“You do branding? That’s like graphic design, right? Like, logos and websites?” – about 30 people we shall not name.
One common misconception about branding is that it is the same as design. And while design is the visual representative of your brand, it is only an element of your branding. Lately, the word “branding” is viewed more like a buzzword than a staple part of starting a business.
However, branding is a significant part of your business development. It should be highly prioritized when starting a new company. Your branding will influence how your company does against competitors when it enters the marketplace.
What is branding?
Branding is the practice of creating a name, symbols, or designs that represent who you are, why you are, and how your target audience should perceive you. Its purpose is to differentiate your company from its competitors and clearly display the promises that you make to your customers.
The branding process includes research that helps develop a strategy of how to present your brand to your target audience. This research is then used to create assets that support your brand promise and appeal to your customers.
Doing brand research.
Brand research helps define exactly what you intend the brand to be. It is an essential step that should be done prior to developing any elements to market to your customers. This research ensures that the assets you create attract the most qualified buyer for your products and services.
The two types of research that you should do when building a brand are:
Market research is the process of finding information about the competitive market you are entering. You should know who your competitors are, what they offer, how much they are charging, and what unique benefit you can offer to your customers that they cannot. This helps define your company’s value proposition.
Customer research is the process of finding information about people who are currently purchasing products and services similar to yours. When doing product research you should determine what customers are looking for in a product, what they are not receiving from the current provider, and how they will value what you offer.
Developing your branding.
Your company’s branding includes a complex set of assets that collectively establish a relationship with your customers and defines your values. These assets should be deliberate and consistent.
The following assets are part of your branding:
Your brand message is the value that you offer to your customers. This is what makes people relate to your brand and influences them to buy from and follow you.
Your brand tone is the tone of voice that you want to use when communicating with your customers. It is a representation of your brand’s message. The tone used for your branding will influence how your target audience thinks of and interacts with your brand.
Your brand’s name is the first thing a potential customer hears in reference to your company. It should be strategically developed to clearly define what you do and who you do it for. A customer should not have to guess what your company is about when hearing your name.
Understanding how color affects emotion allows you to capitalize on the emotional elements of sales. Color is one of the first things that your brain perceives. It will influence the customer’s reaction to your product or service before they learn any detailed information about it. The colors for your brand must be consistent with how you want your customer to feel when they see your brand.
Typography is the art of arranging type. The fonts you use when branding your company will heavily influence how your message will be perceived. They must be consistent with the tone of your brand.
A logo is a symbol used to visually represent your products and services. It should incorporate all of your branding elements. Your logo should be a clear, distinct symbol of your brand.
Brand collateral is the media, usually printed, that you use to promote your brand. Business cards, flyers, direct mailers, and product labels are all brand collateral. These are used to strengthen your brand’s message and tone and generate customer leads.
Your website is your strongest marketing tool of all. It incorporates all elements of your branding to generate a stronger brand presence in your industry. It is your global voice as it is the most accessible asset you will have worldwide.
Why is branding important?
Branding is important because it makes your brand relatable to your customers. It also creates credibility for your company. Your branding will influence the success your company has in its target market.
It takes 5-7 impressions for your brand to become recognizable to the customer (Action Card). If your branding is inconsistent, even a little, your brand value and message may become lost in your marketing. This will make it harder to produce brand loyalty.
Having strong branding allows the customer to build a connection with you that they can trust. 95% of purchases are made subconsciously (Harvard Business School). Once you have secured a place in the customer’s mind, it is easier to close a sale.
The colors that you choose for your branding significantly impact your brand recognition. A staple color increases brand recognition by 80% (University of Loyola).
The strength of your branding plays a huge role when trying to secure funding for your company. 82% of investors see brand strength as an important factor when deciding on an investment (Reuters).
How strong is your branding?
If you did the necessary research prior to starting your brand development, your branding should be generating sales and producing customer loyalty. However, if you are like many entrepreneurs starting, you may have overlooked a step or two. Don’t worry, it’s never too late to rebrand.
Branding is something that has to be monitored actively to ensure that it is effective. Just like the customer, it evolves and you must evolve with it. Well-known companies like Coke-a-Cola and Starbucks have all rebranded at some point or another when their branding no longer reflected their direction or reached their valued customers.
Invest in researching, defining, and developing your brand. Full-service agencies ensure consistency within your development and design processes. They are capable of creating all of the elements seamlessly while being able to monitor the impact that it has on your sales. Because they help create your strategy, they understand your goals and are able to help your brand pivot without losing the company’s core values.
In conclusion, great branding leads to loyalty and sales. Don’t sell yourself short.