If you are looking to expand your business and develop your company image, it’s important to craft a strong brand identity. Successful brands are those who creatively and clearly communicate their offerings in design and messaging. A strong brand identity forms the foundation for all your marketing and brand awareness efforts. You might have the best team and services around, but if your branding is not representative of your business’ authority and expertise, you might struggle to get attention. So, what does your brand say about you?
Designing Your Brand
Creating a brand identity is so much more than slapping together a logo. Competition is fiercer than ever and consumers have been given a lot of power through technology. We can now search for and compare different brands in a matter of seconds. Almost subconsciously we form instant opinions about a company through their visual representation. Therefore brand strategy is needed to ensure positive brand experience so that your company is not overlooked during this critical customer research phase.
According to Forbes, research enables customers to feel excited for an experience, confident that they’re getting the most from their experience, and feel in control of their experience.
Nowadays, it’s common practice to Google an establishment before visiting, and it matters how a brand appears online.
Do you remember the last time you went out for dinner? Did you Google the restaurant? Perhaps you even browsed through the menu in anticipation of the food available. Maybe you even preselected what you want to eat to be prepared. No doubt, you checked the open times of the restaurant, or whether there was a corkage option. Ok, some of you may not be that dedicated, but it pays off being prepared by looking through the eyes of your prospective customers. Make sure you update your digital platforms with all the relevant information and images.
What elements form a brand’s identity?
Your brand identity consists of your business name, the design of your logo, your messaging, language and tone of voice, and your colours, shapes and graphics. To choose these elements correctly you should consider your company culture, your mantra and value proposition. Of course, your target audience is another key consideration.
Don’t forget to undertake research on your competitors – both those who are successful, and those that are not going so well in the market. Take note of what works and what doesn’t work.
Once these elements have been combined to create your brand, you have the complete picture of your brand image. Strong brand identity positions you as being trustworthy, reputable, and of high quality. Don’t expect to have these positive associations overnight, however. It takes time to build up a positive brand image. It takes a lot more than running a few advertising campaigns.
Struggling with brand awareness?
Work on sociability. Brand executives around the world attribute 52% of their brands reputation to how social it is online. Further, they predict this figure will increase to 65% over the next three years. Online interaction means more than sharing articles and posts about deals and events. This strategy is successfully used when a brand is engaging with their target audience by building excitement over shared interests and commonalities. Further, listening to what your community is saying and responding to them fosters a strong connection with your target audience.
Use storytelling to share key narratives. Unsurprisingly, audiences have become accustomed to seeing advertising everywhere. Being bombarded with so many ads a day, consumers learn to switch off and block out annoying ads. Therefore, it is necessary to form a campaign that holds attention. Further, as 90% of our purchasing decisions are affected by emotions, storytelling is a great way to build an emotional association with your brand. In particular, positive storytelling has a powerful neurological effect on consumers, releasing dopamine into the bloodstream. Dopamine sends reward signals to our brain, naturally boosting motivation and mood.
What is a value proposition?
Creating a value proposition is often overlooked or executed very poorly. The value proposition should in a few concise words tell the customer why they should choose you over the competition. But it needs to be delivered in a way that doesn’t just talk about you – but resonates with the needs of your customer. This is arguably one of the most important elements of your messaging, and it’s not that simple to create.
A strong value proposition could mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign and an ineffective one. In their 10 year study of top brands and their marketing efforts, Millward Brown found that brands that had a strong value proposition in addition to an effective marketing campaign achieved an average growth of 168%. However, brands that had weak value propositions, despite also implementing effective campaigns, only had a 27% increase.
In writing your value prop, you want to consider the problems you want to solve for your customer, and why you’re the best for the job. Some of the elements you might incorporate into your value prop include:
A headline: explains the end benefit of your product or service.
A subheadline or paragraph: A more detailed explanation of your product or service, who it would benefit and why.
Three bullet points: Specifically list individual benefits and features.
A visual element: An image or a video to accompany your key messages.
Generally, a value prop should be concise and clear. A customer should be able to spend about 5 seconds reading and comprehending your product or service. Make sure you communicate specific results a customer will see, and explain how your brand is different but better.
Despite needing all the elements mentioned above, a value statement really isn’t as wordy as you might imagine. To see actual examples of effective value propositions, have a quick browse through this article.
Modern Brand Design Process
The importance of brand logos is often acknowledged. An effective logo leaves a lasting impression on a consumer. Studies have shown that even the circularity or angularity of a logo can affect the perceptions and attitudes of a brand, positioning it as either firm and cold, or soft and caring. And that doesn’t factor in colour, size, simplicity, or symbolism.
It’s tempting to jump on Fiverr and get a logo designed for next to nothing, you might come away with something that you like, sure; but is it something that best represents you to your ideal customer? Different targets are drawn to different styles. It is essential to design your brand in a way that clearly and creatively reflects your business.
What looks great in a large format onscreen or in a business card mockup may not serve you well elsewhere. There are many different size and shape configurations to keep in mind as well.
It’s essential your designer comes up with an on-brand concept for round and square applications as well as horizontal. These variations should still have you presenting consistently so that you’re recognisable across all media. That takes time and can be tricky.
- Construct creative design brief around your company message
- Research competitors and target audience
- Concept sketches and brainstorm ideas
- Develop and prevent concepts in various formats
- Refine chosen design and produce variations for multiple applications
- Develop brand style guide
Brand Style Guide
Every business should come out of a brand design experience with a brand style guide document. This is your brand bible which outlines:
- The exact colour palette used for RGB and CMYK outlining primary and secondary colours and combinations
- The font and typography hierarchy used and usage rules
- How your logo should and should not be presented (size, color and proper placement)
- Brand voice and visual style
- Social media guide, policy and tone of voice
Depending on the size or nature of your business you might include corporate guidelines, which would outline how you operate business to business.
This brand bible might sound like overkill for your business, but it’s the best way to ensure your brand image is upheld once you have established your brand’s design, and also as you grow. This is critical to the lasting success of your identity. Weak, inconsistent branding can lead to confusion and distrust.
Keeping Up Appearances
When people are researching businesses online they’re looking for quality. Rarely are people looking to find the smallest company in a niche, they’re more comfortable with a brand that looks established, under control and trustworthy. The best service or cheapest price will seldom win if your brand identity is dull.
Having a modern user-friendly website and brand presence for prospective customers to connect with demonstrates that you care about their experience with you both on and offline. This gives people a preview, and idea of what their real life experience with you will be as a customer – so it’s imperative that their first connections with you are positive. You don’t need to embellish the success of your company, but it’s comforting to a consumer when you show you are competitive with the big guys and are confident in your unique offerings and wear your great brand with pride.
To make sure you’re keeping up appearances, you should frequently maintain your organisation’s website. Make sure the website design includes these key features, and gives the customer the best user experience possible.
Increase Business Profitability
You’re in this to build a healthy profitable business, right? (Of course you are) Strong brand identity enhances your company pride across the board. When you and your staff are proud to show off your beautiful marketing assets and uphold your message it has a ripple effect. Your customers will be proud to be your customers. Creating loyalty and pride among your customers is business-building currency. Not only that, with an air-tight brand identity comes the ability to increase rates and develop a quality long-term clientele.
In today’s world, decisions occur can occur in a split second based on memories, images and feelings. This is your brand. Make it count.