Branding 101: A Handbook to Building a Bankable Brand Strategy in 2021
The concept of branding can be mind-boggling for many, especially for young startups. To simplify the process, consider this- unique brand identity is like Rafiki from The Lion King holding you out to the rest of the world. That’s some quick recognition, everlasting impression and a pleasing distinction from the rest of the jungle.
With that reference, it is simple to understand why branding is vital for your business.
“Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.” — Elon Musk, Co-Founder & CEO, SpaceX.
To further simplify the concept, here are the modern principles to truly understand the essence and branding goal to make your company stand out truly.
What is Branding in Business?
Branding is a mix of all those elements and activities that endow your company with a unique identity and distinguish it from your competitors. It is the process of attributing distinct features to your product/service, allowing customers to differentiate you and put you on a pedestal above the competition. These features contribute to building an identity in the market, formally called building a brand.
When consumers refer to a particular brand experience, the cooperative efforts on the logo, style, tagline, name, colour palette, brand voice, imagery, advertisement, mascot, among all others, help cast an impression. These are the elements of branding used in marketing channels.
Many businesses and startups neglect this critical step of developing their individual identity and make the greatest entrepreneurial mistake. To reap the maximum benefits of branding for your business, you must understand its importance to formulate a dedicated strategy.
Why is Branding Important to a Business?
Branding is a powerful tool to formulate a perception of ‘who you are’ or ‘what your company stands for’ in the market. All branding efforts work around this and shape an appealing persona in people’s minds. It is critical to lure in and pursue consumers to purchase and investors to trust the business. The end goal is to forge a brand recognition where people recognise you without seeing your business name.
Thus, a growing brand awareness will assist in achieving all those short-term and long-term business goals by:
1. Giving a face and voice to your business
There are many people behind a product's inception, but marketing demands only a singular brand identity. It is doable when your business has a face, i.e. your brand logo, mascot, product package design, and ambassador. Secondly, it should have a voice, i.e. brand tone, jingle, tagline, website copy, and beliefs. All these are hallmarks that define and accentuate branding for your business. They distinguish you from the competition and create a long-lasting impression. Brand appearances evolve when you answer these questions about your business:
- What unique problems does your business solve?
- What distinguishes you from your competitors?
- If your company were a person who would it be? A male or a female entity? Or a famous celebrity or someone new? Define its persona.
- What would be the tone or voice of your business?
The answers to these questions give some clarity on your brand appearance and identity.
2. Supporting advertorial and marketing efforts
A proper, all-round brand strategy with all its elements is one of the essential marketing assets. When you promote products or services with a unique selling proposition, it ingeniously generates sales by inciting consumer curiosity since they appeal to popular emotions. Therefore, to build brand awareness, your marketing strategy must be in line with your brand identity. Consequently, your publicity efforts are based on promoting who you are.
3. Building trust
Just like you dress to impress in a professional setting, a well-built brand appearance makes you seem trustworthy and dependable. It shows efforts and comments on a company’s work ethic and willingness to provide the public with an all-round experience.
4. Making you stand out
The most significant benefit of branding is its contribution to building a unique personality for your business. It advances company endeavours. Fabulous and fresh brand identity will throw some light on your product/service and present you as an industry leader.
What is a Branding Strategy?
A brand strategy is a set of tactics and approaches to develop a recognisable and superior brand. Such plans are long-term and aim to achieve specific business goals. Since they reflect on all business operations, a brand strategy directly complies with customer behaviour, preferences and competition.
Because branding strategy is highly consequential, it ought to fulfil the following elements:
1. Knowledge of your audience
A business master plan or methods blueprint is built on a firm understanding of your target customers. With this understanding, you will know how and where to approach them and the appropriate pathways to follow, based on their preferences. Therefore, the identification of your target audience is indispensable for business.
2. Brand values
Brand values are a set of principles and standards that your business strongly believes in and promotes. It is these values that guide your brand’s actions, mission, and all decision-making processes. They are imbibed in the mission statement and highlight the values your business provides.
