Introduction to branding
What is branding? This can be a complicated question to answer, the definition of a brand will change based on who you ask. Brands can be different things, to different people, at different times.
See how this can be complicated? Some think a brand is a company, others think a brand is how they feel about an organisation, but in reality, a brand is a mixture of everything.
A brand is defined as being a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify the product. It could also be a logo, whether designed by using an online logo maker tool or by a professional designer, a well researched font or a combination of many different aspects that helps to make your product memorable. Then comes the question of what is branding?
Branding is a series of activities undertaken by marketing teams to help create an association between a potential customer and a product. Essentially, things that will help you to connect a company and a product with certain designs and feelings.
Where did branding begin?
What is branding now in comparison to what is was, let’s take a look.
Way back when, branding was used to denote ownership of something. The most well-known examples of this type of branding were cows, which were often marked with numbers and symbols so their ownership was known.
Throughout the decades and multiple revolutions, branding became a way to stand out from competitors and build business. Many of the world’s best known brands such as Chanel, Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola were founded between 1880 and 1910. They stood out for offering something that was not yet available to the public at that time.
With production being efficient and new products on the market, these brands took to advertising. Using the most effective platform at the time from radio, then to TV (now on social media).
As times changed, brands understood that they had to keep up with the times. Rebranding and targeted marketing campaigns led to customers wanting more. Innovation, society and technology are the main factors that influence where branding is going. Who knows where it will be in the next 100 years!
What is branding? Terms to know
There are a lot of things that come up when you start thinking of branding. If you’re beginning your branding journey here are some terms you should become familiar with.
All of these will help you to become more familiar with the world of branding. From strategy to the customer, all things need to be brought together for a full brand experience.
Brand awareness is quite simple. How familiar are people with your brand? Do the public know your logos, colours and product. Some companies choose to run marketing campaigns just to improve people’s awareness and association.
You can start building your brand as thought leaders in a certain industry by creating content for other industry leaders to share. Think branded infographics, videos and influencer marketing.
Every person has an identity – just like every brand. It’s what your brand says, what your values are, how people feel about your company and how you communicate to them. Your identity is your brand personality.
You need to be consistent with your identity as consumers love brands they can know and trust. Your identity should be a focal point when you’re undertaking any marketing activities.
Once you understand how people feel about your brand, you can decide how to act on that information. If you like the reaction, then you can engage in marketing activities to keep promoting it.
If not, you can decide to change the course and test certain activities with the hopes of improving opinion. Good brand management can allow for the price to rise while customer perception and satisfaction also rise.
Creating positive associations is key to brand management.
One of the greatest frustrations of marketers is to report on the return on investment from their work. We all know marketing is important, but how do you go about showcasing it? Brand equity is the commercial value of being a well-known brand.
How well are you meeting the customers need while also building a strong relationship with them. This is reflected in market share, product demand and most importantly, profitability.
If you have already established a really strong brand, you can use it in other ways. When launching a new product or service, you can use a brand stretching or brand extension strategy.
This will combine the great performance of one product to generate interest in the spin off. Think of Colgate, they started with one dental cream and now have toothbrushes, mouth washes and other dental products.
There are many things that make a brand what it is. The most obvious being a font, a logo and some colours. But there are other things – like values and characteristics – that are harder to create, but so important to have.
If you’ve ever thought about branding, no doubt you’ll know of some of these.
What is branding without a great name to associate with? This can be a difficult decision for business owners. Deciding what to call your product, company and organisation can be a stressful decision.
Creating a name that will be memorable, recognisable and different, but not too obscene, is difficult. Think of some of the biggest brands we know, mention the world Apple to some people and they won’t start speaking about the fruit!
This icon, shape, or series of letters is the visual representation of your brand. Your logo can depict a message that you want to share. If your brand is simple, your logo can be simple.
You can add whatever colours and fonts that you’ve chosen for your brand. Pick a shape that you can edit based on a campaign. Just like Smirnoff did to support the LGBT community.
If you want to make a logo, Design Wizard has all the tools you need to stand out! Whether you’re looking for a restaurant logo or one for your local religious organisation or even your construction company. There is something for everyone.
And do not forget to proof logos with your team using some artwork approval software. Such tools will prevent you from different typos and tons of iterations.
For more tips on design elements, read our ‘Creative Ideas to Increase Sales’ e-book.
Text and typography. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Fonts have the ability to say a lot about your brand. Big bold fonts like Passion One are clear to read, but fonts such as Cormorant Garamond give off the impression of elegance.
