Ashley Freidlein (Econsultancy) defines it as,
“Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception”.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no right way or wrong way to branding. More than a science, branding is the art of making memories and associations with the customers/users of the brand. It’s the art of storytelling and the key is, no matter what story you tell, make sure it’s a good one!
Products are no longer just products. We are not selling a product or service any more, we are selling experiences. And there are about as many ways to do it as there are people on this planet. That being said, there are certain things that you should know that could help you along the way.
What is Branding?
Loosely speaking, branding is the process of building the image of a person in the minds of the people by means of perceptions.
No description is right or wrong. No person is good or bad. It’s the experiences that one has with them that makes them like the person (or brand in our case!) or not. Branding is often referred to as the strategy that organizations adapt to create an identity and experience for it’s consumers and stakeholders. It outlines everything that the brand stands for, why they should choose you instead of someone else and then doing everything you can to deliver those promises. If you ask us, it sounds a lot like convincing someone to marry you!
Ashley Freidlein (Econsultancy) defines it as, “Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception”.
Your brand is what differentiates you from your competitors. Why is branding one of the most important functions of your business in today’s world? It is who you are and what people think you are and these need to be aligned with each other. It is your promise to your customers and sets expectations for them. However, it always falls on you to deliver those expectations and more often than not, you must become what your customers want and need you to be.
The brand is the company’s most important asset. It gives them an identity and a persona. This is what marketers and advertisers use to boost and monetize their efforts. A huge part of branding is the brand story. It helps your audience understand the values and beliefs of your organization, conveys what you stand for i.e., your mission and vision. This in turn helps your employees and your business to stay focused and define goals.
Brand building is not easy. But like we said, there is no right or wrong way to branding. However, there are certain steps you can follow when trying to build a brand ground up-
1. Give your brand a definition
Define the purpose of your brand. Know why you created this brand and then communicate that message to your audiences. Convince them they need you, tell them you’re there for them and that you’re listening. Then work on conveying that same message through your products and services as well.It is like Simon Sinek explains via The Golden Circle-What- your products and service offerings.How- the thing that sets you apart from everyone else, or your USP.Why- the reason you exist and “wake up & grind” every morning.
2. Research, Research and then Research some more!
Know everything there is to know about the industry you wanna work in starting from your competitors and their offerings to the behavioural characteristics and pain points of the customers. This will help you spot the trends in the market and identify the gaps. Study your competitors. Research their pricing policies, benchmarks and standards, communication style but most importantly, go through their journey and how they came about to become a brand. This will help you learn from the things that they did right and take away lessons from the mistakes they made.
Also research the market to help you come up with a name. See what your competitors did, what works in the market and what doesn’t. Choose a name that is easy to remember and recall.
3. Determine your target audience
You could be doing all the right things at all the right places but it wouldn’t mean anything unless you're targeting the right people. Know who your target audience is. Study their behaviors, habits, lifestyle and psychology. Then define who the best group of audiences would be for your brand. Finally, determine your market size and potential. Be as specific as you can. Take down as many details as possible and make your targeting more focused.
4. Build a Mission statement
Once you’ve worked out the external details, it’s time to focus on the internal nitty-gritties. That starts with writing your own mission statement. In a gist, your mission statement outlines in a sentence or two what you stand for and what you’re most passionate about. This is where you tell your audiences the reason for your “wake-up & grind”!
5. Establish a Brand Virtual Identity
This includes everything from building a brand voice, establishing a brand personality to giving it a virtual language. In the 21st century, everything that exists on ground, must exist online. Hence, it’s important that we pay equal attention to the virtual. How your brand communicates with its audiences on social media, emailers, on ground/online customer service, visuals and marketing messages must remain consistent across all channels. Thus, it’s important we set a tone for all our communications. It could be formal, friendly, authoritative, quirky or serious but it’s extremely important that you make sure it goes along with the vibe of your brand.
6. Brand story, logo and tagline
Branding, more than anything else, is all about storytelling. And you better make sure it’s a compelling one at that. It is the first thing that your audiences learn about you even before they learn about your products and services. Next, in order to imprint that story in their heads, you need a logo and a tagline. It is how you will get identified and described by them.
7. Horizontal and vertical integration
Whether it’s your offices or your stores or your websites or your ecommerce platforms. Ensure that you “keep up appearances” everywhere and make sure they’re all screaming of you!Let me explain. Think of the House of Masaba. What do you visualize? Quirky prints, symmetric designs and bold patterns. Is that how she appears on her social media? Yes. Is that embedded in her website? Yes. In the brand’s communication style? Their logo? Yes and yes!Your brand’s spirit should be palpable everywhere and in everyone connected with it. Whether it’s the customer experience you provide (via your stores, website and social media) or whether it’s in your communications (via your after sales services, business communications, customer interactions, etc.). Regardless of who, where, what and when.
8. Be consistent and be vocal!
Lastly, stay true to your branding. You’ve put a lot of thought into building your baby. You’ve nourished it with everything you had, now all you need to do is to stay consistent. Sometimes some things may not go your way, doesn’t mean you start questioning everything. Take a moment to reflect on what went wrong and then work on correcting it. Once done, start singing your heart out loud again!However, you might sometimes come across things that are not working in your favor despite putting in so many efforts. That is when you might need to make some bigger changes. It could be a logo redesign or a packaging change or maybe you’ll need to change your entire brand aesthetic. Don’t be scared. Do whatever you need to and be consistent in your efforts to make it work. It might sound scary, but with a little bit of time and patience, things will eventually work out in your favor!
Remember- you are your brand’s biggest advocate. Every chance you take and every mistake you make is only going to make you stronger. The world is your oyster, so go out there and toot your own horn as loud as you can!