How to Build a Better Brand
Updated: Nov 15, 2021
Think of a business you absolutely love. It can be a company that sells any kind of product or service—there are no wrong answers here. Why do you love that business? What compels you to buy from them again and again?
Every company is developed to cater to a specific niche audience. The who, what, why, and how of a business is their brand. Because let’s be honest, products aren’t just products anymore. People want to support an entire brand, not just a single product.
Brands make customers feel like a company makes products specifically for them. Modern marketing has to be personal because consumers are flooded with content.
The good news: it’s easier than ever to reach your audience.
The bad news: it’s harder than ever to stand out.
The solution: build a better brand that creates loyal, long-term customers.
Defining “Brand” and Other Terms That Go With It
Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to define some key terms.
Brand: a company’s brand is a set of features that sets them apart from its competitors. Traditionally, marketing teams have looked at a brand as the business’s name, logo, slogan, symbols, design, tone, etc. But in modern marketing, a brand also includes the overall customer experience a person has when engaging your business.
Branding: the modern branding process involves researching the target audience and developing features that will appeal to those consumers. Branding can be as simple as designing a logo to slap on your products or as complex as defining your business’s voice when interacting with customers.
Brand Identity: brand identity is what customers perceive about a business. Brand identity includes everything your company says, what your values are, how people feel when interacting with your representatives, and so on. It encompasses your business’s personality and is what a customer would say when describing your company to a friend.
Brand Awareness: how familiar people are with your brand. Many companies set a goal to increase brand awareness because it attracts new leads. After all, people won’t consider buying something from you if they don’t know you exist.
Brand Management: how you go about creating and maintaining the tangible and intangible elements of your brand. Tangible elements include things like a style guide, packaging, and color palette. Intangible elements are things like how your customers perceive your brand and your target audience. It’s important to remember that your brand is constantly evolving and shouldn’t be seen as a static entity.
Brand Recognition: how easily a consumer recognizes your product without seeing your business’s name. Brand recognition often comes through your logo, slogan, jingle, packaging, or advertising style. It’s like seeing a pastel-print dress in a department store and thinking, “I bet that’s Lily Pulitzer.” Or seeing a Gecko waltz across your TV screen and instantly knowing that you’re seeing a Geico commercial.
Brand Trust: Brand trust is essential because it measures how much your customers believe in your business. In a world where everyone’s a critic, building brand trust can be as easy as consistently providing a great customer experience and racking up five-star reviews online.
Why Is Branding Important?
Branding makes your business feel more approachable and helps your niche audience identify with you.
If your best friend started a business, you’d likely support them. Not necessarily because you’d die without their product or service, but because they’re your friend and you want to help. Branding transforms your business from a vague entity to your ideal customer’s friend they feel compelled to support.
It’s estimated that the average person is exposed to 10,000 ads every day. Your brand is what will make you stand out from the thousands of other ads your target audience is likely to see.
People will never forget how you make them feel. Your brand is all about cultivating that feeling that people get when they see your content, whether you’re selling a new product or sharing something that adds value to their lives.
How to Build Your Brand
Building your brand may seem intimidating if you’re not sure where to start. But don’t panic—we’re here to help. Follow these simple steps to develop a bulletproof brand identity.
Step One: Identify Your Target Audience
At the heart of all companies is the reason you decided to start your business in the first place. You knew that you could offer a better product or service to a specific group of people.
Whatever choices you make about your brand (and your business in general) should focus on the customer. The only way for you to truly focus on the customer is to understand your target audience inside and out. You can create a gorgeous brand, but if you aren’t crafting it with a particular audience in mind, it won’t resonate with the people you started the business for.
When it comes to your target customer, you need to ask yourself things like:
Who would benefit from my product/service?
What are the most significant obstacles in my customers’ lives?
Why would my product help them overcome their obstacles?
How old are my typical customers?
What do my customers have in common? (Job type, hobbies, etc.)
How do my customers talk, what do they talk about, and where do they connect with others?
Your customer personas will influence the rest of your branding, and it’s crucial to set a solid foundation of who you’re developing the brand for.
Step Two: Research Your Competitors
It’s improbable that you’ll be the only person selling a specific product or service. If you are—mazel tov, you can look at effective brand strategies for brands that inspire you. If you aren’t, you also need to look at what your competitors are doing.
What This Means:
Identifying what’s already available to your audience
Highlighting what sets you apart from the others
Understanding how your competitors have branded their business
Learning which kind of techniques work well for your target audience
Discovering which platforms your competitors have the most followers on
What This Doesn’t Mean:
Copying what other brands do with your own color palette and logo attached
Remember, you’re just doing research. You don’t want to imitate one of your competitors because that brand’s already been taken and has its own following. If you’re going to sway people over to your brand, you have to offer something different from what they’d get with your competitor.