Whatever your chosen font, allow it to compliment your brand and style – but make sure it’s still legible.
Brand Tone of voice
When it comes to undertaking branding, chances are you’ll have to write some content. The things you say are a reflection of your company.
If your company values positivity, you’ll want to use positive adjectives and perhaps some slang. More often, corporate brands will be more poker faced with the words they choose.
From the sky blue of Twitter, to the black and yellow of Amazon. The colours you choose are essential to any organisation’s image. Colours have other meanings which are important to consider when making a decision.
Whether you chose the primary colours or a blend of a few the important thing is to not use too many colours. Keep things straightforward and uncomplicated.
In Design Wizard you can do a lot with colour. From the colour drop selector that allows you to pick any colour on the design and save it to your custom palette, to the ability to add hex colours. Whatever you want to do with colour in your designs you can do it on Design Wizard.
While colours and logos may change, your values should stay the same. What you stand for is key when building a brand. Some values your brand may have are integrity, honesty and value.
Whatever your beliefs, make sure you remember them at every key decision for your brand. What is branding without a few crucial decisions? Stick to these and build a genuine brand.
How to start branding?
Before you can start the action elements of branding, you need to build a brand. It’s time to get down to business and run through the steps you need to take to build a great brand.
We’ll go through it step by step and cover everything from personas to promoting your brand.
Personas are necessary for any organisation looking to acquire and retain leads. It’s simply identifying who you want to use your product or service and what your brand would look like in a human capacity. Both will give key insight for further marketing activities.
When you’re creating your brand, you will need to add some humanity. Making your brand more life-like will allow you to understand or predict how people will respond. Unveiling the human aspects of the brand will allow customers to see reflections of themselves and therefore be attracted to the brand.
A brand persona is a series of human attributes that a brand showcases frequently to help connect to a particular target audience. You can use your persona to create a mascot of your brand that will allow consumers to identify you. Think of Mickey Mouse from Disney or Tony the Tiger from Kellogg’s.
Mascots need to take into account some qualitative and quantitative data. Think of the people who you want to attract to your brand and use this as a reference point.
Once you’ve created your mascot you need to think of the type of people who will be your target market.
Who are the people you want to become customers of yours? What do they do, what age bracket do they fall into – what are their interests, hobbies or what industry do they work in?
You want the information to be as detailed as possible. Conducting some research will be the best method to find the data you need. This will allow your marketing department to tailor their activities and branding to the people you’re targeting. Think about it, you wouldn’t make a fur coat and try to sell it to animal lovers.
These personas can give you information about where to advertise your brand, how to develop the product further and give you insight into their needs, wants and lifestyles. Better knowledge of your personas gives you the power to generate more leads.
Create Value Statements
Building personas is highly important, but what could be even more important is identifying your company values.
Mission statements are moral rules for brands to live by. For humans, the golden rule is to treat others how you want to be treated, but for brands it can be a bit different.
Mission statements often mention the brand’s objectives and the strategy used to make those objectives a reality. Vision statements are slightly different. They describe what the company wants to be in the future. Both of these combine to give the overall statement.
Let’s take IKEA as an example. Their mission statement is to:
“offering a wide range of well designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them”
Where as their vision statement is to: “create a better everyday life for the many people”.
What’s important to note with this is how IKEA lives by these statements. Their products are readily available at prices that many people can afford, which enables their customers to have everyday lives with IKEA products.
When it comes to the simple question of “What is branding?”, there is no simple answer, it is a mix of every action to create a unique feel for each company.
Link your product or service
For a lot of brands, the link between product and the company goes hand in hand. You think of Nokia and phones come to mind, Burger King and the Whopper is right there.
Think of your favourite products, you should be able to think of the corresponding company.
A brand disconnect between your marketing activities, your audience and the products you are after can result in a very negative experience. Thinking of what you’re bringing to the market should help when creating your brand.
Being able to identify the type of activities that will engage your audience the most will be an important thing you should do.
The end goal of brand marketing is to create a link so tight between the two. You want people to use your brand in a way that describes the activity. Just like when you say you need to Google something.
Getting your brand name into the life of your customers is the goal!
Create brand elements with your target market in mind
Trying to market a product or service to a specific group of people takes time and a lot of thought. Every element needs to work together to appeal to your segment of society.
Taking things like brand colours and fonts, if you want to attract people to your offering, there should be elements chosen that will please the viewer.
