Each marketing and branding expert would define “brand” in a slightly different manner and have a different skew when sharing their personal insights. That is not because there is not a clear definition within the world of branding, but because there are so many elements to consider that the whole subject is quite complex.
In a general sense, a brand is the “thing” which gives definition to who you are. It is the collective image that consumers identify with you. What you do in an attempt to garner the attention and future loyalty of your desired audience is “branding”.
A strong brand speaks for itself with or without text to support it, and is quickly recognizable. Just catching sight of the “golden arches” registers McDonalds. You probably saw a picture in your own mind as you read the words even without seeing the name “McDonalds” in print. This is what is known as brand awareness, or another term, brand recall. Consumers recognize a brand immediately. When you purchase a particular item from them, and not another fast food chain restaurant, you are displaying brand loyalty.
It would be a reach for the general person or business to achieve such ‘mega-brand’ status, but even so, branding principles are universal and regardless of size or geographical reach can be applied in every circumstance.
Consistency, authenticity and relevancy are three core elements of brand building that strong brands always demonstrate:
Ask yourself some basic questions before throwing money at creating your brand ID. “Who am I?” “What do I want to communicate?” “What do I have to offer?”
Your collateral materials will be the mainstay of your brand. Most important will be your logo, the backbone. Closely after that is the importance of your tag line and mission statement. These are the three elements that should be captured on every collateral piece for your brand, not just some of them! From your website, social media profiles, brochures, business cards, newsletters, company letterhead, ads etc., the presence of these 3 elements NEED to be present! Consistency is also important when it comes to the look, feel, color, fonts, imagery and style of your brand’s collateral materials.
When you speak about or put your message into written form, you should guarantee the clarity of your brand message. The use of consistent tone and verbiage is vital. You may feel like you are being repetitive, but to your target audience that consistency allows them to put your message to memory. Consider each individual as they read your profile statement and brand message. They should be able to clearly understand what it is you do and what you offer. When consumer’s have a clear understanding, even if they are not interested in your offerings at the time, as long as the text is not too deeply technical your message will stick for the future!
Don’t try to be something you are not. Be yourself. If your audience feels your messaging and deliverables are out of synch, your message will not resonate with them.
As an example, let’s say that you start out blogging and your profile for social media suggests you are an expert on landscape design. Readers will expect to read posts about landscape design, not recycled posts and non-landscaping post content. They are not interested in family photos!
Examine the content of what you share while considering what you are representing yourself to be. Consider revising your profile or the basis of the content you share if you find discrepancies. Consumers are less apt to buy if they cannot clearly identify what the benefit is for them. Remember, they have short attention spans.
Market research is an important part of the brand building process. You must identify who your audience is, what they like, and how they communicate. You can better understand consumer habits and buying patterns through research. When you identify your ideal consumer, then you are able to identify a plan to bring them to your products and services.
Part of the brand building process requires a bit of market research. Who is your audience? What do they like? How do they communicate? Through research, you can better understand things like their habits, and buying patterns. Once you know what your ideal consumer looks like, you can then develop a plan to pull them into your circle. You need to give consumers what they think they need and want, so you need to meet them where they are in the moment.
Consumers are often overwhelmed in today’s fast-paced society where they are being hit with constant streams of information and a plethora of options. In order for your brand to rise above the chaos, focus must be placed on consistency, authenticity and relevancy.