How to build a brand? What is branding?

Your 2024's branding guide! Learn the art of storytelling, discover the principles of branding, and grab insights from the best marketing strategies.

Author
Updated on
August 25, 2023

Branding, at its core, is about creating a unique identity and narrative for a business or product, which resonates with the target audience and distinguishes it from competitors. The role of a branding agency is to create, plan, measure, and manage branding strategies for clients, including support in advertising and other forms of promotion. Branding is the process of developing a company's brand, including name, identity system, brand architecture, and messaging platform.

A brand is a result–it's a person's gut feeling about a product, service or company. It's in their heads and in their hearts. A brand is 'also' your reputation.

Brand belongs to everyone at the company. Marketing may drive certain aspects of it but if they're the only ones you don't have anything. You need to build trust and that comes from consistency. Everyone on the team should be representing the brand.

How to build a brand in 2024?

Let me start with saying, brand is not just another word for reputation.

A company's product, sales team, support, website, customer experience, marketing materials, ads, etc. all contribute to that reputation. Brand is not the logo or website or new font that your Creative Director laboured over selecting.

It is also your reputation. And when you have a good one, it makes selling your product, finding partners, and recruiting top candidates much easier. That's the value of a brand.

The blog from Everything Design, a Branding Agency in Bangalore, provides an in-depth look at the concept of branding, its importance, and various elements and strategies involved.

  1. Definition and Purpose of Branding: Branding is more than just a logo or visual elements; it's about establishing an emotional connection and giving meaning to a company or product in consumers' minds. It's a strategy for helping people quickly identify and experience a brand, influencing their choice over competitors​​.
  2. Branding vs. Marketing: While marketing is about bringing people to a brand, branding is what keeps them coming back. It involves the look, feel, positioning, and differentiating a brand in the marketplace​​.
  3. Visual Branding: This aspect includes symbols, language, and marks that convey a brand's identity. Visual elements like color, shape, logo, and typography play a significant role in making a brand identifiable and relatable​​.
  4. Elements of Branding: These include logo, color palette, shapes, tagline, tone of voice, fonts, and imagery. Branding starts with brand strategy and messaging, and it requires constant evolution and updating​​.
  5. Importance of Branding: Effective branding can significantly impact a company, influencing how people perceive the brand, driving new business, and increasing brand value. However, poor branding can have the opposite effect​​.
  6. Brand Purpose and Positioning: Brand purpose defines the 'why' behind a brand's existence, while brand positioning is how a brand differentiates itself from competitors. It's about the internal expression of a brand's purpose and is crucial for a brand's identity​​.
  7. External and Internal Branding: External branding communicates the company's promise to customers, while internal branding builds a culture that motivates employees to deliver on that promise​​.
  8. Brand Promise: This is what a brand explicitly or implicitly promises to its customers regarding the quality of its products or services​​.
  9. Brand Differentiation: It's about setting a brand apart from the competition by associating its superior aspects with multiple customer benefits. Differentiators must be true, relevant, and provable​​.
  10. Brand Storytelling and Messaging: This involves using a narrative to connect a brand to its customers, focusing on the values shared with them. It makes the brand inspirational, persuasive, and memorable​​.
  11. Ongoing Effort: Branding requires continuous research and understanding of the target audience and the market​​.

This comprehensive overview highlights the multifaceted nature of branding, emphasizing its significance beyond mere aesthetics to encompass strategy, differentiation, and emotional engagement.

The Book of Branding - A Guide to Creating Brand Identity for Startups and Beyond

From "The Book of Branding," the importance of visual identity and coherent messaging is clear. It emphasizes that branding is not just a logo or a color scheme, but a holistic approach to presenting a company's ethos, values, and unique selling points.

  • Focus: This book emphasizes the importance of creating a strong brand identity, particularly for startups. It covers the strategic aspects of branding, such as understanding your target audience, creating a compelling narrative, and designing a visual identity that resonates with customers.
  • Key Insights: The book highlights the need for consistency in branding across all customer touchpoints. It also stresses the importance of storytelling in building a brand, advocating for a narrative that connects with customers on an emotional level.

Building a StoryBrand - Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

"Building a StoryBrand" highlights the power of storytelling in branding, suggesting that brands should craft a narrative where the customer is the hero and the brand plays a supporting role in their journey. This approach helps in creating a deeper connection with the audience.

