Branding Basics You Shouldn’t Overlook by Lexie Lu
Your brand identity is one of the ways consumers recognize and remember your company, so branding should be an integral part of any promotional plan. You may not have a big budget for hiring an advertising agency to build your image, but there are many basic techniques for creating your name.
Branding is the way consumers see you rather than just the image you present to the world. Although companies often confuse it with marketing and advertising, branding is specifically the way you look to the outside world and if you’re getting the message you want across.
Once you’ve decided on an image, there are some things you can do that will make your business memorable to users.
1. Stay Consistent
Keeping a consistent brand image across any interaction you have with consumers increases conversions as much as 23 percent. Brand consistency includes style guidelines, such as what colors you use, the font utilized across various platforms, language, tone and even image specifications. The overall feeling a person gets when interacting with your company is a component of your branding.
2. Stand Out from Competition
No matter what industry you’re in, you likely have competitors nipping at your heels. Think about ways you can stand out with a different look, unique names or the values you stand for.
And Union creates craft beers, but in a marketplace where many feature intricate labeling and unique bottles, it’s placed its product in cans with a solid color and simple but catchy name. This gives the company a unique look that allows it to stand out from other brands and create strong brand recognition among fans.
3. Pay Attention to Signage Trends
If you attend a trade show or own a brick-and-mortar store, add digital signage to draw in foot traffic. Pay attention to what others do with their digital signage, and then use your own to push your brand’s message. If your company is known for free samples, invite people to try something and see what they think. If your business is known for deep discounts, list what is marked down that day and how much. Think of how you can share your brand’s messaging and what’s special about your store through short phrases on your signs.
4. Create a Style Guide
As your brand grows and you pull in more people to help with your promotions, it’s easy to let consistency slip away. A style guide keeps everyone on the same page and makes sure you’re using the same colors, fonts and guidelines across different platforms. Your social media manager works from the same principles as your web designer, and your web designer uses the same colors and styles as your print ad designer. Everything is recognizable as distinctly yours.
Wolf Circus Jewelry offers detailed brand style guidelines that indicate details about the logo, mission, color palette and more. As you move through the pages of the guide, you get a good concept of the overall style of the brand and the messaging behind the company.
5. Figure Out Your Values
What are your values as a person and for your brand? If you started your company to help get people become more organized, how does your mission reflect that purpose? Do you volunteer at local schools teaching organizational skills? Do you give out free planners with every order? What are the things you do that reflect your values? Think about companies such as TOMS, which gives away shoes to those less fortunate whenever you buy a pair. How can you do something similar?
6. Perfect Your Logo
While your logo isn’t the only part of your brand image, it is one of the most recognizable aspects. When users see it, they should immediately associate it with your company. Think about some of the most famous logos out there. When you see the Nike swish, you know the symbol stands for its products. When you see an apple silhouette with a bite out of it, you know it stands for Apple brand. While your logo might not be that iconic, it should be recognizable to your customers.
WP Diamonds has a simple but highly effective diamond-shaped logo with the letters W and P intertwined on a black background. The result is an elegant logo that clearly shows what it does as a brand and signals its name.
7. Find a Tagline
Think about how you can sum up what your brand does in six words or less. This is your tagline, and you should use it everywhere — on your website, printed material and social media. Think about some of the famous brands and their slogans of the past and now, such as:
- GE — We bring good things to life
- McDonald’s — I’m lovin’ it
- Maxwell House — Good to the last drop
You can likely think of many more examples. The key to a good tagline is summing up what you do or the benefit you bring in as few words as possible. If you can make them unique in some way, but also simple enough to remember, you’ll find even more success with your tags.
8. Adopt a Mascot
A brand mascot helps tell the story of the brand and sets you apart from competitors by giving you a symbol users relate to. If you can tie the mascot into what you do, then so much the better. For example, McDonald’s is all about fun, so its mascot is Ronald McDonald — a clown.
The Pillsbury Doughboy is a fun mascot made out of dough, representing the bread products the company sells, such as canned biscuits. The Doughboy has been the brand’s mascot since 1965 and appears online and in commercials, offering a fun take on ready-to-bake products.
9. Attend Events
Reaching new customers is often a one-on-one event. Each client must feel as though you are speaking to them directly, and activities such as trade shows and fairs allow you to reach out to local consumers and gain new leads. As your brand grows in popularity, you’ll get referrals, but that person is still experiencing your brand for the first time. You must pay attention to the impression you make from the first moment on.
10. Create a Customer Experience (CX)
Before you can create a customer experience, you must know your audience. Spend time studying internal data on what your clients want and who they are. Also, look at website analytics to see who is visiting your site and how long they stay there. Once you understand who your target audience is, it’s much easier to create a positive experience. For example, if most of your customers are busy working moms, then you’ll deliver content and service fast and efficiently.
11. Content Still Matters
About 70 percent of marketers feel content marketing increases customer engagement. However, it does you no good to increase engagement if your messaging isn’t clear. Your content must always reflect who you are as a brand. Everything needs to run through the filter of the message you’re sending to users. If the content doesn’t align with your purpose and personality, then don’t publish it on your website, in print or on social media.
12. Survey Your Customers
Who you think you are as a brand and how your customers see you are two different things. Open up the lines of communication and figure out how clients perceive you. Is there anything you’d like to change? How would you go about reworking your image and making it align more closely with the way you see yourself? Make changes that reflect the image you want to present and survey customers again to see if they were effective.
Brand-building isn’t something that’s one and done. Instead, it changes and grows over time. You must constantly send out messaging about who you are and how you want the world to see you and make adjustments along the way. Gather the information you have on hand about your customers, your brand and competitors and make changes as needed until the way you see your company and the way others see it matches.
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her goldendoodle. Subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
For more about Branding read Branding Basics For Your Biz by Coach Simone Kelly