What is branding?
Branding is the process of creating a uniquely identifiable company or product and promoting it via marketing and advertising. A brand includes the name, logo, and design associated with the business.
Why branding is important
Branding is foundational to any business because the brand is what a customer associates your product or service with. Your brand tells customers a story about what your business is and the problem it solves in the world. It’s what differentiates you from your competition.
What are the elements of branding?
Brand strategy is the DNA of your brand. It serves as a blueprint for how your business will reach its goals. Brand strategy should always be completed prior to any work on visuals or marketing materials. There are nine components of brand strategy:
1. Business goals
Identify specific goals for the business, both short and long term. These goals should be specific and measurable over time. For example, if the business goal is to earn $5M in revenue in the next year, the revenue will determine if that goal was successful.
2. Business purpose
Your business’ purpose is the change you wish to see or the contribution you wish to bring to society. It should be what drives the company forward, day-in, and day-out.
3. Competitor analysis
This is a review of the competitive landscape where your brand will live. It includes identifying key competitors, their offerings, and differentiators. This information helps you determine how your brand will set itself apart and win in that market.
4. Target audience
Your target audience is the specific segment of people that would be your ideal customer. For example, a B2B SaaS company’s target audience might be enterprise companies looking for a better software solution for their sales team.
5. Audience personas
An audience persona is a detailed description of a customer you are trying to reach. It includes the ideal customer’s title, role in decision making, typical pain points, questions, and goals. Accurate audience personas can lead to more efficient and productive marketing efforts.
6. Brand differentiators
Differentiators are the core differences between your business and your competitors, the reasons a customer should choose to work with your company over any other.
7. Brand positioning
Your brand positioning is a single, focused statement that describes what your business is and what you do. It sums up the unique value you offer to the market.
8. Key messaging
Key messages outline the most important ideas that need to be communicated about your business, and the order they should be communicated. These messages not only help copywriters craft content for your website, but they guide your marketing efforts by ensuring all external communications align with the core ideas of the business.
9. Brand character
Your brand character includes brand voice and personality, both of which are critical elements of effective copywriting and marketing.
Brand voice is the tone and feel of the words used in association with your brand. For example, a brand may be cheeky, serious, playful, information, etc. Each of these voices requires a very different writing style and choice of words.
Brand personality is the human qualities of your brand. A brand may be professional, casual, engaging, approachable, etc. Essentially, if your brand was a person you met at a party for the first time, how would you describe them to someone else afterward?
Brand character must be crafted with your target audience in mind to ensure that messaging (and delivery of messaging) resonate with them and help them connect to your brand. Therefore it is crucial you define character before formalizing website copy, content marketing, or other marketing efforts.
Visual brand identity
Your visual brand identity is the look and feel of your brand. It includes your logo, colour palette, typography, and symbol. These visual elements form a cohesive image and feel for customers.
Brand guidelines are rules and instructions that inform everyone in your organization (as well as any creative agency partners) how your brand should and should not be used. Guidelines include specific direction on colours, logo usage (variations, size, spacing), and typography.
Without brand guidelines, a logo can quickly be misused in the market, leading to confusion and potential damage to your brand.
Your website is the 24/7 face of your brand. A professionally designed and developed website takes all of the branding elements above and delivers a cohesive experience that attracts prospects and converts them into loyal customers.
Collateral encompasses all assets you will use to promote your brand and build credibility with your audience and investors. All assets should accurately reflect your newly defined brand. Marketing collateral could include:
- Physical signage
- Blog content
- Social media content
- Investor slide decks
- Sales information sheets
- Business cards
The branding process is a systematic approach that encompasses all of the elements of branding above. Each phase of branding directly impacts subsequent phases, so it is critical that no step be overlooked. The result of the branding process is a strategically crafted brand that will resonate with a target audience and achieve the business goals.