Chanel, Nike, Coca-Cola and Wix. What comes to mind when you hear these names? Parisian couture, athletes, soft drink and a free website builder. That’s because they are all strong brands, backed by solid corporate branding.
Guided by a clear purpose and mission, these successful companies are able to articulate and communicate who they are in the most impactful and memorable way. The same elements will help build the foundation of your corporate branding and in turn, the effectiveness of its promotional efforts, helping tap into new markets and stand out against the competition. In this article we’ll talk about the steps it takes to build a corporate brand.
What is corporate branding
Corporate branding is the act of promoting the brand name of a business across all marketing and communication efforts. For instance, instead of advancing a specific product or service brand in your next ad, if you want to strengthen your corporate branding, you can shine the spotlight on your strong brand alone.
The success of this practice can depend on whether you have a solid brand identity and brand name behind you. Once you possess both, you’ll gain an advantage over your competitors since existing and potential customers are more likely to form an emotional connection to your business, whether it's invoked in an ad, logo or company goods.
Why is corporate branding important
With a strong brand direction, you’ll be able to increase brand awareness and the recognizability of your company along the way. Consider this fun anecdote: Most of us regularly used the phrase “Pass the Kleenex, please” without hesitation. Over time, the tissue brand has been understood by the public as a broad classification of goods thanks to its distinguishable identity. In a recent TV commercial, America’s popular tissue company interchanges the word tissue with Kleenex. And it works.
For all the tickles and little sniffles. Kleenex. Three-layers strong for all the moments.
Difference between a corporate brand and logo
As you work on your branding strategy, there is an important distinction you must know about your corporate brand and logo. A brand is the culmination of every touchpoint your customers have with your company, from print ads and commercial spots to product packaging, web design, logos and even celebrity endorsements. That said, this type of branding has shown that it can also go far beyond the product or service.
On the other hand, a logo, albeit powerfully effective, is simply one piece of your brand. It’s a visual mark that’s been adapted by a company to help audiences identity it. For example, while we are all triggered by the sight of Apple’s bitten “forbidden fruit” logo, our real feelings toward the brand are actually inspired by much more: past experiences with commercials, media coverage of long lines on an iPhone launch day or a first-hand encounter with the product. It’s these emotional memories tied to the mark that actually make associations happen.
How to build a corporate brand
In order to build a brand that is powerful, you must be consistent with your brand messaging, logo design and anything else you do as a business. But how do you come up with a company brand that’s meant to stick around for more than a trend cycle? To help turn your business into a strong brand, we’ve defined some fundamental steps of the corporate branding process.
01. Evaluate your existing brand
You may already have an existing brand, but it’s not working out. Either your brand is targeting the wrong audience or not getting the attention it deserves. This is the time to evaluate the achievements and shortcomings of your current brand strategy and improve your plan so that it may guide you in the right direction.
Ask yourself whether you need to add, tweak or change something altogether in your brand’s messaging, look and identity. You can even perform a SWOT analysis to review the brands of your competitors, as well as yourself. With these five steps 1) analyze strengths 2) analyze weakness 3) analyze opportunities 4) analyze threats and 5) draw conclusions, you’ll be able to assess your brand and whether it will be successful within your target market and competitive industry.
02. Define what your company stands for
In the same way that a yoga business would not associate itself with inattentiveness, your company needs to make an appropriate pledge to its audience. Those promises are determined by the definition of who your company is, what it does and why it does it.
I recommend that you outline your company’s mission, values and goals so that staff and stakeholders alike understand exactly what the business stands for. Start leading discussions that will get everyone on the same page about your brand. You can create visuals, like graphs or charts, or use mnemonic devices that will help breakdown the information into delightful and memorable content. Say your company values include loyalty, accountability and transparency. You can simply combine the first letter of each word into a new word, like tap, for effectiveness. This level of clarity ensures that everything being done in the name of the company adheres to a fixed philosophy. You can also turn this into a company or product branding guide.
03. Boost your brand’s visibility
You’ve created a logo that communicates the who, what and why of your brand - and it’s designed to distinguish you from the rest. Now that your brand is accompanied by an effective logo, you can begin placing it on your marketing assets, such as social media, your website, marketing materials and more. Once you get your logo out there, more people will recognize it and put your brand in the limelight.
These days, one of the most popular ways to increase your visibility is by implementing a social media marketing strategy. You’ll need to first know who your target audience is. This will enable you to decide on where you should focus your promotion - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name a few. Keep in mind that each social media platform offers different ways for communicating, engaging and building relationships with one another.
Once you establish the right platform for promoting your brand, you’ll need to draw up some general rules that will protect your reputation and corporate image. Most businesses have a social media director whose specific responsibilities include being the “social media gatekeeper” and formulating regulations that keep anything relating to your corporate branding synced. This will also ensure consistency throughout the history and growth of your brand.
04. Write guidelines for implementing your corporate brand
Allow me to be a bit dramatic, but I believe that planning saves lives. In regards to your brand, you should develop a guide that considers an array of scenarios in which your business will be represented - whether that’s online or off. For instance, we’ve mentioned a couple of ways to increase your brand’s visibility in the previous section. But that requires a follow-up question, “How do you make sure your marketing team or staff have the tools to see the plan through?”
By creating a brand style guide, or set of rules, for the implementation of your corporate brand identity, you’ll be able to enforce uniformity and conservation now and in the future. From ranging font sizes and typography to where to place your logo and how, everyone involved in marketing your company will maintain your brand’s integrity with the right guidelines.