Nike, Apple, & Levi’s Jeans. Some businesses have reached that magic sweet-spot that makes their name synonymous with a product. The ultimate association between business and product is not just about clever marketing, that instant connection can be summed in one word: branding.
Branding is the process by which a business establishes a coherent message and translates that message into their marketing. It is such an important factor that the effect of the branding process can often account for the success or failure of a business venture. Establishing a brand means that your business has a unique and confident voice, that it is able to communicate fluently with its target audience, and that it successfully established trust as well as anticipation with the audience in question.
So how does a business make the leap to becoming a brand? Here are the five key steps you can take to make your biz brand-worthy:
Before you start thinking about marketing and profits, you need to figure out what is it that you’re trying to market and who are you selling to. Your brand identity will guide you throughout all future branding steps, so think carefully about your tone of voice.
Here’s a questionnaire that will give you a good foundation to work with:
Building up on how you defined your brand identity, you can move forward to develop the “voice” you think will be most effective for your business’ success. What we mean by voice is actually quite straightforward: How do you want to represent your business to clients and potential clients? What is the message you want them to hear and how do you make sure they hear it loud and clear?
Let’s say you answered the first question by naming the following as your main business characteristics: fun, accessible, reliable, family-oriented and stable. Now you need to think what type of language, style, looks and atmosphere will best communicate these traits to your audience.
While every business ultimately has the same goal to succeed, the ways to get there can vary according to the identity and voice you established for your brand. A business that is trying to brand itself as exclusive and elegant probably should steer clear from sales and promotions; and a business that targets gamers as its audience should focus marketing efforts on media channels that are popular with this group.
Now that you have your brand voice figured out and a marketing plan to match, the next move in branding would be to establish how your brand should literally look and sound like.
We recommend that you start with your brand name and tagline. Together they should express your brand essence in a nutshell and will later on provide the basis for texts that you use in campaigns, on your website, in your ads, and in the communication with your customers.
The next step will be to translate the brand essence into a design scheme. One of the key things that separate a small-fry business from a real brand is the use of a coherent and consistent design on all the relevant visuals. Your dream goal is to have people recognize your brand instantly based on the design alone. Who doesn’t know the Coca Cola font or the Starbucks logo?
Successful branding, especially for relatively new businesses, relies heavily on online presence. Internet platforms are highly effective in reaching target audiences directly, and they are accessible to small businesses in a way that most traditional media are not.
You want to start with a professional website that ties together all of the elements we discussed here above (identity, voice, marketing, content and design). To maximize online branding on your website we recommend that you use this checklist:
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