Customers engage with thousands of businesses across different channels each day. From their office commutes to their emails to their dining areas, they’re continuously exposed to advertising messages via smartphones, computer screens, billboards, branded vehicles, and so on.
With a countless number of business interactions every day, most people don’t have time to research every company they interact with. Their judgments and perceptions are formed and shaped by interactions, emails, ads, mentions, and glimpses. This is where branding comes into play. Developing a unified brand lets you influence those engagements and differentiate your business and its offerings from the competition.
You’ll be impressed to know that 82% of investors view the brand as a critical factor in deciding which companies to invest in.
If you’re a new business owner and wish to develop a powerful brand, you’ll need to understand the basics first. As a beginner’s guide to branding, this post will cover everything you need to know to begin developing your brand. Let’s start with what is branding?
What is Branding?
Simply put, branding is the practice of creating a name, design, symbol, and other elements that represent and differentiate a business, product, or service from others. It‘s about how you want your target audience to view your business and what they should expect from your products or services.
Your brand will thus be a combination of elements that identifies your business and makes it recognizable. The most common brand elements include brand name, logo, tag line, colors, graphics, mission, and vision. Depending on the type of business you own, there might help be some additional elements such as fonts, design, taste, smell, voice, and so on.
Keeping these elements in mind, a brand encompasses everything from aesthetics to personality and values that shape perceptions in the minds of your potential customers.
Now that you have a clear idea of what is branding, let’s find out how to develop a powerful brand for your business or offerings.
How to Develop a Brand Strategy?
Follow these steps to develop a strong brand strategy for your business:
Define Your Key Goals
The first step to developing a powerful brand is to identify your major goals. These will form a foundation for the decisions you make throughout the brand development process. No matter how great a potential idea is, it must align with your key goals. If it doesn’t, you’ll either need to scrap it or refine it.
To identify your key goals, ask yourself what you want to achieve and where do you see your business a few years from now. For instance, if your underlying goal is business growth, all your branding efforts should be growth-oriented.
Create Your Brand Identity
The next step is to develop your brand identity, the most critical step in brand development. The purpose of defining your brand identity is to explain what makes your brand unique, what it stands for, how does it make your customers’ lives better, and more.
It’s important to understand here that everything from your brand name to typography to imagery needs to communicate your brand identity reliably and consistently. Otherwise, it can be difficult to make a lasting impression on your target audience. Following these steps should help you communicate your brand identity efficiently:
Find Your Brand Voice
If you want your brand to influence people, it should be able to speak in a voice that matches that of its target audience. To find your brand voice, think about the type of audience you’re dealing with. Are you targeting individuals or businesses? Youngsters or adults? Men or women? Your brand voice should strongly relate and appeal to the type of people you’re targeting.
Also, the type of language you use in your tag lines, marketing materials, signage, social media ads, website, etc., should effectively and accurately convey the image you want to associate with your brand.
Give Your Brand a Name that Sells
What you choose to name your brand can make or break your business because brand names carry a lot of weight. It needs to be unique but not confusing, and creative yet descriptive. When choosing a brand name, carefully consider the impact it may have on your brand. When a passing stranger views it, they must get some clue about what your business does without visiting your website or office.
Work Out a Catchy Tag Line
Tag lines are among the most ignored brand elements. Many marketers don’t realize how effective it can be to shape your brand’s identity. Think of a succinct, catchy tag line that viewers will remember. McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ and Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ are clear examples.
It can be a short, memorable quote that conveys your brand message. Thus, you should not forgo this amazing opportunity to make an impact on your target audience. But how do you formulate a captivating tagline? The following guidelines should be of great help:
- Try to incorporate powerful, positive feelings using upbeat language.
- Come up with something unique that distinguishes your brand from others.
- Keep it short
- Instead of focusing on product features, try to convey the ultimate benefit. For instance, if you’re a restaurant, you may want to sell the idea of a stronger bond with family and friends or happiness rather than the taste and flavor of menu items.
Take Your Time to Develop a Logo
Your brand logo is just as important as the brand name itself, so it deserves time, thought, and attention to detail. This element is so significant for your brand that we recommend hiring a professional to create a logo for you.
You may even use creative variations of your brand name to design your logo. Some brands that follow this premise include eBay, Walmart, Lyft, and Google. If you wish to use a symbol, make sure that it’s consistent with your brand’s identity. Take the example of NASA’s logo, which depicts a white ellipse, twinkling stars, and a blue background to signify space travel. Anyone exposed to this logo immediately knows that it has to be something related to space.
However, there are brands that go deep and yet are able to achieve their goals. Apple Inc.’s logo, for instance, portrays a bitten apple that hardly relates to the value, benefit, or product the company offers. The same can be said about Starbucks Coffee. Yet, both are among the most recognized logos on the planet. It takes decades of consistent branding and a lot of patience to establish something like this.
