What is Branding and What Does Your Business Need to Build a Brand?
A brand is to business what a personality is to a person. Branding goes beyond what you see––it encompasses what you feel, think, and perceive about the business.
Let’s take an example. When you first meet a person, what do you notice? You might notice how they look, how they dress up, their hair color, the shoes they’re wearing, or the bag they’re carrying––all ‘surface-level’ attributes. While all this is a part of the person, it’s NOT who the person is. The way they talk, their mannerisms, their thoughts and ideas, their emotional, social, and intelligence quotient, their dreams and purpose, ideologies…everything that showcases their personality is who they really are––that’s their brand!
While most people think a business’s brand is the logo, name, colors, and fonts, the brand truly is more than that – it’s intangible.
Branding is a marketing strategy that builds people’s perceptions about a business and helps people distinctly identify a business. The logos, colors, fonts, and style are a part of that strategy, which, combined with the market perception you create, builds a cohesive brand identity.
Think about how you perceive different brands. For example, I love IKEA furniture because it gives me the joy of building and assembling it, and similarly, for most of my go-to’s, it’s a feeling that drives my decision.
So while most people believe a brand is all about looks and aesthetics, a brand is the feeling and the perception it creates. When you build a brand, you focus on your communication, messaging, tone and style, values, and brand philosophy – the experience you offer rather than the tangible products or services.
Let’s break it down into the key elements of a brand.
Key Elements of a Brand
As discussed, a brand is the feeling and perception you build about a business. Here are the key elements that build a brand:
- Brand definition: the value or the purpose of the brand
- Brand positioning: the statement that lays down what the brand stands for (what, who, why, and how)
- Brand familiarity: logo, colors, fonts, name, tone of voice, and overall aesthetics
- Brand communication: channels, mediums, and style
- Brand design: packaging, website, in-store, and products
- Brand customer service: experience, readiness, accessibility, and availability
To summarize, a brand is a perception you sell, not the product or service.
So, how does one build a brand?
How to Build a Brand
When you start a business, you know the products or services you offer; more often than not, similar products and services already exist. One way to be able to stand out is to offer quality and fill the gaps in the market. However, no matter how great your products and services are, you’ll get lost in the crowd unless you build a brand.
Build a brand to get noticed, create a buzz, and truly showcase the value of doing business with you!
Define Your Brand Purpose
To begin building a brand, find the purpose behind it. Are you trying to fill a market gap? Are you solving a problem? Are you trying to be an industry trailblazer, an innovator, or a pioneer? The answer to these questions will help you define the purpose behind your brand. Your brand purpose will help you create the right messaging and resonate with your target audience. Your brand purpose must define:
- What is your purpose?
- Why do you believe in this purpose?
- How do you plan to fulfill this purpose?
Know Your Competitors
A deep understanding of who your competitors are, what they offer, and what works for them will help you carve a place in the market. You must understand what your competitors are doing to be able to do things differently and stand out in the market. This will also help you be more original and fill the gaps in the market.
Understand Your Target Audience
While there is an audience for everyone––not everyone is your audience! Unless you know your target audience, their needs and expectations, and their preferred style and platform of communication, you will not be able to make a mark for your brand. Understanding your customer personas helps you deliver targeted communication across the right platforms. This will help your brand become more relatable and relevant for the right audience. It’s simple; you can’t expect to resonate with teenagers if you sell home insurance!
Outline Your Value Proposition
You know what your business sells, but knowing the value, your brand offers will help you create a stronger impact! It’s not about the products or the services you offer but the value that brings in for your customers. Say, for example, your business offers travel gear (product), but the real value you offer is to help people buy the right travel gear based on the place you’re visiting, the weather conditions, or the activities you plan to do. You’re taking that extra step to help people have a great travel experience. So think about the value you add, and not just your products and services.
Know Your Brand Voice
Every brand has a unique voice. Coca-Cola is fun; Apple is slick; Starbucks is welcoming; McDonald’s is happy––you get the point! Creating a unique brand voice for your target audience will make your communication and messaging stronger and more relatable. Your brand voice must be able to evoke the emotion or the feeling that you want your brand to be associated with.
It’s so easy to be mechanical and automated in today’s digital world. While that’s great for efficiency and productivity, don’t let your brand lose the ‘human’ touch. After all, your audience is human, and what separates machines from humans is emotions and stories. Share real stories about your brand, the team, the ideas, the challenges, and the wins. People feel more connected to brands that don’t sound robotic but understand and appreciate human emotions.
Your Brand; Your Personality
Your brand is your business’s personality – make it sharp and hard to forget!
You want people to know your brand, not just your products or services. That’s what will keep you top of mind, raise brand awareness and make you unmissable.
If you are an existing brand that’s feeling ‘lost in the crowd,’ maybe all you need is to polish your brand identity, and if you’re starting, work on your brand to build a strong foundation for your success.