An Overview of Branding Fundamentals
A company’s brand is what makes it distinctive, stands it apart from its competitors, and connects with its customers. Creating a brand takes time: it is important to continually invest in establishing a shared understanding of a company’s image to consistently communicate its reputation.
The best performing companies know the value of investing time on the branding fundamentals: developing intentional communications to build trust and desirability with its audiences. In this post, we focus on some of the key branding elements and why it’s important to explore your company and its brand(s) in detail, to help customers, employees and shareholders understand why to pick you.
Here are our top six branding fundamentals:
- Brand Research – if a company wants to stand out in a customer’s mind and connect with them on a deeper level, they’re going to need to listen, and that means carrying out research to understand what audiences want, what drives them, and how they behave when making decisions to purchase products and services. The next element is to review and understand the market a business operates in, what changes are happening in the world and will this impact what it sells? The top brands take the time to listen and avoid assumptions. Research provides insights that help drive innovation; it also gives businesses the opportunity to adapt to consumers’ changing needs as well as market conditions. Research is an invaluable part of developing a company’s brand.
- Brand Strategy – acts as an important beacon within an organisation, providing clear direction and clarity of: the positioning, the core value (value proposition), the differentiation, and the competitive advantage. It is vital that any brand strategy aligns with the business strategy, and builds on the company vision and defines the purpose and key messages. The brand strategy normally emerges from an in-depth understanding of the customers’ needs and perceptions, the market, competition, and the company’s culture and values. It provides direction on building a clear visual identity and narrative, which communicates with all stakeholders: employees, customers, media, shareholders, suppliers and so on. Without a clear brand direction a company will become fragmented with its communication and image, which will lead to a lack of confidence that quickly erodes trust.
- Brand Identity – establishes a recognisable image to communicate a brand’s personality and what it stands for. Brand identity is an important visual and narrative communication that allows people to instantly recognise a company and its products and services. It becomes a mark, a kind of seal of approval of what customers can expect. When we look back in history a ‘mark’ was a way of identifying a farmers’ cattle, so people knew which cows were the best and which to buy, over time this has evolved but the principle behind it is the same. Today, branding includes; a logo – wordmarks, letterforms, pictorial marks, abstract/symbolic marks, emblems; a tagline, the tone of voice, colourways, etc. all of which create a powerful impact on people and can influence their choices – it also delivers a way to stand out in the market, on the shelf, online and in-store.
- Brand Culture – there is a saying that your people are your biggest asset, so if this is the case then it makes sense to build brand love from the inside out and this means including people, listening and making their voice and opinion count. Businesses need to provide clear direction so that each individual can understand how they, and their role, contributes to the overall success of the company – most people value a sense of belonging. Taking the time to develop a company vision, mission and values can help to provide guidance for employees, however, a word of caution: if values are too static, too rigid and do not embrace individuality then companies can find their well intended efforts working against them. Culture through established values, works better when they are brought to life, flexible and inspire the individual. Another way to ensure the ‘people brand’ positively impacts the company’s growth is to implement KPIs or OKRs, where people can see how what they do on a day-to-day basis resonates and makes a difference to an organisation. Through creating an environment which champions culture empowerment, you’ll attract and keep the right people to stay ahead of the competition – now more than ever this is very important.
- Brand Touchpoints – help customers recognise that they are dealing with one company brand, this builds trust and works in an organisations favour. Most people’s minds prefer familiar experiences in which they can process information more quickly – making one of 60,000 daily decisions a little less taxing. If a brand is inconsistent across its promotional channels this will cause confusion in the mind of the consumer, making the brain do more processing and could raise questions surrounding the brand reliability. A brand should be easily identifiable whether it is on Facebook, TV, Radio, The Sunday Times or at an Event – don’t underestimate the power of cohesive branding across all communications.
- Brand experience – is created through your customer interactions: on the telephone, online chat, post, in-person, social media, website, in-store and via your brand communications and advertising channels. This is where a company amplifies all that it has to offer through customer experiences, which represent and communicate what it is like, and what to expect when they interact with a brand.
Building a successful, memorable and distinctive brand, which connects emotionally with its audience involves in-depth work and commitment. Today, we focused on the key areas to help guide your efforts to establish or re-establish your brand in today’s fast changing marketplace.
Summary: Branding is your why, your reputation, your mark and your image.
Brand building and awareness is a long-term game; brands need continuous nurturing, management and investment. Branding helps people identify one brand over another, and if you’ve invested in the right areas of your business it will give people a reason to buy from you. If you keep your customers happy, give them a reason to connect with your brand, and deliver great experiences – it will drive loyalty.
To discover how Allways Media can help you with your company’s brand journey, please contact us for an informal chat so we can better understand your brand challenges.
Read The Importance of Building Brand Equity to understand the true value of brand investment.