Building Your Brand
The Importance Of Branding
Before we get started, it’s important to highlight the importance of branding and what it can do for your company. In essence, branding is the experience that customers or prospective customers have with your company. Though name, symbol, and design all play a role, it’s so much more than that. “There are many areas that are used to develop a brand including advertising, customer service, promotional merchandise, reputation, and logo,” according to expert branding publication, Branding Mag.
Your branding differentiates your company from others, making it memorable to consumers and helping it stand out from the competition. However, the benefits of branding don’t end there. Branding is also a way of communicating who you are as a business and what clients can expect from your company. The consequence of good branding is increased brand awareness and recognition, business value, customer engagement, pride, satisfaction, trust within the marketplace, and advertising opportunities.
Branding is so effective because, particularly in oversaturated marketplaces, people want to connect with a company like they do an acquaintance or friend. They want a brand to be something they recognize, trust, and can spot in a crowd. Otherwise, how would people know which product to choose?
Branding Theories — By The Book
Now that you understand what branding is and why it’s important, let’s dig into branding strategies. One key strategy that can be helpful with getting your brand off the ground is a multifaceted approach known as the anatomy of a brand. There are seven components that make up the anatomy of the brand — make sure you can outline each one for your company:
- Soul — your company mission. The objectives of your company. “Why” you’re doing what you’re doing.
- Brain — the vision for your company. The direction you’ve set for your business that’ll help lead you in the right direction and overcome challenges along the way.
- Heart — the core values of your company. Principles that inform the business’s overall vision, culture, and philosophy.
- DNA — the remarkability of your company. What separates your brand from other brands? Though your company may look similar on the surface, the DNA makes it different. What’s your company’s distinctive DNA?
- Personality — the story of your brand. The story of how your company came to be, how it has evolved over time, the challenges you’ve encountered as an entrepreneur; all of this ties into the personality of your company.
- Wardrobe — the identity of your brand. There are layers to your brand’s identity, which depend on how you choose to present visual content, such as fonts, colors, labels, and packaging.
- Trademark Wardrobe Piece — an identifiable marker for your brand. Like a signature item of your wardrobe that everyone recognizes, this is the component of branding that allows people to know from one quick glance what company they’re buying from (e.g., logo).
Considering all of these components will help you figure out how your brand is different from others, and will inform the outward projection (branding) of your products/services. As you figure out how to translate the anatomy of your brand — what, why, and how you’re selling — you need to keep in mind who exactly is in your target audience. The way you present your products and services will heavily hinge on who you’re selling to: young people, older people, adventurous people, etc. Once you’ve gotten a clear sense of your intended buyers, it’s a good idea to research successful companies also catering to that market (they don’t necessarily need to be in the same industry).
How To Brand Like A Boss
Now that you’re an expert in the fundamentals of branding, let’s step it up a little bit and look at how your business can become the creme de la creme. However, it’s important to remember that branding strategies are far from one-size-fits-all. While some companies will thrive with minimal branding and a more simplistic strategy, others require a little more creativity and innovation. That’s why it’s vital to figure out your company’s anatomy and intended customers before moving onto this stage of branding.
Core In Check
Before we get into anything fancy, it’s important that you have your core branding in check.
- Name — pick a creative, unique name. Names that are too long, descriptive, or reminiscent of existing names will bury your company on search engines and could lead to trademarking issues or infringement. Go with something short, snazzy, and arbitrary/invented.
- Logo — keep it simple. Nobody needs to associate a Picasso with your company name. In fact, most top brands have really clear, concise logos (think: Nike, Target, Adidas). If you think you lack the artistic chops for logo-making, don’t be afraid to outsource. Commission a creative friend, turn to one of the many online logo makers, like TRUiC’s free in-house design hub, or hire a creative agency to take on the challenge.
- Domain — make sure when you’re considering names that you’re also thinking about what website domain names are available. If you pick an original name, you won’t have a problem finding an affordable domain name that customers will be able to easily find.
- Website — you can’t get away with a shoddy website. Make sure it’s clean, simple, easy to navigate, and doesn’t have any unexpected user experience issues.
Master Social Media
There’s a reason many companies today have an entire team running their social media — social media sells. Almost every business can benefit from being on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and maybe even TikTok (or any other in-vogue social media sites). Different social media platforms are useful for accessing different audiences, so it’s worth doing some research to see where your future customers are hanging out. However, generally, being active on social media can serve as brilliant free marketing. It’s a way to build a brand voice, gain trust and relevance in the marketplace, interact with customers, and keep your name flowing around people’s heads.
An example of a company that has used social media to its advantage is the fast food chain Wendy’s. Wendy’s, which now has nearly 4 million followers, was one of the first corporate companies to begin using Twitter to interact casually with customers, posting jokes and lightly making fun of competitors. People enjoyed the funny, friendly atmosphere, which resulted in securing the attention of a younger generation.
Within the social media subset of branding, influencer marketing is a new and innovative way to build image and awareness. Basically, you sponsor influencers (people with a social media following) to take pictures with or talk about your product. Influencer marketing doesn’t have to be as drastic as you may assume: paying a YouTuber with millions of followers to talk about your electric toothbrush company. You could also reach out to personalities in specific industries whose followers will be particularly interested in your product.
National, state, or local events can be great brand-building opportunities. Showing or selling your product at an event, or sponsoring an event, is a way of showing affinity with the event’s attendees. You can access niche interest groups and take advantage of the presence of large groups of people with similar interests (which could soon include your brand). White Claw rose to prominence last year by, among other branding strategies, embracing a wide range of events, showing the versatility of its product and a broad appeal at events ranging from Coachella to the Kentucky Derby.
Mean What You Say
Customers can see through BS, so one of the best branding strategies out there is being genuine and following through. Patagonia is a great example of this, creating original compelling content relating to climate change and lobbying climate awareness to the government for years. In 2020, Patagonia released two new films about young activists and public lands. Follow-through doesn’t require political activity, however, as there are many ways you can show that your brand is genuine, and gain the trust and respect of customers.
Think Outside The Box
The most important advice for succeeding at branding is don’t do what everyone else is doing. Though these suggestions can be used as guidance, they won’t be successful unless you make them your own. Figure out who you are and get creative with telling your story. It’ll pay off.