Best practices and examples of building a brand in 2014
For many new businesses and startups, failure is not an option to be considered. Unfortunately, failure is exactly what the majority of new companies face the first time they introduce their brand on the internet. Far too often, e-commerce endeavours fail and the sad part is that most of the time, the owner has no idea what may have happened.
If this sounds like something you have been through, it may be time to take a good, long look at your branding strategy.
Why many branding strategies fail?
Many people do not realize exactly what a brand is or what it means to have one. They have a vague idea… yet never take the time to understand fully the concept or even realize that there is more to it than a recognizable logo. They find an appealing image, slap a catchy phrase onto it, and expect great results.
Yet, branding is far more complicated than this and until we really comprehend what it means to develop a successful branding strategy, failure is sure to continue knocking at the door.
Here are some key attributes of successful branding and an example:
- Your brand is a promise.
- Your brand reflects who you are as a company.
- Your brand is not what you say it is, rather, it’s how others perceive it. In this way, your brand chooses you.
- Your brand has a persona that reflects your company, website, or blog.
- Your brand is honest.
'Brand marketing strategists like to say that successful brand creation is harder than you would expect, but less difficult than it should be.'
What is Branding?
To appreciate the subtleties of creating a solid branding strategy, one must first understand what it means to have a brand. To understand this, we have to examine our goals and look inside ourselves. A brand is more than a catchy phrase attached to a memorable logo. Branding involves several different aspects, all of which must be understood to be effective; a logo that people will remember, the message your logo sends, and the way your company is packaged as a whole are all features that make up your brand.
Branding is, in effect, the creation and projection of a desired overall company image designed to instill trust and create loyalty within a niche targeted consumer base combined with the ability to appeal to a wide variety of demographics, cultures, and lifestyles without bias. (Say that three times really fast and give yourself a cookie)
Your Brand is a comforting promise
A brand is a promise, and like any good promise, there are emotions attached to it. Webmasters know that a video presentation is a large part of everyday SEO strategy. Any social media specialist will tell you that the most memorable videos… the ones that go viral… are the videos that touch an emotion deep within the viewer. The same can be said of our brands. A good brand touches people on an emotional level, leaving an imprint.
We choose how we want the world to perceive our company and then build our brand to project that image. Whenever anyone sees your brand, they should be reminded instantly of your solemn promise that your company will remain constant to the ideals set forth within its mission statement. What a comforting thought.
Examples of imagery in branding strategies include…
- Sugar Bear (Post Cereals’ Super Sugar Crisps)
- Tony the Tiger (Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes)
- The Michelin Tire man (Michelin Tires)
- Charlie the Tuna (Dongwon’s Starkist Tuna)
- Baby Investor (E-Trade)
- Chester the Cheetah (Frito-Lays)
- The Rock symbol (Prudential)
- The Bull (Merrill Lynch)
- Leo the Lion (MGM)
These three logo examples have one thing in common. They all elicit an emotional response in varying degrees.
- To a child, Tony, the cereal-munching tiger, speaks to their desire to be special as they grow older.
- To adults, the investment bull suggests bold investment strategies that pay bold dividends.While only a small piece of the branding strategy puzzle, the logo says a lot about the way people perceive your company image. A simple logo can be just as effective as a bold or humorous image or elaborate design. (CNN, Google, and Time are good examples of this) Social media provides the perfect format for brand testing.
Our Brands reflect who we are
When your brand reflects the personality and individuality of your company, it takes on its own persona. It is this quality that makes it not only recognizable, but also desirable over other brands in your niche. The only way to project that persona is to understand exactly what it is that your customers want, and then be willing to live up to it.
Your Brand chooses you
Some companies look for the brand they believe will project how they want to be perceived. Others just use the first cute image they dream up. The really successful companies know better than to try this. The best judge of what your brand should be is the consumer.
For this reason, it is always better to develop several test brand images, catch phrases, and personality traits before presenting them to the world. You can be confident in a brand that is chosen for you by the public at large. You cannot please everyone… but the majority usually knows best. Social media provides the perfect format for brand testing.
A Brand is like a person
No two brands are the same. Like people, they have many different attributes that make them what they are. It is the differences that make people unique. One person loves to sing, has a sense of humour unique to them, and enjoys the night time. Someone else is a good listener, loves the fresh air of the morning, and has an easy smile that will melt your heart. Our brands are also made up of different attributes that make them special.
