Building a brand takes a lot of hard work and dedication. In this article, we’ll offer you a guide to learning how to build a brand. There are multiple facets involved in a brand’s inception, all of which are equally important. It doesn’t matter if you are aiming at the online or offline market. You can even seek for both of them simultaneously. Markets are endless seas of possibilities. You want to be the best fisherman; first, we need to see what it means to fish.
In this article, we’ll take you through a guided tour of how to build your brand. Disclaimer, before we get deeper into the issue, keep in mind that brands are living entities. And as such, a lot of dedication is required. Many people are aware of the importance of having a well-established brand but stumble when trying to figure out what precisely that means.
While we’re on the subject, what does it mean to have a well-established brand? This question synthesizes all of the information I’m going to pass on to you in this article. Building a brand is more than just colors and logo. A brand has multiple parts, each in need of communication with the other.
Building a brand is creating a living organism. One that breaths, inspires, and communicates. Bear this in mind because it’s vital. Brands are like children, and children are not like Benjamin Button! Before going to college, you first need to learn how to walk. That being said, we first need to see what are the questions that you must ask yourself before starting this journey.
Let’s dive right into it, and by the end, you’ll have a better grasp of what it means to build a brand.
What is a brand?
First things first, what exactly is a brand? I know, most people quote the amazonian Bezos when thinking about this question. “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
That may be true, and I do praise Jeff for his innate eloquence. But what exactly does that mean?
A brand is more than just a logo and catchphrase. Brand is perception, it’s about how you are perceived.
It’s an identity that encompasses every aspect. When you think of Microsoft, what do you see? Before answering this, try taking another route. When you think of Bill Gates, what do you see? You see a face, a figure, glasses, a costume, a smile, maybe you associate some windows with him.
You noticed that I am talking about his identity. The same goes for brands. Brands are an identity.
How to build a brand
This is the question that brought you here in the first place. We talked about brands resembling people to a certain extent. Here we will understand precisely why I used that comparison.
If you are trying to figure out how to build a brand, you most likely bumped into other adjacent questions. Questions such as:
- How will my brand make people feel?
- How will people resonate with it?
- How will it reflect my vision, and how will it reflect the needs of my customers?
Sounds familiar? If yes, you’re in the right place. We’ll answer all of them in a moment. If your answer is no, that’s also alright. By the end of the article, I am confident that you’ll see their relevance and also find an answer to them.
As mentioned above, first we need to answer the big questions before thinking about implementing a strategy. So what are the questions concerning brand building?
This circle refers to Simon Sinek. Who is him, you may ask. He is a motivational speaker and at the same time the author of five books. One of them, entitled Start with Why, is the source of that beautifully minimalistic circle.
Sure, for most of us, those questions seem to resemble our college years more closely. Nevertheless, although they are pretty straightforward, you would be surprised how often they are overlooked. In the course of this article, you’ll get a more complete and detailed answer. For now, a basic summary would sound like this:
- Why – this refers to your purpose
- How – think of your means and methods for achieving your goals
- What – the shining crown of every endeavor, the what represents the outcome, the result
Keep them in mind, as I’ll continuously reference them throughout your upcoming scrolls. They may be a bit abstract and all-encompassing, but we’ll see right now how they translate practically into your business.
I already mentioned the idea of brand identity in the beginning. All the Why’s, the What’s and the How’s, boil down to this. Answering those three questions means creating something from scratch.
Now that it came to this, what are the secret ingredients to building a brand? There are two fundamental principles to keep in mind. These two are the blockbusters of every successful brand.
First, you must think precisely what you want to be recognized for. This is the first step in engaging any target audience. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the idea of the target audience in a moment. If you want to know how to build your brand, you must first understand what that brand must be remembered for.
Secondly, you must ask yourself, What is the best possible way to engage my audience? You need to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
As you may have noticed, the first part deals more directly with Branding as a whole, while the second deals with Marketing strategies. They are interlinked, so don’t make the mistake of separating the two.
You can’t talk about soup without mentioning the ingredients, so what are these ingredients?
Building your brand’s story
People enjoy a good brand story, and given that most likely you’re not Coca Cola, they would most likely be interested in hearing how you started, what motivated you, and what your future goals are.
Stories are the building blocks of audience engagement. Since people learned that their vocal cords could produce articulate sounds, not only growls, stories have been present. Their presence not only encourages engagement but also builds trust. You don’t need a master’s degree in psychology to recognize the simple fact. Knowing eases relating.
Let’s stop for a moment and think about the clouds. No, not those things that are floating seamlessly through the atmosphere. The Dropbox kind of clouds. Drew Houston, the founder of Dropbox, started the company because he kept forgetting his USB flash drive as a student.
Maybe not the most engaging story, but it’s a relatable one. Reading about it may make you remember how you always forget your keys or wallet. A story doesn’t need to be complicated. It merely requires to involve and address a genuine concern or emotion. This is just an example, but there are many other brand storytelling examples that tell precisely how and why their brand was built.
Stories have another thing going on for them. Apart from teaching a bit of history, they can also carry on something else. Which brings us to:
Values are the guiding principles that you want to transmit through your brand. They are the answer to Why are you doing what you’re doing. Let’s take a look at another example, TOMS.
