The Value of Building Brand and Branding Identity
Building a brand is one of the first steps to success. But do your market research first.
Brands are the most valuable asset a company owns, according to the Economist. In fact, they make up more than 30 percent of the stock market value of companies in the S&P 500 index.
While stock market values may not mean much for small to mid-sized companies, there is no denying the benefit of having a well-established brand.
Building a strong brand foundation is a vital part of building any business. Whether your company is about to launch its first product or has been established for years, if it doesnít have a distinct personality, it could easily become just another face in the crowd of millions of other companies.
With that in mind, we recommend businesses take the time to define and create a strong brand identity as soon as possible. In todayís post, weíll walk you through five key steps of building a brand to help you get started on the right foot.
1. Consider your brand authenticity.
Achieving authenticity is as simple as the old saying, ďActions speak louder than words.Ē
If your company has created websites, social media content, and videos proclaiming its mission and values, but then donít put their words into action, it risks being viewed as inauthentic. And, being inauthentic can have damaging effects on your brand.
In the age of the internet, anyone has the ability to oust you when your actions donít match your promises. When companies donít live up to their end of the bargain, the whole world can know about it within a day – perhaps even within the hour.
Authenticity will become a part of your brand identity through the way you interact with customers and your community as a whole. Be sure to keep authenticity in mind while you review the remaining steps because what you say youíll do matters.
2. Identify and understand your target audience.
Identifying your target audience is arguably the most important part of the branding process. You canít be everything to everyone, so decide who your business is aimed at serving and then sculpt your brand with them in mind.
When determining your target audience, specific details matter. With the internet, you’re no longer just competing against other companies in your industry, youíre competing against hundreds of companies with endless content to try and catch the attention of consumers.
Therefore, itís vital to know exactly who your audience is so you can break through the noise, capture their attention, and offer them a personalized brand experience.
When you begin to identify your target audience, ask yourself, ďWhy does my product exist and who will it serve?Ē Let this question guide you as you make your way through the following steps.
Steps to Identify and Understand Your Audience:
1. Profile your current customers (if youíre already established).
Looking into your current customer base will give you great insights into who your products appeal to. You can also look at how they interact with your current communications to see what you should continue doing and what you should improve.
2. Define demographics of who your product serves.
Donít just think about the basics like gender and age. Dig deeper and ask what is the household income, marital status, family size, education level, location, occupation, ethnic background, etc. of the people my product serves?
3. Consider your audienceís psychographics.
Psychographics go one step further than demographics. While demographics explain the physical aspects of your customersí lives, psychographics is intangible and dive into what your audience believes and how they act.
Think about their personality, habits, values, lifestyles, etc. These will play a role in how your audience shops and what they choose to purchase.
4. Determine the value of your product and who will benefit the most from it.
Donít shy away from being specific. If youíre able to identify exactly who wants to purchase your product, you can tailor your content to speak directly to them to increase conversions.
For example, if you manufacture a nut butter product that is alternative to peanut butter, think about who would most value it?
Perhaps mothers with children who are allergic to peanut butter or health enthusiasts who want options that have less fat/sugar than traditional peanut butter.
5. Look at your competitors.
Itís likely your competitors have a target audience that is similar to or the same as your target audience. You can check out their website and social media feeds to observe how they interact with their audience. Then, gauge their success to learn some great (or not so great) ways to communicate with your audience.
6. Research, research, research.
You can never know too much about your target audience. To better understand them, gather data through industry reports, surveys, focus groups, cold calls, etc. You should aim to learn about where they consume information, what they think is important, and what pain points they experience.
7. Engage with your target audience.
The best way to understand your target audience is to interact with them. Host events or engage them on social media. By doing so, you can learn their pains and how you can provide them with a solution.
Taking the time to define and understand your target audience will allow you to humanize your communication with them to create a personalized experience that will bring them back for more.
3. Develop a mission statement.
Your brandís mission is why you chose to start your business in the first place. It should explain the ultimate purpose of your company to all your current and future employees, as well as your current and future customers.
However, your mission statement shouldnít contain an outlandish goal for the future, it should be an actionable statement that drives your employees every day.
Below weíve included a list of characteristics of a strong mission statement to guide you as you develop a statement of your own.
Characteristics of a Strong Mission Statement:
Check out some other successful mission statements here.
4. Determine your brand values.
Although many companies may often confuse values and mission, there is a stark difference between the two.
As we stated before, your company mission should encompass why your company exists, but your values should include how your company promises to act – they can be thought of as your moral compass.
These values ultimately make up your company culture and define the standards that your company and its employees should abide by.
To have truly effective values, itís critical not to ďset it and forget it.Ē If you want your employees to stick to your values, it should be engrained in all actions set forth by the company and those in a position of leadership. Your values should guide your everyday actions and decisions.
Examples of company values might be:
This list could go on and on, but thereís no need for your company to have an endless list of values. In fact, you should try and limit it to five to six (or even less!). Remember that your values should truly define who you are and what you stand for.
Choose the values that are most meaningful to your brand and your company and encourage your employees to embody those values every day.
5. Establish your company voice and personality.
If your imagery, logos, and slogan arenít present, your audience should still be able to recognize your voice across all channels. Youíll use this voice during all of your content creation, from website messaging to blog posts to your social media content. If your brand was a person, how would you describe it?
Is your brand buttoned-up and professional? Or bold and brash? This personality will determine how you choose to communicate with your target audience. As you build your brand, use the following tips to create your brandís voice:
1. Consider how your audience and industry will affect your voice.
For example, Allstate is an insurance company, so its voice aims to make its customers feel secure and protected. Patagonia, on the other hand, is an outdoors company, so its voice resonates with people who are passionate about the environment.
2. Be yourself when building a brand.†
Donít try to ďfit inĒ with the off-the-cuff crowd if thatís not who youíre trying to speak to. Remember, the purpose of having a brand voice is to better relate to your audience. If youíre trying to be something youíre not, you wonít resonate with your target market.
3. Create and distribute a brand style guide.
You should use your voice throughout all of your brandís content. To ensure consistency, create a guide that will explain your brandís personality to your current and future employees.
4. Review your voice on a regular basis.
Set a time (bi-annually, quarterly, monthly, etc.) to review the performance of your content and voice. If youíre not seeing the clicks and conversions you were hoping for, go back to the drawing board and start makings tweaks based on your analysis.
Final words of wisdom about building a brand.
You can spend all the time in the world developing your brand, but if you arenít consistent in your actions or if your actions donít match your mission, values, and voice, then youíve simply wasted your time.
Make sure to take the time to educate current and future employees on the foundation of your brand. Your employees should live your brand every day to ensure consistent customer experiences and to deliver the authenticity we discussed in step number one.
This is the first blog post of many that will review steps to take before a product launch.
What’s your favorite tip for building a brand?
Have something to say about building a brand?