Creating a successful brand takes time, effort, and a lot more strategy than you may have guessed. That’s right — branding is about so much more than liking the color blue!
Starting from the ground up can be overwhelming, and developing your brand without proper forethought can completely tank your efforts. This is why many businesses seek out the help of professionals, like the team at Evolve Systems, to guide them.
Whether you’re creating a brand from scratch or rebranding ol’ faithful, below are three ways to empower your brand for success.
Understand Your Business, Your Target Audience, and How You Align
Utilize personas to create a clear picture of your ideal customer. Once you know who you’re targeting, you can brand for them, rather than for yourself. Craft your core messaging around their needs and how you address each area. Use the points below to begin clearly identifying what you do, why you do it, and how it helps your audience.
Common Frustrations or Problems
Why does the customer need you? What is driving them to seek you out? Consumers have many reasons for choosing which services or products they do. Contrary to popular belief, it’s often in your favor to identify the common problems your ideal customer base is facing instead of trying to appease a large pool with vastly different problems.
Once you’ve identified your target audience’s problems, you can see a clear path to directly solving their needs. Sure, that is probably what you were doing already, but identifying this and calling it out helps your brand so your audience can start creating those connections themselves.
For example, a Mercedes owner most likely wants an elevated experience, where they feel catered to and taken care of. It’s no surprise that most Mercedes dealerships pick up a client’s car for them when they have a service appointment and then bring it back, at no charge. The client doesn’t have to lift a finger.
When a consumer’s needs are met, and met well, this often results in positive brand recognition, return service, and word-of-mouth referrals.
Let’s go back to Mercedes. They make the customer’s life easier. There’s a great chance that customers will be loyal for the long term because of that feel-good outcome. Maybe they’ll convince their dad to buy a Mercedes, or gift one to their child. Every time someone asks how they like their car, they’ll rave.
Feel-good outcomes are directly related to knowing who your consumer is and solving their problems.
Every customer has reservations – even you! Strong branding with a defined target audience serves as an opportunity to identify any reservations your customers may bring to the table. Identifying typical hurdles can allow you to create messaging ahead of time and use it in your marketing collateral as well as off-the-cuff in conversation.
Testimonials and case studies are a fantastic way to show that you really know what you’re doing. Sure, you might be saying the same thing, but there’s something about a human connection that people trust, making testimonials (especially with headshots) extra viable.
When people are the data, case studies are a great step. These typically follow an outline of the problem, solution, and outcome. Whether visual or simply written, these will beef up your credibility!
Outline the What
Always going back to that target audience, when you outline the What, think of that audience.
Wait, what is the What? The What is your products, services, and offerings. The What is What-ever you do! As you break that down, lean on your ideal consumer to help you.
Do they want every single, little detail? Do they want a high-level overview?
Are they interested in the background? The multiple uses?
What kind of messaging will speak best to your target audience?
You get the picture! Remember, you can’t make a brand that is perfect for everyone, so really relish being specific in your answers.
Call Them In
Surely you know the goals of your business. Now that your brand is underway, break those down a little further. Do you want consumers to purchase? Do you want them to contact you? What about subscribing to your social media? By calling them in, you’re encouraging them to take that action you’re looking for — this is called a CTA (Call to Action).
Using all the work you’ve done in the prior steps should make this part easy!
Develop and Solidify Your Brand Core
These are the things people often think of for a brand. This includes your logo, color palette, typography, voice and tone, tagline, and core messaging. These are the unchanging basics that remain intact for the longevity of your brand. Focus on establishing consistency and cohesion.
Brand Standards Guide
Something every brand needs is a brand standards guide. This is essentially a rulebook on how to use the different pieces of your branding. These can vary in size and content, but the purpose remains the same.
Slack and Walmart have very hefty guides. Starbucks has a surprisingly middle-of-the-road guide in terms of length. Some smaller companies even have single-page guides! The important thing is not the size, but making sure all of your established rules are there.
These rules should aim for consistency and cohesion. They should be very visual and easy to understand. What good are directions if no one can understand them?
Developing brand pillars is a way to educate your team and partners on the brand, and also a place to continually refer back to over time. It encompasses how to apply your brand to written, verbal, and experiential communications.
At Evolve Systems, we often work with companies to build out brand pillars. The pillars we deem to be most useful include:
- Brand Story
- Mission & Vision
- Brand Values
- Voice & Tone
- Brand Awareness
- Target Audience
- Competitive Advantage
- Brand Promise
Once you have a brand standards guide and brand pillars, your brand is ready to roll!
Establish Cohesive Branding Across Everything You Touch
Now comes the fun part! Spread your brand across every avenue you or your audience may engage with. Some common places that businesses should utilize their branding are:
- Social Media Templates
- Email Signatures
- Business Cards
- Website Design
- Meeting Agendas
Don’t have a designer on staff? Evolve Systems offers products such as these — don’t hesitate to reach out for a quote!
On top of using your branding, well, everywhere, it’s important to stick to your strategy. You might be thinking, “Wait, what strategy?” Everything up to this point has been a strategy! Don’t stray from your brand guidelines or your brand pillars. If you’re unsure if something falls in line, go back to those tried and true documents.
Does this feel like way too much for one person? Depending on how large your company is, it’s not unusual to hire a brand manager.
Brand managers ensure everything is on-brand all the time. They work with your marketing team to ensure that any time new iterations or updates are made, those changes appear consistently across every avenue.
Congrats, You Have a Brand!
Remember when we said creating a brand takes time, effort, and a whole lot of strategy? We weren’t kidding!
If you don’t feel like you’re ready to take this on, just remember, you aren’t alone! The expert team at Evolve Systems is here to help, from the first question to the brand launch.