A brand is an identity. It is how people perceive a business, and often, it is the deciding factor in the choices that consumers make. It encapsulates what people believe about companies, their products or services, and the people working at the company. Even though it is intangible, a brand is one of the most valuable assets for any company.
Building a brand is a complex process that begins with understanding how you want the company to be viewed. It involves memorable designs, a clear message, and proper communication between a company and the target audience. If done right, the positive sentiment will lead to sales, trust, and loyalty that propel a company forward.
Branding is vital to a company’s success, especially if the goal is to reach a wide audience and gain recognition among that audience. If you find the entire thing a bit confusing, or if you are just looking for ways to strengthen a pre-existing brand, do not worry. The information below will give you the steps you need to build your brand.
Understand What a Brand Is
When it comes to understanding brands, it is important to make one distinction early: a brand is not a logo, slogan, or recognizable feature. It is not even your mission or values. Those are tools that work together to help form a brand identity, but there is a distinct difference between those individual parts and the overall brand.
Brands are intangible, so you cannot see or touch them. But it is what sets one company apart from others, making its products or services stand out. Take name brands and generic brands as an example. While some generic brands are the same product, there is an inherent trust in the name brand goods that gives the brand equity.
Something else to keep in mind is that the nature of brands means they are not restricted to companies. Individuals having their own brands is more frequent now than ever, in part due to the popularity of social media. The types of brands are:
No matter what you do or what goals you have, a strong brand is a beneficial asset. If the specifics of a brand are still a bit hazy, do not worry. The steps below will give you all you need to know to build a successful brand.
The Steps to Building a Brand
Although there are different types of brands, the steps for building a strong brand remain mostly the same. Some of the tools will change, and the audience will surely be influenced, but no matter what type of brand you want to build, these steps can help you achieve success.
Step 1 — Know the Purpose of Your Brand
Most brands have a purpose, a driving force that influences everything you put together when building your brand. You have to ask yourself why you are in business, aside from the pursuit of money or success. Look beyond the obvious products and services and dig deep. Then use that purpose to put forth a mission statement.
It is important to reiterate that your brand’s purpose is not the brand itself, but in the early stages, it can help give you direction and inform consumers about what your brand is about. Explaining why you exist, what makes you different, and what you offer is vital to catching your audience’s attention. Then you just need to make them care.
The main point to focus on when discovering your brand’s purpose is the “why” aspect. It is the most important part to the consumer because while many companies sell similar products, the reason they sell them and why they are trustworthy are unique.
Step 2 — Figure Out Your Target Audience
No matter what type of brand you are trying to build, there is nothing more important than the audience. You cannot please everyone, so you need to determine who you are trying to reach early in the process. The key is to be specific, avoiding the pitfall of casting a net across too wide a group of people.
There are many reasons to be specific, including the fact that it makes it easier to launch effective marketing campaigns. However, one of the largest reasons is that it reduces competition and sets your brand apart from the rest.
Imagine a company is making a healthy snack that is high in protein and low in carbs. They can potentially find success by branding themselves as the best healthy snack on the market. However, if they target athletes, it provides a stronger brand. They are not just another healthy snack.
When you are trying to identify the audience for your brand, a buyer persona becomes a powerful tool. In fact, brand creation and reimagining often rely heavily on these profiles, which include various things about consumers, including:
- Demographic Information
Once you are able to figure out your target audience, you gain direction for aspects such as your brand voice and design. There is marketing as well, which becomes far more effective when aimed at specific consumers. After all, simply knowing which influencers and other brands your audience likes will give you a major edge.
Step 3 — Determine Your Brand Position
The reason knowing your target audience is such an integral part of building a brand is that it informs the decisions you make going forward. For instance, your brand position. Here is where you take specificity to the next level, deciding things such as whether you are going to be a luxury brand or budget-friendly.
Starting with a positioning statement is a great first step in determining brand position. A positioning statement should be a simple one or two lines that include who you are as a brand:
- Product or service offered
- Target audience
- Value proposition
First, your product or service. It can be as simple as offering a healthy snack. The target audience pops up as well, so consider the previous example of athletes. Finally, the value proposition, which is the answer to why consumers should buy from you. It is the point of competition that makes you different from the rest.
“We are a food and beverage company that makes healthy snacks for athletes made from all-natural ingredients.”
It can be as simple as that, and it informs your choices when it comes to your position in the market and how you will go about marketing and selling your product. Just as importantly, it influences your voice. As a healthy snacks brand, you will have a very different image and voice than snack brands focused on taste and indulgence.
Step 4 — Pick a Name
Think about all of the successful brands out there and how memorable the name is. In fact, just think about products like Coke, whose name is used in a much broader sense than a mere brand. When you want a Coke, does it always refer to a Coca-Cola? Does it even refer to the brand at all?