Hence, it makes sense to start with a simple design so that people remember your logo. It should be something that you can draw using a freehand from your memory after looking at it for ten seconds. If you can’t do that, it probably needs to be simplified.
Pick Your Brand Colors Wisely
Some marketers will choose any color without giving it much thought. Many others will go for odd colors to look different. But unfortunately, brand colors don’t work that way.
There’s compelling and complex psychology behind each color we’re exposed to. Different colors foster different ideas and emotions that strongly impact customer attitudes and behaviors.
There’s a reason why one-third of the world’s most recognized brands have logos with blue as their primary color. This doesn’t mean that you must incorporate blue in your brand logo, but it does show how impactful brand colors can be. Since it can directly affect your business success, choose your brand colors wisely. Let’s go through the ideas and emotions attached to some commonly used colors:
- Yellow: Cheery, friendly, affordable, youthful
- Blue: Trustworthy, calming, mature
- Green: Multipurpose color, but often linked to nature, life, or money
- Purple: Cutting-edge, luxurious, feminine
- Brown: Masculine, handmade, rugged, earthy, rustic
- White: Affordable, youthful
- Red: Excitement, loud, anger, passion
- Orange: Invigorating, energetic, playful
- Pink: Modern, youthful, cool, feminine
- Black: Luxurious, contemporary, slick
- Gray: Serious, classic
You’ll want to use more than one color for your brand but again, try to keep it simple with not more than a few colors. The most popular social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, all use a pair of white and blue. If you wish to use different colors as done by Microsoft, Slack, NBC, and many other successful brands pick the right color combination.
Adobe’s color wheel is an incredible tool that allows you to play around with different color harmony rules to find the perfect color combination for your brand. Once you’ve picked your brand colors, use the Accessible Brand Colors tool to check whether they are ADA compliant or not. The tool will explain to you whether your chosen colors work well together and whether they’re hard to read.
Choose the Right Font
The font you choose should be an extension of your brand and, more importantly, complement your brand logo. Beyond the logo, you’ll need different fonts that complement different uses, such as headers, subheadings, body copy, and so on.
When using different fonts, however, make sure they don’t clash with each other. Instead of chasing the countless font options, limit yourself to the following five font categories:
- Sans Serif fonts
- Serif fonts
- Script fonts
- Slab fonts
- Decorative fonts
These are the most basic font categories that are best to start with.
Optimize Your Website
In the current business landscape, establishing your online business presence is more important than ever. Without this critical obligation, no business can thrive for long. And when it comes to setting up your online presence, your business website plays an integral role.
The modern customer, after being exposed to a branded business fleet, a billboard, or a social media ad, will go on to Google the business name to learn more about the brand. Ideally, your brand should fully dominate the SERP when a user enters your business name. This happens when Google recognizes you as a reputable business and will display all the instances of your online presence, including your website, your social media brand profiles, your listing in online business directories, and more.
If not anything else, the user must at least be able to find your website. When a user makes it to your website, you get an incredible opportunity to take full control over their mind. But that’s only possible through effective branding.
This brings us to the critical question: how to do you brand your website?
Remember, branding starts from the web design or web development process. Everything from your site’s aesthetics to SEO performance and engagement will depend on how well you brand your website. The graphics, colors, fonts, sliders, banner placements, menu style, etc., should all be consistent and align with your underlying brand strategy. This also means that all your brand elements, including your brand name, logo, tag line, colors, fonts, among others, will go into your website design.
Brand elements such as your logo, color palette, and fonts should be displayed on every webpage of your site. If these elements are not consistent throughout the site, a user might get confused while navigating between different webpages. For instance, if the color scheme is on your site’s ‘About Us’ page is different from those of the homepage, the visitor might think they have mistakenly jumped to a different site.
In other words, consistent branding has a strong impact on the user experience of your website, which in turn affects bounce rates, the time users spend exploring your site, and the overall SEO performance of your site.
Besides, you should try to incorporate your brand voice into the text, video, infographic, and other content you have on your site. In fact, you may even want to brand your ‘404 Error’ page and ‘Thank You’ page.
After going through this beginner’s guide to branding, you should have developed a profound understanding of what branding is all about. Not only are you now aware of the critical importance of branding, but you should also be equipped to start branding your business or offerings.
When you do embark on the brand development process, don’t ignore the need to brand your website. Whether you need to build your branded website from scratch or simply modify the existing design for branding purposes, Nora Kramer Designs is here to serve you. We possess the knowledge and experience that will make your brand personality shine. To learn more about how we deliver this, schedule a call today!