Having a brand that clearly represents your business is a big part of how you communicate with your customers. Your brand sits at the centre of your marketing; it’s a clear identity that should run through everything you use to reach your audience, letting them know who you are and what your business stands for. Developing a successful brand identity is something that takes time and effort, but there are a set of steps that can make the process simpler and help to ensure you get the right results.
1. Know your audience
This is the most important aspect of marketing, and that’s still the case when it comes to building your brand. You need to know who your potential customers are and what they are looking for from your business in order to create a brand that speaks to them and addresses those issues. I spoke about this in my last blog post, and the points I raised there are still relevant here – if you haven’t seen it already it’s worth reading through that post before you continue here, but the short version is “know who your customers are”. Understand their background, their income, their needs and how they spend their time and you’ll be better able to talk to them in a way they will appreciate.
2. Know yourself
Again, I mentioned this in my previous post and discussed the importance of a Unique Selling Proposition that sets you apart from your competitor. Building a brand means taking the ideas that set you apart and building them into how you communicate. Is your company environmentally focussed? Is your USP the speed of your service? Is it the knowledge base that your staff have and their ability to solve the customer’s problems? Whatever gives your company its edge and speaks to your customers needs to be the core of your brand identity.
Once you have a good understanding of your customers and of what makes your company unique, you can use as the basis for creating your brand identity.
3. Create your visual brand
This is what most people think of when they think of branding – the visual elements that can identify your company at a glance. Exactly what will be involved will vary depending on your industry and the types of customers you’re trying to reach, but some things will play into almost every brand:
A logo. This is the image that encapsulates your brand. A logo is the thing your customers will most immediately associate with your company’s image, and should capture the essence of your brand’s identity… whether that be energetic and dynamic, traditional and trustworthy, or hand-crafted and hipster-friendly. Logo development should be the start of your visual brand and the results should shape the feel of the rest of your visual communications.
A website. What goes into developing a successful website is worth a post on its own. By now, I don’t think I have to convince anyone that having a website is an essential for a small business, but it is important to make sure that your brand informs the look and feel of your website. Everything from the colours used to the layout to the choice of fonts should be in keeping with the rest of your visual brand, and should help strengthen the identity you want for your company.
A style guide. Often, I’ve seen companies skip this step when developing their visual brand, which is a decision that often comes back to haunt them later. A style guide is a summary of the decisions that have gone into building the visual elements of your brand, and a set of rules and guidelines on how to use those elements. This information becomes important when you come to add new forms of communication – a new brochure, new signage, an app – to make sure that anything new continues to fit the existing brand style, and that anyone who works on those projects knows how to implement your design. Style guides can be anything from a few pages long to thick volumes of information, but whatever the size, they’re essential to making sure that your visual identity remains consistent.
4. Create your voice
An organisation’s voice is the other half of its brand. Whenever you are writing for your audience, whether that be dialogue for an ad, the copy on your website, a blog post or a brochure, the way that you speak to your audience needs to maintain the same voice. As with your visual identity, this should reflect what makes your business unique, and should resonate with your audience. The brand voice of an exclusive hotel will be refined, formal and polite. The voice of a surfboard shop will be laid back, friendly and casual. The right voice will make your values clear to your audience and lets them know that you understand them.
Setting down the guidelines for your brand’s voice is, once again, an important step. In the same way that the Style guide helps any designers who work on your material, the voice guide makes sure that your written communication maintains the same tone of voice regardless of who creates it.
5. Talk to your audience
Blogging and content marketing are great ways to build your brand image. They represent a cheap – often free – way to put information that represents your business and its identity in front of an audience that will listen.
The key to successful content marketing is creating content that resonates with your audience. Think about what brings customers to your business, the kind of questions that they have and the problems that your products or services solve, and create blog posts that address those issues and provide helpful solutions. By providing relevant information you build the image of your business as one that can help your customers, increasing their trust and making them more likely to choose you than your competitors.
If you’ve decided that it’s time for your business to build its brand, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help with every step of the branding process, from brand development to creating content marketing. If you’d like to start a discussion, make an enquiry at jrdm.com.au today.