  • Focus: Donald Miller's book is centered around clarifying your brand's message. It introduces the StoryBrand framework, which uses the principles of storytelling to improve how brands communicate with their audience.
  • Key Insights: The core idea is that customers are the heroes of the story, not the brand. The brand should position itself as a guide that helps the hero (customer) overcome challenges and achieve their goals. This approach simplifies and clarifies marketing messages, making them more effective.

How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know

Byron Sharp's "How Brands Grow" introduces the concept of brand growth through scientific marketing principles, focusing on reaching a broader audience and building mental and physical availability. This book suggests that distinctive assets like logos, colors, and jingles help in making a brand easily recognizable and memorable.

  • Focus: Byron Sharp challenges common marketing beliefs and introduces evidence-based insights into how brands grow. The book is grounded in data and research, focusing on what actually works in marketing.
  • Key Insights: Key concepts include the importance of market penetration (rather than just customer loyalty), the benefits of physical and mental availability, and the debunking of several marketing myths, such as the overly segmented targeting strategies.

In summary, these books offer a comprehensive understanding of modern branding from three perspectives: creating a brand identity, clarifying your brand's message, and understanding the scientific principles behind brand growth. They provide a blend of strategic, communicative, and evidence-based approaches to branding.

Branding is a strategic process involving the creation and nurturing of a brand's identity, encompassing elements like name, identity system, brand architecture, and messaging platform. This process not only establishes a unique promise and expectation for the customer but also differentiates the brand from its competitors. Branding agencies specialize in developing these strategies, offering a blend of creativity and analytical skills to help organizations gain a competitive edge and effectively communicate with their target market.

In today's rapidly evolving economic landscape, with increasingly competitive markets and emerging channels like social media, branding has become an essential element for business success. Successful brands, such as Coca-Cola, often collaborate with multiple branding agencies to harness diverse ideas and execute them with excellence. This approach reflects the importance of innovation and adaptability in brand management.

Brand development is a dynamic, ongoing process that goes beyond mere visual identity or marketing campaigns. It involves understanding the company's core values, mission, and unique value proposition, as well as continually adapting to market changes and consumer preferences. This process is critical for maintaining relevance and competitiveness in a constantly changing business environment. Through strategic steps like understanding the company, learning about the audience, selecting a coherent brand message, and tracking brand growth, organizations can cultivate a strong and enduring brand presence.

It's evident that successful branding requires a strategic approach, combining creativity with analytical thinking. It's about telling a story that resonates with the audience, creating a consistent visual and emotional experience, and strategically positioning the brand in the market to foster growth and customer loyalty.

What is branding according to "How Brands Grow" by Byron Sharp?

Branding is primarily about the creation of distinctive brand assets. These assets include mental associations that act like "coat-hangers," allowing other memories and associations with a brand to form and hang together. For example, the iPod's white headphones are cited as a distinctive asset that immediately signifies the iPod brand​​.

The book emphasizes the importance of distinctive brand assets, noting that they play a crucial role in consumer loyalty and recognition. These assets help consumers to be loyal to particular brands and enable them to adopt simple decision-making heuristics, like buying 'their brand' or 'the one they noticed.' The book argues that successful businesses have been built by introducing branding to categories where it was previously absent, as illustrated by the example of Subway and sandwich shops​​.

Furthermore, the book discusses the fundamental purpose of branding, which is to identify the source of a product or service. This identification process requires qualities that distinguish the brand from its competitors. These qualities include the brand name, which is legally unique, and other distinctive elements that form part of a brand's identity. These elements assist consumers in noticing, recognizing, and recalling the brand, particularly in advertising contexts and at the point of purchase​

Principles for successful branding—develop a brand DNA, prioritize quality, be honest and transparent, focus on your ideal customer, create community, harness the power of storytelling, and have some fun.

