There are some brands that have truly stood the test of time and have established iconic imagery that is seared into our brains.
For example, we can instantly associate brand names like Google or Coca Cola with images – and even emotions that are connected to their identities.
Google is innovative and smart. It is dependable and (for the most part) trustworthy.
Coca-Cola is nostalgic, classic, and refreshing, and you probably associate with a hot summer day or watching a movie in the theatre.
Of course, these companies have been around for decades and have massive marketing budgets that have allowed them to cement these brand images into our memories.
But even the smallest of brands can (and should) do this, too. After all, 59% of customers are more likely to purchase from a business that they are familiar with through branding and marketing.
In fact, creating this kind of unforgettable brand recognition is imperative for smaller online companies. By establishing a memorable brand identity, smaller e-commerce stores can finally be able to compete against giants like Amazon – as well as the thousands of other online retailers they compete against.
But doing this is not as easy as you may think – and establishing a memorable brand takes time and strategy.
So, here’s the step-by-step guide on how to get it done the right way.
Step #1: Create a Comprehensive Description
There is a specific imagery that we associate with certain brands. When you think of McDonalds, you instantly imagine the yellow arches in a bright red background. With UPS, you probably think of brown and yellow delivery trucks.
Again, these brands have worked hard to establish these associations by carefully planning out all of the details – down to the colors and font used on their products and marketing content.
Colors must be carefully selected – as they tend to have an underlying meaning. Furthermore, some color combinations simply stick out and are more memorable than others (like McDonald’s iconic red and gold).
According to Canva, colors have associations and meanings that consumers often subconsciously correlate them with.
Colors like orange are linked with excitement and energy, which is why many fitness brands use it. Blue is seen as trustworthy, efficient, and intelligent, so it is often used by finance or insurance companies.
Visual components are also important and can be used to create instant associations.
We see this quite clearly with vehicle brands. One can easily spot a Mercedes, Toyota, or Bentley simply by seeing the silver logo on the front of the car.
Every single brand needs to do the same by carefully selecting these elements – and repeating this imagery throughout their marketing efforts.
Cohesiveness is the key here; according to a report from Demand Metric, brands that were inconsistent in their branding had a slower sales cycle – something that even damaged their credibility.
On the other hand, companies that were consistent experienced substantial growth at a faster rate.
You will want to start by creating a visual depiction of your brand so that every new piece of marketing material you create aligns with the same vision. Include images, color swatches, fonts, and even phrases that you believe represent your brand’s image and “mood.”
It is best to be extremely specific here so your entire marketing strategy has a set guideline to follow – and any additional designers on the team can easily visualize the overall aesthetic of your brand.
Step #2: Establish a Meaningful Purpose
Some of the most memorable brands – like Nike, Apple, and Disney – all have a clear purpose that is bigger than just their products.
For example, Nike uses its marketing to inspire athletes to achieve more and push harder. We often see that their ads focus on the incredible stories of amazing athletes – rather than promoting a new running shoe.
Apple is committed to innovation and offering customers beautifully-designed technology. Their ads often revolve around emotions tied to having the latest iPhone or laptop, such as elegance and user-friendliness.
Disney’s purpose is to entertain families with incredible stories that inspire childlike wonder. Much of their marketing tactics (especially for their amusement parks) revolve around creating memories with families and use elements of magic throughout their branding language. They even refer to their employees as “cast members” and “imagineers.”
The reason why this works so well for branding is because it creates emotional connections that can lead to intense loyalty. A study from Customer Thermometer found that consumers who felt an emotional connection to a company had a 50% greater customer lifetime value.
Oftentimes, consumers do not respond emotionally to a brand that is simply product-focused. In order to create these strong bonds, brands need to stand for something bigger than just the business itself or create specific emotions that are meaningful to their audience.
This research from Customer Thermometer also found that people are most loyal to businesses when they felt like a brand truly cared about their customers – or were making a positive difference.
Patagonia has executed this perfectly in their devotion to environmentalism. The marketing of this brand has worked so well that the act of buying their products is seen as a contribution to preserving the environment.
One of the best ways to establish this type of mindset as a brand is to focus on building customer engagement on a truly personal level. A great example here is from Native, who sends out hyper personalized emails after a purchase showing customers just how excited they are.
Another way to build connections is by sharing user-generated content throughout your marketing, such as on social media. For instance, Emmy’s Organics frequently shares customer submitted photos on their Instagram.
They also respond to customer comments to engage in conversations and build meaningful connections.
Another good option is to use your brand to support a cause that is important to your customers. The sock company Bombas matches every purchase with donations to homeless shelters.
Similar to Patagonia, this makes customers “feel good” about buying from this brand because they know that their money is going towards a good cause.
Step #3: Make Your Voice Clear on All Channels
Remember, it is not just the visual elements that make your brand memorable – your brand voice matters a lot, too.
Keep your branding consistent in voice across all social platforms and content channels (like social media, blogs, email, etc.), even if the context has changed.
Now, this doesn’t mean that every single marketing channel needs to be identical. In fact, it is often best to adjust your content’s tone slightly from channel-to-channel. But it is important that you keep it overall cohesive to further support your brand identity.
Think of it this way:
Your brand voice is like the climate, which doesn’t change.
Your tone is like the weather; it can change based on a number of circumstances.
Southwest Airlines does a great job of preserving their brand voice in how they go the extra mile (pun) with customer interactions.
They keep the voice lighthearted, friendly and approachable on all channels – from their Twitter to their LinkedIn page. However, you can see that the tone of their Twitter tends to be more lighthearted and humorous – while LinkedIn is more inspirational and heartwarming.
Step #4: Keep a Close Eye on Reactions
Every brand makes mistakes from time to time, and you may need to adjust elements of your branding along the way in order to appeal to your customers.
Even the most famous brands have changed their logos and color schemes over the years to keep their look modern and relevant.
Another reason you may need to adjust your branding is due to changes in your business’s products or industry. For instance, Dunkin’ recently dropped the “Donuts” part of their name to appeal to a wider audience – that apparently is not interested in those sweet treats.
They also have changed their logo by dropping the image of a coffee cup – but still kept the same font and colors that people associate with the brand.
If you are a new business or are just starting a branding campaign, there will be periods of trial and error before you can really find the branding elements that work best. However, you will need to keep a close eye on your audience’s reactions and sentiments to narrow down what works and what doesn’t.
To track this, you will want to utilize social listening tools to monitor mentions online and see what people have to say about your company – tools like Brandwatch and Brand24 are great for this.
You may also want to participate in direct feedback. This involves requesting customers to review their experience and rate your business by asking questions about how they feel in relation to your company, such as:
- Do you find our brand trustworthy?
- How likely are you to recommend this brand to others?
- What attracted you to our brand?
Creating a truly memorable brand will not happen overnight. Good things take time, and many of the most unforgettable brands have had years to establish their identities with consumers.
However, it is important for every company to establish a brand that connects with their audience to create instant recognition and trust. At the end of the day, this is what leads to higher sales and long-lasting loyalty.
About the Author!
Vishalsinh Mahida is Content Marketing Analyst at E2M inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in White Label Services for Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. He has previously assisted top brands like Axis Bank, Fox Star, IIFL, and more in implementing several customer engagement strategies. Connect with him at any time on LinkedIn!