What comes to your mind when you see this?
If you’re like me, it’s funny memes. Twitter chats. Short, succinct messages. Rants from celebrities in three sentences or less.
Or how about this?
For me, it’s “the best technology to date.” Creativity. Quality. Being part of a special group.
This is exactly what branding can do for a business.
A powerful brand is recognized, whether or not its name is printed out for people to read.
So, how can you achieve successful branding for your business?
Branding vs. Logo: How Are They Different?
A ton of people confuse branding with a company’s logo.
When they hear the word “branding,” they immediately picture designers hard at work choosing the perfect shades and template for a new logo.
But although a logo is part of branding, it’s not the whole package.
Let’s look at the definitions.
- Logo: A graphic element that symbolizes a brand.
- Brand: A company’s promise to customers.
When you design a logo, you’re coming up with a creative image people can recognize and tie back to your product.
But when you talk about branding, it’s much bigger.
Branding is finding out who your audience is.
It’s about knowing what they want and how you can help them achieve their desires.
It’s being consistent and promising customers you’ll always deliver what they expect.
Branding is important and when it’s done right, it can grow your business into empires like Apple, McDonald’s, and Amazon.
5 Steps to Successful Branding
Do you feel like your branding is all over the place right now?
Maybe your message is different on each of your marketing platforms.
Or maybe your website doesn’t carry your specific style across all its pages.
The good news is it’s never too late to start.
Follow these five steps, and you’ll be over the hardest part and on your way to a stronger, more recognizable brand.
1. Audit Your Brand for Consistency
Imagine what would happen if McDonald’s suddenly started serving gourmet food. Or packaging their burgers in glossy, expensive bags.
What would happen?
Lovers of the fast food chain would be confused.
McDonald’s isn’t about a fine dining experience, so why the sudden change in the food or packaging?
To avoid a situation like this, you need to be consistent.
Dig deep into the who and what of your brand.
- Who are you, as a company?
- Whom do you serve?
- What’s your main promise to customers?
- What’s your brand’s purpose?
When you answer these questions, it’ll be easier to:
- Weed out confusing elements on your website.
- Stay consistent with the tone of your social media posts.
- Be consistent with color, images, packaging, and other elements of your brand.
2. Create a Style Guide, Then Share It with All Members of Your Team
A style guide is an easy reference everyone on your team can use when promoting your brand.
Here’s how to create one.
Create a Story for Your Brand
Running a business isn’t all about making money.
It’s also about making the world a better place and enriching people’s lives.
In what special way can your brand accomplish this?
The answer is your unique story.
For example, look at Facebook’s mission statement:
Set Your Brand’s Color & Font Guidelines
Don’t go for a wide range of colors when setting style guidelines. (Unless you’re a creative company in love with rainbow unicorns.)
As a rule of thumb, stick to the colors in your logo.
Use a combination of these colors in your website, promotional materials, packaging, and merchandise.
Also, stick to one font with everything you write.
The result will be people associating a color and style with your brand.
Think Facebook blue, Starbucks green, and Snapchat yellow.
Stick to One Tone
You can’t be light and goofy on one social media platform, and professional and serious on another.
Determine your tone of voice, and add it to your style guide.
Remember, involve all members of your team when you create your style guide.
When you do, you’ll gain valuable input from other creative minds.
Also, members of your team will do better sticking to your style when they’ve had a hand in crafting it.
3. Inject Emotion into Your Branding
People buy things for emotional reasons, not rational ones.
For instance, think of cake. Cake has no benefits. It’s high in calories. It makes you fat. It’s unhealthy.
So why do people buy cake?
Because cakes stand for celebration, happiness, and special occasions.
Cakes make people feel good. It evokes an emotional response.
When working on your branding, ask yourself how you can touch people emotionally.
Can you make your audience feel secure? Loved? Part of a special, closed-off group?
4. Build Loyalty with Existing Customers
Your existing customers are people who already love you.
Why not give them love back?
Make your loyal customers feel special.
- Offer special promos and discounts to people who regularly buy your products.
- Shout out to them on social media.
- Hold contests and offer unique, valuable prizes.
Remember, giving back should be closely consistent with your brand’s voice.
For instance, if you’re a fun, creative company, you can celebrate reaching 10,000 customers by releasing 10,000 balloons into the sky.
Doing this will not only get you attention, it’ll also be another piece in your puzzle of branding strategy.
5. Spy on Your Competitors
Let’s face it. What you’re offering isn’t unique.
If you sell pizza, there are thousands of other companies selling pizza.
If you’re offering organic skin treatments, yours won’t be the only ones in the market.
So what you need to do is to become a detective and closely watch what your competition is doing.
- How are they working on their branding?
- Is their brand powerful, recognizable, and emotional?
- What are they doing right?
- What are they doing wrong?
- Can you improve on their best practices?
Corporate Branding: The Only Moat in Today’s Business World
Marketing in the past was all about coming up with a “moat.”
A moat is a company’s unique selling proposition – the thing that sets it apart from the competition.
But this is almost impossible to do today.
No matter what your moat is, it can be copied by another company in a minute.
So how do you keep standing out and growing your business?
With successful corporate branding, you’ll have a steady stream of loyal buyers coming your way.
In-Post Image #1: Twitter
In-Post Image #2: Apple
Screenshot taken by author, February 2020
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She’s earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.