Successful branding is an important goal to have in mind, especially when you consider the impact it has on your company’s revenue.
There are many noteworthy results your branding strategy can generate. For example, consistency directly impacts revenue – companies with consistent branding earn 23 percent more annual revenue than those who are inconsistent.
What’s more, familiarity is key – 59 percent of consumers prefer to purchase from familiar brands.
In other words, to put it simply, you need a company branding strategy.
So what does all this talk about company branding actually mean?
What Is Company Branding?
Essentially, branding is the foundation of your company's story, encompassing everything from logo design to how your employees respond to phone calls.
A strong brand generates leads and new customers, while simultaneously providing direction and guidance for your employees.
Quality branding promotes recognition and helps differentiate you from your competition. For successful businesses like Coca-Cola, Ford, McDonald’s and TripAdvisor, their value extends beyond their tangible products and warehouses.
These brands are worth millions or even billions of dollars in and of themselves, thanks to long-term, successful branding strategies that gave them widespread recognition and favorable association.
But it’s important to understand what sets your branding apart from brand identity.
Company Branding vs. Brand Identity
The term branding refers to the active process of shaping how people perceive you. It encapsulates all the actions you and your team take to manage your company’s reputation and develop awareness.
Essentially, your brand identity is what you build through your branding process. The term brand identity refers to all the tangible elements of how you express aspects of your company.
Components of a brand identity include:
- Your brand values
- Your brand voice
- Your brand logo
- Your brand colors
- Your brand typography
The effects of your company branding are far reaching, which is why you need to ensure you’re following best practices.
Company Branding Best Practices: Do’s and Don'ts
When it comes to company branding, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Company Branding Do's
Identify Your Potential Customers.
Proper targeting is crucial for successful branding. Knowing the behaviors, goals, and needs of your potential customers can aid tremendously in developing a strong branding and marketing campaign.
Reaching the right people starts with identifying your target audiences. Use a combination of information from competitors and analytical insight, culled everywhere from social media insights to market sector data, to figure out who you want to reach specifically.
Project a Strong Identity and Voice.
After identifying your target audience, you can begin forming your brand identity — things that remind people of your brand, as well as its voice.
Regardless of whether your voice strives to be humorous and persuasive or clear and consistent, be sure to maintain consistency.
Technical platforms may opt for the latter, while a social media app or video platform may assume the former, more easygoing tone.
Having your audience in mind is essential for deciding this. For example, a younger audience will find a greater connection with something more personal than technical.
The Zoological Wildlife Foundation saw great results after rebranding their identity and voice, keeping their tone light and fun while also continuously highlighting their love for animals. The result was a 343 percent increase in online presence and a 63 percent increase in website traffic.
Maintain Social Media Consistency.
If a customer is curious about your business and looks up your Facebook page, only to find that the most recent post was a month ago and engagement is low, that’s not a very positive impression.
Especially with the younger market, social media attentiveness is crucial in establishing a brand that’s both tech-savvy and attentive. A poor social media presence can give off the impression of not caring about customers.
Social media strategies will vary among businesses. For example, an arts-centric business may find more of an audience on visual-forward platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, while a tech company may find product exposure more opportune on a data-driven site like Facebook.
Regardless of the method, be sure to maintain consistency in responding to any questions in comments, as well as keeping things interesting. Hold contests for discounts. Post interesting polls about your market and audiences. Show that you care about and love your industry.
All brands should strive to show that customer service is a top priority. An attentive, consistent presence on social media can be one of the easiest, most effective ways to accomplish this.
Craft Quality Blog Content.
Social media is great for reaching new audiences, but so is blogging.
Every business should have a section of their website devoted to a company blog, where they write about everything from topic-related expertise to company culture, such as employee events and initiatives.
Quality blog content can elevate your business’ placement in search engines, while showing potential leads that you’re savvy and knowledgeable within your niche. As with establishing a social media presence, consistent and frequent posting is key if your company commits to blogging.
Now, let’s look at some aspects that you should avoid.
Company Branding Don'ts
Don’t Be Overly Personal on Social Media.
Social media makes it easy to engage with your customers and answer any topical questions that may arise. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that comment sections can result in conflict among consumers, whether it’s a politics-related squabble or something else.
Quality branding manages to deliver a company’s persona without instigation or hostility. For the sake of your image, it’s better to steer clear of customer conversations that involve a high degree of negativity.
