1. Find the brand’s purpose and vision
As a brand marketer, deciding on your brand’s purpose will be one of your most important decisions. Your brand’s purpose defines its existence beyond business objectives and profit, and shows customers a human element that they can connect to. Brands that align themselves with a purpose for the greater good and raise a flag for something they can be proud of, as told by brand strategist Stephen Houraghan, will have high chances of success and the fulfillment of seeing human values align with their business.
The benefits of a well-defined brand purpose are clear. In contributing to a better world whilst making an impact on motivation and creativity, you have the power to inspire and empower.
A brand’s vision is where you want your business to be in the future, and painting a picture of where it will be in coming years. Focusing on your brand’s vision will guide your company’s steps to success throughout its journey.
2. What does your brand stand for?
It’s important to think about what your brand values most, and how you convey that message into your marketing and advertising strategies. Brand values consist of the morals that your brand merits and the way in which these are incorporated into your business.
Take Ben & Jerry’s, for instance. They have implemented a three-part mission that supports their employees, customers, farmers, suppliers and communities alike. This includes their product mission, which involves using natural ingredients in their ice cream and promoting environmentally friendly business practices; their economic mission, which involves the company operating on a sustainable financial basis of profitable growth, and their social mission, which involves initiating ways to improve the quality of life locally and globally.
Ben & Jerry’s has always been heavily involved in social justice movements, which has brought them to light as a company with a strong set of values.
Customers value a brand whose actions speak louder than words. Moreover, being action-driven as a business goes hand-in-hand with being passion-driven, and it should come as no surprise that some of the most successful brands have achieved success by following their passion. Customers see this and will therefore trust that they are investing in a brand that stands by their words and their customers.
3. Nail your visual identity and expression
A brand’s visual identity is how your brand is visually represented, be it by the logo, colour, web design or social media presence. Your brand’s identity is how consumers distinguish your brand in their minds and how it differs from your competitors. Having a strong brand identity builds credibility and trust between you and your target audience.
A brand expression is how consistent a brand is, visually or experimentally. The key to brand expression is alignment and having guidelines set in place, which can be visual elements or key messages that you want to send to your audience.
To give Gucci as an example, their visual identity is all about mixing the old with the new: combining vintage styles and giving them a modern twist. Creative director Alessandro Michele says the inspiration behind their visual aesthetic comes from the Victorian era, the 1930s and the Baroque era. Michele further emphasizes the role of gender fluidity in the brand’s aesthetic, and that people’s self expression is directly correlated with the brand’s self expression.
Think about the people, places, things that inspire you and how you can incorporate that into your brand. Research your audience, think about your brand’s mission and the kind of message you want to send, then develop the visual aspects.
4. Brand personality: Choose an archetype
Brand personality refers to the human characteristics associated with a brand and how people perceive it. It all comes down to the archetype that your brand falls under.
There are 12 brand archetypes, including the creator. A brand that sees potential everywhere and has a desire to create something new and exceptional also possesses a drive for creation, originality, self-expression and imagination.
Bentley and Burberry are considered to be creator brands. Bentley’s website has introduced a feature giving users the ability to take virtual trips around the world as a digital marketing strategy. Burberry created a digital campaign called ‘The Art of Trench’ allowing customers to upload a picture of themselves in a Burberry trench coat to “enable the heights of personalisation and integrate the essence of the brand with the ease of technology” (Cheryl Joy).
Another brand archetype is the hero, which is all about making the world a better place. The main motivation of a hero is to prove their worth through courage and determination. They have a drive for courageousness, growth, development and defence. Stella McCartney and Rag & Bone are considered hero brands due to their commitment to sustainable fashion and helping the environment.
Think about what you want people to say about your brand, think about how you want them to describe it to their friends and family. Having a defined brand personality will show customers that you’re for them. Simply put, if they relate to you, they will buy from you.
5. Brand Positioning
Brand Positioning is the conceptual place you want to own in the target consumer’s mind. When it comes to brand positioning, it’s important to not only know who your audience is, but to know your competition and your differentiators.
There are 3 ways to identify a powerful brand positioning:
- Understanding what your consumers want. Get information about your consumer market through their demographics (age, gender, geographical location) or set up surveys to see what more they are looking for from you.
- The capabilities of your brand and/or company. Think about how your brand can adapt to ever-changing environments. Digital branding is especially important in today’s age.
- How is your competitor positioning their brand? Look at how they’re appealing to their target markets, how they are improving their products/services, look at their missions and values to then think about your own. Your competitors shouldn’t always be seen as roadblocks: rather, they give your brand the opportunity to learn from their successes and mistakes.
