Your brand is the face of your company. The first image a customer sees: your logo, font, colors, etc. are all a part of your brand. If you’re not sure how or where to start with your brand, we are here to help.
Before you jump right into creating a logo and coming up with a slogan, pause and make a plan. A branding strategy will be the backbone of your branding process. There are a few parts in the planning stages of your brand development.
Determine and Research Your Target Audience
Your brand should not be about you or your products and services, but should revolve around your audience. Because branding is about how your audience views your business, you have to specify your target audience so you do not waste time trying to market your services to everyone.
Remember: the narrower the focus, the higher the conversion.
A few demographics to note when identifying your ideal audience are age, gender, income, education level, and location. You also have to know the interests and pain points of the suspected audience that will have higher interest in your business’ products or services.
For example, if your business appeals primarily to college students who study abroad, then you have to understand their goals, their influencers, their psychology, the types of sites they frequent, and their brand affinities (the types of brands they tend to stick with).
Understanding your target audience will help you focus your marketing efforts and ensure that the right people are viewing your ads and reading your content.
Establish Your Brand Mission
You might be familiar with Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It”, but do you know their mission? It reads, “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world (*If you have a body, you are an athlete).”
This idea relies on the first step: defining your audience. For Nike, the target audience is everyone with a physical body and their goal is to bring inspiration to their audience. You can see the mission in their ads where they feature all kinds of people who use Nike products to be physically healthy and fit. Their slogan also follows the same theme of inspiration as their mission statement. This consistency is important in branding.
With a small business, you want to start small. Focus on your primary audience, state your mission, and then go from there. When your business expands and your brand loyalty increases, you can then increase your market audience and re-brand to fit your expansion.
Research Brands Within Your Industry
Put simply: learn from other’s mistakes. Find other businesses that do what you do, and study their brands. What is their brand loyalty (how many people like and trust the brand)? Why do people like the brand? What are the pros and cons of their brand strategy? In what aspects did their brand fail and in what aspects did it succeed?
As the saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun. It is most likely that someone somewhere has had the same business idea you have and has implemented it. Find those businesses and study them. If you can’t find anyone doing the same thing you’re doing, find someone doing something similar.
Do not research only businesses doing the exact thing as your business. Branding strategies take into consideration the location of the business and the demographics in that location. Research businesses based in your area of business, those that have the same target audience as your business, and those that have the same mission as your business.
Combining all this research will provide a sturdy foundation, not only for your branding process, but also for your business’ growth.
What Do You Have That The Others Don’t?
Consumers want to know why. Why should I listen to you? Why should I use your services? You have to highlight something that is beneficial to your audience and that they can’t get anywhere else.
Take Starbucks for example, they sell coffee (so does almost every restaurant in America). If Starbucks went with the slogan, “We sell coffee. Come try it.”, they’d probably be just another local coffee shop in Seattle.
Starbucks’ mission is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” One of their values is “Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.” You can see the mission statement and values reflected in their stores. The ambient lighting, comfortable seating ranging from two-seater tables to tables for large groups, and the variety of music that plays from their overhead speakers. Of course, there’s also free WiFi. Nothing brings people together nowadays like free WiFi.
All the extra benefits that Starbucks offers has made Starbucks a place where you can meet up with friends, work on a group project with classmates, or just chill by yourself. It’s truly a second home.
Like Starbucks, highlight what makes your business a step above the others. It may be customer service, a great quality product at a cheaper price, or an easy-to-use service. Let these benefits show in your marketing and in the way you interact with consumers. Consumers can get coffee anywhere. Make sure they want to come to you for the same thing someone else provides.
Have you started your branding journey? What have you learned along the way? Share with us in the comments below.
Lois Olowoyo is a telecommunication-production major at the University of Florida and an avid storyteller. When she’s not writing a story of her own or acting one out, she can be found listening to, watching, or reading someone else’s story. You can learn more about her and view her work at loisolowoyo.wordpress.com. Check out her LinkedIn profile here.