So, what is a “brand?” Is it your logo? The look and feel of your business? Not quite.
There is a lot of misleading concepts when it comes to the term “brand” and “branding.” People often think a brand refers to a business name or to its image, logo, and color scheme.
In the earlier half of the 20th century, a “brand” was that simple, all a business needed was a name and logo to distinguish itself from others.
Today’s art of branding has grown into a whole new ballroom that includes so much more. Your brand more than how consumers tell you apart from your competitors by name or by image (i.e. Coke vs. Pepsi).
What is a Brand?
Your brand is how consumers perceive the essence and character of your business. Brands evoke emotions, value, and even lifestyles
If you are familiar with this ad campaign, try and forget everything you know about it. Imagine you are looking at it for the first time. Now, answer the same questions:
- What do you see in this picture?
- What do you think this image is about?
- What does it make you feel?
- What are some words you would use to describe this image?
- What is image selling?
This 2004 ad campaign was launched by Dove, a beauty and personal care brand. We don’t see any Dove products in the ad. Instead, we see a diverse group of women who look confident and happy with their bodies. With this ad, Dove does two things:
- They address a more diverse audience. More women can identify with this ad and feel represented by it.
- They challenge society’s traditional form of beauty and associate themselves with social change.
What does this mean for your branding?
Obviously Dove are huge, global companies with a lot of resources devoted to branding.
The lesson that any business owner can take from them is that your company should represent more than just your product or service. You can use your company to communicate more messages such as values, emotions, and experience.
This will have a huge impact on how people perceive your business, and that is what branding is all about: Perception.
Remember you’re USP, which we discussed in the “Research & Strategy” chapter? Your identity must also represent your USP.
How to Create Your Brand
Now that we’ve covered the meaning and purpose, let’s dive into the process of creating your business’.
A good brand is built on three components:
- The story
- The values
- The identity
With these three, you’ll make your business more relatable and personable to customers and clients. You will be able to refer it to any business decision you will do in the future.
Tell Your Story As a Company
This is the journey of how your business came to be. Your story should tell the unique events that shaped you and your business including all the challenges and triumphs along the way. Your story is not just a set of facts (i.e. your professional qualifications, business location, and years of experience).
Instead, focus on creating a narrative of how and why you started your business. Later on, you’ll be able to use your brand’s story in the “About Us” section of your website.
To begin writing your brand’s story, ask yourself the following questions:
- What was your inspiration?
- What challenges did you face?
- What were your life circumstances at the time?
- What and who helped you succeed?
- What kept you motivated?
Find Your Inspiration
Fill out the following form to develop your story:
- My name is …..
- I am a…
- My first experience in …..
- was when ……
- In my work, I get my inspiration from…..
- What I enjoy most about my work is…..
- One of my proudest achievements is because…..
- That’s why I love being a…..
Add Your Brand Values
Your values are the north star of your business on which you will navigate your and business activity.
If for example, you are a yoga teacher who values sustainability and preserving the environment, you can incorporate that value by offering eco-friendly, recyclable yoga mats in your studio. [expand – brand value defenition]
These values will also allow yourself to set you apart from other similar businesses, yoga teachers, and will help you connect to any clients who share your value of protecting the environment.
Your values are also a nice tipping factor: If your price and service are comparable to your competitors, but you offer the extra value of being “environmentally friendly,” this could motivate new customers to choose you over others.
Keep in mind: Businesses in very different industries often aim to communicate the same core values. For example, a financial advisor and a childcare provider offer very different services and very different skills, but they both may still represent the following values:
Obviously, the financial advisor and childcare provider must communicate these values in very different ways, which we will discuss in the following section, “Brand Identity.”
Define Your Values
The best way of identifying your values is to ask yourself what do you think about your product/service and profession.
A) Answer the following questions relevant to your product or business.
- A good product is a product…
- A good should be…
- When I create my product/service, I want it to be…
- The one thing that makes my product better than other’s is that it is…
B) The adjectives you wrote can be used as your values. The things that will be the guidelines for you.
Defining your brand story and values based on your USP
Take a moment to think again about the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of your business, which we first explored in the Research & Strategy article. Whether you’re a personal trainer, photographer, real estate agent, or lawyer, you bring your own unique experience, expertise, passion, perspective, and values to your work and business. No one can compete with you on that.
This is the reason that people will choose to do business with you and not your competitors. Your customers will relate your business’ story and values, which is something you must communicate as part of your idenfity
What is a brand identity and what are the elements you need
identity is the combined message you communicate to consumers through your name, logo, tone, color scheme and other elements we will cover later in this section. It should help connect consumers to your product or service.
What comes to mind when you hear the name McDonald’s?
Chances are you just imagined burgers, fries, or fast food. This is the connection most people make to McDonald’s when they hear or see the brand.
That is because McDonald’s, the world’s most popular fast-food chain, has done an excellent job of creating and maintaining its identity.
Let’s take an even closer look: The name “McDonalds” has no relevance to food at all, unlike its competitor “Burger King.” Yet, in spite of this, McDonald’s has become synonymous with the concept of fast food. How?
Well, McDonald’s has created an identity that points to its USP: Staple food that is tasty, convenient, and affordable. It’s “golden arches” logo and red and yellow color scheme evoke one of it’s most popular items: its fries.
With that example in mind, next week we’ll look at each element that creates an identity. Want to create a memorable and relatable personality for your business that connects with customers? Build your brand assets, logo, website, and more.