It's hard to find a business owner who doesn't want their company to stand out from the competition. A strong branding strategy is essential for businesses looking to establish themselves as experts in their industry and grow their customer base. But what does it mean to "brand" your company? And how do you go about developing an effective one?
This blog is part of a series in brand awareness. Today's article will be focused on learning what a brand is, the difference between brands and logos, brand strategies and brand management.
What is a brand anyway?
Whether you believe it or not, businesses and individuals alike have a brand. Your brand is the way people perceive you and the value they place in your brand is their opinion of you.
If a person doesn't know you but has seen or heard about something related to you (such as your company), then that person's brand perception will most likely be based on those things. If all the information received so far from what we've shared about you is positive, the brand perception will be that your brand has high value. On the other hand, if all the information received so far from what we've shared about you is negative, then their brand perception will be that your brand has low value.
There are many components that make up brand perceptions, but the key factors include:
Branding is the personality of a company, and it needs to be consistent across all points of contact with customers or prospects - from advertising to social media posts. Your brand should reflect who you are as a company, what you stand for and what's important to you.
Brand vs. Logo?
Branding is not just about logos. Your brand is the overall personality and experience of your company to potential customers. A brand encompasses more than a logo, color scheme or slogan - it's everything people associate with your business that leads them (or drives) them to have certain thoughts and feelings when they see you as a company.
For example, if you own a clothing brand, your brand is not just the logo on the clothes. The colors you use in your marketing and website design are also part of your brand. The brand would also include the quality of your products or services, pricing and even how you communicate with customers.
Whereas your logo, while part of your brand, does not define your brand. For example, Nike's brand is more than just a swoosh. The company sells clothing and equipment designed for sport enthusiasts. It also encourages people to keep fit through its advertising campaigns - all these aspects make up the brand, but none are part of the logo design itself.
Stand out in Corporate Clutter
Having a brand is key to standing out in the sea of other businesses vying for your attention. We live in times where there are endless choices and people can't be expected to figure out who you are from just one interaction with your company - so branding is essential if you want them to notice you, connect with what's important about you and ultimately buy from you.
But brand awareness is not enough. You also must be able to make a connection with potential customers and convert them into loyal brand evangelists at the end of it all, so your brand needs an emotional appeal that resonates with people on a deeper level.
To do this, there are many things to consider when developing your brand:
Every company has an element of branding or brand management as part of their marketing strategy. Having a brand strategy will help guide how you want your brand to be perceived by your customers or potential brand evangelists, and it will define how you want to communicate with them.
Your brand strategy should be in the form of a written document and include everything you need to know about your brand, from how the logo will look like or what tone of voice you want for your social media posts to who manages your brand on a day-to-day basis. It should answer questions like: "What is my brand personality?"; "Who am I targeting?"; and "How do I differentiate myself from other brands in the same market space?". Ideally, it should also include brand benchmarks that are measurable and able to be analyzed.
Examples of Successful brand strategies
Apple has a brand that is simple and iconic, which lends itself to being memorable.
The Nike brand was founded as a shoe company but has since evolved into clothing and accessories like sports bras and watches. Still, the color palette remains consistent with a focus on dark and light blues and reds.
The Coca Cola company was founded in 1886 by Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton.
- The brand story is that "Coca Cola relieves and brings energy."
- Their brand personality includes being "reassuring, refreshing and irresistible".
The Starbucks brand was founded in 1971 by three partners (two of whom are no longer with the company). They have a logo that is instantly recognizable.
Apple's brand strategy has been around since the brand's inception and has been a success because they were able to create their brand story.
Starbucks, on the other hand, was founded in 1971 but needed some time to develop its brand strategy which meant adding coffee roasts or new menu items over the years.
Nike also took a while before developing its brand strategy - they started out with just shoes and now offer clothing, accessories, and brand management.
Once you've established your brand, how do you manage it? Your brand must remain authentic while evolving over time - whether it needs a makeover or not depends on the brand strategy and what's happening in your industry.
There are a few things that you should keep in mind when managing your brand, including:
How does brand management help?
Depending on your business, brand management can be more complicated than simply deciding the colors and logos you want to use. It may require analyzing what competitors in your industry are doing as well as taking a close look at how customers view both you and them. From there, it will involve researching who is your brand's target audience and what they value.
Brand management helps your brand stay relevant and fresh with the changing times. It helps you stay competitive with other brands in your industry and with the changing customer demographics.
Brand management is key to brand success.
Your brand is your most valuable asset. It’s the foundation of all marketing and sales campaigns, so it’s critical to understand how to develop a good brand strategy that will work for you – both now and in the future. The key elements of this process include understanding the importance of your company's branding (and why), developing a powerful message, managing your online reputation proactively before something bad happens, as well as knowing when or if it time to change or rebrand. If you're ready for some help with any aspect of this process, Peterson SEO has consultation services tailored specifically around your business and branding needs.
Jessica is the CEO of Peterson SEO Digital Marketing Agency and is a serial entrepreneur that has not only owned and managed her own businesses, but also helps other small businesses grow to new levels. Learn more about Jessica & Peterson SEO.