The concept of Branding has been around since 950 A.D when to ‘brand’ meant burning a piece of wood. By the 1300s it was used to describe a torch, essentially a burning piece of wood that is to be used as a tool. By the 1500s the meaning had changed to a mark burned on cattle to show ownership. Over the years the method might have changed but the point of the invention remained simple – each brand was a distinct mark to help identify quickly – essential traits that are still common to modern logos.
Branding has broadened quite a bit since the word first came into use. Today, branding is more than its name, tagline, website, or logo. A brand is how you make your customers feel, and it’s built by taking a consistent approach across every interaction they have with your brand.
To make a great brand, five key elements are crucial: Purpose, promise, position, personality, and expression. It is important to know that your brand is the complete story of what you want to communicate about your business and the perception that you leave in the hearts and minds of your audience. That’s why before you start worrying about creatives, logos, or marketing – you must sit with your Branding Agency and get clarity on who your brand truly is.
Like Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”
“Start by knowing what you want and who you are, build credibility around it, and deliver it online in a compelling way.” – Krista Neher
The first step towards building any brand is to define its purpose. Why do you exist? How are you different from others?
A good place to start understanding a brand’s purpose is through the author, Simon Sinek’s ‘The Golden Circle’. Let’s start! According to Mr. Sinek understanding the deeper ‘why’ your brand exists provides a solid foundation to build everything else — your ‘how’ (organizational culture, brand experience) and your ‘what’ (what products or services you offer).
For example, Tesla’s ‘why’ or the brand purpose is ‘to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport’. ‘How’ they did it was by creating a culture of technology, design, and innovation fuelled by the ambition to move the world away from non-renewable fossil fuels. ‘What’ they offer is a series of well-designed electric vehicles, and energy storage systems to support them.
“Products are made in a factory but brands are created in the mind” — Walter Landor
Brand Positioning according to Philip Kotler, father of modern marketing is “the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”. In simple words, it is the part that describes what your company does, whom it caters to, what differentiates you from other competitors and what the consumer hopes to gain by using your product or service.
So, when developing your positioning strategy, there are 3 questions that you must answer to make your brand the ‘go-to choice’ instead of the alternative:
- What is the exact category that my brand falls in? It’s important to understand what market you are looking to dominate, where the opportunities are, and if there are any gaps you can fill.
- Who is my “best” target audience? Being a jack of all trades has never profited any business. You must narrow your target market down to your ideal customer and work towards understanding their specific needs and pain points.
- What is my USP? Ideally, every brand should deliver its unique story. To dominate a market full of similar products/services it is crucial to understand your strength or what is it about the brand that sets you apart in your industry?
“Your brand is a promise to your clients… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability” – Jason Hartman
After positioning yourself, the next step is to decide how you plan on creating value for your customer. Is it through excellent customer service or premium product quality? When it comes to building a brand, ‘the promise’ refers to the value that the customer can expect to receive every single time they interact with that company. In many ways, your brand’s promise is a direct extension of your positioning and the expectation that it sets.
For example, Disney’s promise is ‘creating happiness through magical experiences’. Apple’s ‘Think Different’ is arguably the most famous slogan of all time and the key to Apple’s wild success in the computer industry.
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” — Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks
If your brand was a person- what human characteristics would you choose?
Elegant? Quirky? Serious
Brand personality is how your brand looks, speaks, behaves, and engages with the world. You can also consider your brand’s tone. A major section of a person’s personality is their story. Similarly, for a brand, the brand story builds credibility and adds value to a brand.
The brand story shows your company’s history and how it led you to where you are today. In most cases, it will help you connect emotionally with your customer and will distinguish you from the rest in a similar niche.
- Apple has a non-corporate, artistic, sophisticated, creative personality.
- Nike has an active lifestyle, and an inspirational, exciting, cool personality.
- Harley-Davidson has a macho, rebellious, freedom-seeking personality.
“Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.” – Elon Musk
After the groundwork is laid, this is where your logo, tagline, fonts, colour palette, and even your brand’s name come in. Your brand promise must be reflected through your brand expression. Your brand expression must support your brand positioning. The key to the success of a branding process is consistency. Consistency will always be challenging. However, the harmony between these tangible and intangible elements will help people remember what your brand really is.
A brand is more than a logo. It is a collection of expectations, experiences, promises, benefits, and identity symbols that deliver your brand’s story. In normal cases, a professional creative agency like Vowels Co. will help you strategically craft your branding, but we encourage discussions and it’s your brand.
When you learn that’s when the magic happens!