So what is branding? When it comes to building a thriving business, it goes hand in hand with a strong brand (like that rhyme?). The first thing people assume they need is a logo, which is obviously a key part of the brand identity, but the thing is, it goes a heck of a lot deeper than that.
So, we’re going to lay down 10 fundamentals to help you get on track (and as an FYI this is what we’ll be covering in our exclusive Understand the Brand course in October, so make sure you get on the list to apply).
Your purpose is your ‘why’, your passion, the reason you get out of bed in the morning and what motivated you to start. It’s what drives you when the going gets tough (and it will), and keeps you going.
By now, most people would have read Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’ or watched his TED talk ‘How Great Leaders inspire action’ and if you haven’t, have a read or a watch.
Whatever your purpose is, and we all have different ones, it will lay the foundation of your brand and everything you do should point back to it.
How does what you do differently from what is already in the market? It could be that you offer a product that is more environmentally friendly as opposed to alternatives in the market. It could be that your service provides a more authentic, hands-on approach.
For example, Levi’s stitch their classic red tab into their jean pockets as a differentiator (they’ve been doing this since 1936).
And, in 1962, car rental business Avis used their 2nd place market positioning as the reasoning behind their tagline ‘We Try Harder’. Meaning they’re always striving to be number 1 so they try harder. Clever, right?
It doesn’t have to be something outrageous, just something that is unique.
3. Target Audience
This one is pretty important. It helps to shape who you target, where you focus your marketing efforts and how you communicate.
So, if you’re unsure how to find them:
- Keep track of who is engaging with your brand?
- Ask yourself, who are they?
- How old are they?
- Are they repeat customers?
- Keep a record of who is buying from you and keep retargeting.
It’s important to keep narrowing down to find your ideal audience because the way you communicate is key. Think about it, how you speak to a younger audience would differ quite a lot from an older audience. Where you’re placed in the market would also impact who you attract.
It’s also worth noting that you may have multiple targets to consider, it’s here where you would segment your audience and communicate different messages to certain customers.
This is how you place your brand in the market. Are you a luxury brand or an affordable brand? Think about how Toyota differs from BMW, this was all done through marketing tactics. BMW isn’t as price-driven with their strategy, they focus more on how the customer would ‘feel’ when driving a BMW. Their emphasis is on a higher price point, targeting higher-income earners. Toyota, on the other hand, is very family-friendly in regard to price and materials, and they target the general population.
In fact, Lexus is owned by Toyota and is their version of a luxury brand. This was done because people couldn’t assimilate Toyota with Luxury, so they created a new brand to target both market segments.
Think about the graphics, words, and imagery used in both ads and how they communicate to their audiences. You’ll also notice the higher-end brands marketing in higher-income locations.
Your value is portrayed through every aspect of your business, especially in the way you communicate. It’s important to note that the consumer will make an assumption about your brand based on an array of things; customer service, the product, reviews, information you provide them (be a leader in your field), people, and price.
Too often we see new businesses competing on price, this is just part of the buying process. If you can provide a superior product or service, people will happily pay top dollar for quality. This is where you’ll need to flex your ‘no‘ muscles if it devalues your service or product. In order for people to respect you, they need to know you’re serious about what you do. Just like BMW and Toyota, could you imagine BMW receiving a call from someone claiming that their cars are too expensive, and they wanted one at the price of a lower priced Toyota? They’d be laughed off the phone.
In order to maintain your brand value, you need to stay true to your word, get customers to give you reviews, communicate expertise and have trust in your prices.
Just like people, your brand needs to convey a personality. This will help you across the board in communicating consistency across all of your brand messaging from emails, customer service, marketing, social responses, your website, and more.
Consider the type of audience you want to attract and the tone of voice that will most likely cut through to them. Hiring a good copywriter will do wonders. Of course, it’s important to run an array of questions by them to see if they’re a good fit (so, trust your gut).
We like to say our brand is Reese Witherspoon with a kick of Lily Allen. People connect with people, if you humanise your brand with personality it will attract like-minded customers.
So, is your brand funny, witty, sassy, serious, or a combination of a few?
7. Tone of Voice
As mentioned above, your tone of voice is what they call your ‘brand voice’ and is your verbal identity. The way you speak can make or break how someone interacts with your brand.
Working together with a good creative team (copywriter and art directors/designers) can help you create a narrative that works best for your brand. If you go to a designer first, they will generally point you in the direction of a good copywriter to construct ‘tone of voice guidelines’ stemming from the visuals and direction you’ve discussed. And, vice versa, if the copywriter creates the tone, the designer will create the visuals from the tone guidelines (well, they should anyway). These are just like visual brand guidelines that you would receive from a designer. They shape the way you talk, include common words associated with your brand and your personality outline.
These are especially important if you have multiple people working on your brand. It creates a set of rules they can abide by to maintain brand consistency across the board.
Just like your tone of voice, your visual identity is the visual aspect of your brand. Your logo, imagery, assisting collateral, colours, fonts, layouts, placement, and more.
Your logo, as we like to say, is the letterbox to your house. It’s how people identify you, it isn’t the whole brand, but a very important aspect of it. Your visuals provide a consistent look and feel that your customers can associate with your brand (y’know, similar to that moment you spot those big golden arches shining bright in the sky after a big night out).
Your visual communication also shapes quality. If it’s done on the cheap, it’s noticeable. Good designers use the right graphical elements to depict the correct visual tone. That doesn’t necessarily mean design is expensive, just that you should invest in the right designer to create the right visual message in order to attract your target audience and maintain brand value.
Your delivery is a combination of the above:
- Your purpose is always the underlying factor.
- Your positioning, where you are placed? Who are you attracting? Think about that target market we spoke about? Where do they hang out?
- What channels will work for you? Remember, do 1 thing and do it well.
- Your value will be perceived in the way you communicate and engage across all touch points (where you interact with customers).
- Personality, tone of voice and visual identity help you to communicate your brand narrative the right way and shape how the audience will perceive you.
- Your differentiation should be conveyed throughout your marketing efforts to help you stand out from competitors.
As you can see, having the foundations set in place will help you to strategise and communicate with consistency to market. And, I bet by now you’re like, wow she says consistency a lot? Sure do! It’s so important, humans are creatures of habit. So, it’s important your audience know exactly who you are, what you stand for, and why they should buy from you, which helps to build trust and loyalty.
If the brand messaging is constantly changing, it’s hard for your audience to understand your brand and whether they want to associate with it. It’s here that most businesses run into trouble without realising it.
You know the saying it’s not what you know it’s who you know? Well, there’s some truth to that. Obviously, you have to be good in order for people to spread the word, but in order to spread the word, you need to?? Build relationships.
Connecting with like-minded businesses within your field help to not only make some kick-ass connections, but it can also help you to gain potential referral clients, and to collaborate, helping you to reach new people within your target market.
A lot of our closest business pal connections were made over Instagram and we have a great referral circle going on. And, some of our best clients were picked up through casual conversation at Business Chicks events! It can seem a little daunting, to begin with, but just like friendships, there always needs to be an introduction at some stage and then the process just gets easier.
Understanding these fundamentals will help you lay down a blueprint. Once you nail that, every other aspect of your brand from business relationships, customer service, employees, culture, and so on, should fit within the mold of what you have created.
Happy brand building.
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