Whether you’ve established your business already or you’re about to start one, branding is one of the most critical parts of your success. Developing a brand sounds like a lot of fun, and it is, but it’s also complex and challenging.
There are many elements of branding, and they stretch far beyond your color scheme and font. Branding is the personality of your business. It directs how your customers feel when they interact with your business and what they think of when they hear your name.
Your branding will be the first impression customers get and guide their entire experience when buying from you. With spot-on branding, you’ll have the power to gain an outstanding reputation, stick in peoples’ minds, and become an authority in your industry.
So how can you develop a brand that works? We’ve broken down the seven key elements of branding so you can see what will go into developing your brand. Keep reading to get a head start on creating a brand strategy.
A brand strategy is the route your business will take to show your target audience who you are and how you can help them. It defines who your business is aimed at, how you operate, and what your long terms goals are.
A brand strategy is a comprehensive creation rather than simply an aesthetic design. It’s the foundation of your business and, once draw up, will guide you and your staff through every part of your business’ journey.
Your business and brand are long term endeavors. This means that you need to design your brand strategy for the long term as well. There are no short cuts here but developing a solid brand strategy will be the guide and basis for everything you do with your business.
The key elements of branding are important to get right. When you focus on building a comprehensive brand, you’ll always be consistent with everything you put out there. Cohesive, consistent branding means that your target audience will quickly come to recognize your brand and you’ll build familiarity faster.
With that in mind, here are seven key elements of branding.
One of the most important factors in building your brand is not just about your business, it’s about your target audience.
Defining your target audience will help you hugely when it comes to developing your overall brand. And it’s harder than it might sound. Many businesses think that by targeting a specific audience, they’ll lose out on business from other people not within that range.
This isn’t necessarily true. When you target a specific audience, it instead means that you are more strategic and efficient with your branding. A brand who targets everyone will be vague and hard to define. A brand that specifically targets a niche group, will benefit from the clarity that your potential customers will be able to see.
If you already have an established business but want to rebrand or hone your branding, you should already have a good data set to work from. Who tends to call you up about your products or services? What age are they? Where do they live? How much money do they have to spend?
Take a look at your repeat customers and write down the demographic. This works for B2C businesses as well as B2B. If a few key ranges keep coming up, you’ll be well on your way to seeing what your true target audience is.
If your customers tend to be parents between 25-45 with young children, who own homes and yet you’ve been traditionally targeting retirees, you can see that using this data to re-target could have a powerful effect.
If you’re about to start a business and are developing a brand from scratch, you’ll need to find data to help you create a target audience.
Market research can be an effective way to do this as well as looking at similar businesses. While you may want to target the same audience as your competitors, it’s better to see if there’s a similar niche market they’re overlooking. This will give you a target audience with less competition.
As you begin forming an idea of your target audience, look at the issues they have related to your business. What problems do they experience specifically that your business can help them solve? Where do they typically go to seek a solution?
When you define your target audience, you’ll know and understand who your branding is aimed at. This allows you to make your brand appropriate to that audience, what they like, and what will appeal to them.
Let’s get back to your business. Your brand ethos might sound like it’ll take five minutes but it’s surprisingly important.
Your brand ethos is the meaning behind your brand and business. It’s the reason you do what you do and help the people you help. It forges a connection with your audience, especially when your brand ethos matches your audience’s outlook.
Your brand ethos succeeds when it is genuine and fits your target audience. When it’s genuine, it will match how you behave as a business and generate trust and understanding.
To develop a brand ethos, ask yourself what your business does, why you do it, and why you’re different.
While your brand ethos is about your fundamental purpose and meaning, your brand story gives you the opportunity to share with your audience how your business came about.
Looking around the About Pages of many brands, you’ll spot evidence of brand stories. Some businesses say their founders had an issue and realized that others might share it, some may show how their grandparents inspired them, others might describe how they took a common product and made it more sustainable.
Your brand story helps to humanize your business and show its evolution. It can be a powerful tool to connect with your audience on a far greater level than by simply telling them what it is you do.
When you bring your audience in on your business’ history and how it came about, your brand will come across as more authentic and trustworthy. People like to understand the person or business they’re dealing with. Your brand story helps to achieve this understanding and can become a big part of your branding as a whole.
The voice and tone you use across your website, in your emails, and in customer service is as much a piece of your branding as your logo. Your brand voice should match both your brand ethos and your target audience.
Are you a fun, modern brand aimed at younger people? If so, a staid, conservative voice will feel inconsistent. Or perhaps you’re in the financial services industry, in which case colloquialisms and casual language might not put your business in the best light.
When developing your brand voice, it’s useful to draw up guidelines. These can list words you do and don’t use, whether your brand is formal or informal, and even how you greet customers in verbal and written communications.
The experience your customers have from the moment they see your brand to after they make a purchase is down to your branding. This experience doesn’t just need to be smooth and enjoyable, but it should also be unique to your brand.
This isn’t about the big things, it’s about the little things. If a customer has a query, how quickly will a member of your team get back to them? How will they interact with them? How does shipping work or service support?
Some brands have become known for sending their products out with miniature packets of sweets. Others offer a discount coupon after the sale for future sales.
Nike has dominated the sportswear industry for a long time, so it might make sense on the face of it to copy its business model and target their customers. After all, if they’ve done so well, surely you could, too?
But, brands serving identical purposes don’t get an even share of the target audience. Instead, one will rise to the top and the other will be a poor alternative. When developing your brand, it’s important to be unique.
This means solving a problem your target audience face in a different way to your competitors. It might mean doing it better, via a different means, faster or cheaper.
Now for the fun part. Using a logo design website like Looka allows you to play around and create an eye-catching logo for your brand. Logos have the power to stick in people’s minds and create an instantly recognizable brand.
Developing a color palette is also important for your brand. Don’t think about colors like blue and green, your color palette should be the exact hex code so they’ll be identical no matter what program or platform you use.
The style of graphics your brand uses will also help form a cohesive brand. Will you use photographs? Drawings? Sketches? Cartoons? When you set the aesthetics of your brand, you’ll be creating consistency across all your marketing and web design, helping your brand become familiar to everyone who sees it.
Branding is a comprehensive and complex exercise that shouldn’t be rushed through in a day. When you take time over all these elements of branding, you’ll end up with a cohesive and consistent brand that helps forge a connection with your target audience.
As a result, when people see your branding, they’ll instantly get a good first impression and understand what your brand is about. Your brand strategy will work for you as a foundation for everything your business goes on to do.
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