Step Three: Establish Your Unique Value Proposition
Your unique value proposition (USP) is that thing (or set of things) that makes you special. Now that you know who you’re selling to and what their challenges are, this should be relatively easy, especially since you highlighted what you offer that your competitors don’t.
Your brand doesn’t necessarily have to pigeonhole itself into one USP either. Your USPs can include things like:
Being minority or female-owned
Creating organic products
Offering free shipping with no minimum
Selling unique product bundles
Providing a specialized service (like at-home personal training instead of a brick-and-mortar gym)
Working for specific clients (like if you sell software specifically for wedding planners instead of a generalized event planning software)
We can go on and on. If you’re struggling to identify your USP, start with the spark that encouraged you to start your business in the first place.
This is the part where you get to toot your own horn. Be a bit cocky. Knowing why your brand is the best will help you as you create customer-centric brand content.
Step Four: Create your Mission Statement and Set Your Values
Alright, horn-tooting is over. It’s time to bring your focus back to your customer.
Think about the classic hero’s journey tales. Lord of the Rings. Star Wars. Harry Potter.
We hate to break it to you, but you’re not Frodo, Luke Skywalker, or Harry. You aren’t the hero of your story. Yeah, we know, that seems counter-intuitive considering we’re shaping YOUR brand. But hear us out—you are Gandalf, Yoda, and Dumbledore.
You’re the person that helps the hero succeed. Those obstacles you defined in step one? Those are your customers’ Sauron, Darth Vader, and Voldemort.
So your mission statement should address how you (the helpful guide) work to help your customer (the hero) overcome their obstacles (the evil villain). And your values will state how you go about paving the way for your customers’ success.
Once you create your mission statement and define your values, the rest of your brand will be able to take shape and cater to your business’s overall goals.
Step Five: Design Your Visual Elements
Now you get to have some fun! Or, at least, the graphic designer gets to have some fun.
Now that you’ve completed the preliminary homework, you can move into the more exciting portions of brand development: crafting your visual elements.
Your visual elements include things like:
Image style (iconography)
We could write a whole other article just focusing on how design choices influence your branding, but we won’t get into that today.
Your website will be the primary online application for these elements. For instance, you may only want to showcase black-and-white photographs with the occasional burst of color. Or maybe you prefer to have icons and graphic images instead of pictures.
But since your website is your brand’s online headquarters, you want to ensure that your website presents a cohesive front that evokes the feeling you want shoppers to have when they visit your site.
Step Six: Define Your Brand Voice
If your brand were a person, how would they talk? Would they be formal and use business jargon? Or would they be casual and use everyday slang?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this in general, but there is a right or wrong answer for your brand.
Your brand voice is important because it’s how your brand will communicate with your audience. Choosing the right brand voice helps your customers feel connected to you and fosters brand loyalty. Why? Because you speak their language.
Of course, your word choice may change if you have multiple customer personas. How you market to a college student will be different from how you speak to an established businessperson. If it helps, think about it in terms of having different voices for different customer representatives (even though they’re all conveying the same message).
Step Seven: Apply Your Branding to Your Business
Now that you have an incredible brand package, it’s time to share it with the world. You’ll apply your brand to every aspect of your business, so a customer will instantly recognize you whether they see your content on a social media app or a billboard while driving down the road.
Your Website: We touched on this briefly in step five, but your website is the first place to start. Your website needs to be the hub for your entire online presence, and it should be composed only of the branding elements you created.
Social Media: Your profile pictures, cover art, images, captions, videos, tags, and everything in between should cater to your brand image and voice. This will help you connect with your followers and attract more people.
Packaging: If you sell physical products or any type of merch, your packages should reflect your brand in design, color, size, and feel. If your customer’s friend sees the product, they should be able to get a solid idea of who you are just by looking at it.
Advertising: Your ads should fall in line with the visual elements of your brand, but they should also focus on how you can help your customers overcome their obstacles.
Sales and Customer Service: Your representatives should be able to sell your brand by emulating your values and mission statement.
Step Eight: Assess and Reassess as Necessary
Like we said, your brand is something that should constantly be evolving.
As you test out the waters with your new branding, see how customers are responding to it. If you’re getting the reaction you want, then you can start exploring ways to branch out. If you’re not quite getting the results you expected, you can make some tweaks and try again.
At PHAT Marketing, we specialize in helping customers define and redefine who they are as a brand to make a big splash with their target audience. Building a brand can be difficult when your business is your baby, so we’re here to help you.