In 2006 TOMS launched the One for One program. Buying a pair of shoes meant donating another to a person in need. So far, the company has donated over 95 million pairs of shoes.
Solidarity doesn’t necessarily have to translate like this. Maybe you don’t have the capital of TOMS. But having a clearly defined principle like this at your brand’s core can massively help you gain popularity and support. After all, if your motives are sincere and your product is excellent, why wouldn’t people turn to you?
Taking values into account when figuring out how to build your brand is not optional. It’s imperative.
This one refers to the What portion of the circle mentioned earlier. Your mission is your ultimate goal. What are you trying to accomplish? What will the end result of your pursuit look like? Do you have a clear image of what success will look like for you?
Mailchimp, the marketing automation platform and email marketing service, started their project by offering small business owners the necessary tools to access technology. By doing this, Mailchimp offered them a solution. Small business owners can now be more relevant, and they can compete with their larger competitors. This idea of empowerment further translates into their involvement in their community. They’re based in Atlanta, and since 2013 invested more than $7 million in the community.
Find your mission and focus on it. Don’t try to solve the whole world like a modern-day Gandhi. Instead, focus on that single problem your business can fix or address. Concentrate on that sole issue without compromise, and it can be enough.
We’ve established some of the building blocks for building a brand. Next, we must see what the competition does. You are not alone in the world, and most definitely you are not alone in your market. Doing some competition research before bravely deploying your vision into the world is mandatory.
Now that we’ve established your brand and what it represents, it’s time to look at your future competition.
Who are your competitors?
Do more than simply wonder how to build your brand. Analyze your competition. Figure out who they are, their story, and how long they’ve been in the same industry or business as you. Don’t overlook this step because it’s vital.
Google is very resilient when it comes to stress. Don’t worry about his health, and start searching. The first page of your search will display the most relevant information. Think of yourself as a Navy seal. This is the reconnaissance phase.
There are situations in which competition can be like a bloodbath. Just think of Pepsi and Cola and you can already visualize a medieval battleground. Competition may be though. But in times of need, don’t forget that Google can be your best friend.
How do they approach their product?
After you’ve figured out who your competitors are, now it’s time to see precisely how they approach their product.
How exactly are they using the offline and online mediums to their advantage? Are they displaying ads? Take a look at their websites, blogs, etc., and try to figure out why they rank first in the search results.
If, for instance, they have a blog, go ahead, and start reading. There must be a reason why Google thinks its articles are deserving of attention. Look at their website’s architectural integrity. How fast is it loading? How is the information presented? Try asking yourself as many questions about them as possible. It may seem like a long and tedious process, but it’s well worth it in the long run.
How do they reach their target audience?
There are many ways of reaching your target audience. Social media is a cyclone of information. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter are more than just platforms to share photos with your dog or cat.
Are your competitors present on these social media platforms? Are you? If not, now is the moment to take advantage of them entirely.
Take some inspiration from the top 5 brands on social media worldwide:
E-mail marketing and paid advertising are other options to consider. When your competitor is displaying on google, does that Add icon cast a shadow on the link?
Once again, knowing how to build your brand implies knowing your competition. Through SEO, it’s easier to strike right at the core of your customer’s needs. We’ll talk more about this later when we address the issue of language.
How can you differentiate yourself from them?
This is the million-dollar question. By applying the information we’ve already outlined for you, we firmly believe that you are on the right track of differentiating yourself from the rest.
Do not simply try to copy your competition. People are not fax machines, so not should your brand be one. Don’t copy them, try to surpass them.
Analyze Reddit, quora, yahoo, or any other living platform that can provide you answers. Figure out what your clients are searching for and adapt your message to their queries. Maybe your product can’t structurally be better than your competitor’s. You both did a flawless job with it. Nevertheless, the same product can be displayed in multiple ways.
We are not talking about manipulation. We’re talking about resonance. Resonate with your customers by speaking directly to them. Do this, and you will differentiate yourself, you will build a stronger brand.
Brand reputation and reviews
As a brand, you’re used to talking about yourself. But the most important test you need to pass is the one in which you listen to what others (your customers) talk about you.
Brand reputation is probably one of the most important factors that keep a brand competitive on the market.
What can a brand do to increase brand loyalty and reputation?
One of the most simple yet complicated answers is to put the customer first. And that usually means having impeccable customer service. Easier said than done. The biggest mistake you can do here is to focus solely on what happens before you make the sale.
Make sure you’re asking your customers what they think about your product or service after they tested it.
Reviews are also a big part of maintaining brand reputation. For example, one of our biggest missions here at Flipsnack is to understand how our customers feel about our service.
Social media monitoring is also a great way to listen and see what people say about your business. Be engaging and interact with them. It will surely pay off.
SWOT analysis is a strategic planning system used to identify, you guessed it, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Sounds familiar right about now, doesn’t it? SWOT analysis basically sums up everything that was mentioned earlier. Performing it correctly can offer you valuable insight in regards to your place on the market.
