Building Your Marketing Foundation: Branding

Any marketing foundation starts with an understanding of your overarching business goals. Once those are well understood, they will help you shape your company’s marketing goals and start addressing your marketing foundation, beginning with your audience. Defining your audience will help you determine the right messaging to help you reach your goals as well as ensure you are building a strong brand identity.

In today’s competitive marketing landscape, creating a strong brand is essential for long-term success. Your brand is more than just a logo or a memorable slogan. Building your foundation with branding creates the perception and reputation your customers have of your business, which means that building a solid marketing foundation is not possible without meaningful and consistent branding.

What follows are the 3 key steps for developing a brand that has the right impact for your ideal audience. 

Step 1: Define Your Brand Identity

Before diving into marketing tactics, it’s crucial to clearly define your brand identity. Just as everyone’s personality and presentation is unique, your branding identity should be unique, too. But finding a unique identity can be difficult, especially if the products and services you offer are fairly straightforward, or are offered by many different competitors.

You can start finding your unique brand identity by answering these fundamental questions:

  • Mission and Values: What is the purpose of your business? What values and principles guide your decisions and actions?
  • Target Audience: Who are you helping most? What are their demographics, needs, and pain points? Understanding your target audience is key to tailoring your branding efforts effectively.
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP): What sets your business apart from competitors? Don’t just say “we provide better service” or “we provide the same products, but for less.” Get specific: What unique things do you do in your line of work? What are some unique areas of expertise? What will a customer experience with you that they won’t experience elsewhere?
  • Brand Personality: Define the personality traits and characteristics that align with your brand. Is your brand playful? Professional? Innovative? Dependable? Poll your stakeholders and brainstorm 2-3 adjectives that best describe your company.

Some Examples of Brand Identity

Even widely known brands need good brand identity to differentiate themselves from all the other brands selling similar products. In fact, it’s imperative for brands to continue connecting with their existing brand loyalists as much as developing relationships with prospective customers. Here are a few of our favorite examples of brand identity.

Apple: Apple is well known for how user friendly their products are; their clean design and simple-to-use devices makes their products approachable to a wide audience, not just computer geeks. Even further, Apple’s “think different” slogan and ad campaigns associate the brand with creators while hinting at how innovative their products are.

Patagonia: This brand sells outdoor gear that encourages buying one piece and using it for a lifetime. It’s named after a region in Argentina that serves as a conservation area and a kind of outdoor playground. Patagonia is heavily invested in nature conservation and boasts a used clothing program in addition to their repair policy, which allows customers to ship back damaged clothing and have it mended for free, which extends the life of that product and makes people happy.

Salesforce: In the business world, Salesforce is a well known, premium Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. They are known for providing technology that helps businesses connect with and stay connected to their customers consistently. They harness the power of the cloud to make sure that happens at all times across the entire company, no matter the timezone, operating system or department.

Schwab: How many banks/financial institutions can you think of? Probably a lot, right? Schwab is up against significant competition, but the thing that gives them an advantage is their brand identity. Charles Schwab knows putting clients first gets noticed, and so their current obsession has been on making things easy for everyday investors. Schwab’s angle is to be inviting when many other financial institutions are intimidating.

Step 2: Translate that Identity into Experience

We’ve all experienced the dreaded machine menu message system. You know, when they give you options and you have to press the corresponding number. Then maybe you have to say what you’re calling for, but the robot doesn’t understand you so you repeat yourself another 3 times before finally hanging up. Though it might be cost effective, it’s an overall horrible customer experience.

Such experiences are part of your brand, too. While most companies think of a brand as a logo, a website, and a sales sheet, your brand is so much more…it’s the way you make your customers feel. It’s the way you connect with some or all of their five senses.

Once you have an idea of your brand identity, start thinking about how customers experience that identity. Start by asking yourself these sorts of questions? 

  1. How can your clients or customers contact your company when they have a question or issue? Do they expect to reach out via social media? Phone call? Or do you have a brick-and-mortar store where they will speak to a cashier or sales rep on the floor?
  2. How do your sales associates and other staff interact with your audience? How do you train them for this? Are they clear on the message and experience they are expected to provide?
  3. What is the feel your office, retail store, or website gives off? Will people stay and will they want to come back?
  4. Do you need an FAQ section on your website?
  5. How can you track the experiences of your customers in order to get reliable feedback?

Your business needs to be able to answer these to create a positive customer experience.

