Building a brand with a solid foundation
I’ve often found that people will refer to an organisation's logo when talking about its ‘brand’. But there is so much more to an organisation’s brand than just its logo; the company’s heart, its audiences, competitors, messaging, tone of voice and visual identity to name but a few.
Creating a strong and enduring brand doesn't happen overnight. It can be a challenging and often bewildering task that our clients – both big and small - grapple with daily. Common questions include how and where to begin, what's needed, and who should be involved. Establishing a brand with a solid foundation is one of the most crucial tasks to undertake for long-term success.
Ultimately, our brand is the sum of what others think, feel, and say about us. Regardless of how much we strive to project a particular image, our organisation will speak for itself. Both our internal and external operations reflect our identity, which is why understanding our strengths and weaknesses is essential.
Recognising what sets you apart is a key step in empowering and differentiating you from competitors. When working with clients, helping them to identify their weaknesses provides a key opportunity for growth, allowing them to align with their desired brand identity.
The balance between authenticity and consistency is also key to earning your audience's trust. 'Apple' is a quintessential example of this, showing not only is the promise of the best service/product important but also the delivery of that promise.
So, how does one go about creating and developing their brand?
DEFINE YOUR BRAND’S HEART
Mission, vision, and values statements serve as the foundation for any organisation’s strategic plan. They have the potential to convey the purpose, direction, and culture of an organisation. All of these elements combined will enable better business decisions to be made, stronger customer relationships to be cultivated, and a more cohesive and positive culture to be adopted.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
The more clearly defined your audience is, the better positioned you will be to create a brand that resonates with them. Developing audience personas for clients (or multiple personas) allows them to be highly specific in targeting those they want to reach and allows us to more clearly envisage what their visual branding needs to convey.
Many companies have also started to see the power of digital research and insight as a tool to optimise their strategies. A targeted, audience-led approach enables us to tap into highly contextual audience journeys, giving the most unique and credible voice possible amongst target audiences.
Identifying your market competition to distinguish yourself and refine your positioning is key. This knowledge will inform the design of strategic marketing campaigns to help you and your brand stand out more effectively. The process involves researching major competitors to gain insight into their products, sales, and marketing tactics. Implementing stronger business strategies, warding off competitors, and capturing market share are just a few benefits of conducting a competitive market analysis and will also inform visual identity and marketing materials further down the line.
ESTABLISH MESSAGING AND VOICE
Articulating value proposition, tagline, and messaging pillars to convey a consistent brand story is one of the most important things we do for clients. Establishing a tone of voice that humanises their brand and ensures coherent communication across all content is vital.
Your brand's vision, mission, and values play a critical role in shaping its identity. These elements will guide decisions about colours, fonts, and other visual components that best represent your objectives and beliefs, resonating with your target audience.
Designing a comprehensive visual identity that effectively communicates the essence of a company’s brand, reflects its personality and aligns with its values is a major step in the branding process that can set a brand apart from the competition.
Thorough analysis will help pinpoint the most effective ways to visually engage your target audience and optimise resources across various channels (digital, print etc).
While many organisations build their brand intuitively, and some achieve great success doing so, having the above elements and concepts clearly defined will allow focus to be maintained on business goals, marketing efforts, content creation, and communication channels, fostering a robust brand culture and ultimate success.