Also, keep in mind that whoever is tasked with managing your social media is always representing your company’s brand, and must avoid injecting their own personal opinions into posts.
Don’t Skimp on Design Costs.
Studies show that people make intricate assessments of a company or product based on the shape of its logo. For many, especially those stumbling upon a brand or product, this is an introduction.
If they’re met with an outdated, oddly shaped logo, they may associate your business with being outdated. However, a logo that appears sleek and professional will exude knowledge and commitment. A business that fails to invest in brand imagery will suffer from not making the most of their brand visuals.
Don’t Over-Value Quantity.
Sure, it’s great if your social media users are fast on the rise, but that shouldn’t be good enough. Social media following numbers on their own don’t become committed customers.
You have to engage with these followers and ensure that quality is valued over quantity, not vice versa. In regard to branding, it reminds you to focus on capturing your target audience, rather than attempting an all-encompassing branding that tries to appeal to too many.
Don’t Become Overly Cheesy or Predictable.
If your branding seems like it came from a “Branding 101” textbook, as opposed to truly encompassing your business’ goals and passion, then people will be less likely to gravitate toward it.
Excessive branding can be a pitfall when a company attempts too much, whether it’s in the form of an ill-informed fashion line offshoot or overly cliché commercial. Have your branding show that you’re trying, though not too much so to the point of desperation.
How to Build a Brand Strategy
Developing a branding strategy calls for a lot of moving parts, but you need to get everything in order. The result – a strong brand – is essential.
Strong company brands share the following characteristics:
- They have a clear focus.
- They tell a compelling story.
- They align with a defined mission.
- They’re consistent with company voice.
- They are built for a clearly defined audience.
- They showcase unique benefits.
- They align with company values.
To achieve this, follow these simple steps.
1. Identify Your Target Audience.
The first step is your biggest one. You need to know exactly who you're building your brand for.
And no, you can't just aim for everybody. Hone in on the specifics of your ideal customers, like their personal goals and pain points, their behaviors and actions, and other demographic information.
Create buyer personas for each segment of your audience to identify what motivates them to buy, how they research their purchasing decisions, what resources they use in their buyer's journey, and other key information.
With a defined, well rounded picture of your audience, you're well prepared to continue with your branding strategy.
2. Develop a Mission Statement.
Your brand expresses everything about your company, and arguably the most impactful element of your organization is your mission. Why does your business exist?
Share why you and your team wake up every morning in a concise, easily digested statement. A strong mission statement can be inspiring to your audience.
3. Conduct a Competitor Analysis.
Now, you need to see who you share your industry with and identify how your branding stands up against them.
In other words, at this step, you want a good answer to an important question: Why should customers purchase from you and not your competitors?
Fill out this branding competitor analysis worksheet to compile details on who you're competing with, what their efforts look like, and how they market and brand their company.
Messaging and Visuals
Products and/or Services
Social Media Mentions and Reviews
Research at least a few competitors, but if you have a lot of competition, list out five to 10 to get a full perspective of your industry.
4. Highlight Your Uniques.
There may be a lot of companies offering similar products or services, but there is only one you. Think about what makes your company truly special.
List out unique aspects of your brand and what you sell. From these uniques, you're able to develop a strong branding messaging strategy, which includes an impactful elevator pitch.
5. Create a Comprehensive Style Guide.
This is where all of your branding efforts come together – your style guide. You can develop guidelines that impact every aspect of your marketing efforts.
A strong style guide includes everything you can think of in how you manage your branding, such as:
- Website elements
Once you have a style guide in place, along with your competitive analysis reports, your buyer personas, and your uniques, you're ready to strategize.
6. Develop and Launch Your Branding Strategy.
This is where you bring everything together. Brainstorm with your team to lay out everything you want to accomplish from a marketing perspective.
Once you set clear goals, you're ready to align initiatives that will drive results to achieve them. There are many considerations you need to look at as you develop a branding strategy, such as:
- How to create conversion paths on your website
- How to ensure brand consistency on social media
- How to implement new branding visuals on your site
- What kinds of content your audience needs
- What channels to prioritize for content marketing
When you build a comprehensive strategy, your team is ready to take action. As you execute your branding initiatives, make sure you're measuring and assessing results so you can evolve over time to hit your goals.
Build Your Brand Today
Company branding is a thorough, intricate process. By understanding successful methods like generating quality content, connecting on social media, and communicating with a relevant audience, you can create a fantastic brand and image.