Step 3: Create Memorable Brand Assets

Yes, experiences are important…and visual elements play a vital role in that brand experience. They serve as the face of your business and leave a lasting impression on your customers. Let’s use the example of Apple from above to flesh out the various aspects of brand assets:

Logo: Design a visually appealing and versatile logo that encapsulates the feel of your brand. What do you want your logo to say about your company? Your logo should be recognizable, memorable, and reflect your brand’s personality. In addition, think through how your logo will be utilized to design a logo that will also be functional. For example, if you will use your logo on embroidered shirts or small print design projects, avoid intricate designs or a lot of text. Apple’s logo, for instance, is an Apple, known as the fruit of creation. The apple is a symbol of knowledge and innovation; Apple first had a logo with Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree, the genesis of the law of gravity. But over time, the logo was reduced to a simple apple with a bite taken out—simple and easy to remember.

Color Palette: Select a color palette that will resonate with your audience and evoke positive emotions. Different colors can convey different meanings and create specific associations with your brand–this is where you can have some fun with color psychology. Similarly to your logo, you will want to consider utilization to ensure the colors come through consistently no matter the application (i.e. website, professional printing, in-office printing, etc). Apple’s color palette has evolved over the years; initially the logo was rainbow colored because Apple monitors were some of the first full-colored monitors. Apple has since made the switch to a monochromatic color palette, since color is no longer a differentiator, and the new logo now represents the elegance and simplicity of Apple products. 

Typography: Choose fonts that align with your brand’s personality. Typography should be legible and consistent across all brand assets. Apple has a proprietary typography that is easy to read across all of its devices–iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Apple’s typography is distinctive and that makes it relatable to only Apple products.

Imagery: Define the style of imagery that represents your brand. Whether it’s photography, illustrations, or graphics, ensure the visuals you use reflect your brand’s tone and message. Apple’s imagery is sleek, simple and highlights the beauty and innovation of their products.

Tagline: Create a memorable phrase that captures the soul of your brand. Apple’s slogan is “Think Different”. Their tagline perfectly represents what the brand does, what they have to offer, and who they are.

Tone of voice: Be consistent with the style of language and messaging used in brand communication. Reflect the brand’s personality and values through this avenue. Here are a few tips on how to be effective through tone of voice:

  • Be human. Even when your tone of voice is professional, you want your customers to feel like they connect with your business on a personal level.
  • Be clear. Deliver your message in a straightforward way and avoid jargon, it’s confusing and you want to be sure you’re connecting with your audience.
  • Be confident. Project authority and expertise.
  • Inspire. Highlight how your product or services can change your consumer’s lives for the better. 

Sound and music: Audio elements that are associated with the brand can help to create a distinct auditory identity. Think of the sound your computer makes when it’s rebooted. That Apple computer sound is pleasant, simple, and very recognizable.

Apple has some of the most loyal customers out there. This is because Apple has set a high bar for their products and the people who continue to buy them have a deep connection to the company. Brand assets are important because they help create a consistent and unforgettable brand experience for consumers. Brand assets enable consumers to connect with the brand and quickly recognize it, which can help build brand loyalty and ultimately drive sales. 

Consistency Across the Board is Key to Effective Branding

Consistency is key to successful branding. Maintaining a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints helps build recognition and fosters trust with your audience. Consistency in the following areas will serve your business well.

  • Messaging: Develop a clear and consistent brand voice that reflects your brand’s personality and resonates with your target audience. Ensure your brand messaging is consistent throughout all marketing materials, including website and email copy, social media posts, and ads.
  • Brand Guidelines: Establish brand guidelines that outline the proper use of your logo, color palette, typography, and other visual elements. This ensures that all marketing materials adhere to your brand’s identity consistently.
  • Online Presence: Maintain a cohesive brand experience on your website, social media platforms, and other online channels. Use consistent visuals, messaging, and tone of voice to create a seamless brand presence.
  • Customer Interactions: Embody your brand’s values and personality in customer interactions. Consistency in customer service and experiences helps reinforce your brand image.

Build Relationships with Your Audience Through Branding

Building a strong marketing foundation is not possible without branding. By defining your brand identity, creating impactful brand assets, and ensuring consistency across all touchpoints, you can establish a powerful and recognizable brand that resonates with your target audience.

Just keep in mind that branding is an ongoing process that requires regular evaluation and adaptation. Invest time and effort in building your brand, and it will become a valuable asset that sets your business apart and drives long-term success.

Interested in having a team of professionals assess your brand to see where it can be improved? Talk to us about our marketing physical.

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