Names have a lot of power and play a defining role for a brand. If done right, they can even tell consumers everything they need to know about your brand. An example of a descriptive name is Bank of America. Even if you had never heard of it before, the name tells you plenty. Other types of brand names include:
- Evocative names like Amazon, Apple, and Nike
- Invented names like Google, Pixar, and Exxon
- Lexical names like Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme
- Acronymic names like IBM, BMW, and HP
- Geographical names like American Airlines
- Founder names like Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren
All of these names can work, but it depends on the company and brand they are attached to. The ultimate goal is to find a name that aligns with the brand positioning and embodies the brand personality. It also needs to be available for trademark and available for use online.
Step 5 — Tell Your Brand’s Story
At this point, a lot of the heavy lifting behind who you are and what you hope to accomplish has already been determined. However, a brand story is still vital to let people know your company’s purpose and fall in love with it.
You can think of a brand story as a direct extension of Step 1, which goes into detail about things like:
- The motivation behind the start of the company
- Why the company exists
- How it contributes to consumers or the world
- The story behind it that consumers should know
A story is important for every type of brand because people buy the why, not the what, making it a powerful tool for your brand and your bottom line. It is even more effective when you consider it as a way to set yourself apart from companies that are similar in many other aspects.
Step 6 — Establish a Look
Before you design a logo or start trying to think of a catchy slogan, take a moment to think about what kind of look you want your brand to have. These choices will impact how your brand is visually represented through packaging and advertising, and it usually involves some combination of:
Colors: The use of color is multi-faceted. Color defines the look in a literal sense, and it also conveys feeling and emotion, with a color like blue giving an impression of trustworthiness and strength. It is also important to avoid colors that are similar to direct competitors to stand out and avoid confusion.
Fonts: Typography is just as important as the colors used, especially when you are considering an online presence. You want to keep things simple and easy to read while also injecting some flavor into what might otherwise be something mundane.
Images can also be a factor in a brand’s look, from the content to the style and color. All of it needs to be carefully considered and kept consistent to ensure the brand’s look is recognizable to consumers.
Step 7 — Design a Logo
Another vital part of every brand’s visuals is the logo. As the face of a brand, the logo is one of the ways consumers recognize a brand, along with its name. Wherever a brand exists, its logo exists, and this makes it a uniquely important visual asset that needs to stand out. Great logos are:
The first two are self-explanatory, even if they are hard to get right in practice. The final mention is something important, especially in today’s digital world. Logos need to look good at every size because they are going to be everywhere your brand is. Your logo will be on websites, packages, and advertisements.
There are many types of effective logos as well, ranging from abstract logos to mascots and emblems. You can even combine various types into something more comprehensive if you think they are both essential. However, this important step should not be rushed, and you should bring in a designer to help plan out an impactful logo.
Step 8 — Write a Slogan
Having a slogan is not mandatory, but it can be a powerful asset when used correctly. In fact, with the importance of social media and websites, having something brief and descriptive to tack on anywhere you please is more useful than ever.
Additionally, slogans can be changed. While changing other aspects of a brand might be difficult or harmful, slogans change all the time, making a slogan a unique point that can be adjusted as you find innovative ways to market your products and get your brand out there.
There are also many ways to approach a slogan, allowing you to be creative. You just want to make sure your slogan is short and sweet, with it being catchy enough to grab attention and powerful enough to benefit brand awareness.
Step 9 — Apply the Brand Everywhere
At this point, the foundation and direction of your brand have been decided, and the only step left is to spread your brand throughout the company. The goal is to have every corner illuminated by the ideals of the brand, from the outer appearance to the interactions with consumers.
While the first step in this process has already been taken care of with the look and the creation of things like the brand story, any employees and contractors must take up the mantle as well. Ensuring that the people who work for the company do a proper job of representing it is a vital step, especially when it comes to brand ambassadors.
The brand should also be apparent in any online presence, such as websites and e-commerce stores. Every page should showcase the brand logo and have the brand colors and font throughout. The same should be true of the brand voice.
When it comes to the voice of the brand, social media is another place that requires a strong presence that features all the recognizable features of your brand. Include the logo, your brand voice, and build a community around the values of the brand with your target audience.
Step 10 — Remain Consistent
In many ways, a brand is all about consistency. You can even see it during the building process, where you remain consistent with colors, voice, and personality. You want the brand to be everywhere, and you want consumers to know what to expect. There are exceptions, such as the slogan, but they are few and far between.
The same is true for products, though it is not consistent in the sense of stagnation. Instead, there is an expectation of consistent quality and values. Consumers put their trust in a brand, and if their expectations are not met, it can be damaging.
Therefore, to keep building your brand and ensure customers are happy, remain consistent. Even if you try new marketing strategies and launch new products, the brand should be there, and it should have the same values and look as always.
Every business in today’s world needs a strong brand, especially if the business wants to be competitive. Without a clear and effective brand, it is hard to stand out and be recognized, and it is even more difficult to form a connection with consumers who are ever more conscious and concerned about the values and mission of businesses.
Moreover, considering how integral a brand is to the cohesion and direction of a business, it stands to reason that it will be difficult to make headway without one. Fortunately, creating a brand is something anyone can do, and in doing so, you will strengthen your business and make future steps easier at the same time.