An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Branding
The significance of branding in today’s marketing world is paramount. Gone are the days when selling the best or cheapest product alone was sufficient to run a profitable business. In the current hostile marketing landscape, you need to execute plenty of tactics to snag a place in the mind of your audience.
Most small business owners are blindsided by the belief that branding is only reserved for the Goliaths of the marketing world who have a reputation and a huge budget to spend. Ironically, it turns out that small brands and businesses need branding the most. In the current scenario, no industry has been spared from the threats of rising competition. In order to stand out in the sea of saturated messages and products, branding has become a necessity.
However, branding has a lot of ambiguity surrounding it. Considering how interchangeably the terms branding and marketing are used, it can be extremely hard to understand how to make the most of it. To give you a better idea we have dedicated this blog to branding and we’ll also walk you through the steps required to create a branding strategy.
What is branding?
The term “branding” refers to the process of shaping a “go-to” perception in the consumer's mind. It relates to everything that a customer perceives and experiences when they come in contact with a business and its products.
Small businesses and startups need to keep in mind that branding is more than just a dash of dazzling colors in your logo or a calligraphy font on your brand name. It involves varying elements such as brand logo, brand design, brand colors, brand values, and brand voice consistently laid out throughout every marketing touchpoint.
To help you understand the power of branding let's talk about a few examples:
Coca-Cola has branded its flagship beverage so incredibly well that Coke is now the default term for pop soda all around the world;
Q-tip is actually a brand that has now become synonymous with cotton swabs;
Similarly, when you hear Nike we can bet that the Nike swoosh flashes across your mind. Or when you hear McDonald’s, it’s a yellow arch.
Now, despite having undergone several changes and minuscule upgrades over the years, the underlying identity of each of the brands are still recognizable making them some of the timeless brands of the century.
Branding is no stranger to public figures. Notable celebrities and entrepreneurs like Tony Robbins, Kylie Jenner, and Elon Musk have massively leveraged their personal brands to drive revenue to their mentoring program, cosmetic brand, and automobile brand respectively in that order.
On the whole, the purpose of branding is to create a likable and memorable association of your brand in the minds of your audience.
Why is branding important?
Here are a few reasons why branding is a crucial step for your business:
Branding helps you stand out
In business today, the market sophistication for almost every industry is incredibly high. Creating a unique and memorable brand identity gives you a competitive edge and helps you stand out from the crowd. By highlighting your brand’s value proposition or unique selling proposition (USP), you can dominate your competitors and give your customers a compelling reason as to why they should choose you.
Branding boosts customer recognition
In a world of oversaturated markets, a recognizable brand quality is a must. It could be anything as simple as a logo design or viral as an entire advertising campaign. When a certain aspect of your brand becomes familiar to them it stays etched on top of their mind and they’d be more likely to buy when the time comes.
Branding breeds brand loyalty
Doubling down on your brand mission and brand values is an essential factor of any successful branding strategy. It builds excitement and trust in your brand and products. Fulfilling a product or service that is aligned with the brand promise attracts a loyal following of both outstanding talent and raving customers.
Whether your values are centered on humor, innovation, or adventure, building awareness around those virtues will have your audience gushing and also committed to your brand.
Branding boosts value
When it comes to branding, the market value of a certain product or service is much more than what meets the eye. It includes the all-inclusive brand value as perceived by the general public.
It’s a given and known fact that consumers don’t buy products. Intrinsically, they buy brands and the perception associated with the brands. Customers are more than willing and enthusiastic to pay steep rates for brands they perceive as exclusive and unique.
Powerful branding enables you to build brand worth and permits you to command premium rates for your products and services. You can leverage the power of branding to differentiate your brand with a wide value juxtaposition that sets you apart from your competitors.
Branding attracts Ideal Customers
The essential primary step of any marketing or branding strategy is customer research. By conducting customer research, you can precisely identify the emotional needs of your customer and which customer archetype aligns with your company’s values.
With this ammunition, you can craft distinct brand collateral and messaging that resonates with your target audience. When your branding is well planned and strategically laid out you will automatically attract your ideal customers, with your branding efforts doing most of the weight lifting.
Branding Improves Marketing Effectiveness
The simplest way to make your marketing campaigns more compelling is to sprinkle a dash of the branding fairy dust. When your branding is cohesive and palpable from the very first customer touchpoint to the delivery of the product and thereafter, it makes the consumer experience more engaging and thoughtful. When you have a go-to set of branding to fall back on you can also save ample amounts of time and money on all your future marketing endeavors.