Being able to stand out from competitors, whilst appearing attractive to the eye of the potential buyer is a fine art. When you think of toys or food items for children, the packaging is often brightly coloured, the name often rhymes and the logo is instantly recognisable.
Take Lego as a brand. They use two primary colours in their logo. The red and yellow is easily recognised and is easily spotted by both children and adults alike.
Identify the preferences of your target market and you’re onto a winner!
Where to use your branding?
Now that you’ve gotten your elements put together and you know who you’re after, you need to integrate your branding into your marketing activities.
Where do you begin with all of this? What is branding to you but importantly what is branding to your customers?
Starting with something every organisation should have, a website.
As a home for your content, you should combine each brand component to create a uniform space. Use the text to showcase your tone of voice and font, keep the background and images linked to your colours and values.
Every CTA should engage your audience even more. From a user standpoint they want to know who you are and what you do, keep your messaging consistent!
Communicating to your audience is essential. Everyone needs to know what is going on. Email is a top method of communication. By creating a nice template with your correct colours, logos and tone of voice and using this consistently will allow users to recognise your brand.
Content is king in the world today. Creating images, videos, downloadable content like infographics that are all relevant. Adding your branding to these will help with brand recognition and it will give credit where credit is due.
If you’ve got a physical product, your branding needs to be engaged with packaging. The shape, material, logo placement, it all matters!
Reach your target market
Once you’ve identified the group of people you want to target, it’s essential that you find the path that leads to them.
Where are they? What do they like to engage with? Are they open to being contacted by brands? How to get in contact with them and get the best return on investment?
If you’re starting from scratch you can pick and choose to trial different avenues to getting to your customers. Trial and analysing the results to see which is best in terms of growth or whichever the metric you’re trying to measure.
Traditional marketing methods such as billboards, flyers and business cards are still relevant for some industries. But for truly targeted brand marketing, online is the way to go.
From paid ads on search engines to creating content on social media and having an amazing website, you can get some information to people in a few clicks!
Business brand stories
Building a narrative around your organisation will help create a connection between your brand, branding and marketing. Use the business voice that you’ve created, speak about your brand evolution and promote your messaging.
Tell a story that answers the questions of who you are, what you do and why people should care.
People love to hear a story, branding is all about telling a specific story about your organisation.
Benefits of branding
What is branding but a heap of benefits. There are many positive aspects to getting involved in marketing and lead generation. The benefits of branding are linked to social listening and societal impacts.
From a business perspective branding helps customers to find you, which impacts revenue.
Trust & Credibility
What is branding for if not to build trust in your company? When branding goes well you can create great relationships with the public. A brand that has a strong foundation of consistency and is dependable will last much longer than a brand that is erratic.
In business, reputation is everything. Innovation, great engaging content, reliable products and prompt customer service will ensure that people know that you’re a company they can trust.
Have you ever found a product you’ve absolutely loved and learned it had been discontinued. There is no heartbreak like it.
When someone finds something they cannot live without, from a brand they can rely on, it’s a match made in heaven. People are drawn to consistency, consistently buying from one brand will allow them to become loyal.
To give an example, some people are drawn to a certain car maker and will only buy cars from that brand because they know it’s safe.
Markets can easily become oversaturated. In a blink of an eye you could have multiple products or services that do that same thing and roughly the same price point. In this situation, taking the lead is vital if you want to stay important.
Finding a unique aspect of your solution and using that in your branding will make all the difference. Standing out and taking your share of the limelight can not only increase sales, but also make you recognisable.
Finding new leads in today’s ever changing world can be very difficult. Finding new strategies to identify new opportunities needs an awful lot of time and energy.
But using the brand extension strategy can allow already loyal customers to find your new product. Word of mouth may be an old fashioned sales technique, but it shows no signs of stopping.
If you want to keep leads circulating for your brand, set good foundations.
Branding is all about action. What is branding without movement? A brand that will not grow. You have to keep up with technology and be innovative to make sure your brand keeps propelling forward.
Anything short of campaign development, customer support and advertising will mean your brand could be left behind.
It may seem daunting at the beginning when you have all the branding boxes to be ticked, but take it step by step and you can get going in no time. Use resources that are available to you like Design Wizard to get underway.
Your brand is essential for your company to grow. Get creative, have some fun and never ask what is branding ever again!
Currently working as a Marketing Executive at Design Wizard, Claire is passionate about creating amazing content. With a masters degree in Marketing, she knows what it takes to impact the digital world. Outside of work you can catch Claire walking her four legged friend Storm, heading out on photography adventures and planning the next getaway!