The Branding Process
October 27, 2021
What comes to mind when you think of Apple, TikTok and Nike? Even if you have no experience with these companies, you had some mental image of each one. That’s the power of branding. Branding is a strategy that helps businesses develop a cohesive image, which shapes the public’s impression of them.
Branding is like developing a character in a picture book. That character likely has a consistent way of speaking and dressing. The author and illustrator infuse the character with symbolic traits that reflect its personality and values. Readers can identify a character whether they’re flipping through the book or watching the movie version.
A solid branding strategy should have the same effect. It must not only be instantly recognizable, but also elicit a consistent sentiment in your audience. Your message should infuse all of your client-facing interactions, from your logo to your customer service emails.
This process is not an overnight fix. It takes time to develop and solidify your brand identity. With the right planning and implementation, however, you can craft your image in a way that attracts and retains loyal customers.
Step 1: Developing a Brand Strategy
Did you know that authors usually create a character profile for the main personalities in their stories? Even if certain details never make it into the book, the author needs to keep them in mind to guide the way that the character operates. The same type of research and development is necessary to build a strong brand.
Brand developers should come to the table with curiosity and an open mind. They should consider the company’s mission and vision, expanding on it with the rest of their strategy.
Start developing a brand strategy by exploring your purpose and objectives. Some questions that help our clients create their business persona include:
- What difference does your brand make in the world?
- What are your core beliefs?
- What is your primary message?
- How do you want your customers to feel about you?
- What is your company’s backstory?
- What other brands do you admire?
Research Your Target Market
Don’t assume that you know what your target market wants from you. Failing to conduct market analysis can leave you with a message that doesn’t resonate with your potential customers. Understanding your target audience is imperative for gaining traction in your industry.
We do market research to answer questions about your target audience such as:
- What types of websites do they frequent?
- What are their pain points?
- What industries do they work in, and how much money do they make?
- What do they think about?
- Where do they shop?
- What do they do for fun?
- What do they find bothersome or annoying?
- What questions do they ask you?
A strong emotional connection with your audience can drive sales better than the customer experience. We will help you learn what motivates your potential clients so that you can leverage those influences in your brand strategy.
Understand the Competition
Even if you are a unique company that wants to put a new spin on things, you have to know what your competition is doing. A competitor analysis identifies what works and doesn’t work for other businesses in your niche. It allows you to capitalize on missed opportunities and perpetuate your strengths.
A competitor analysis involves:
- Identifying and categorizing your competition
- Exploring the features, benefits and disadvantages of similar products and services
- Researching your competition’s target market
- Evaluating your competitors’ website, SEO efforts and social media presence
- Examining comparable brands’ messaging
Stay on Top of Industry Trends
A strong brand is seen as an authority in their industry. Acknowledging industry trends will help you stay competitive. You don’t have to follow the trends, but keeping up with them will give you fodder for heading in the right direction and making intentional decisions to break free from the norm. In fact, many standout brands are so in tune with the latest developments that they manage to look like they’re staying a step ahead.
Step 2: Creating a Brand Image and Identity
Imagine your brand as a person. What would some of their personality traits be? How would they speak to others? What colors would they wear? Answering these questions will help you when it comes to creating a visual identity.
Your logo is a visual representation of your brand name. The best logos are simple, scalable, recognizable and memorable. Your logo should be relevant to your brand and reflect the vibe that you cultivate in your style guide.
The industry research that you’ve done will help guide your logo design. A logo should reflect current trends but be evergreen enough to stay relevant without requiring major adjustments.
A graphic design professional keeps up with the latest developments in logo trends so that you don’t have to. They will also be able to deliver your logo in versatile formats and sizes that can be applied to different products and marketing materials.
A brand style guide is a manual that designates the way that your company presents itself to the public. It sets forth rules for various elements of your visual branding. In doing so, a style guide fosters consistency and trust across all teams and channels. It is a cheat sheet for your employees and marketing strategists as well as potential business partners. It also ensures that your audience will always view your brand in the intended light.
The style guide is so valuable that many companies refer to it as a brand bible. We will put one together for your business that includes the following elements:
- Brand information and background - A brand story or narrative that incorporates your mission, vision and values to give your audience a glimpse into the essence of the company
- Logo guidelines - Designates logo usage for different environments, including size, spacing, format, shape and color specifications
- Color palette - Identify brand colors, including their digital codes, and indicate when and where to use each color
- Primary and secondary typography use - An experienced graphic designer will help you select the best fonts, including guidelines for alignment, spacing and use
- Photography style and integration - Examples of photos, illustrations, infographics and other imagery, specifying how to make stylistic choices to keep the visuals brand-appropriate
- Voice and tone recommendations - Top words, phrases and taglines; do’s and don’ts for captions, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, blog posts, website copy and customer communication
- Common errors - It helps to identify what your brand is not and show examples of what to avoid when working with brand design
Using the brand style guide, we will create a tangible collection of media that you can use to support your marketing and sales strategies. Some examples of brand collateral include:
- Splash and landing pages
- Printed and digital variations of your logo
- Branded packaging
- Online ads
- Verbiage for social media posts
- Predesigned graphics for websites, products, ads, blog posts, etc.
- Business cards
- Customer-facing communication
Once you have set up a strong branding strategy, you can easily plug your brand collateral into your promotional products and avoid errors. Every company has different needs when it comes to developing collateral. We will customize our service to provide you with the most useful elements for your business.
Step 3: Building and Maintaining Your Internet Image
A strong website impacts your business on all levels. It’s the first impression that many potential customers have of your brand. It also enhances your SEO strategy, enabling new customers to find you.
Your website is the foundation from which you can nurture a relationship with your followers. Blog posts provide valuable content and keep your audience coming back. Landing pages offer solutions to your target market’s problems and encourage them to engage with you. A well-designed website is a consistent face that you present to your audience to establish trust. It’s also a functional piece of technology that allows you to easily share, interact with your customers and make sales.
Goals for Web Design and Web Development
Your brand strategy informs your web design. We will create an aesthetically impactful site that draws from the guidelines set forth in your style guide.
The most effective websites should:
- Be clean and easy to navigate
- Have a well-structured layout
- Showcase engaging imagery and high-quality images
- Load quickly
- Have responsive design that looks great on all screens and devices
- Include call-to-action buttons that promote engagement
A website should be enticing enough to attract viewers. In most cases, you want to keep them on the site and encourage them to come back. One of the attributes that we keep in mind when designing websites is bounce rate. This is the amount of time that it takes for a viewer to click off of your site.
Generally, you want your audience to stay on your site until they have made a purchase. You want to convert your customers. We will optimize your web layout, navigation and content to send traffic down your sales funnel.
The custom websites that we design as part of a brand identity package have user-friendly visual editors, which allow you to update elements at any time. Many of the assets that we create for you can be plugged into the website. This streamlines the website maintenance process for everyone on your team and ensures consistency.
Putting It Into Action
Once you have a strong brand identity, you must develop a procedure to implement it. As you roll out your strategy, you develop brand awareness. This takes time. However, staying consistent with your messaging and design will help you grow your presence efficiently.
People change; so can brands. A branding strategy should be somewhat flexible. It will evolve as the market changes. Do you remember when fast food companies began promoting healthier options? They had to adjust their branding to fit in with the needs of a more health-conscious market.
Every business must do the same thing. With the right branding package and strategy, you’ll be able to flow with an ever-changing consumer environment and maintain a strong presence over the years.