Building a Brand
A brand is the single most powerful marketing tool on earth – building a brand involves creating an identity that customers will associate with your business. As one of, if not the most important factor in creating a scalable business, branding is quite literally a make or break for any company.
Representing the personality of your business, you’re going to want branding that reflects every positive characteristic of your company and with a step-by-step guide, we’ll give you all the guidance you need when building your brand.
Understand Your Target Audience
All in all, the end goal of any business is to deliver products and/or services to its customers. With countless demographics out there, anyone who wants to grow their business needs to truly focus and hone in on the groups of people who are most likely to be receptive to their services. Once this research has been conducted via feedback forms, analytics or any other market research techniques, you’ll have a far deeper insight into the types of people you need to target.
As soon as you understand your target audience, you’ve gained the ability to craft content that will appeal specifically to them. Appealing to millennials and appealing to baby boomers is like playing two separate games. When you’re appealing to the former, you’ll want to promote the moral side of your company (whether that be environmentalism, fair trade or other causes) whilst targeting the platforms that they tend to use (so ensure that your site is optimised for mobile and make greater use of social media and viral marketing). When appealing to baby boomers, on the other hand, you’re best sticking to more traditional forms of marketing and avoiding the use of slang or profanities.
Say you start a business selling Smartwatches (a typically youthful product), although TV adverts would be helpful, you’re much more likely to encapsulate your ideal audience via influence marketing and viral marketing. Hence why it’s so crucial that you truly understand your audience.
Research Your Competitors
When building a brand, you’re going to want to understand your competitors just as much as your audience – keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses grants you a chance to imitate their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.
Maybe you have an idea for a future product but haven’t done all that much research into it. Chances are, somebody out there has already tried it, and for good reason, failed. If you study that occurrence, you could unravel a very subtle, but vital reason as to why that product failed – from there, there are two roads to go down, one optimistic and one pessimistic. On the bright side, the downfall of your “competitors’” release could be something very specific to them and could be easily avoided by you. On the more pessimistic side, maybe you’re entering a market that is simply too tough to crack – or even non-existent.
Analysing your competitors’ services can reveal a few things. Firstly, what if there’s a service within their niche that there’s a demand for yet they’re not offering? That could be your chance to one-up them. Maybe there’s a service they offer that you could offer in an improved or cheaper way. Or, a slightly more obvious one, you can properly understand your competitors’ pricing and base your pricing off theirs – giving you the upper hand.
A Relevant, Catchy and Easy-to-Spell Name
One of the foundational factors when building a brand and quite possibly the single most important part of your brand is the name. Think of some of the world’s most impactful companies, that could be:
As of 2021, all six of those companies are listed on Statista’s The 100 Largest Companies in the World by Market Capitalization in 2021. So what do all these company names have in common? Well, each one is short and memorable, consisting of just two or three syllables. Having a short, snappy name for your company makes it much easier to remember – nobody will remember a company that has a dozen words in its name. Using a simple name is useful when it comes to raising awareness for your business as snappy names can easily be repeated and can easily be used in conversations.
Similar to first impressions, your company name will likely be the first thing a customer notices about your business. Therefore, if possible, try and incorporate a word that relates to your business (i.e. RJ Woodworking Machinery featuring the words woodworking and machinery) into the name. Not only does it make it clear to unfamiliar audiences what your business does, but it also provides a benefit to your online presence since your company name will be the URL for your website and having a keyword incorporated in your URL provides a significant boost to SEO.
On the topic of URLs, whatever you name your company, make sure it’s easy to spell. When someone searches for your company online, you want them to spell it correctly so that they actually find you. Difficult to spell names can throw potential customers off track. This is also a reason to avoid using numbers and punctuation in your name.
Create a Slogan that’s Relevant and Concise
Slogans are meant to be short, punchy phrases that reflect part of your brand identity. A good slogan is both a powerful and memorable way of indicating the personality and offerings of your business.
Make sure to avoid a slogan that is irrelevant and makes people think “what does that mean?”, just like Burger King’s “Be Your Way” slogan. “Be Your Way” reflects nothing about Burger King, it doesn’t include any words that are related to the business, it isn’t catchy and it is only memorable for being one of the worst slogans in recent history. Luckily for Burger King, this was just a temporary slogan for a campaign and their actual slogan (“Have it Your Way”) is much better.
On the other hand, Dollar Shave Club made an excellent example of implementing humour into a slogan. Their “Shave Time. Shave Money.” slogan ticks all the right boxes. It’s short and snappy, it’s humorous, it’s memorable and most importantly, it’s related to their products.
So when you’re creating a slogan, always remember:
- Concise and catchy
- Reflecting your brand
- Easy to understand
Colour Schemes and Fonts
You think of Apple, you think white. You think of Coca-Cola, you think red. You think of Facebook, you think blue. Colours can play a huge role in creating an identity for your company. When choosing a colour, you may want to begin by considering colour connotations. For example:
Black – Death, Depression and Mourning
White – Purity, Simplicity and Light
Purple – Luxury, Wealth and Magic
Green – Nature, Health and Growth
All colours have connotations. They evoke certain emotions and convey information and although you may not notice yourself connecting colours with emotions, your subconscious definitely does. So if you’re building a brand for a pharmacy, you may want to consider using shades of green to symbolise health, growth and nature. Similarly, if you’re building a brand for a designer, you may want to use shades of purple to symbolise wealth and luxury.
