What is a brand?
A brand is the image and personality of a product or service that a business provides. A product’s features, such as logos or slogans, make it unique and different. Branding was originally used hundreds of years ago to differentiate cattle.
Cattle ranchers used branding irons to burn symbols on their livestock. They branded them so that slaughter houses could identify from which ranch the cattle came.
Farmers also branded their livestock so that it would be easier to find them if they were stolen. However, brands are now more than just a means of differentiating products. Today, brands also convey a ‘promise.’
The promise is that the product you buy will meet the standards the manufacturer seeks to deliver. Brands are intangible reputational assets. In fact, they are the most valuable asset of many corporations. Intangibles are assets you cannot touch, they have no physical form, but are valuable for the company.
While a brand’s identity is not all about the logo, it is a crucial part of the branding process as it is the brand’s most recognisable element. It appears on multiple media, whether it is your website, your business cards or your online advertisements.
It is generally associated with the slogan which, in a short and incisive sentence, must know how to reveal the positioning and the values of the brand. Given this ubiquity, branding needs to be as consistent as possible. As crucial as it is, your logo is not the only element that reinforces your brand identity.
Your products and the way you present your services should all play a role in your branding. By representing your business visually in everything you create, you ensure consistency in your image and in still a sense of familiarity in your customers.
The golden arches of McDonald’s, for example, testify to the creative research that led to the famous “M”, now known around the world. Choosing a color palette allows you to establish your identity.
This gives you a certain variety to create unique designs for your business, while remaining true to your brand identity. Fonts can also be a double-edged sword if not used properly. While font assortments are all the rage right now, that doesn’t mean that such a mix is right for your business.
Your logo, website, and the materials you create (print and digital formats) should all use consistent typography. Probably not a day goes by that you don’t email, write content, or hand out business cards to your potential customers.
Creating templates, even for details like email signatures, will give your brand a more unified, believable, and professional look and feel. As stated in almost each of the previous stages, consistency is the keystone of a brand’s identity.
Use the templates mentioned above and stick to the aesthetic you have chosen in all facets of your business so as to create a harmonious brand identity. Consistency is of course essential, but in a society in constant search of novelty, flexibility is an equally important quality.
Indeed, it makes possible the adjustments in advertising campaigns and catchphrases, and even allows to update the overall identity of the brand in order to maintain the interest of the audience. The main thing is to reflect any change made in each component of the brand.
For example, don’t change the design of your business cards without updating the rest of your content. One of the most effective ways to ensure compliance with branding rules is to create branding guidelines, which list the best practices to adopt.
The brand book is an essential element that brings together all the characteristics of the brand, everything that makes it unique and recognisable by its audience. Once you have defined your business brand and taken all the necessary steps to develop it, you can integrate it into your community.
To do this, quality content leads to the best results. Indeed, from every point of view, you content represents your brand online. It is embodied by your salespeople, your store and your marketing department. All of your posts define you and impact your image.
Therefore, quality content refers to a quality brand, and forbidding content to a forbidding brand. Use language that reflects your brand’s personality. If it is high-end, prefer a sustained register. If she has a more laid back image, adopt a conversational tone instead.
The words you choose appear in all of your business operations. It is therefore important to create a voice that matches your brand’s personality. Audiences love stories, especially moving stories that inspire action.
A strong identity makes it possible to forge emotional bonds with consumers, thus laying a solid basis for a long-term relationship with the brand. The most effective way to market your brand is to design traditional or digital advertising.
It’s a way to promote your message to your target audience. Social networks are also one of the tools that allow you to connect with consumers. The plethora of platforms available online provide you with a vast digital space in which to establish your brand identity.
Social media also play an important role when it comes to live conversation and building affinity between customer and brand. If your business is mentioned in a Tweet, in a status, or in a post, build a good reputation by responding effectively.
This is all the more important when the customer has a question or encounters a problem. If you go through all the steps of building a strong brand identity, but encounter the following pitfalls, your business could suffer or suffer failure.
Know what you want to say and use appropriate language and visuals to communicate. Just because your message seems clear to you, doesn’t mean it will be clear to your customers too. Even if your competition has exemplary branding and you sell the same products and services, don’t try to emulate them.
Consider their strategy, but create your personal touch to stand out more in your industry.
Brand strategy: why?
Any business creation involves reflection on its identity. Why create a new brand? What added value does this bring to customers in a competitive world? What are the peculiarities of this brand? How to stand out from others in the same niche or sector?
These are all questions that should guide the strategy of the company from the moment of its creation. The brand strategy must be thought out, developed and implemented throughout the life of the company.
To do this, the entrepreneur or manager will rely on tools such as swot analysis, the study of the value chain or Pestel analysis which will allow him to identify the key success factors and choose the best possible strategy for the company.
Once the company’s branding has been defined, it serves as a support for internal and external communication. It is the brand strategy that defines the visual identity, the lines of communication of the company and its marketing tools, all of which is grouped under the marketing mix.
This step is therefore essential under penalty of not being recognised by customers and failing to retain them by creating a personal, embodied relationship.
By assuming its brand image, the reflection of its underlying identity, the company stands out from the competition and offers the public a consumer experience that is consistent with its values and products.
The brand must develop its visual identity on physical (store, flyer, product, etc.) and digital media (website, newsletter, social networks, etc.).
Brand strategy: how?
Branding requires marketing expertise. It is necessary to target the expectations and needs of the company by conducting an in-depth market study. It cannot be improvised. This is why hiring a specialist is recommended because it is a long-term investment that defines the entire communication strategy of the company.
Marketing expenses must be included in the financial forecast. The expertise of an accountant makes it possible to correctly budget this investment, which is essential for business development, and to have sound management of the company’s finances over the long term.
After targeting the brand’s identity, the expert defines the visual identity that corresponds to it by calling on a graphic designer. This visual identity (logo, slogan, typography, colors, etc.) is available on all communication media.
A semantic identity is also chosen. She is the one who will drive the brand’s SEO strategy. Marketing studies have shown that SEO performs better than an advertising campaign or paid search pages. The SEO strategy is therefore determined in close correlation with the branding strategy.
The consistency of logo, style, tone makes it easy to identify and make a lasting impression on the brand of business partners and consumers. The positioning of the brand must be based on the quality of the products and services offered.
We must not hesitate to highlight the specificities of production, original know-how, original techniques, special skills … Branding is not about communication for the sake of communication.
It serves to highlight the real strengths that distinguish a company from the mass of competitors!
This is why targeting the strengths specific to the company upstream during an internal diagnosis is an essential step. One of the major assets for a brand is customer feedback. Consumer reviews are the best advertising.
They ensure long-term loyalty and encourage prospects and potential customers to take the plunge. In the digital age, the customer experience must be put forward in any good brand strategy: social listening, guestbook, social networks.
Community management makes it possible to monitor and adjust this strategy over time.
What concepts and metaphors could describe your brand?
Personifying you brand or describing it using a metaphor can help you identify the qualities you would like it to have.
Let your imagination run wild and do not hesitate to use concepts that you already have in mind and that may reveal the type of aura that interests you; you will be able to compare your brand to a celebrity, a sports team, an animal.
For example, to launch a brand targeting entrepreneurs, it is possible to use the raccoon as a starting point: it is an animal known for its survival skills and its insatiable desire to thrive when conditions allow