Steps to create a branding strategy
- Build your branding vision
In order to effectively market your brand, you need to first set in place the building blocks of a solid strategy. It includes the core elements surrounding your brand identity - such as brand values, purpose, mission, and vision.
For example, the mission of TOMS shoes is to empower kids all around the world with the basic necessity of footwear.
List out the values that you as a founder believe in. Use your present values as a starting point to extrapolate the future vision. What is the story or breakthrough moment that led you to kickstart your brand? Do you want to contribute to eliminating world hunger? Or are you aiming to make people’s lives easier through innovation?
Once you have your vision pinned down, you’ll be better able to cascade that vision to your audience. Use your core brand objectives as your guiding north star and use them to dictate your marketing efforts so that they eventually harmonize with your end goals.
- Narrow in on your target audience
The longevity and success of a brand depends on the audience it serves and the quality of those relationships. In order to build a strong brand, you need to know who that audience is and how to communicate with them.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself these questions:
– Which customer segment could benefit from my product or service?
– How old is my ideal customer?
– What are their hopes and dreams?
– What are their victories and failures?
– What solutions have they already tried before?
– What is their idea of fun and how do they pass their free time?
The answers to these questions will help you gain insight into who your ideal customers are and how to craft messages that emotionally resonate with them.
A no-brainer way to find your target audience is to ask your current customers or users, by interviewing them with the questions listed above.
If you’re starting from square one, start by surveying your network to gauge who would be interested in your products or services. Or do a little detective work on your competitors and try to find out their target audience. Most often there is going to be some similarity or overlap between the people that you serve.
- Shape your brand identity
With your goals and target audience set in place, it’s time to start prepping to bring your vision to life. As you go about creating your brand identity, it is necessary to keep these two aspects in mind. The more you double down on your unique brand identity the longer it stays on your audience's mind.
You can shape your brand identity through different mediums such as:
Logo – Your logo is the graphic representation or snapshot of who you are. Logos can be either an icon or simply a text-based one. Once you design a logo, it should be posted across all digital and physical locations to make it easy for your audience to register it with your brand.
Brand Voice – Brand Voice refers to the way you communicate with your audience. It shows how your brand would talk if it were a person. It includes tone, vocabulary, and phraseology like greetings and sign-offs.
Typography – Typography adds a visual story to the brand identity. When choosing a font go with one that complements your logo and never sacrifice readability and size for visual aesthetics.
Brand imagery – Brand imagery refers to the appropriate graphics and colors that are used to convey your brand identity. Certain images and colors tend to give off certain messages subconsciously. For example: the color blue is associated with trust, knowledge, and professionalism. Similarly, you may have noticed the color blue being used in most healthcare brands.
Brand Story – Humans are wired for stories. Being able to narrate your brand’s inception and growth in an emotionally stimulating way is a great way to stay on top of your audience's mind.
- Stay consistent
Finally, the one characteristic that makes branding successful is to keep up with consistency. As your audience is continuously exposed to your brand collateral, the more recognizable it becomes over time.
Create a brand bible that clearly outlines all the guidelines of your brand identity. It acts as an easy source of reference as well as proves helpful when you onboard new talent into your team.
Your website is essentially a digital storefront for your brand. Ensure that the website design, copy, and brand vibe are on point and aligned with your big-picture goals. The same needs to be reflected on your social media pages, posts, and emails that you put out regularly.
Use a content calendar to maintain an active presence and also to keep up with the different moving parts of the campaign. You don’t have to put out a post every day, but zone in on a certain time and frequency to prime your audience to hear from you.
The average consumer in the present world is presented with unlimited choices. Coupled with the rapidly evolving consumer needs, it is safe to say that brands matter now more than ever. Therefore, investing in quality branding is a must if you want to outperform the market competitiveness of present times.
If you’re looking to level up your branding but don’t have the bandwidth to do it all by yourself, then reach out to Growthhub.
At Growthhub, we’re obsessed with helping businesses like yours get the growth it deserves.
Get in touch with us and we can match you with standout brand marketers, designers, and copywriters in as little as 24 hrs. We screen and pre-vet the marketers on our platform, so you don’t have to. Book a call with us today!