There are no two ways about it: your brand is your company’s most valuable asset. Why? Because your brand is how your organisation is perceived by the world around it. Building your brand now is more important than ever.
Studies from recession periods clearly show that those companies that continued to invest in their brand, reaped the benefits in the long term.
But how do you build a strong brand?
A brand is much more than just a logo, it’s how you are perceived by potential clients, by stakeholders, and it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
Start with the strategy behind the brand. Don’t rush into creating an identity that isn’t meaningful for your company.
Your purpose, company mission, vision, and values are the very core of the brand. It’s crucial that you define these and fully understand them. This is the foundation of your brand, these elements will be used across all touchpoints, and allow for consistency throughout all of your brand communications.
By defining elements like purpose, vision, mission, and values, you establish your brand compass.
Take, for example, Apple, their messaging is focused on who they are, that they want to challenge the status quo and think differently. As a by-product of this innovation, they build innovative, beautifully designed products.
Who are you speaking to?
Do you know your target audience, and do you really understand them? Understanding your audience is key to being able to resonate with them, and allows you to build a brand that can connect and engage with consumers through intelligent messaging. You need to understand more than just what they buy, you need to know why they are buying. Understanding their motivations is key to unlocking your brand’s potential.
The very best brands understand their audiences, and create messaging that connects to them. You need to know who to speak to, and where to find them.
How are you differentiated from your competitors?
The strongest brands are differentiated from their competitors in easily identifiable ways. They own a specific spot in the market, and consumers know that. What is your point of differentiation, and how do you stand out? Identify your position in the market, and own it.
Look at your competitors, understand how they have positioned themselves in the market, what touchpoints they are using, and their messaging. Ensure that your brand is not overlapping with others in the marketplace.
Your brand personality is integral to this. When you create your brand personality, focus on human connection. Most of all, ensure that underneath everything, your brand is still human and authentic and that your narrative is consistent throughout all of your messaging.
Think Harley Davidson, they are a rugged brand based on the qualities of freedom, heritage, community and quality. They are rebellious, straight to the point and they stay away from corporate tones. Their campaigns use this language, with statements such as ‘Screw it, Let’s Ride’. They have built their personality over the years and now reap the benefits.
Far more than just a logo, your brand’s identity should be a visual distillation of its purpose and personality. Use the insights gained from the strategy phases to forge an authentic identity. This identity will amplify your differentiation and leave a lasting impression.
This is the stage where you can explore all the different visual elements of your brand. The colour palette, typography, iconography, imagery, and logo all come together to form a consistent brand identity. To calibrate your branding effort, develop brand guidelines. A document that will precisely outline how your brand should be expressed, and how these elements should be used. This means when your brand is rolled out, there is consistency across all communications.
A great example of a brand identity is AirBnB. Their visual identity started with ‘Belong Anywhere’, with this being the core value. Having never actively worked on their branding, they knew that this was the next step needed to elevate them on a global scale. That’s when they introduced their icon, the Belo, designed to represent people, place, love, and the A of AirBnB. Their whole colour palette and typography were refreshed, all to create a sense of community that is the essence of the company. Their rebrand represented a move to a lifestyle brand and has allowed them to be the internationally recognised brand that they are today.