What is branding?
Branding is the visual and emotional connection a consumer has with a specific brand. A brand is a unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, used to create an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind.1
Our clients often tell us “I want a strong brand identity, where do I start?”
Step 1: Define your target customer.
What is your customer looking for? Does your niche help satisfy your customer’s needs? Can you provide a service or product that meets their need rather than their want?
Until you know the answers to these questions, you won’t know who your brand is talking to or where to find them. Persona exercises are especially helpful for defining your audience.
Step 2: Evaluate your logo.
Look at the logo you are currently using to represent your organization. Is it simple, clean, and memorable? Does look like a competitor’s logo? Can it stand alone and still be recognized by your customers?
If you have decided to keep your existing logo, gather your various logo files, and ensure that all the material your company is putting out in the marketplace stems from the same logo. Your customers need consistency to recognize your brand.
When evaluating your brand’s consistency, take note if you have recently updated your colors, drop an old tagline, or if you need a ® mark instead of a TM.
Once you decided on your brand’s direction, keep the approved logo files in a location accessible to all employees.
Step 3: Determine your brand colors and font.
Just as important as your logo, your brand colors and font create a cohesive look for consumers to easily recognize you.
In addition to a primary palette, you can have a secondary complementary palette. Be sure to clarify in percentages how often your colors should be used.
Just like primary and secondary colors, your brand can have primary and secondary fonts to use across all marketing material. Preferably, print pieces should be limited to two fonts, while web-based materials can have up to two additional complementary fronts.
Just like your logo, you will need to provide this information to anyone who creates marketing material for your company.
Step 4: Establish your Tone of Voice and photos.
Now that you have found your target audience, logo, colors, and fonts, you should determine how to speak to your audience both visually and in the text.
Tone of Voice refers not to the volume of verbal speech, but to the attitude conveyed through writing. This could include formality, objectivity, intimacy, and similar characteristics. Your brand could have the tone of a salesman, educator, hero, or wise sage. When you take a step back and reread your messaging from a fresh perspective, you will better understand how your audience perceives your brand.
Just like Tone of Voice, photography used in your marketing material sends a strong message as well. Think about the style of your photos. Do you use lifestyle based photography or unique perspective images? How about artistically colored photos? Your photography sends visual cues to your audience that can solidify your brand.
Step 5: Enforce your brand’s consistency.
You can keep all the players associated with your brand on track when you set up rules in a brand guide. Setting up boundaries for your brand in the market place creates one visual and one voice to be heard repeatedly by your customers. Your brand’s consistency builds with each exposure to naturally create Brand Equity. While Brand Equity cannot be bought, it is worth every moment you spend on branding.