  1. The Marketing Mix 5 Ps (InHouse Marketing): This blog emphasizes the importance of the 5 Ps - Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and People - in creating marketing strategies tailored to meet target market needs, add value, and differentiate products or services from competitors​​. These elements, controllable to an extent, should be carefully considered in relation to both internal and external marketing environments.
  2. The Three Cs of Branding (MarketingProfs): Here, the focus is on the critical aspects of strong branding: Clarity, Consistency, and Constancy. Strong brands understand their unique value proposition, consistently deliver on their brand promise across all products and communications, and maintain a constant presence in the lives of their target audience​​. This approach ensures that the brand remains top-of-mind and builds lasting loyalty.
  3. 7 Principles of Branding for Sales (Nutshell): This blog underscores the importance of branding in driving sales and company success. Key principles include developing a brand DNA that permeates all aspects of a company, prioritizing quality, being honest and transparent, focusing on the ideal customer, creating community, harnessing the power of storytelling, and incorporating elements of delight and whimsy. Effective branding leads to higher sales, premium pricing, and loyal customers​​.

Branding Package:

  1. A branding package is a collection of assets that ensure uniformity and consistency in a brand, including logo variations, color palette, typography, messaging, graphic elements, and style guides​​.
  2. It covers discovery (understanding the business, target market, and competition), logo design (ensuring simplicity, memorability, appropriateness, responsiveness, and timelessness), messaging (mission statements, value propositions, taglines), color palette (reflecting brand messaging and emotions), typography (choice of fonts and custom typography creation), graphic elements (shapes, patterns, lines, mockups), and brand style guides (comprehensive rulebook on brand specifications)​​​​​​.

Brand Purist: Branding Process:

  1. The branding process involves developing a value system and communication framework, leading to a coherent brand identity​​.
  2. It consists of four main stages: Research (gathering information about the business, industry, competitors, and audience), Strategy (focusing and consolidating brand values and vision), Design (translating brand values into a visual identity), and Implementation (revealing the new brand identity to the world)​​.
  3. The process is crucial for creating effective, memorable brands, aiming to balance information and intuition​​.
  4. The branding process combines investigation, strategic thinking, project management, and creativity, and is divided into five stages: Conducting research (examining the current position of the brand), Developing/clarifying strategy (direction for brand growth), Designing identity (creating a visual representation of the brand), Creating touchpoints (consistent look across all customer contact points), and Managing assets (long-term commitment to brand building and maintenance)​​.

The emphasis in branding is on creating a holistic and consistent identity that resonates with the target audience and differentiates the brand from competitors. The process requires a delicate blend of analysis, strategic focus, creative design, and meticulous implementation, ensuring the brand's values and personality are effectively communicated across all touchpoints.

What is branding methods?

Methods of Branding:

This blog discusses five effective branding methods:

  1. Personalized Branding: Involves custom branding to create an emotional connection with customers, as seen in Coca-Cola's 'Share a Coke' campaign​​.
  2. Co-branding: Combines the strengths of two brands to create a new product or service, reducing risks and expanding market reach​​.
  3. Insider Branding: Positions the company as an expert within important groups, utilizing social media and other platforms for brand promotion​​.
  4. Identification Branding: Encourages customers to adopt and promote the brand themselves, focusing on community-building and user-generated content​​.
  5. Product Branding: Differentiates a new product from the parent company, focusing on market research, effective visuals, and strategic positioning​​.

6 P’s of Marketing:

This blog elaborates on the 6 P’s of marketing - Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, and Presentation - crucial for an effective marketing strategy:

  1. Product: Offering desirable products or services.
  2. Price: Setting attractive pricing.
  3. Place: Determining optimal selling locations.
  4. Promotion: Communicating product value through various tactics.
  5. People: Involving the right individuals in the marketing process.
  6. Presentation: Creating visually appealing product presentations​​.
  7. These elements are foundational for a business's growth strategy, providing a comprehensive approach to attract and retain customers.

Brand Patterns:

The blog highlights the significance of brand patterns, an exciting and interesting element in branding:

  1. Brand patterns contribute to strong brand recognition, depth in brand identity, and a memorable brand experience.
  2. They are particularly useful for businesses with physical products or presence, like restaurants, hotels, and retail stores, as they help maintain cohesive branding across different touchpoints​​.

In summary, these blogs collectively provide a diverse range of branding strategies and elements, emphasizing the importance of personalized engagement, strategic partnerships, expert positioning, customer advocacy, and distinctive product identity. They also highlight the critical role of product design, pricing strategies, placement, promotional activities, people involvement, and presentation aesthetics in marketing. Moreover, the use of brand patterns is underscored as a tool for creating strong brand recognition and enhancing the overall brand experience.

