For businesses seeking to develop the most effective digital presence, it’s important to think about more than just websites and social media accounts. In fact, developing your company’s brand is essential for a strong foundation in the digital world. If you haven’t thought much about brand, here are the basics about what it is and how to go about developing one.
What is brand?
Brand is an important word when it comes to marketing. And for such a simple word, defining brand can be quite complicated. Spoiler alert – it’s much more than just your company logo. Researchers have determined that 84% of consumers value brand experience just as much as they value the product itself. With brand such an important component of marketing today, it’s essential that every business take time to think about their brand. At a basic level, you can think of brand as the name of the company who manufactures a product. A brand might be General Motors or Apple. But when it comes to marketing, the idea of brand goes beyond that. Brand also includes your company’s reputation in the world and how consumers experience your company. Some say that brand is the promise a company makes to its customers. How consumers think of your company, what they know about it, and what your company makes them feel is all part of your brand. Not only that, brand includes what your customers experience when choosing your company.
Brand identity versus brand image
Before we can talk about how to effectively leverage your brand for marketing, we need to break the idea of brand down a bit. First, it’s important to think about what your company values and what you stand for, and what you want to tell outsiders about yourselves. It is worth taking some time to design and define this and determine the reputation you want to send into the world. This is your brand identity. But that’s the catching point. Reputation is more than what you say about yourself. Reputation includes what others say about you and think about you too. In business terms, the external part of your reputation, what customers perceive about you or think about you, is your brand image. Both your brand identity and your brand image contribute to what we generally refer to as “brand.” For your brand awareness to be effective, your goal should be to make your brand image as close to your brand identity as possible.
In both cases, it’s worth thinking through several different aspects of brand to get the whole picture. First, what does your brand say? What are the messages you are putting out there for consumers to receive? These might include the names of your products, the content on you blog and social media channels, and the promises you make. Secondly, what does your company value? Today’s consumers want a personal connection with the brands they choose, and part of that connection comes from shared values. Think about Dove and its commitment to real beauty. What are the values of your company and how are you communicating them to your customers? Once you know what you want to say, it’s important to think about how you will go about saying it. What personality do you want to put forth for your business? Forbes magazine and GoPro, even though they might send the same message to their consumers, will do it in far different manners. What do you want your customers to feel when they interact with your company? When you have a goal in mind you can more easily tailor your product and customer relations to elicit these emotions. What are you promising your customer? What have you either explicitly or implicitly committed to? It’s also important to think about the promises your customers perceive from you whether or not you intended them in the first place. All these are important questions to consider as you are developing your brand and before you start communicating that brand to consumers.
First steps to developing a brand
If you are ready to think about your brand and building the brand image you are looking for, here are some simple steps to getting started.
- Do your market research
Your brand is all about the experience and understanding your customers have of you. You cannot develop that until you first know who your customers are.
- Design your logo and other visual features
In order to have a consistent image, you will need to decide what logo, font, colors, and other details you will use in your company’s communications. Being consistent across multiple platforms is important and is most easily done when you make these decisions up front and put them together in a style guide.
- Choose your language
When you did your market research, hopefully you took some time to think about how your customers communicate, the words they use, and their style of language. Using that information, think abut the words and phrases you will use when communicating with your customers. You can also choose keywords on which to focus your content at this point.
- Launch your brand.
You will do this in all customer communications including your website, social media, and email communications.
- Monitor your brand image.
How will you know what your brand actually encompasses if you aren’t keeping tabs on your brand image? By monitoring what customers think about you and your company as well as what they are saying about you on social media, you will know whether the brand identity you have developed is consistent with the brand image you have defined. As you monitor, tweak or change as necessary to get the two as close to each other as possible.
The topic of brand in marketing is a big one, and more than we can address in just one blog post. Stay tuned for more discussion on brand and how it impacts your digital presence.
What branding techniques have worked best for you? Let’s have a conversation in the comments below. We would love to share ideas with you and our community.