You’ve surely heard the following before: “You have to brand your business to stand any chance of success in today’s competitive marketplace.” Or something like this: “You need a brand that weaves your multi-marketing channels together, creating a cohesive and consistent presence that consumers come to recognize and trust.”
It’s all true. But that doesn’t clarify which branding elements and strategies your business needs. And the term branding, when used singularly, only serves to confuse things further. However, everything becomes crystal clear when you understand what makes the branding engine run.
Let’s take a look at the 8 principles of branding that every business should adhere.
1. Understanding your audience
Before you can build a brand, you must understand your audience, what they care about, their values, likes, dislikes, pain points, and how they’ll benefit from using your product or service.
When you understand your audience, you can ensure what you sell and the content you produce to promote it consistently resonates with them. Resulting in a conversion boost and improved customer loyalty.
Tips to understand your audience:
- Review current data – If you have an audience, use Google Analytics to review available current data to gain a deeper understanding.
- Create a buyer persona – A buyer persona enables you to understand your audience’s wants and needs.
- Conduct surveys – Surveys are great for gaining specific answers to questions about your brand and product/service performance.
- Watch your competitors – Discover what they’re doing right, how they’re targeting and engaging your audience, and how consumers respond.
2. Identifying your difference
In today’s ultra-competitive business environment, you have to identify what makes you different from your brand competitors to create a sustainable advantage.
Your brand differentiator could be a unique aspect or feature or a specific benefit your product or service brings to the marketplace that sets you apart from your competitors. And the more you have, the better your competitive advantage will be.
Brand differentiator tips:
- Your differentiators must be clear, specific, descriptive, and in a language your target audience understands.
- Use A/B testing to establish which differentiators are making a difference with your audience.
3. Defining your brand (putting it on paper)
It takes more than a collection of attractive brand elements such as color, fonts, and tone of voice to create a successful brand. One of the key principles of branding is establish a rock-solid brand definition first.
Defining your brand helps you connect with your target audience on a more personal level. And once defined, you can convey your brand’s deeper purpose by infusing it with your values, personality, and identity.
How to define your brand:
- Brand purpose – As Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Your brand purpose is the reason you’re in business and how you project that to your audience.
- Values – Your values are your brand core, what you stand for. And they should communicate a clear message to your target audience that your values are equal.
- Brand personality – Your brand needs a personality that suits your target audience, so it connects and engages with them.
- Positioning – Your positioning is about believing in something equally important to your customers. A common cause you can all rally behind and connect through.
4. Designing your brand’s visual identity
What you see is what you get. And the impression viewers get when they see your visual identity often determines how they’ll feel about your brand.
Visual identity describes everything your target audience sees, including product images, infographics, a logo, and your website’s layout and interior design. And it’s the imagery you choose that helps differentiate your brand from the competition and convey your unique message to consumers.
Developing a brand style guide that you and others can use helps ensure your visual identity stays consistent and relative to your brand values and consumer needs, where ever it’s used.
The elements of visual identity:
- Logo – A logo is the anchor of your brand. It should be infused with your brand personality and values. While there are logo tools that make this easier, it’s better to hire a professional.
- Graphics – Can include icon, animations, and full-scale illustrations. And any other picture assets, drawn or designed, to promote your brand.
- Typography – Typography is the style and shape of text used throughout your branding. To ensure versatility and visual identity, choose a relevant one for your logo, a clean headline font, a simple body-copy font for your content.
- Color palette – Use a color scheme to make your brand identifiable. Choose a primary color as your brand’s main color, a secondary background, and an accent color for your CTA button to engage users’ attention.
- Imagery – Only use images that represent your brand’s personality and mirror that of your customer demographic.
5. Build your brand strategy
With over 543,000 new businesses opening every month, you can’t build a brand and expect consumers to find you.
And as every brand wants to reach as large an audience as possible, marketing competition is fierce. So, it makes sense to say, the higher the percentage of consumers that learn about your brand, the better your chance of standing out from the crowd. A solid brand strategy is thus one of the key principles of branding.
A brand strategy that uses a multi-channel marketing approach can help you find those consumers.
Brand strategy tips:
- Be consistent – Brand consistency refers to the message you convey. You reinforce your brand by using one voice throughout all your marketing channels.
- Optimize your site – Yes, SEO is important, but you must also optimize your website to ensure your content is appealing, the design is user-friendly, and it loads in a flash.
- Make use of social media – Social media is crucial for brand promotion as it helps you connect with your audience at an intimate level. And you can use it to generate links and drive traffic to your site.
- Start a blog – Blogging helps enhance your brand visibility, improves search engine rankings, and establishes your brand’s validity while increasing its reach.
6. Auditing your brand
Once your brand strategies are active, you must audit it now and then to ensure it’s working.
A brand audit involves running a detailed analysis of your brand’s overall performance, with the results informing you of how efficiently your brand’s performing in your marketplace. Highlighting your strengths and weaknesses. And whether you’re on target for reaching your goals.
Culminating in the course of action, ensuring you continually align your brand and marketing strategies with your consumers.
Brand auditing tips:
- Question your customers – Customers can provide answers that data cannot. Like how well your customer service is performing, their overall experience, and why they choose your brand.
- Review your web analytics – Monitor your organic or paid channels to ensure your SEO and adverts are working or need an optimization update. And you can see exactly where your traffic is coming from.
- Review social data – Use a tool like Brandwatch to better understand your customers’ demographic information and whether you need to tweak your message if your audience is not who you thought they were.
7. Be consistent in your brand
Consistency creates trust, and consumers need to trust a brand before they’ll buy from them. One survey showed that “81 percent of consumers said they need to trust a brand to buy from them” (Edelman, 2019).
Consumers will begin to recognize your brand when your marketing strategy consistently presents a cohesive message, using a similar voice, visuals, color palette, and style on all your platforms. And that creates trust through repeated recognition, helping you stand out from your competitors.
8. Monitor brand growth
Monitoring and brand auditing are two different things, but both help ensure your branding and marketing efforts pay off and both are principles of branding every business should adhere.
Brand monitoring involves tracking numerous marketing channels to discover where and what people are saying about you. The information you’ll gather informs you of how consumers perceive your brand, telling you if your branding efforts are on track.
It also provides you with valuable audience feedback, ensuring you’re aware of any negative criticisms, enabling you to respond before they go viral.
Brand monitoring tips:
You can’t be everywhere or monitor every brand mention; it’s simply not sustainable and will overwhelm you with data. Instead, monitor the channels you’re actively using to promote your brand. And select one or two that are proven to be a hotbed for gossip.
Prioritize your main channels:
- Social media platforms.
- Online forums like Quora and Reddit.
- Online review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor.
- Online news media.
Branding can be a tricky thing. By following these 8 principles of branding, you have taken the first key steps to a success story. However, make sure that in everything you do, in all tips and strategies you follow, you pay attention to what your specific business needs. Taking the principles of branding and adjusting them to your specific needs will make you stand out in today’s competitive marketplace.