A brand is much more than a random collection of fonts, icons, and colors. And, contrary to popular belief, a brand is not a logo. A brand tells a story about your company and builds trust with your customers to grow your business.
Consider the brand elements in the famous Coke vs. Pepsi debate. Coca-Cola has utilized their instantly-recognizable cursive red font since the 1800s. Meanwhile, Pepsi continues to reinvent itself with a new look. In this comparison, each brand tells a unique story inherent in their methods: Coke is classic; Pepsi changes with the times. How you identify with those character traits impacts your decision to purchase one or the other.
Building a brand is an essential part of establishing your company’s identity. It doesn’t matter if your company is the size of a major beverage distributor or a small business looking to gain new customers. The same principles apply to any size company.
What Goes Into Building a Brand?
From my perspective as a designer, a brand is a guidepost for all visual material produced by your company. The following pieces should come together to be your guiding light:
- Specific Use
These elements are essential for understanding how to tell your unique story. Why is the famous lower-case “f” icon in the Facebook logo off-center and to the right? Why do some companies choose red or blue as their primary brand color?
The answers come from understanding the personality of a company, what product or service you sell, how you want prospects and customers to interact with or feel about your company, and how to create an emotional connection with your target audience.
Then, once decisions are made about how to tell a compelling story about your company through the brand, the next step is establishing brand standards that identify how the brand should be utilized.
Brand Standards Give Clear Direction for Consistently Using the Brand
Establishing brand standards is like writing a manual. When we create these documents, we strive to understand the size of a company, how the brand will be used in the market, and the expected prospect or customer who will encounter the brand.
If the typical customer at your car dealership is a middle-class worker who needs a vehicle to get them from Point A to Point B every Monday through Friday, then you do not want to stress luxury items and vehicle add-ons in your sales and marketing material. Your target audience is more interested in knowing that the vehicle they purchase from your dealership is reliable and dependable — and consistent branding helps reinforce trust.
However, if you are a luxury car dealer, then your branding should reflect certain traits that assure your customer that they will love cruising down the highway with their Bluetooth connectivity and sunroof access. It’s about creating a sense of style and grandeur that matches their lifestyle.
The key is knowing how to consistently apply the brand standards across multiple platforms where your audience will encounter your brand.
For instance, the social media team for your dealership needs to follow the same standards — or manual — like the print advertising team. Otherwise, mixed signals about your brand could cause customers to feel disconnected from your company.
- Inconsistent Use: Print material incorporates your instantly-recognizable icon, logo, or color associated with your brand, but the social media team goes rogue with their own icons, logos, or colors that contrast your brand standards. Your audience is confused and not engaged, leading to fewer sales.
- Consistent Use: Print material incorporates your branding and the social media team reinforces the messaging by following brand standards. Your audience is engaged and more likely to buy.
This example highlights why it’s important to put resources into establishing brand standards for each team to follow when engaging with prospects or customers.
Why Should Your Company Invest in Building a Brand?
You should consider investing in your company’s brand because of the opportunity to generate a return on your investment. In this case, ROI is about building momentum and recognition through the consistent use of your brand that ultimately leads to business growth.
- The more you invest in your brand, the stronger your brand will become.
- The more your teams align with the brand standards, the more likely your audience will recognize and engage with your company.
- The more you reinforce the story about your company through your brand, the more emotionally connected your audience will be.
Unfortunately, many businesses struggle to follow these principles. Small businesses start off disorganized or unfocused, while larger companies have too many stakeholders that use the brand as they see fit.
Reversing bad practices is difficult. If you get too far down the road of misusing a brand, then you encounter wasteful spending and lost time trying to get back to the starting point of using the brand correctly and consistently.
To achieve the desired result of growing your business, you need to establish a branding infrastructure and create a clear direction for how to use your brand to support your message.
Marketing Refresh Can Support Your Brand Message
Marketing Refresh is equipped to help companies build their brand no matter what stage of your company.
You could be an entrepreneur just starting a new business, a small business that needs to start over after some early missteps, or an established business that requires a refreshed brand to re-connect with your audience.
We take the time to understand your business, work with you to establish a clear brand message to your audience, and provide guidance on how to apply the branding across all platforms and materials.
Ultimately, the goal is building trust between your company and your target audience. We say that a brand is a promise made and a promise delivered. And, a winning brand inspires action, builds loyalty, and is responsive to change.
If your company is looking to establish a consistent brand message or needs a fresh look at your existing brand, be sure to review our branding services and contact our company to discuss your needs. I hope to work with your company on building a brand in the near future!