You’ve chosen your name, honed your clientele, picked your packaging – your product is all set to go. But what takes a fledgling company from basic to booming? First, we need to look at what branding really is.
MARKETING IS STRATEGY, BRANDING IS SPIRIT
Combining behind-the-scenes marketing practices with effective branding is what brings companies to life. Any entrepreneur knows the importance of marketing techniques, how to optimise engagement, expand clientele, advertise and navigate social media, but even with all this done right, companies can fail. Marketing takes the product from the company’s arms and brings it to the hands of the customer. From there, branding does its job. Having a strong message paired with a characteristic style is the best way for branding to take effect.
Many established brands will hold onto a signature emblem for years, only ever adjusting it slightly, to keep the brand recognisable. If we don’t see the interlocking ‘C’s, how can we know it’s Chanel? If the silver woman is missing above the grill, is it really a Rolls-Royce?
Here, we can see the brands have stuck to their origins while continually promoting their product: The double ‘C’ stands for Coco Chanel, founder of the House of Chanel, now a worldwide luxury brand. Rolls-Royce chose the Spirit of Ecstasy – that flying silver woman at the front of every car– to represent what they still stand for today: speed, energy, status and elegance wrapped into one.
Any company looking to make its way in our ever-changing modern world needs more than marketing. It needs that statement piece, that signature, the thing that keeps customers coming back for more. That’s what branding is.
A BRAND-NEW DAY
With so many companies looking to grow in 2020, your branding is what will define you from the rest. Your branding is your signature, a distinctive style that your customer will recognise and respond to. With so many options available to customers, you want your branding to make the choice for them. Figuring out your brand means:
Knowing your product inside out. What does it offer your customer? How do you want them to see it? What makes it unique?
Making your vision a mission. Follow the spark that first pushed you to create your product. A strong brand must stay true itself, always keeping its goals and values insight.
Setting the mood. When building a brand, you lay the groundwork for what your customer will think or feel when they hear its name. Who do you want talking about it, and what do you want them to say? How can you best get your message across, allowing the customer to pass it on?
MATCH YOUR VISION WITH YOUR VALUES
Every company starts with a vision, but a vision won’t get far without a few core values. These are the beating heart of your company, the motor that keeps everything running smoothly. When it comes to branding, highlighting these values clearly and consistently is what will build trust and loyalty between you and your customer.
Your founding values give your company its personality: this is who you are, what you want to achieve, and most importantly, what you have to offer. Just as we can’t form a sturdy relationship with a person whose personality seems to shift from one day to the next, the customer cannot rely on a company whose message is confused or inconsistent. Branding your values is as simple as making them visible.
This can be done in many shapes and forms – if ecology is at the centre of your company’s vision, package your products in recycled and recyclable materials, making it obvious that you value sustainability above all else. If your company values local connection, feature your local contributors on your website, in your advertising or on your packaging, accentuating this value by showcasing their stories as part of your larger vision. If your company seeks to deliver an experience, for instance, travel, education, or entertainment, team up with people who can work with your vision – travel bloggers, students and film reviewers.
These people will take an interest in the values you hold and will be happy to promote the service you offer. Your values are the launchpad for your branding, and once your product is established, they’ll ensure your customers are as committed to your company as you are.
UNITE YOUR FORCES
When it comes to powerful branding, you can use a powerful team. No team can function without uniting its players, combining their individual strengths to avoid any potential weaknesses. Your marketing strategists work hard behind the scenes to promote your product, putting it out there and generating engagement over multiple platforms. But your branding won’t take off without a strong creative influence.
Here is where your web and graphic designers, copywriters and art directors come into play. These people will mine their creative depths and use their talents to promote your company’s values and vision. What shape should your packaging take? What wording will resonate with your clients? Which visuals represent your message? What function does your website serve? These are the people who work together to decide whether your company is best suited to a minimalist style or needs a more sophisticated touch, who knows what will draw new customers in.
They will come up with endless creative variations, keeping up client interest, while the marketing side handles engagement. When companies neglect one side of the team, they are doomed to fail, just as a football team with a strong attack fails because of its weak defence.
COMMUNICATE ON THE INSIDE TO CONNECT WITH THE OUTSIDE
Communication between creative and marketing teams is the spark that lights a company’s fire. Consolidating a brand image starts with combining the marketing team’s understanding of market demands and how best to meet them with the creative team’s diverse skills and ability to incorporate the company’s vision into each of its individual products.
Both teams must be aware of the company’s overall goals and values and respond to each other in a respectful, open-minded manner, allowing each other to excel at what they do best. Beyond this, there are a few common issues that arise between teams which can be tackled to create a more cooperative and efficient work atmosphere:
Encourage creatives to ask for clarification on projects, cutting out wasted time spent on projects that don’t deliver the required results.
Have marketers give clear, concise briefings on projects. This means underlining exactly what the creative team is expected to produce within a certain timeframe.
Involve marketers in the creative process by having them provide feedback regularly, keeping the creative team on track to meet marketing goals.
Make sure that shifts in company and client opinion are communicated to both teams. If a product needs to be adapted or changes made to a marketing campaign, both teams must work together to execute these.
Use the customer as common ground. Both teams are working together to create a unique product, distinctive in its style and purpose, and deliver it to a broader customer base – the ultimate target. Looking at things from a customer perspective will remind both teams to focus on what is most important for the company, improving clarity and communication.
BRANDING BUILDS BRIDGES
Branding is the bridge that connects your company to the customer at a personal level, encouraging them to promote the ideas, goals and values behind your product without any further prompt. Think of your customers as islands: with effective branding, your message will connect one person to the next. A recognisable brand with a stand-out personality, stable values and overarching vision is something your customers won’t forget. It’s what makes you stand out from the crowd and keeps people talking, spinning a larger web of connections between you and your clientele.
When companies work productively, uniting their marketing and creative forces while staying true to their core values and promoting their vision, the effect is self-perpetuating, word-of-mouth advertising. This is the last and most evolved form of branding. At this point, your product is not only established and well-known amongst your targeted customers; you have proven your company’s reliability and strength of spirit. With their needs consistently met, your customers’ loyalty to your brand will only grow, leading them to promote your product for you.
Hope you gained some insights into branding and bridging the gap between your audience and your company. Consider following @dainwalker on Instagram, or subscribing for more articles like this one. I will be guest posting on the Victory Front Blog covering Instagram Growth, Business, Web Design and Strategy, and Digital Marketing among other topics. So, keep following Victory Front to learn more.
Web designer and strategist.