and 2, it is now time to transform what you now know about your company and customers and use this intel to develop your brand´s identity. This is the core of branding: giving birth to a genuine personality, not just a company name or just a logo. Keep in mind that if you manage to effectively create an avatar of your values through Branding, your audience will naturally relate to you, your products, your marketing campaigns, your team members. Once again, business success is always driven by a strong Branding effort.
There are a number of elements to consider. A coherent and impactful logo is often the first Branding cornerstone of an up-and-coming business. Another element you must also tackle as an early stage of existence is your Corporate Identity Playbook, or Graphic Identity Package.
An example of Corporate Visual Identity playbook, setting the pace for graphic production and look and feel of your company.
This visual identity should be directly linked to the first two chapters of this article. Once you know who you are and who is your public, you´ll know how to make your business stand out visually the choices you make in terms of graphics (typography, logo, colour scheme…) will only come naturally. There’s more to consider down the line, but this is a solid first step to take.
Next item to cross off your branding check list: your company´s tone of voice, which can range from extremely casual and laid-back to technical, cold and straight to the point. This component of your corporate identity will be dictated by your sector of activity, market data and, most importantly, your own style as an entrepreneur. Your tone of voice ALWAYS has to match your core values and should NEVER sound fake or forced. For more information on this subject, have a look at The Nielsen Group´s Tone of Voice charts and samples here:
Creating and maintaining consistent marketing channels
You are now almost done elevating your Branding identity to new heights. Last thing for you to understand once your Branding identity is set up: it is vital to ensure its consistence across all communications channels. In other words: you absolutely need to ensure that your company is perceived in the same way everywhere it is visible.
Indeed, we hope that you have plans to diversify your Brand´s visibility real estate : Social media, conventions and events, product packaging, advertisement campaigns… YOU MUST MAKE SURE THAT YOUR IDENTITY IS COHERENT ACROSS ALL THESE PLATFORMS.
Of course, properly managing your identity across different channels will require huge efforts, but the good news is that branding your content and business through a multi-channel approach won´t be difficult if you did your homework beforehand. We hope that this article will help you define your Branding identity. Feel free to contact us in case of questions and we´ll gladly help you build and manage your Brand image.