What exactly is branding and do you really need it in 2021?
The answer is yes–branding matters! (especially during covid, it matters now more than ever!)
Many people think that your logo is your brand, but it is SO much more! You may have heard the quote from Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what other people say when you’re not in the room,” and he hit the nail on the head. While advertising is what a company says about itself to consumers, branding is what others think, say and feel about your company. Whether you are a startup, a small business or a multi-million dollar corporation, a strong brand can create a customer experience that evokes an emotional connection which leads to brand loyalty, even during down times when you are forced to cut back on advertising dollars or other marketing efforts.
In a world where we are constantly inundated with marketing, good branding is no longer enough, you need GREAT branding–you need to have a story and a purpose that envokes an emotional response and builds trust over time. Taking the time to be thoughtful and intentional about your branding will set you apart and build a community of followers and brand loyalists.
So, you may be wondering, “How do I build my brand?”
Start with a Brand Strategy
As a society, attitudes and needs have shifted over the past year through the pandemic, now is the perfect time to re-examine and define your brand. Developing a branding strategy by asking the following questions will help you to understand your target market and develop your messaging, tagline and visual strategy. You will be able to hone in on your sweet spot.
- Who are you as a brand and what are your goals for the future?
- What is your story and what makes you stand apart from your competitors?
- Who is your ideal consumer? What do they want, what worries them, what brings them joy, what interests them, what do they need—or even what might they need in the future?
- How does your brand solve a need or problem for your consumer and what is important to them?
Based on the questions above, you can pinpoint areas of growth and change that will help your product to resonate with your customers in a more relevant, credible way which will help to build that foundation of trust.
Here are a few brands that have done a phenomenal job with their branding to create an emotional attachment to their company:
What do you think about when you see the Starbucks logo? Cozy, relaxed, trendy, friendly?
What about Nike? Empowerment, strength, motivation?
How about Apple? Innovation, imagination, aspiration?
Notice these are all feelings…not just specific products they sell. Marketers, retailers and organizations spend millions annually in researching and developing their brand messaging to ensure that the consumer has those emotional connections that deepen trust and keep them top-of-mind when their goods or services are needed (and even when they aren’t!). Purchasing is an emotional experience and when people feel good at an emotional level about a company, they are more likely to engage and purchase.
Develop your Brand Identity
Consistency is key! Once you have identified your target audience, you can now think about how it’s going to be visually communicated. Choose colors, typefaces, messaging, photography and graphics that reflect the ideas set forth in your brand strategy. It is imperative that communication of any kind always respects the essence of your brand–whether a website, business card, social media, marketing materials, etc. they should always feature your specific colors, typography and brand elements, which have been defined during this phase. We recommend that you go as far as creating a brand archetype or guidelines that tells others how elements of your brand should be used and when. This will help maintain brand integrity throughout the years.
Imagine the confusion if Coca-cola suddenly started producing Coke in bright yellow cans with their name in a blocky font. You might not even recognize it on the shelf and you would certainly wonder if it was the same as the “old Coke” you have always bought! People tend to be creatures of habit – keeping consistency helps build another layer of trust and familiarity between you and your consumer which strengthens their emotional connection.
When you are updating your branding, here is a quick checklist of a few places that you will want to brand as cohesively as possible – the goal here is for anything representing your company to be instantly recognizable as your brand.
If you want the full brand checklist we use at M, enter your email below and we’ll send you a copy.
The bottom line is that great brands do not just happen, it takes careful crafting with intention and meaning to create a brand that resonates with your target market, but this effort pays off in spades by creating customer loyalty which leads to both repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals (which is free advertising-YAY!)
According to brand identity expert, David Brier, “If you don’t give the market a story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.” As a business owner, you need to ensure that everything you put out for potential customers to consume is cohesive, high-quality and representative of what you want them to think, feel and say about you! Your brand is your story and now is the perfect time to define it!
If you are ready to make changes or define your branding, M Agency can help. Email us today to get started!