There’s more to building your business than just marketing and promotion. Both of those aspects rely on something which can sometimes seem intangible and perhaps even confusing. Branding gives your company and the products or services you sell added depth, but it’s not always clear what it means in practical terms.
What exactly is a brand, why is it so important and how do you go about creating one?
What is a brand?
It may seem obvious but before you go about trying to create a brand you need to understand what one actually is. It’s a word that’s often used but all too often misunderstood. One of the reasons why this is the case is because a simple definition is tricky to find.
In short, it’s about how your products, services and overall business is perceived. Think of some of the world’s biggest brands, and what is the first word that comes to mind in each case?
The Apple brand is truly global and commands loyalty from its customers. People identify with the products it produces to such a degree many of them are willing to queue outside Apple Stores for hours in order to purchase new releases. The Apple brand isn’t its instantly recognisable logo, its TV ads or its minimalist stores. It’s how all of those aspects combine to create a set of perceptions in the minds of customers and potential customers.
Why is creating a brand so important?
Whether you actively set out to shape them or not, customers will form perceptions about your business. Get the logo and visual identity right, offer good products and attentive customer service and it’s likely that those will be positive. To create a deeper engagement with what you do, to encourage loyalty and keep them coming back, however, you’ll need a strong brand identity.
Your brand identity isn’t just about how you are perceived by customers. It can also shape how your business develops, the workplace culture and decision making.
It can give you an advantage over your competitors and can shape how you communicate with your customers. It helps customers know what to expect and helps them find points of commonality and shared values with your business. It helps you achieve clarity and remain focused, better informing your decision making process.
A strong brand adds value to your business, making it more than just the sum of its physical assets.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the importance of creating a brand.
How do you create a brand?
Creating a brand can be a complex and involved process. It’s about much more than creating a logo and ensuring there’s visual consistency across your communications, stores and product packaging.
Here are some of the stages and issues to consider when you’re creating a brand.
Think about your core values
Ultimately, your brand will represent who you are as individuals within the business as well as the business itself. What are the core values and motivations that encouraged you to set up your business, shape the services you offer and make you stand out from some of the competition?
Few people enter business merely to make a profit. They are often following a passion, have spotted a gap in the market or are passionate about changing the way a particular industry operates. Identifying those core values and motivations is the first and most important step when it comes to creating a brand.
Why do you want to do things differently?
What’s the desired feeling you wish to communicate?
People purchase products and services to meet a particular need or fulfil a desire. A car is transportation, but it might also symbolise freedom or status. Food might represent gourmet or a healthy outlook. What is the key emotion or idea that you’d like to communicate to your audience?
Understand your audience
Think hard about your target audience and what they expect from the businesses they engage with.
What is their age, sex, educational level, income and locality?
How do they think and approach the world?
What motivates them to make a purchase?
What feeling is your product or service going to give the consumer?
What is the desire or need it will fulfil?
It might be the desire for freedom, safety, confidence or success, or something completely different.
Understanding your audience is key.
What makes your business unique?
Imagine that you have never encountered your company before and then tell yourself the key message that you want your customers to hear. Does it give them a clear picture of the benefits your business can provide you as your customer?
If it doesn’t, take another look at your offer and try to make it clearer. Is the main aspect of your offer price or value? Perhaps it’s all about quality or your ethical values. What makes your business distinct from the competition?
Your brand image needs to be clear and based on your unique proposition to your customers.
Ask ‘so what’?
When you’ve identified what makes your proposition unique, put it to the ‘so what’ test. Does your proposition warrant a ‘so what’ response. If it does then think about the benefits you want to deliver and keep repeating the ‘so what’ test until you find something that is truly compelling.
You want to ensure that your brand is distinct and your offer is clear and meaningful to your target audience.
The image you present to your audience needs to be clear and consistent. You need to ensure that your products, services, communications and customer service don’t contradict each other. If you make any claims about your business, then you need to make sure you can back them up.
Get professional help
Branding can be an incredibly complex process and one that is so easy to get wrong. Branding agencies are experienced when it comes to the branding process. They will help identify your businesses core values and will carefully develop a brand strategy that informs everything you do. They’ll help to create a brand that builds trust and loyalty to your products and services.
At Dawn Creative, we’re experts at helping businesses discover their unique proposition. We then help them turn that proposition into a meaningful and compelling brand.
Call 0161 711 0910 or email email@example.com to find out more.