Branding is the prism through which you influence how the outside world looks in. It determines the image portrayed and the thoughts people have when they consider your products. Good branding means they’ll identify and connect with your brand. Bad branding will do the opposite and can lead people to avoid your products even if they’re the best on the market.
For that reason, it’s an incredibly important aspect of your business. Because nowadays people don’t just buy products anymore, they also buy the associated feelings. Many people define their personalities through the products they own and the services they use. And so, if you set up the correct feelings and connect with the right groups and people, you’re going to have a serious leg up on the competition.
What is branding?
Branding starts with the minute and goes very broad from there. So, branding is in the colors and the typography you chose on your website. It can be found back in the logo that you use to represent your brand. It can even go down to how you and your team put themselves out there as individuals who work with your company. To the other extent, it is also the whole of your marketing efforts as well as how your sales reps reach out to the customers and what they say to them when they do.
Yes, that does come across as rather broad. But that isn’t really that surprising. After all, branding is about creating an image and everything that your company puts out there directly or indirectly contributes to that image.
Decide on the image you want to portray
For that reason, the very first step that you want to take, decide on the image that you actually want your company to have. This might seem like a pretty obvious step. And yet, because it’s so obvious a lot of people end up skipping it. They think they already have a good idea of what their brand is supposed to be when really they just have a smattering of emotions and ideas which may not actually go together that well.
So don’t rush by this step. Sit down and create an image. Ultimately, you want to be able to define your brand in a couple of words or sentences. Another good strategy is to anthropomorphize your brand. Don’t think of it as a company, but think of it as a person (as this company has done for Fairtrade, Tiffany & Co and Kettle Chips).
The reason this is an effective strategy is because we evolved to think in terms of other people, not abstract concepts like companies. And so, it is much easier to create a coherent identity if we think of our company as a person.
So ask yourself, if your company was a person:
- What social class would they be?
- What kind of energy would they have?
- How would they dress?
- How old are they? Are they male or female?
- What are their interests? Who do they hang out with?
- How do they talk? What kind of language do they use?
Then, when you’ve created a character sketch, you can turn that into concrete ideas for your company. The clothing and fashion style can inform the colors and design of your site will use. Their social class and who they hang out with can help inform you of who your target audience will be. By mapping this character onto the company, you’ll manage to create a far more cohesive personality for your company.
Of course, don’t take this too far. This exercise should inform your decision, not straightjacket it.
Translate and execute
From there it’s just a matter of translating and executing. Supply the people who reach out and communicate with the people outside how you’ve imagined the brand – both as a person and what that will mean in your communications to the outside world. This will make it far easier for them to project that image.
The best approach is to write up a high-quality text which encapsulates your ideas, where you’ve used a citator to connect your ideas to the execution. Preferably this will only be a few paragraphs (as the longer a text is, the smaller the chance becomes that people will actually read it). This, you can then put in front of graphic designers, copywriters and anybody else who needs to create content for you.
The advantage of this strategy is that because you have this underlying constant which underlies everything put out, your brand’s character will feel cohesive and coherent. It won’t be a muddle of different voices but have one underlying baseline.
And that gives people something they can actually love.
Branding takes time
From there you move forward, with you revisiting and re-exploring the ideas that you’ve put together with your team frequently. This has the dual advantage that you can find moments where your story is incoherent and straighten it out as well as making sure that when there is drift away from this theme, it can be reined in before it goes too far.
Of course, it will take time for your audience to pick up on this new image that you’re projecting and to fall in love with it. But that’s okay. Because as long as everybody who’s working with the company appreciates the story, then their affection for your brand can’t help be translate across in what they put out. And if the people creating the image love what they’re putting down then so will the people who buy your products.
About Author: Christopher Mercer