If you can’t answer this with confidence, you may have a bit of work ahead of you. You’re also not alone — proper branding is a struggle for many businesses. It’s not exactly an easy task, but when you get it right, oh boy… is it ever worth it.
What is a brand, anyway? Take your own identity as an example. You have values, beliefs, goals, a certain image that you portray and people that you connect with — a unique personality. A brand is kind of like a personality for your business.
And, just like your own identity, a brand identity is more than skin deep.
“Your logo design can be on point, and your name the most catchy of all time — but those alone don't make a brand. If you don't have a closely held brand philosophy with clear intentions and do what you do well enough for people to sing your brand’s praises... you'll end up floating through space putting all those marketing dollars to waste.”
Senior Designer at Csek Creative, branding extraordinaire, office jokester.
We’ve rounded up some of the most common branding mistakes that we see, and some tips to help you nail your brand strategy.
If you are more of a visual learner, you can check out the "infographic" version of this post here.
This is one of the biggest mistakes that we see — confusing a logo with a brand. While a great logo is very important and usually acts as a first impression, a brand is so much more.
A brand is more so an emotion. It’s what consumers feel or say about your company. It’s an identity, and it should be incorporated into every aspect of your business — from the colours on the walls, to how you answer the phone, to the product or service that you offer.
In short: while a captivating logo is important, it’s not the same as a meaningful and effective brand.
It’s not uncommon for business owners to become personally attached to their companies and, therefore, their brands. And this isn’t a bad thing — it means that you care and are passionate about what you do.
However, it’s also important to know when to draw the line and set your biases or personal opinions aside. Be careful not to create a brand simply because you like it, without taking into consideration how it will appeal to your potential customers and whether or not it aligns with your competitive advantage.
In short: base your brand on a thoughtful strategy that focuses on your competitive advantage and target market, not just your personal taste or opinion.
Before crafting a brand that appeals to a certain group of people, you need to know who those people are. And you need to get to know them well.
Remember who you’re doing all this for. These are your potential customers. These are the people who will either cheer you on or boo you off stage, put money in your pocket or put you out of business.
The way you speak to your target audience determines how they will act, so it’s important that you say the right things, in the right way, at the right time. Many businesses don’t take the time to really understand their potential customers, and therefore miss the mark when crafting their brand.
To take this one step further — think of your target market as more than just a demographic. They’re not just an income bracket, an age group, or a gender. They’re complex people with their own unique beliefs and goals. How can you make your brand relatable and trustworthy, so they don’t just feel like they’re being sold to?
In short: know who it is you are doing this for, and know them very well.
Similar to how your potential customers have beliefs and goals, so should your business. And similar to how these values shape our own identities, they are an integral part of your brand identity.
Your company’s core goals and beliefs should act as an anchor for your brand — something you can always refer back to when making decisions, big or small. These goals and beliefs can then be used to guide your marketing strategies to ensure that you’re staying on brand in everything you do.
With new buyer beliefs on the rise, a growing pressure is being placed on companies to be transparent and authentic in what they do. The new age of consumers are more focused on
values, and are quick to shift their brand loyalty if they don’t sense a dissonance between the company’s values and their own.
In short: be sure to start with a solid foundation of beliefs and goals before building your brand, or else it may not last long.
Creating a captivating brand identity is one thing — implementing it is another. Brand consistency is a place where many businesses struggle, and without it, your identity is likely to become muddled.
This applies to every area of the business, from using a consistent voice across social media platforms, to maintaining a certain aesthetic in your marketing materials, to ensuring that staff are on board. All it takes is one poor interaction to throw things off and give potential customers the wrong impression of your company.
Once you’ve defined a brand that works, stick to it. Be open to opportunities to improve, but be smart about it. If you decide to add new products or services to your offerings, for example, make sure that they align with your brand or you may leave consumers feeling confused about who you are.
Consider creating a detailed brand guide to help keep things consistent.
In short: having a killer brand identity only works when implemented properly.
Having a brand identity without a proper marketing strategy is kind of like being all dressed up with no place to go. Your brand represents who you are — now how will you tell the world (and convince them to become your customers)?
Right Consumer + Right Message + Right Medium = Success
If one of these things is not aligned, you are not likely to see success in your marketing campaigns.
If you’re not sure where to start, either with a brand identity or marketing strategy, we can help. Contact us with your branding or marketing questions!
And now, for you more visual learners - we created this handy infographic summarizing the above information!
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