Successful Brands are those that do not take stands or make statements based on popular opinion as popular opinion can change overnight. (Unless your logo is a mouth with a foot in it)
Brands are honest
Once you understand who you are as a company and have created, tested, and selected your brand, it is important that you live up to the expectations that brand now represents. A brand that reflects one thing and delivers something entirely different will only be remembered as something to be avoided.
Key elements of a successful Branding Strategy
A successful branding strategy is one that portrays the true sense of your company and its directives. The key is to take the time to think it through and develop your strategy just as you would for any other marketing campaign. Branding strategies will vary from company to company and will depend upon each company’s specific needs and goals; however, there are certain steps that every campaign will have in common.
The first thing that every company must do is to figure out why your brand exists. This may sound inane, but if you do not have a clear understanding of why you are branding your company and exactly what the goal of your branding campaign is, it is likely to fail because no one else will understand it either.
How can you expect people to have confidence in your brand or even know what you stand for if you do not completely understand it yourself? Find your identity before you even begin to brand your company.
You must be familiar and completely comfortable with every aspect of your brand. Make your company as uniform as possible. Carefully choose the colours you will use on the website, the blog, the logo, and anything else associated with your company and its brand.
Note: Colour choices are important because it’s been proven that for consumers, every colour evokes a different emotion, and you want to make sure you select the right one for your business.
Even your stationary should incorporate your brand style and color. Here are a few examples of the things you should embrace.
- Writing styles.
- Social Media personality.
Honesty and consistency inspire trust, loyalty, and the desire to share. If there is even a chance that you cannot deliver on something, do not promise to do so.
Use your branding logo and messages in conversation, on your clothing, and even incorporate it into the way you answer your phones. Create stationary that incorporates your colors, logo, and tagline. Be consistent.
Leave a little Brand breathing room
Having a clear understanding of your brand is one thing. Being so rigid that your brand cannot grow and embrace change is another. When you first present your brand to the world, it is the world that will define it and help it to become what it was meant to be. If you are too rigid, you can stunt the growth of your brand and defeat the purpose. Branding strategies that succeed are those imbued with the following attributes.
- The ability to adapt or develop new policies that reflect a changing consumer base.
- More than one logo and/or catch phrase waiting in the wings.
- Regional differences to reflect the cultures of their targeted market areas (Texas and New York consumers have vastly different tastes and opinions in many areas).
- Appeal to a wide range of demographics.
- Successful Brands are those that do not take stands or make statements based on popular opinion as popular opinion can change overnight (Unless your logo is a mouth with a foot in it).
- Branding logos, messages, and overall packaging that make the successful crossover from PC to mobile devices without losing integrity.
- Strategies that reflect no opinions concerning politics, religion, and controversial topics regardless of your personal views.
- Brands that are original, creative, and informative.
The creation of such a brand may seem like an exercise in futility, yet it is an attainable goal. Brand marketing strategists like to say that successful brand creation is harder than you would expect but less difficult than it should be.
The secret to building such a branding strategy lies in how much time you are willing to spend in its development. A well thought out, all-encompassing strategy could be developed over a period of months or in stages that allow for fast deployment and steady growth.
The Brand Identity or Logo
Test your logo before making a final decision. Once the choice is made, stick with it and put your logo EVERYWHERE.
- Use it on your blog, website, stationary, as your social media avatar, and email banner, to name a few.
- Your company logo should even be on your personal blog and personal social pages.
- Your company motto or tagline is just as important as the logo. Make sure it is clear, easy to say, and to the point.
- Place your tagline everywhere you use your logo.
Brand Honesty and Consistency
If there are two things that you must do above all else, it is to be honest and consistent. Always follow through with your promises and maintain brand image consistency over all aspects of social media. Honesty and consistency inspire trust, loyalty, and the desire to share. If there is even a chance that you cannot deliver on something, do not promise to do so.
Once you understand why your brand exists, develop your branding strategy, create your brand image, share your brand through social media, maintain your brand’s honesty and consistency, and you will find success waiting for you.
Thanks to Asher Elran for sharing his thoughts and opinions in this blog post. Asher Elran
is a practical software engineer and a marketing specialist, CEO at Dynamic Search
, and founder of Web Ethics.
You can connect on LinkedIn