Branding is a way for organisations to differentiate themselves from their competitors, it helps the brand stay consistent, inspires employees and grows your customer base… But I’m getting ahead of myself here – what is branding? It’s a combination of tangible and intangible elements that define the brand; it’s about using symbols and leveraging your brand values to set yourself apart from other organisations in your product or service category.
Branding is a powerful tool because your product or service doesn’t have to be exceptional or the best or most affordable to stand out. It can do well in the market simply because it’s well branded because the reality is that people buy the connections that they have to the brand. They buy the value that they feel the product or service will add to their lives. And if your product or service happens to be the best then, that’s great too!
Branding makes use of the power of association and brands do this by occupying certain spaces in the mind of the consumer. But how do you get to a point where your brand is where you want it to be in people’s minds? It starts with the unsexy stuff and it all has to happen internally first; you have to clearly and simply describe your product or service and describe how your product or service benefits your target audience.
Next is the brand personality – how do you want consumers to relate to your brand, how do you want it to be described when you aren’t there? Ask yourself which word in your brand category do you want to own? Apple owns innovation, Fenty Beauty despite being a newcomer to the beauty industry owns diversity and in the taxi industry Uber owns travel.
The feeling – how does your product or service make the consumer feel and how do you want them to feel? Establish an emotional connection with consumers, and this is done by allowing them to buy into something more than the product or service itself. The emotional connection makes consumers feel part of the brand and overarching story. Airbnb is a service that connects people to affordable accommodation anywhere in the world – that’s what the service is and consumers benefit from affordable accommodation when traveling, and hosts make money but Airbnb users connect to the “big idea”, which is belonging to a community and to the world.
These elements form the basics of building your brand, they are the jump off point that informs other parts of the organisation, like company culture, promotional activities, language, etc. If you don’t clearly define the fundamentals of the brand then you may find yourself being out performed by your competitors and lacking alignment and harmony, both internally and externally.
The visual elements:
Organisations put lots of money into communications that allow them to effectively and clearly communicate who they are to their audiences and the purpose of these communications is to take the above mentioned and infuse them into visual elements that make up your brand. The logo is the symbol that allows people to identify the brand – think of Netflix’s red N, Google’s G and Adidas’ 3 strikes. All easily recognizable logomarks that result in almost immediate brand recall. The logomark personifies the personality of the brand; so if your brand is playful then the logomark should reflect that. We can’t speak about the visual elements of the brand without mentioning colour – colour speaks and is an important tool of telling the brand story and attracting consumers. Think about how the idea of Ferrari changing it’s logo to pink makes you feel, what about YouTube making it’s logo yellow instead of red? Pink doesn’t really say Fast and Furious and a yellow YouTube would just be jarring. Because colour is a critical element of the brand personality and attracting consumers; if the colours that you use for your brand don’t align with the brand personality then it will certainly stand out but not in the way you want.
The building blocks of the brand and the visuals elements all come together to inform the website, photography style, office design, uniform (if your company has one), the type of adverts that the brand puts out and the layout and content of the Instagram page. It all works together to form a cohesive brand identity that communicates the brand values clearly to employees and consumers at all times.
Everyday at HKLM we help our clients build their brands, whether it’s building a brand from the ground up or repositioning an existing brand – we ensure that the strategy we present is aligned with brand objectives. That’s why it’s called strategic branding – you have to be intentional, focus on building the core elements of the brand and bringing it all together.