Branding plays such a big and important part in marketing your business, yet it is a topic often neglected by small business owners.
The purpose of branding is to build trust so that people can buy from you without hesitation.
Branding creates familiarity which leads to trust which leads to more sales.
What is branding?
Branding is not just a logo or a name, it’s a combination of visual and psychological aspects. The visual aspects include symbols, signs, colours, graphics etc. The psychological aspect of the brand are the feelings, perception, experiences, attitude and thoughts it evokes in customers.
It takes time to build a brand carefully so let’s look at how you can create your own successful business brand.
The Six Elements of a Successful Brand:
1. Brand personality and identity: Every brand has a personality and your branding is basically your business’ identity. It has to be consistent across the board to generate familiarity and trust faster. So the first step in consciously building your brand is to determine its personality or identity. When creating your brand identity always have your target market in mind as it has to appeal to them. For example if you are targeting corporate male CEOs you might not want to use butterflies and pink. You get the point.
Virgin does this really well. They’ve got a really clear and strong brand identity which portrays fun, customer service, lifestyle, adventure and cheeky. People choose to buy Virgin services or products because of its brand identity and promise.
2. Brand engagement and community:Nowadays branding is a two-way street, people want and need to engage with your brand. This can be done very easily through social media, competitions, events, fundraising activities etc. Apple has created a brand that does not only stand for a great product, but also sells lifestyle and feelings. And they have managed to create a community of like-minded creative and ‘think different’ followers.
3. Brand experience:Branding has changed so much over time and in the 21st century a brand’s function is not only to sell a product or service, but also to sell feelings, belonging, meaning, freedom and lifestyle. In today’s market, a sense of belonging and meaning are important and consumers often associate a feeling of happiness and belonging when purchasing a certain brand. When purchasing a product or service people often buy ‘belonging’ or ‘feeling good’ rather than practicality. Why for example would we spend thousands of dollars on an expensive brand if we could get the same product at a much cheaper rate (probably produced in the same factory). When we opt for a fancy and expensive brand, it makes us feel good and give us a sense of belonging to a community of like-minded people. Buying has become much less about survival and more about how we feel and how we want to be perceived. 75% of buying decisions are based on emotions, so make them feel.
When a customer buys a Harley Davidson she/he has a certain feeling of belonging, freedom, lifestyle and adventure. It’s the brand that makes her/him feel a certain way and they opt for a Harley Davidson because of this image.
Belonging is a natural human need you can fulfil with your brand. Sharing your meaningful vision and mission also help you create community and belonging.
4. Brand Consistency: Brand consistency is crucial and means that the ‘look and feel’ of your brand is consistent across all applications. So no matter whether the logo is placed on the web, print, cars etc., it needs to look and feel the same. Your message needs to be consistent too. This consistency will evoke familiarity and trust which is the key to a brand’s success. You want your clients and prospects to recognise your brand instantly no matter where they see it. Everything needs to be aligned including your mission, vision, values, customer service etc.
Apple Computers and Virgin are again great examples of this consistency.
Telecommunication companies are usually a not so good example of this as there is not a lot of consistency in brand delivery which is very damaging to their brand.
5. Brand recognition
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of your brand is to build trust. The more consistent you are with your branding and the more marketing you do, the faster you will achieve brand recognition. Some examples of successful brand recognition are:
Coca Cola pretty much owns the colour red and is recognised worldwide.
Nike is recognised instantly by its symbol.
Mazda owns a jingle that is recognised widely.
Kleenex managed to create a brand that is used to describe ‘tissues’.
6. Brand Culture:
Now that you have created your own brand destined for success, there is one more piece to the puzzle. You and your employees need to be living and breathing your brand so that it can spread like butter on warm bread.