For small businesses and start-ups everywhere, one of the biggest challenges is establishing the brand, especially against those companies that are better established and have the sheer weight of resources behind them.
Fortunately, there are many ways that you can set about creating a strong brand identity in this day and age. And be under no illusions, that is exactly what needs to be done if you harbour hopes of growing your business. Recognition is key, and here’s how it can be achieved:
#1. Create a brand strategy
It all begins with a plan. The first step in the journey to establishing an effective brand presence is to ask yourself the questions ‘what do we want to achieve?’ and ‘how do we want to be seen?’ The answers to these two central queries will then inform the brand strategy that you formulate.
And what exactly does a brand strategy look like? Your brand strategy will include, but will not be limited to, concepts such as the core values of your brand, your USP or tagline, your value proposition and then of course the audience that you will want to reach out to. No strategy can be completed without these considerations, as it is these that will form the basis of your visuals and marketing streams.
#2. Have a true understanding of brand identity
Brand identity is recognizing a logo, right? Well, in very simple terms, that is one aspect of the broader picture at hand, but only focusing on this will be a great oversight. For brand identity encompasses so many other things, including brand voice, message, ethos and values, color schemes, value propositions, quality, iconography, language and so much more. It is better to think that brand identity is absolutely everything that is witnessed in the interaction between your business and your customers, so even the quality of your customer service approach can be seen as relatable to your brand. Your voice on Twitter is also as much a part of your brand identity as the logo that you use.
Consider Nike and the way that the company has taken a stance on certain political
considerations in the U.S. Nike’s handling of those events, and the stance it took, is now every bit as entrenched in some people’s minds as the iconic Nike swoosh logo, and that’s how brand identity works.
And here’s another thing: just having all of these elements does not mean that you have a brand identity. Anyone can have a logo and a tagline. How do you combine of all of these elements together into one effective approach that is unique, consistent, scalable and memorable. That is key.
After all, it’s not just about the logo and the tagline, color schemes and fonts. Your brand needs to be in all of the elements of your marketing strategies. Your content needs to have your unique voice and perspective, you need to have your own unique values and culture. All of this needs to be a part of your branding. Of course, there are many more elements to it, but what matters is that you present your own unique image and personality on the market. You need to make your company different and memorable if you want to succceed.
#3. Research is important
What are your competitors doing? How does your intended audience respond to brands? How does your audience engage with brands? What are the most cost-effective and efficient means of establishing your brand? Without effective research, you simply will not be able to answer any of these questions, and that means you will commence on the path to establishing your brand in a blind way. Not only will you not know whether you will even be able to establish your brand in this manner, you also don’t know what it will mean for your brand if you do succeed in establishing the brand identity that you think is right. Do not leave anything to chance and make sure that your research and planning has informed you what brand identity is needed for your product or service, and that establishing this identity with your desired audience is both workable and affordable. If you don’t, you could just be wasting your time and money.
You need to see who your ideal audience is and then form a brand around what they find interesting and attractive. For example, younger people probably won’t find a formal brand spirit interesting at all. What they will find interesting is someone fun and friendly, that communicates with them on social media often. You see, your audience – your ideal audience – will pretty much dictate everything you do.
#4. Understand your audience
This is perhaps the absolute core consideration in everything that you do, because establishing your brand is not about projecting the image that you want to show, it’s about projecting the image that your audience wants and demands.
The biggest mistake that businesses make when establishing their brand is that, sometimes, they make it all about themselves. ‘I want to be the seen as the brand with the highest-degree of integrity in delivering our product.’ That’s all well and good, but if you are providing a breakfast cereal, that may not be the key consideration of your audience when choosing their breakfast cereal. Don’t give your audience what you want to give them, give them what you know they are looking for.
How you achieve delivering the brand identity that is wanted will men first and foremost creating n audience persona: who is typical customer? When you have established this, flesh it out in so much detail that you know exactly what this person wants for lunch on a typical day as well as what time they usually go to bed. All information is important when it comes to establishing your brand, because you want to know everything up to what time of day they will most likely engage with you. That’s just smart marketing.
#5. How to reach your audience
Now you have your typical audience persona, and you know the image you want to project, its time to consider how to reach that audience. Unsurprisingly, different demographics can be reached in different ways. For example, Facebook and Twitter and more popular with the over-thirty crowd, while of course Snapchat is the medium of choice for a younger audience. This is a very basic example but you need to know that you are using the communication stream that reaches out most effectively to your desired audience, otherwise all that planning could be in vain. If you are dealing mostly with other businesses, then your social media channels of choice should be LinkedIn or even Facebook, as more and more B2B brands actually start to use it. But you should also focus on email newsletters, your own website and guest posting. These are the channels that can set you up as an authority in the B2B community.
For a B2C brand, your best shot right now is probably Instagram, especially if you are serving a younger audience. But there are various ages on Instagram and it replaced Facebook, in a sense, for the most mixed audience. Instagram is great if you have an especially visual brand and products and images that look great in images. You can post often and take advantage of the Insta Stories or IGTV.
Pictures tell a thousand words, as the old saying goes, and the image of your brand will be most effectively established through logos and color schemes, as well as visuals that you choose to utilize in marketing campaigns. That’s why these considerations need so much careful thought and planning. Don’t overcrowd wit colors, and try to use a combination that complements what you are selling (for example, if you are selling ice creams, a fiery red just might not say it as well as a cool blue). Always look for differentiation from competitors, but also something that can relate quite quickly to your product. Most importantly, you want something that is simple yet stays in the memory. Easier said than done, of course, but you can run online campaigns to see what works best.
#7. Establish your style
Your style should be as unique as your logo and the visuals that you employ. Your style is your voice, but also you way of working, and it is vital that every element of your business is performed with a firm eye on that style. In fact, producing in-house style guides for all employees in your business to work by makes sense, and ensure that all customer and future customer engagements are carried out consistently in line with that style.
#8. Be consistent
We have just touched upon this fact in the brand style consideration, but consistency should be employed out across all aspects of your business proceedings and marketing approach. If you want your brand to stay strong in the minds of your audience, then you have to be staunch in what you are doing, meaning consistency is key.
About the Author!
Ellie Coverdale is a marketing writer with Bestaustralianwriters and Revieweal. She enjoys finding the latest marketing trends and sharing her social media and digital marketing strategies with her readers.