This type of analysis is like an onion. Quite literally, performing it can sometimes make you hurt. Draw your own table, and based upon the information you already collected, start sketching out your strengths and weaknesses. Identify where exactly on the market, you can outperform your competitors and what are your goal’s leading threats.
Determine your target audience
Now that you have a more precise outline of your brand and what it represents, maybe it’s good practice to start creating your brand guideline. This guideline will contain the most important notes that you’ve outlined so far. Your mission statement, values, voice, logo and website.
I know we haven’t gotten to some of those yet. We’re getting there. But just so you keep things clean and tidy, consider creating this guideline. It’s easy, fast, and at Flipsnack, we offer you a wide variety of templates.
This will save you a lot of time in the future, as a brand guideline is an absolute must. Regardless of your niche, you want to dispatch professionalism when addressing your clients.
Demographic vs psychographic? Not VERSUS, but AND!
This brings us to your target audience. Find out exactly who are the people for which your brand can speak. Your product or service is more likely than not aimed at specific types of clients. You must take into consideration their demographic and psychographic aspects.
Where they live can make a huge difference in their buying purposes. At the same time, demographics can also have an impact on their psychology. The same message won’t appeal to groups of people in different parts of the country or world. That’s because, as humans, we are socio-cultural beings. Our environment strongly reflects in our decisions.
The buyer persona broadly refers to typology. Commonly seen in marketing, personas are used by marketers to build a frame around their customers. Establishing your buyer persona takes a lot of research and data analysis, but it’s well worth the effort. You’ll have a more precise understanding of your customer’s behavior, needs, and motivations.
Take a look at our step by step guide to creating customer personas. We also provide a template which you can freely use to sketch your first personas.
Language and tone of voice
Don’t just think of how to build a brand’s face. That’s a common misconception. Language is the natural structure of every thought. We think in words, not outside them. As such, language should always be adapted to match that of your target audience.
You’ve established your buyer personas, now, depending on the information you selected, you must construct a tone of voice for your brand that closely matches theirs. If your product is addressed at law firms, you won’t use the same tone of voice as when talking to puppy fosters.
Always adapt your message to your client’s language. Don’t talk about chocolate to vanilla fans. Or about space travel to people who are afraid of heights. Don’t use pompous words if your key demographics have a low education level.
Adaptability is the key to longevity. Brands who adapt, overcome. Brands that don’t, well, you know what happened to the dinosaurs. Even well-established brands keep this permanently in the back of their minds. Think about Old Spice. Their rebranding process mainly took place because they were thought of as an older man’s aftershave.
They cracked that shell and tried engaging a younger audience. And guess what? They succeeded. It’s now one of the most commonly quoted rebranding success stories you’ll find. New commercials, new packaging, and a new tone of voice changed everything to appeal to a younger customer base.
How to build a brand face and slogan
Thought we’d forget about the logo? That’s exactly what we mean when we say ‘face.’ A brand’s logo usually marks the first interaction a person has with your brand.
We saved it for last because although we recognize its importance, we think that the rest of the stuff mentioned earlier should precede it.
Logos should always be designed after you have a clear grasp of your mission, product or service, and target audience. You don’t want to create a car logo that signifies speed if your car has a maximum speed of 60 miles/hour.
Let’s look at Nike. We all recognize the famous ‘swoosh.’ It was designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson and is now the face of an over 26 billion-dollar company. Nike’s greek goddess namesake symbolizes victory. Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, wanted a simple logo. He wanted a stripe that conveys motion, one which seems effortless and, at the same time, different from that of Adidas. Carolyn took inspiration from the Greek goddesses’ wing and created the now-famous logo.
Phil Knight knew exactly what his brand stood for and requested the design of its logo accordingly. Logos should always mirror thoughts and ideas to be effective. Have you ever noticed FedEX’s arrow? It’s there to remind their customers that their orders are on their way to them. It’s there to remind that with FedEx, delays are a myth.
Hint: Don’t overlook colors. Colors are a proven way to communicate and, as such, should always be considered. Appeal to the mind, as well as to the eye!
Your motto or your catchphrase. This is the hasta la vista baby of your brand. What are the key aspects of a tagline or slogan?
- Memorable – you don’t need a full dictionary, just a few well-chosen and placed words. We recognize Nike’s ‘Just do it‘ or McDonald’s, ‘I’m lovin’ it,’ in only a few seconds.
- Unique – your motto must draw attention to you. It must not be confused with another company.
- Evoking – It should sparkle a reaction. An effective motto appeals to emotion.
- Transparent – It should make your company’s intent clear for your audience.
Logos and slogans should always work together. At no point should you want the two of them to compete with each other. They are each a different facet of the same thing, which is advertising. Their scope is the same, and together they form a marketing alliance.
The main thing that I want you to remember after all of this is that it’s all about association. If there is a well-equipped term to describe this short story aptly, that is association. As humans, we think and make judgments based on experience and associations. The same applies to brands and businesses.
When you’re doing your competitor research, what exactly is it that you’re doing? You’re fighting so that customers associate a specific product or service with you. When you’re building your personas, you are again associating certain features to particular types. If you are wondering how to build a brand, then this is your key and conclusion. Brand building is an association building. A complex and intricate network of links and equations.