The Power of Distinctive Brand Assets: A Deep Dive into Branding Strategy

In the dynamic world of marketing, the concept of branding has evolved far beyond just a name or a logo. It has become a complex and integral part of a company's identity and its relationship with customers. One of the key insights from Byron Sharp's influential book "How Brands Grow" is the emphasis on the creation of distinctive brand assets. These assets are not just visual symbols; they are the cornerstone of a brand's identity and crucial for its growth and recognition in a crowded marketplace.

Understanding Distinctive Brand Assets

Distinctive brand assets are unique elements that are strongly associated with a brand. These can be visual (like logos, colors, and typography), auditory (a jingle or a particular sound), or even olfactory (a specific scent). The key is their distinctiveness and the ease with which consumers can identify the brand through these assets. A classic example, as mentioned in Sharp's book, is the iPod's white headphones. They were more than just an accessory; they became a symbol of the brand itself.

Why Distinctive Brand Assets Matter

  1. Enhancing Brand Recognition: In a world where consumers are bombarded with information and choices, distinctive brand assets make it easier for them to recognize and recall your brand. This recognition is crucial in guiding consumer decisions, especially in fast-paced retail environments.
  2. Fostering Consumer Loyalty: Sharp points out that these assets enable consumers to develop a form of loyalty towards a brand. It simplifies their decision-making process, often leading them to repeatedly choose a familiar brand over others.
  3. Differentiating from Competitors: In industries where products are similar, distinctive assets can be the deciding factor. They help a brand stand out and be remembered. The uniqueness of these assets acts as a differentiator in a sea of sameness.
  4. Aiding in Advertising and Marketing: Every time a consumer sees these distinctive assets, it reinforces their memory structures related to the brand. This repeated exposure is vital in advertising, helping to strengthen brand recall.

Creating Effective Distinctive Brand Assets

  1. Consistency is Key: One of the most important aspects of creating a distinctive brand asset is consistency. It’s about repeatedly using the same elements in the same way over time. This consistency helps build familiarity and strengthens the association between the asset and the brand.
  2. Emotional Connection: The most powerful brand assets are those that evoke an emotional response. They should resonate with the target audience, reflecting their aspirations, values, or lifestyle.
  3. Simplicity and Clarity: The best brand assets are often simple and easily recognizable. Overly complex designs or concepts can be difficult for consumers to remember and associate with the brand.
  4. Legal Protection: Ensure that your distinctive brand assets are legally protected. The uniqueness that gives them value can only be maintained if they are not copied or used by others.

Why is Tone of Voice important in branding?

It is important to create a distinct brand personality and tone of voice (TOV) to differentiate a brand from its competitors. Common descriptors like "human," "friendly," and "honest" are deemed insufficient as they're overly used and lack distinctiveness. The author emphasizes the need to ask detailed questions to truly understand a brand's unique traits. Examples include brands like Sky Atlantic, Chanel, and Apple, each with a distinctive character and communication style. Consistency across all platforms and situations is crucial, as shown by how brands like Nike and Virgin Holidays maintain their unique tone of voice even during crises like COVID-19. The ultimate goal is to capture the attention of busy consumers through a relatable and engaging brand personality.

Critical importance of Point of View (POV) in your brand's positioning and messaging

point of view in branding

The image underscores the critical importance of having a compelling Point of View (POV) in your brand's positioning and messaging. A POV serves as the "spine" of your brand, providing a consistent theme that communicates your unique perspective on the world as it pertains to your solution and resonates with your ideal buyer.

When a brand lacks a compelling POV, it often results in:

  1. Inconsistent messaging: Your communication lacks a unified message, which can confuse customers as to what your brand stands for.
  2. Inconsistent brand voice: The personality of your brand becomes unclear, making it difficult for customers to form a connection.
  3. Inconsistent copy: Without a cohesive POV, the written content across various platforms and materials can seem disjointed.
  4. Confusion from your audience: Customers and prospects can't grasp what you offer or why it's valuable to them, which impedes the decision-making process.
  5. Apathy from your audience: If your audience doesn't understand or relate to your message, they're less likely to care about your brand.
  6. Lost attention from your audience: In the crowded market space, without a strong POV, it's easy to lose your audience's attention to competitors.
  7. Inaction: Ultimately, this leads to your potential customers choosing not to engage or purchase, as they don't see a compelling reason to do so.