As mentioned before, almost all of the largest US corporations have short, simple and memorable names. These names weren’t picked by accident. Likewise, the colours used in the branding of these companies aren’t chosen without careful, thoughtful selection. Take Apple for example (yet again), according to Canva’s blog on choosing colours in branding – before the release of the first iPhone, Steve Jobs decided to rebrand Apple with a blank, white colour palette. This was allegedly for two reasons. The first is minimalism. Since white is associated with purity, a predominantly white-themed brand would encapsulate a sense of minimalism when combined with sleek designs. The second reason was less psychological and had more to do with standing out from the crowd as most of Apple’s competitors had a track history of releasing grey devices.
So if you want to appeal to customers on a subconscious level, build your branding around colour psychology whilst using colours and shades that look aesthetically pleasing.
Design a Logo
Every company has a logo. Whether it’s a fancy illustration or a simple company name, logos are absolutely crucial to the appeal and success of your business. When building a brand, you need to ruthlessly prioritise the creation of an effective company name and logo, then focus on tying them together with a colour scheme that is both appealing and reflective of your brand.
Nowadays, business owners don’t tend to design their logos, they hire marketing agencies to do it for them. Although creating your own logo is admirable, most of the time, it’s just not practical. Even if you’re an exceptional artist, having the feedback and advice of a marketing agency is really quite invaluable.
Something to consider when creating a logo is symbolism. Map out a variety of images that could represent your niche. If you own a coffee shop, you could use coffee cups and/or coffee beans – just like Costa Coffee did. Having such a clear, straightforward symbol embedded in your logo can help customers identify the nature of your business without them having to read a single letter. Other good examples of businesses that have used symbolism in their logos are Burger King, Instagram and Walkers (or Lays if you’re in the US).
Of course, there are some things you should completely avoid when creating a logo, these are:
Although trends can present your business with some short-term capital, never should a trend be incorporated into a logo. As is the nature of trends, one day they’re spreading like wildfire and the next day they’re dead. So don’t go crazy with fashionable colours, fonts and imagery, keep it classy and timeless.
Competitor research can come in handy when creating a logo. Not to suggest you should steal or imitate your competitor’s logo, but you can test what does and doesn’t work with your target audience. However, if your most successful competitor uses a distinct pink and blue colour scheme, one of the last things you should do is copy or imitate them. At best, you’ll look like a parody, at worst, you’ll end up with a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Logos aren’t tapestries. Although some businesses benefit from a detailed logo, it’s always best to keep your logo as streamlined as possible. Too much detail can overwhelm your audience and can make your logo look bloated and pretentious. Just keep it relevant, eye-catching and reflective of your brand.
Designing a logo can be a tedious and repetitive process, or at least it should be. Whether you’re designing your own logo or hiring a marketing firm to do it all for you, you should have draft after draft of potential logos, until you finally find the one that resonates with you and your business. Once you’ve found your logo, you should refine it to perfection.
A Consistent Online Presence
Few things scream amateur like an inconsistent online presence. Ensuring that each feature of your branding retains the same style across a range of social media platforms is crucial to displaying your professionalism as a business. This doesn’t just apply to social media however, it applies to web design, directory entries and just about anywhere that your brand appears online (and even offline).
Some of the key areas to focus on are:
The most important place to have consistent branding is your website. Thankfully, most websites meet the criteria for this, but there are several factors to remember when designing, developing and writing the content for your website.
You’ll want the same branding across all of your pages, so your colour scheme, logos, fonts and the types of images used should all be of the same style and quality. Anything that could be deemed as jarring should be improved or removed.
Although subtle, the tone of voice used throughout your text is vital when communicating with your audience. There’s nothing wrong with using an informal tone if it suits your business, but switching from informal to formal will alienate both halves of your audience. Choose a tone and stick with it throughout all your pages.
As previously mentioned, the tone of voice used throughout your posts and platforms should indefinitely remain the same. Changing your tone with each post will appeal to a different audience each time. As always with branding, you need to define a target audience and appeal exclusively to them – without alienating other markets. Additionally, if things like slang or emojis are appropriate for your target audience, use them. But use them consistently and tastefully.
As with websites, any images or colour schemes used to represent your business should be used consistently across all social media platforms. Granted, you don’t have as much freedom with most social media platforms as you do websites, but you can maintain an overall consistent tone and style.
Nowadays, online directories typically offer a full business profile where you can add services, images, opening hours and more, as well as your contact details. If you’re using directories (whether for awareness or links), make sure to add the same address, phone number and email across all directories. Inconsistent details can negatively impact any SEO efforts and can lead potential customers down dead ends.
So with all that said, there are two crucial reasons to ensure that you have a consistent online presence. To convey a sense of professionalism. And to appeal to your target audience/s.
Conclusion – Building a Brand
Building a brand is by no means an easy task. Without a greater understanding, you can quite easily miss the mark and either poorly communicate with your target audience, or appeal to a completely irrelevant audience. Hopefully, by now you have enough of an understanding to effectively build a brand that can appeal to at least some form of audience.