We all know the importance of brands, it’s what makes some people buy a VW over a Skoda, even though they share many of the same parts, or a pair of Nike trainers over an own-brand supermarket pair.
Brands help people navigate their choices – they are helpful shortcuts for making purchase decisions. And as people become increasingly time poor, a strong brand becomes critical to business success, serving as a measure and providing reassurance as to the product or service being bought.
A strong brand not only helps in selling to your customer, it helps your employees too. A strong brand purpose inspires engagement in your team. It connects employees with the business and builds loyalty. When a sales rep for Dove is talking to leading retailers, they aren’t selling moisturiser. They are improving self-esteem for millions of women all over the world.
If your brand is not clearly defined or communicated to your target markets then you need to go through the process of creating a brand strategy. Answering these five questions will get you on track to building your brand:
1. What is your why?
Think about why your organisation exists? What is your purpose? Simon Sinek’s famous “Start with why” TED talk is worth a watch. By working out what your brand stands for, you can build an emotional connection with employees and with customers, improving sales and loyalty. This stage is hard if you don’t automatically know why your brand exists – ask yourself why you went into business, and why you thought you could do a good job. Once you have worked out your brand purpose, everything else will fall into place. Communication with your customers is more genuine, and customers and customer loyalty will follow.
2. Who is your target audience?
Work out who your target audience is and what matters to them. Avoid the temptation to market to everybody. Even mass market supermarkets target specific customer groups so the chances are you’ll need to as well. The clearer you are on your customer now, the stronger your brand will be. Trying to appeal to everyone will only dilute what you’re trying to say. Don’t be afraid to create a brand that some people don’t like. Marmite created a strong brand by identifying that half the world hate Marmite. It just made the other half love it more. Accept that there are some people you’re not targeting – it will stand you in good stead for reaching the people you do want to resonate with.
3. How are you different?
Look at your competitors. Where does your brand stand against them? It is important to create stand out by differentiating yourself with how your brand portrays itself and your brand personality. Think about your USP and find your niche. You might have something unique, but can you find a niche that no one else is serving? Narrow your product/service to target a segment where no one else is competing.
Think about what will make you attractive to your target market? You need to be providing something meaningful to your customers. Assess what your customers value and how you address their pains. Are you solving a problem or enhancing their life with your product/service? A strong differentiator helps you to target your clients more effectively. Just saying “We’re the best!” is not a differentiator – you need to be able to prove it.
4. What is your brand image?
Once you know what your brand stands for you need to make sure that you convey it with a strong visual identity. A logo is one of the most essential parts of your brand’s visual identity and it is worth investing in. Yes, there are lots of ways to get cheap or even free logos online, but will this differentiate you or communicate some of the nuances about your brand? When in the design phase, think about all the places that your logo will appear, and the colours it will appear against. Test various sizes. Simplicity is key, something striking and clear will help a logo mark stand out in all sizes and colours. Read our step-by-step guide to logo design for more tips.
If you’re working with third parties and as your business grows, think about putting together a style guide. This should cover how the logo should appear and any other visual identity considerations. For example, Lurpak has built up a strong equity in the silver, dark blue and red colour combinations. They consistently use a wave that is used to convey product differentiation. Having a style guide will help make sure that your brand is used consistently across every touch point and that is important in ensuring that consumers recognise you and choose you over your competitors. Your style guide doesn’t have to be exhaustive and it’s a guide not a rulebook!
5. How are you going to communicate consistently?
Strong brands build long term relationships with their customers, with honest and authentic communication and any inauthenticity will be found out and exposed. Once you have got behind your brand, you should strive to build trust and loyalty with your customer base. Strong brands speak to their customers consistently using the same tone of voice. Is your brand rebellious and playful or do you want to convey a more traditional and serious tone? You might appreciate what your product or service does, but how are you communicating that to your customers and do you really stand out in your market place? Map your customers’ experience of your brand from start to end – every touch point – new customers and returning customers. Amplify your brand’s presence, awareness and identity in the mind of your customer and this will differentiate you from your competitors.
It’s a lot to do but don’t feel overwhelmed! Just get started and if you need support, feel free to contact Business Clan for guidance along the way.