3. Brand positioning
A lot of factors go into representing a brand’s image. For B2B brands, client experience is a significant factor. For B2C businesses, one aspect depends on user experience. If the same experience project onto people or entities that indirectly linked with the business/brand, it appropriately positions the brand. For example, names like Jaguar, BMW & Audi are synonymous with luxury cars.
4. Brand promise
All that your business vows to undertake and deliver to its customers or clients is the brand promise. It is what you provide to a user every time with each interaction.
5. Brand Voice
This is the voice your brand would have if they were a person. Think of how your product or service would talk to the target audience. What would their tone be like depending on the value proposition? It is this brand voice, communicated through written and visual content.
A business can brew a good brand strategy only when it truly comprehends and utilises the above elements. All these combine to give a versatile make-to your venture.
Do You Need a Brand Strategy?
Many businesses with promising ideas and ground-breaking products fail on the branding front. In the absence of a well-rounded strategy, they are unsuccessful in creating an identity which ultimately diminishes their market standing. Thus, instead of comprehensive branding efforts, their brand strategy is all over the place. To avoid a similar fate, it is critical to have a design representing your business, builds and sustains loyalty and grants you an edge over competitors.
Building a brand strategy
In the handbook of all the best business practices, developing a unique brand identity tops the list. Since it is the ultimate goal of branding, businesses are following and focussing on it. While the rest of the crowd imitates old strategies and methods, here are all the latest branding trends of 2021. Look out how each one is remarkable in its way and evolves a successful brand strategy. Since all processes run parallel to audience taste and preferences be in alignment with the latest fad.
1. Humanize the brand
Brand designers are grossly using this technique where they use actual human faces or illustrations. It is to develop a better impression in the mind of the target audience. A method like it is useful because we, as humans, tend to trust a message coming from a visible visage rather than just a voice. Here the branding principle is to build trust. It is possible by attributing a face to all the branding efforts. The idea is to give the users someone to identify and relate to.
2. Experiment with unconventional brand colours
When visual content is gaining excessive attention in today's time, people love a solid dose of colours. Use colours that are easily recognisable and quick enough to leave an impression so that people begin to associate your brand with it. Wield expressionist and quirky hues to stick out from the crowd. This strategy satisfies the branding principle that makes you outstand others while casting a memorable impression.
3. Being symmetric and geometrically extensive
The human mind likes symmetry. Therefore, keep all your designs, print ads, website, very clean and symmetric. In congruence with this principle, brands are rapidly using the minimalistic approach- nominal text and clean design. This is a grossing branding trend. As a principle, keep your designs clean to appear professional yet modish.
4. Express what you stand for
Your branding is a play between visual and written content promotion. Therefore, use space wisely. It implies making use of the best graphics and the right words to express what you believe in. A compelling copy for your website, print/digital advertisement and delightful design along with colours to play with, work like magic. Additionally, convey if you stand for a cause to forge an extra striking impression. It is also essential to show if you take a stance on pressing issues.
5. A three-dimensional consumer experience
A complete brand experience encompasses all the five branding elements and incorporates it into every single wing of service and product. As an engagement strategy, go for a three-dimensional user experience in 2021. This is a time when people are very particular about detailing and recognise if a brand went the extra mile.
Don’t limit branding only to your website or packaging. Focus on building an engaging experience.
6. Use art to your advantage
You are to make branding efforts in an era where art is the preferred. The world is developing a global outlook and forms of art like graffiti, animation, and avant-garde imagery is more favourable. Moreover, people are bound to remember anything quirky and out-of-the-box. Ergo, use art and encourage creative processes to your advantage. In a content-hungry market, they are judiciously using it for branding.
With a very dynamic audience at hand, it is tricky to build a brand that sustains changes. As trends shift, and choices evolve, this drift helps adapt in the presence of solid branding.
Branding is an organisation’s most powerful intangible asset. While it is a mix of many components, the final goal is to create a brand identity, in line with its manifesto and the target audience. In the end, branding is the legitimate affair the customers are willing to have.