The cascade of negative effects highlighted in the image you shared concludes with a stark outcome: inaction by the audience. This happens "all within a split second" of encountering the marketing material, which emphasizes the swift decision-making process of potential buyers when faced with ineffective branding.

To avoid these pitfalls, B2B companies need to develop a strong POV that ties all their marketing and messaging efforts together, making them memorable and impactful for their target audience. A well-articulated and compelling POV can differentiate a brand in the market, align with customer values and needs, and drive successful customer actions.

Five Step Framework for building a brilliant brand

Let me address key aspects of brand development and management, providing a structured approach while recognizing the need for flexibility and adaptation to specific contexts. Here's a brief analysis of each step:

  1. Situation Analysis: This initial assessment is crucial for understanding your current position in the market. It involves a deep dive into customer perceptions, competitor strategies, market potential, and an honest evaluation of your company's strengths and weaknesses. This step sets the foundation for informed decision-making.
  2. Strategy Development: Here, you identify potential paths for brand growth and select the most viable one. This involves setting clear objectives, understanding the market gap, and formulating strategies to position your brand effectively in the minds of your customers. This step is about long-term vision and short-term goals.
  3. Story Crafting: This step is about defining and articulating your brand's narrative. It's crucial to develop a compelling story that resonates with your target audience, differentiating your brand from competitors. This narrative should be authentic, engaging, and aligned with your brand values and customer expectations.
  4. Style Definition: This involves the aesthetic and experiential aspects of your brand. It encompasses visual identity (like design style), tone of voice, customer experience, and company culture. Consistency in style helps in building brand recognition and loyalty.
  5. Symbols Creation: This final step focuses on the visual elements of your brand, such as the logo and other brand assets. These symbols should be memorable, distinctive, and encapsulate your brand's essence. They play a crucial role in brand recall and recognition.

Your emphasis on flexibility and the non-linear nature of this process is particularly important. Brand building is an ongoing process that requires constant attention and adaptation to changing market dynamics and consumer preferences. The framework you've outlined serves as a strategic guide, but success in branding also depends on creativity, consistency, and the ability to evolve.

Lastly, the transition from planning ("thinking") to execution ("doing") is critical. A brilliant brand strategy only becomes effective when it is implemented consistently and reviewed regularly to ensure it remains relevant and impactful.

Philosophy of branding in the business world, particularly within the tech industry

Brian Chesky's emphasis on the brand as a pivotal element reflects a nuanced understanding that goes beyond the traditional view of branding as merely a marketing strategy.

Here are a few takeaways:

  1. Brand as Core Identity: The brand is not just an external facade; it is the embodiment of the company's identity. It influences and is reflected in every aspect of the business, from the decision-making process to the end product.
  2. Internal Impact: A strong brand aligns the company culture and influences employee behavior and mindset. When the internal community understands and embodies the brand, it naturally permeates through to the customer experience.
  3. Consistency: Apple's almost indistinguishable alignment of product and brand experience is a testament to the power of consistency. This doesn't happen by chance; it is the result of a deliberate and sustained effort to ensure that every touchpoint with customers aligns with what the brand stands for.
  4. Clear Understanding: For a brand to be consistently represented, everyone in the company must have a clear understanding of what the company stands for. This includes the company's values, mission, and the rationale behind its products and services.
  5. Brand Integrity: Asking "Is this on-brand?" serves as a litmus test for decision-making. It requires honesty and sometimes tough decisions to avoid pursuing avenues that don't align with the brand's identity.
  6. Building from the Ground Up: An approach to starting with the brand from day one illustrates the strategic foresight of building a strong foundation. Continuously aligning with the defined brand ensures a stable and focused growth trajectory.

These insights highlight that a strong brand acts as a lighthouse, guiding the company through the complexities of the market and ensuring that all actions are coherent and reinforce the desired message and company ethos. This approach not only differentiates the company but also builds a strong, loyal customer base that resonates with the brand's values and identity.

