With more businesses entering the world of eCommerce, competition is getting fiercer by the day. This means that if you’re looking to grow and create an online presence, you’re going to need a strong brand that’s instantly recognisable. This will give you a competitive edge, helping you connect with your audience, shape your reputation, and increase revenue.
But what exactly is branding, and how do you go about creating a rock-solid strategy?
Your brand is how customers perceive you and the feelings that your products or services evoke. You might want to make people feel powerful or healthy, or focus on the practicality or affordability of your products. Essentially, it’s the image that you spark in people’s minds.
Branding is the brains behind the brand, creating an actual strategy that you use to bring that image to life. It’s how you combine all the tangible elements of a brand — like your logo, packaging and customer service — to reflect your personality, trigger certain feelings and express your core values, letting people know exactly why they should choose you. It’s a way of pinpointing the heart of your business and choosing how to communicate that.
A strong brand is important to any business, bringing with it multiple benefits both internally and externally. Within your business, it will inspire your employees and keep everyone focused on the same goals, guiding any decisions you make. From a customer’s perspective, it builds trust, inspires brand loyalty, and makes choosing between competing businesses that much easier.
This means that your brand could become your biggest asset, and a brand strategy is what will help you get there.
The foundations of a brand
Before creating your strategy, you’ll need to decide on your vision, story and target audience. These will give you the foundations of your brand, giving it a meaning that people find relatable and informing the direction you need to take.
Your vision looks towards the future, focusing on your long-term goals. It’s all about your purpose and what you want to achieve, as well as how you plan to help your customers.
This is where you’ve been and why you do what you do, giving an insight into the motivation behind your business. It should be honest and authentic, inspiring people to care about your brand.
- Customer Profiles
By defining your ideal customer, you can create a brand that resonates with the people most likely to need your products or services. They are the ones you need to keep in mind at all times.
Creating a brand strategy
Once you have these foundations in place, you can start thinking about your brand strategy. Although there are multiple routes you can go down to create your brand, here are 5 essential elements that every strategy should include.
1. Brand Promise
What do you do, and who do you do it for?
Your brand promise goes far beyond just the products you offer, and focuses more on the emotional benefits of choosing your company. It’s the experience that people can expect every time they interact with your brand, and is the very foundation of creating a meaningful connection with your customers.
This promise gives you purpose, and people love a driven brand that actually means something. Whether it’s to do with the environment, society, or empowerment, an inspiring promise will reinforce that emotional connection and drive customer loyalty. It’s also one of the key building blocks for every other element of your brand. From your vision to your values, everything you do should relate back to your promise.
2. Brand Positioning
What do you want to be known for?
If you’re going to stand-out from the crowds, then you need to create your own space among your competitors and within your customers’ minds. Your positioning is all about how you can help people in a way that other businesses can’t, so think about what it is that you offer and why people should choose you over someone else.
Your positioning could come from any aspect of your business, such as product features, price point, or quality. It should be something that’s unique to your business, and that matters to your audience. If you’re not sure what your niche might be, then it’s always helpful to look at your competitors. Comparing other businesses against your own will make it easier to find that differentiating factor.
And remember, your positioning needs to be specific. If you claim to do it all, customers will not only question your authenticity, but may also end up disappointed when you can’t deliver.
3. Brand Values
Why do you do what you do? Why do you love it?
Your brand values are the very heart and soul of your business, bringing in a more human element and creating personality. They’re the reasons you get out of bed every morning, and the ‘why’ behind everything you do. If you’re able to clearly communicate these values, it’ll be that much easier to connect with your audience in an honest and authentic way.
When choosing your core values, it’s important that they’re something you actually believe in. This will allow you to grow your brand into something both you and your employees are passionate about, as well as build trust with your customers.
Try picking out 5 words or phrases which you feel best represent your company, focusing on your personality and purpose. If you’re unsure, you can draw on past and present experiences, as well as what you like or dislike about your competitors. Once you have them, define why that concept should represent your business.
These core values will then act as your compass, guiding every action and decision you make. From tone of voice and colour palette right through to your marketing strategies, you’ll know you’re making the right decisions because they’ll all be aligned with your personality and purpose.
4. Brand Message
How will you communicate your brand?
Your brand message is the way you use words to express all these fundamental elements of your brand, from your values and vision to positioning and promise. Your tone of voice and strapline will bring the very essence of your brand to life through words, shaping the way that people perceive you.
Although your brand message isn’t limited to a strapline, it can serve as a useful reference for all your marketing efforts. This will then help guide any marketing decisions related to things like products, packaging, social media and website copy, giving you a consistent message across all channels.
When creating your brand message, make sure it’s clear and concise. And remember, it should reflect your personality, resonate with your audience and differentiate you from the competition.
5. Visual Branding
What does your brand look like?
While your brand message uses words, visual branding focuses on how the visual elements come together to convey who you are. This includes everything like your logo, colour palette and shapes, which are all used to shape the customer experience and evoke certain feelings. Since these visual elements are the first thing people see, it’s important to get them right if you’re going to make a good impression.
Your logo is the face of your company and possibly the most important visual element of your brand. It’s usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of you, and if people relate to your brand, it can also become a status symbol. Whenever people see a piece of fruit with a bite missing, they instantly know who that logo belongs to.
Other visuals like shapes, typography and colours also have a big impact on first impressions. Rounded shapes, bright colours and sans-serif fonts will bring a fun, energetic vibe to your brand. On the other hand, sharp corners, a muted palette and serif fonts might be viewed as more professional and sophisticated.
Colours can also be a great way of differentiating yourself from your competitors, but it’s important to get the colour psychology right. One study found that up to 90% of initial judgements are based on colour choices alone, which means your choice of colour can greatly influence the way people perceive your brand.
Grow your online presence with a solid brand strategy
Since branding deals with a lot of intangible elements, it can quickly get confusing. But once you have these basic foundations in place, you’ll be well on your way to creating a meaningful brand that stands out from the crowd.
By giving yourself a clear direction about what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for, you’ll be able to engage your customers on a personal level. This emotional connection will give you a competitive edge and encourage brand loyalty, driving your online presence and growing your business.
What do you want your brand experience to be? Let us know and we’ll carry out a free brand review to make sure you’re on the right track!