For many, branding is still just about the visual identity. The name, logo, design, packaging, etc. Ask a business owner to tell you about their brand strategy and most will stop at their logo. Small business owners consistently overlook the importance of branding. This problem even persists across large organizations where the understanding and use of a strong brand can get diluted, distorted, or miscommunicated. Understanding the role that brand elements play in your business will greatly increase your chance of success.
The brand vision is a statement where you plan your business to be in the future. Thinking about where you want your company to be in the far future is a critical part of brand creation. It is about projecting your brand into the future and painting a picture of your future brand. It’s called a vision because you can SEE it.
Where do you want to be in 15 years and what does that future brand look like? What does success look like for your company? These are all important questions to ask when building your brand. Your vision should be big enough to inspire action but not too big for people to think that it’s a pipedream.
The brand mission is a statement of intent that is a commitment to focus on your purpose and deliver on what you promise while you are on the path to your future brand.
Brands on a committed mission aligned with their purpose and vision set the tone for strong employee culture. Those who come to work every day and feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves have meaning and purpose in the work that they do, which brings employees a certain degree of fulfillment and happiness. Brands that have happy people working for them show this through their interactions with customers and colleagues.
Your brand purpose is the meaningful reason behind why your brand exists. To get your purpose, you need to look at who you serve. Your business solves a problem for someone. Whether that problem is hunger, thirst, a flat tire, the need to get from A to B, or a lack of experience in a particular field, you provide a solution to a problem that your target audience needs or wants to solve.
Once your solution solves that problem or satisfies that request, there is a sense of satisfaction from your audience that evokes emotion. Identifying the emotion that your client will feel because of your solution or service unlocks the meaningful brand purpose.
Brand values are the rules of engagement and the moral and ethical compass for the way you do business. If your mission focuses on your commitment to achieving your vision for your future brand, then your brand values are the behavioral commitments in your daily operations and activities.
Like all brand elements, they are internal. Your brand values should be aligned with your purpose, vision, and mission, but communication is key. Communicating your core values internally often ensures that everyone is on the same page and that there is a collective goal in every interaction.
It is common practice today to list your core values on a dedicated page of your website or on a poster of your company’s lobby and workplace, but without walking the talk, they are just marketing materials.
Brand position is the position that your brand takes in the market that depends on your audience, competition, and differentiators. When you know who your target market is, what they like or dislike, and what their problems are, then you can begin to understand the best way to approach them.
Your competitor most likely serving your target market as well, so understanding their appeal and approach, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, allows you to learn from them and discover opportunities. Differentiators are reasons why your audience will remember you, the factors of your brand association. What is the unique selling point that separates you from your competitor? Why should your audience choose you over your competitor? You can always find something that makes you stand out and makes you memorable.
The brand personality should be a reflection of who your audience is and what appeals to them along with the position you’re taking in the market, which emanates from how you interact with your audience as well.
Your audience wants to see themselves, or the best version of themselves, in your brand so when a brand portrays the personality that their audience can resonate with or relate to, there is a powerful impact.
Brand Tone and Language
Brand tone and language choices are an extension of your brand personality. Both have always been important but in today’s content-driven digital age, it’s become more vital.
As humans, we often use a different tone of voice and language depending on different people, like how you talk to your grandfather vs. how you talk to your best friend. If you talked to your grandfather like you talk to your best friend, he probably wouldn’t understand you. As a brand, if you want to appeal to your audience, then the formality, and energy of the language that you use should resonate and fit your audience as well.
Your brand still needs to be authentic, so give your employees the autonomy to be human while guiding them with your brand’s value and personality.
Brand Core Message
The brand core message is an effective core message that is mainly built around your differentiator or your uniqueness. In the mind of your audience, you get to be one thing and that one thing is your differentiator and your core message needs to be built around that because it is what will set you apart from your competitors and help your brand association.
Your core message is underlying and should be incorporated into all forms of communication. It should be short enough for internal employees to memorize, but long enough to be impactful. Your brand’s core message can be expressed in many different forms, ways, and channels, but should always contain what you want your audience to remember you for.
Brand Identity System
The brand identity system is a collection of visual elements that work together to establish the look and feel of your brand.
A brand identity system includes your Primary Logo, Secondary Logo, Lockup Variations, Color Palette, Typography, Image Style, Graphics Library, and Brand Style Guide.
The role of the visual identity is to trigger a brand recall, and visual identity with numerous distinct (yet recognizable) visual elements working together to create a memorable identity has a much greater chance of triggering that memory.
Brand expression is how your brand expresses itself. It’s the most tangible manifestation of your brand’s essence and is a building block of your brand. Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. At its core, your brand is your reputation.
Whether visually, audibly, or experientially, your brand needs consistency in its expression. Any expression that is off-brand, whether it’s a behavior that is not aligned with your brand values, or decisions that aren’t aligned with the vision, or visual expressions that don’t follow your brand’s identity, is damaging to your brand.
The key to brand expression is consistency and alignment. Every brand element should be aligned altogether so there is a consistent expression and message across every channel or platform.
Every entrepreneur starts and invests in their business with the hopes that it will be successful. There are very few entrepreneurs who know how to position themselves well enough to give that business the best setup for establishment and success. This is why it’s important to learn about branding as a marketer and as an entrepreneur. You can take the time to read the best branding books out there and give yourself an edge against your competitors when building your brand.
Successful branding means building a brand internally and externally that has a purpose, meaning, value, personality, goal, and vision, and these elements give every business an opportunity to reach the top.