Once you’ve done this, the four things for you to consider are:
- What makes you so different from your competitors? Your differentiators are the things your audience will know you for, and what will set you apart from your competitors. Make sure this is clearly outlined in your communications plan.
- How is your product or service better than theirs? Look at your competitors’ following on social media, how they are advertising their product or service, and how the reviews that are left on their product and service compare to yours.
- What are the reasons that customers should choose your product or service? Make sure your brand has an ethos and that you’re committing to those values and beliefs. Transparency is key!
- How are YOU going to position your brand? After looking at your target audience and competitors, it’s time to apply that knowledge you learnt from them and build the foundation that your brand will stand on.
6. Develop your tone of voice
Developing a tone of voice for your brand describes how your brand communicates with its audience and influences how people perceive your communications.
So why is it important to have a distinct tone of voice? Having a distinct voice creates a sense of consistency to your overall image as well as creating a recognisable online presence, which is what separates you from other brands.
Think about the content that you are posting, as you want the content to match with the overall image and brand’s perceived style.
Your tone may vary depending on what the situation is and who you are trying to reach; on your website you may choose to be formal and informative, but more fun and casual in a social media setting. This can vary depending on the brand and what their personality stands for.
Creating brand voice guidelines makes your creative team aware of how the brand should be perceived, and is overall a useful reference to have. Keep the language, vocabulary and brand phrases consistent, as the goal is to sound like everything was written by one person.
7. Really get to know your audience
To better serve your audience’s needs, you need to get to know them. Market research should be conducted to find out as much as you can about your customers, which you can then use later to build personas. A buyer persona is the representation of your ideal customer which has been developed through market research and data from your current customers.
- Gain information on your buyer persona by finding out your customers’ demographics, psychographics, and geographical location.
- Surveys are a great way of gathering information and finding out your customers’ personality traits, interests, values, and opinions. Surveys may also provide you with details on what customers currently like or dislike about your brand, which can further assist in gaining a better idea on their needs and wants.
- Social listening allows you to find out more about your current audience and can help when it comes to getting feedback to improve products, attracting new customers, improving customer service, monitoring how different posts perform, and learning about the competition.
- Keeping an eye on competitors helps you discover what your shared customers respond to and what the competitors are currently doing to engage them. This can help you save time as you can take what they do well into a way that is unique to your brand.
8. Develop the core narrative
A core narrative is imperative in telling your brand’s story; it gives a background to your brand’s products and services and brings emotion to this mix. A strategic narrative should explain what makes you unique.
One way to develop a core narrative is by including your brand values as a part of your story. Show that you are more than just another brand driven by profit. Think of your brand as a person. The narrative should place a greater emphasis on who you are and not what you do.
Your brand narrative can continue to grow and change, but the main message should remain the same to keep the brand’s image consistent.
Tiffany & Co is brand that has developed over decades, yet the narrative remains the same with Tiffany & Co at the centre of each story built around themes of idea of love and romance.
Creating trust between you and your audience is imperative, as once they trust you they are more likely to interact, and ultimately end up being a customer for the long haul.
9. Design the brand
Typography and logos are principal aspects of a brand’s visual identity. Having the right logo sets your brand apart and creates a memorable image when people think about it. Typography, when done correctly, has the ability to capture the audience’s attention and keep them engaged and interactive.
Your brand’s logo acts as the face of the business and creates brand association. For example, the Chanel logo represents the brand and is immediately recognisable, and the fashion house has established their own typography which makes it clear to customers that the information they are consuming is coming from the brand.
10. Stay focused on growth
Growing a brand has a lot to do with how aware your customers are of its existence and services, as a heightened awareness is more likely to generate a profit.
Building brand awareness is essential in helping customers recognize and recall your brand and its products.
Building your brand awareness is largely established through marketing and advertising. This can be achieved through the creation of a custom hashtag for your social media profiles, using your brand voice in regular social media posts, and by running display ads on the Google Display Network.
Growing any brand is dependent on your use of media, which is why it is so important to know your audience. Your budget should come to play here when considering the type of media that you will use to best reach your audience. Selecting appropriate media channels means that your potential customers are more likely to be reached by ads which allows for greater use of your budget.
It is also important to think about the type of growth that you want to achieve as a brand, for example, gaining more followers on social media, branching out to new markets, growth of new products or a partnership merger – whichever it may be, creating a strong business growth strategy is essential.