To build an ever-growing business, it is essential to building great products and services. But it is also important to create the right brand identity in the minds of people by conveying values and what the business stands for. Branding helps in connecting people and turning them into dedicated customers. Branding companies across the world have been trying to connect people to a brand by adopting and adapting various strategies, says business strategist and consultant Hirav Shah
Branding is important as it helps one achieve good positioning in the minds of customers and also sets one apart from competition. Deciding not to build a brand for a business, product or service is outright detrimental as one tends to easily get lost amidst competitors; unless of course one is a monopoly business or blue ocean business idea or strategy like Netflix or Starbucks or Apple.
There is no right way to brand a business. It is all about creating a unique identity. When you hear the phrase — ‘I’m lovin’ it’ — one instantly tends to think of McDonald’s. This is what branding does and that’s why it is important. It doesn’t matter whether the business is small or medium or big, having a unique identity of the brand helps in building a long-lasting business. To make the brand stand out in the crowd, branding is indispensable. It helps businesses in creating individuality through creative approaches. Branding is the process of creating a strong and positive perception of a business by combining various elements such as logo, design, mission statement and a recurring or consistent theme through all marketing communications. This is the secret behind building strong brands.
Businesses believe branding helps in differentiating them in the market. It is important to understand what sets aside top brands and market leaders like say Apple or Amazon. So,if you ever wondered how to create a brand identity, then it is important to understand the brand development process.
To begin with, define how you want to be perceived
Remember the Vistaprint ad on social media? It could be a simple tailor, but how he brands himself catches your attention and that’s exactly what businesses need to do. Ever wondered what is brand building? Well, that’s your answer irrespective of how big or small a business you are. They must understand what they want their customers to remember about them. For example, if one is an apparel brand, then decide upon what you would like them to say:
- Oh, the brand is a benchmark for trendy clothes
- It’s totally in sync with latest designs and styles
- It is pocket friendly, yet chic.
Always remember, your brand is your promise to your customers. Also, that your promise is different from that of your competitors.
Organise your business based on the promise you want to keep
So, if you want to be remembered as a chic and trendy brand, then make sure you know the emerging trends and trends that could take on the fashion world in future. This will give instant recognition among scores of customers. Your clientele would want to return to you for your unique selling proposition or USP.
Put your message out there
Next, it is vital to communicate what you promise. From the word go, that is from colours to logo to website text, everything must be developed as a reflection of that promise. Similarly, what you say or project on Facebook, LinkedIn must be aligned with this message. It is at this point that your brand becomes centric to all your advertising and promotional activities and your ads become effective as they give out a clear message.
Once you have made your promise, it is important to organize your business based on this perception. Let’s take the example of Apple. It is known for its sleek and innovative products. Now, the organisation cannot make products that are technologically challenged. Hence it is clear that consistency is the key here. While it could be a tough call, it is the most rewarding in the long run. There could be n number of laptops in the market, but when it comes to owning something that is both trendy and worth one’s money, then the customers automatically pick Apple. When brand promise and customer expectations meet, the brand will be able to flourish in terms of sales and success.
Once you understand the branding basics of product branding, you are likely to move forward in the right direction.
Branding development process
The first thing required for branding is a logo. A logo is an artwork, graphic design, or symbol which represents a business, community, organization, or individual. It reflects what the brand is all about. One of the vital reasons for designing a logo is to help customers remember the brand. It has a powerful recall value. A logo will be related to the name of the business, initials, or other significant aspect of the business. Brands must give inputs regarding colours, designs and expectations to branding agencies while getting a logo designed.
The next thing needed for branding is a tagline. The logo is not enough to convey everything about the business. So, the tagline should be thought of to add value to the logo. The tagline can be used in any language, though mostly in a popular language that can be understood by target audience. It should be simple, witty, and self-explanatory. Along with the logo, it helps in establishing a powerful recall value in the minds of people.
In the digital world, it is quite important to have a dedicated website and well-maintained social media accounts. If the brand has an online presence, it helps it in reaching out to target audiences, which helps in popularising the brand easily. A simple, innovative and clear website is bound to attract more customers. Here, one has to remember that the brand must work towards optimization so that it pops up during the first few search results as it will enable organic traffic. Hiring a good search engine optimization (SEO) company will help give the much-needed results. In addition, social media platforms help in interacting with customers and gathering their feedback. Online engagement of brands is a prerequisite in today’s times.
Logos, taglines, websites, and social media accounts are important aspects of branding. Giving attention to every aspect is essential in conveying the image of a business and building trust among customers.
Brand development strategy
Branding strategy or product branding strategy involves long-term planning for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve predetermined or specific goals. A good and well-chalked out business strategy affects all aspects of a good business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions and competition.
In fact, a successful product strategy helps in developing brand awareness and identity that sets a business’ products apart from various others, based solely on brand name. A well-thought out strategy constantly reminds potential and existing customers as to why they should purchase your products over other similar products.
Steps for brand development strategy
1) Consider overall business strategy
Would you want your brand to grow organically? What type of business do you want? These questions give a context to your branding strategy and once you are clear about where you want to take your firm, your brand will get you there.
2) Identify target clients
It is proven by research that high growth and high profit firms are extremely clear about their target customers. The narrower and targeted the range, the faster is the growth.
3) Research target customers
Good and thorough research helps a business understand target customers’ perspectives, priorities and needs. It is important to gauge how your potential customers view your strengths and current brand. This makes it easier for you to put the right messages so they resonate with your target customers.
4) Develop brand positioning
Here, it is important to figure out or write down why potential customers must choose you over others. Keep it simple and stick to three to five sentences. Make sure what you have written captures the essence of brand positioning. While it must be realistic, it also needs to be a tad bit aspirational.
5) Develop messaging strategy
It is also crucial that you have messages developed to target various stakeholders such as potential clients, employees, referral sources, influencers and potential partnering opportunities among others. Each message has to be specific and must address the different needs of the target audience.
6) Get your name, logo, tagline in place
Always remember, your business name, logo and tagline are not your brand. They are part of your brand identity that helps you communicate or symbolise the brand.
7) Develop content marketing strategy
Content marketing brings about reputation and visibility to the brand and is a must have in the internet age. It is a perfect way to make your brand relevant to target audiences.
8) Have a good website
As aforementioned, a website is one of the most important brand development tools. It is where the audiences can find what you do, how you do it and who your clients are. While clients will not choose a brand based on a website, it is important to ensure that your website sends out a positive message. A website could be a branding site where it tells the story of who you are, what you serve and what you do. Then there are the other types or the high performance websites that generate and nurture potential clients. Always remember, your website will be home to your valuable content.
9) Build a marketing toolkit
The toolkit could include sales sheets that describe core offerings or key markets served or a pitch deck. It will also contain videos about various topics including overviews, case studies, etc. The kit is quite important for brand development and business development.
10) Track and adjust
It is pretty obvious that one has to implement a winning brand strategy. Once done, one has to track the implementation of the business plan and the results. It is pertinent to know what’s happening with sales traffic, web visitors, leads, employee performance, partnering opportunities, etc. Only by tracking can one come to the right conclusions and make the necessary adjustments.
Well, here comes the bottom-line. A business could have a great structure in place. It could have all the ‘right’ elements in place such as the business name, great partners, correct registered and administrative address, logo, web-print-digital presence, brand name, etc. But it could still be bogged down by problems or a situation could turn tricky. It is here that astro strategist Hirav Shah comes into picture. With his advice based on the above mentioned parameters and the personal chart of the owner or owners, the businesses can make and execute decisions within a perfectly timed framework to maximize their success quotient.