Strategic and pragmatic brand building in B2B sector

The complexity of B2B sales, with their higher average price points, longer sales cycles, and multiple stakeholders, indeed demands a robust brand strategy.

  1. Trust Building: In B2B, relationships and trust are paramount. A strong brand fosters credibility, which is essential when decisions are made by committees and often involve significant financial commitments.
  2. Educating Leadership: The support of key company figures like the CEO, CFO, and Chief Revenue Officer (CR) is vital. These leaders need to understand how brand building contributes to the company's long-term success and is not just a cost center.
  3. Integration with Business Strategy: Branding should be seen as an integral part of the business strategy, not an afterthought. It should align with the company’s broader goals and be infused with the vision and direction of the company.
  4. Measurable Impact: While brand building is often seen as intangible, setting measurable goals and KPIs is possible and necessary. This could include brand awareness metrics, brand equity, customer lifetime value, and even employee engagement levels.
  5. Long-term Perspective: Brand building is a long game; it's about investment in the company's future. Short-term tactics may yield quick results, but they don't engender the lasting loyalty that a strong brand can.
  6. Educational Leadership: As someone who loves brand building, your role also involves educating others within the company about the value of branding. This includes not just understanding what brand building is, but also being able to articulate and measure its impact.
  7. Direct Response vs. Brand Marketing: While direct response marketing channels like SEO, PPC, and digital advertising are easier to measure and can yield quicker results, they work best when they're part of a broader brand strategy. They are the tactics that can help build a brand, but they shouldn't be the only approach.

The belief in the importance of brand building, especially in B2B, underlines the need for a balance between immediate, measurable marketing tactics and the long-term strategic development of the brand. It requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to educate and involve the entire leadership team in the journey. It’s clear that for you, brand building is not just about marketing; it's about nurturing a relationship between the company and its customers, a relationship that is built on trust, consistency, and value.

Brand belongs to everyone at the company

Brand consistency and trust, which are foundational elements for any successful brand. When the entire company embodies the brand's values and messaging, it not only amplifies the brand's presence but also strengthens its authenticity and reliability in the eyes of customers and partners. Here's why this approach is so powerful:

  1. Unified Brand Experience: Customers interact with various facets of a company, from customer service to product quality, and each interaction shapes their perception of the brand. When every employee understands and represents the brand consistently, it creates a seamless and positive experience for customers across all touchpoints.
  2. Trust Through Consistency: Trust is built over time through consistent actions and messaging. When every team member acts as a steward of the brand, it reinforces the brand's promises and values, building customer trust. This consistency is critical in a competitive market where customers have numerous options.
  3. Employee Advocacy: Employees who believe in their company's brand are more likely to become brand advocates, both online and offline. Their genuine endorsements can be incredibly effective in reaching new audiences and building brand credibility. Employee advocacy can amplify marketing efforts exponentially, leveraging personal networks and authentic voices.
  4. Innovation and Engagement: When the brand is a collective responsibility, it encourages employees from all departments to contribute ideas for brand enhancement and customer engagement. This can lead to innovative approaches to marketing, product development, and customer service, driven by diverse perspectives within the company.
  5. Crisis Management: In times of crisis, a unified brand approach ensures that all employees are on the same page, which is crucial for delivering clear, consistent, and reassuring messages to stakeholders. This unity can significantly impact the effectiveness of the company's response and recovery efforts.

To foster this culture, companies can invest in regular brand training sessions, create internal communications that reinforce the brand's values, and encourage departments to collaborate on brand-aligned initiatives. Recognizing and celebrating employees who exemplify the brand in their work can also motivate others to follow suit.

Ultimately, a brand that is lived and breathed by the entire organization is more resilient, adaptable, and capable of forging deeper connections with its audience.

Conclusion, how to build a brand?

In conclusion, the creation of distinctive brand assets, as outlined in Byron Sharp's "How Brands Grow," is a crucial strategy for building and maintaining a strong brand. These assets go beyond mere visual identifiers; they are a vital part of the brand's narrative and play a key role in its recognition, differentiation, and emotional connection with consumers. In the end, distinctive brand assets are not just part of the brand - in many ways, they are the brand. Branding agencies like Everything Design can be a great partner to build your brand.

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