It’s no secret that in the modern world, it is nearly impossible to find a unique niche on the market, and that’s why every new business faces intense competition. The only way not to get bogged down and find your customer is to develop your company’s brand.
What is a brand?
A brand is, most of all, a relationship between the company and its customers. It can take on many different shapes and forms but ultimately, it is the main factor determining the feedback and emotions caused by a product. For example, if we think about Coca-Cola, what comes to mind is a series of their New Year’s ads with trucks, Santa, cozy gatherings with the family and a lot of positive emotions. That’s the benefits of corporate branding, and that’s exactly how branding works. It tells a story, makes our chemistry work and awakens all sorts of feelings. If an advertisement is done in a branded style and your business branding ideas are good (meaning colours, logo, fonts, visual elements and characters unique to a specific company) and with well-thought-through communication messages, a company will stay in the memory of the viewer for a long time.
“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand, you are just a commodity. Then, a price is everything and the low-cost producer is the only winner.”
© PHILIP KOTLER
Stage 1. Preparing, research and collecting information
Before proceeding with the development of a brand’s concepts and visual design, it’s necessary to determine the place that it will occupy in the market. To do so, first of all, you need to analyze your competitors, study their strengths and weaknesses, and find the most vacant niches for yourself. In the process of analysis, you will be able to determine what traffic sources other companies use, how they communicate with their target audience, figure out the overall design style in your niche and distinguish the direction you need to move in. You can find a list of the most useful services for this analysis below:
A service that allows you to monitor your competitors, track their content, keywords, amount of traffic, link profile, etc.
A service that demonstrates how websites looked before. In other words, this site makes it possible to find out how competitors marketed themselves one or two years ago and earlier, what changes they have made to their design and UX. This will help you in avoiding your competitor’s mistakes at the development stage.
A service that provides detailed information on your competitor’s website, whether it is content, link mass, usability, loading speed, etc.
A service that tracks changes on competitors’ sites, collects them, and sends you notifications. That enables you to respond to rivals’ changes ASAP.
A more advanced service for SEO, but with its help, you can get detailed information on the amount of traffic on the website, On-page optimization, keywords, and advertising.
This is a tool for an in-depth analysis of your website, as well as investigating and monitoring competitors. With its help, you can identify the “main players” in your field of interest and familiarize yourself with their promotion channels and tactics in order to try and adopt the most successful practices.
Stage 2. Defining your target audience & buyer personas
After a detailed analysis of competitors, you need to determine for whom you will work. To do this, you need to create several personality cards of your “Customer Identity” or Buyers Persona. Such cards will let you know what kind of people will use your services or buy your products, what methods you need to communicate with them, and what “language” to speak with them. This information will also be useful at the stage of corporate identity creation, as understanding the end-user will ease the designers’ job in coming up with a “catchy” identity.
Here are the main points that should be described in such a personality card (Buyers Persona):
- Full name. You need to come up with a name that will suit this person best.
- Personal Information. Age, profession, marital status, etc.
- Photo. It is necessary to choose a suitable avatar for the person.
- Personal qualities. Description of strengths and weaknesses, a person’s character.
- Related brands: which brands the person uses and with which they associate themself with.
- Main message. A quote from a person that describes their need for your product.
- Goals. Describe what goals this person is going to use your product for.
- Problems. Describe the issues that prevent them from achieving their goals.
- Actions. Describe the actions that the person takes to achieve his goals.
Stage 3. The Verbal components of the brand & Original brand ideas
After all the preparational steps, it’s time to move on to developing your own corporate identity. To begin this process it is crucial to work out the verbal component of the brand. The verbal part includes all non-visual elements of branding. In other words, it is the “language” in which the brand will communicate with its consumers. At this step, you need to consider the following important elements:
- Naming. A powerful product name. It should be a catchy, memorable word or phrase that will convey the character of your product and brand as a whole.
A good naming transmits the specifics of the company and indirectly explains what it does. For example, Bla Bla Car – a service for finding auto travel companions. The first part of the name is “blah blah blah”, the so-called “conversation about nothing”. This is what people do most often on the road. And the second part is the “car.” Judging only by the name, you can assume what area the company operates in.
- Brand’s legend. This is a short story about your company, which will foster the interest of the target audience in your brand and will also add an emotional overtone to it.
A good example of this would be the company Red Bull and its legend that says that drinking their product will give you wings, extra strength and uber abilities.
- Slogan. A catchy replica or a phrase that is associated with your brand in the eyes of the consumer. Quite often a slogan is a kind of call to action that is actively promoted in a corporate style or in advertising campaigns.
It’s quite difficult to fit in the whole message and all the emotional concentration of your brand in a couple of words, but here is an example of a company that succeeded in this complicated task. Nike with its famous “Just Do It”. The slogan perfectly motivates and conveys the main idea – “it is not necessary to be a professional athlete to keep yourself in shape and overcome obstacles”.
- Selling text. This is all text content that aims to ensure that a potential customer uses the service or purchases a product after reading it. While developing this part of corporate identity, it’s necessary to consider the main message that will be conveyed to the buyer, as well as its overall style.
Undoubtedly, the creation of selling text isn’t an easy process, and you shouldn’t expect fast results. In most cases, you have to test your text by various methods to get genuine feedback from your target audience. Your text may pass over ten iterations, but eventually, you’ll achieve the desired result – a landing page, blog post, or advertising creative that will effectively convert your target audience into leads and clients.
Stage 4. Visual design creation and Brand identity examples
The key to making sure your branding appeals to the target audience is in making sure you style it appropriately. That’s where your company’s brand identity should shine. All visual elements should complement each other and create a general picture, the sole purpose of which is to communicate your company’s messages, purpose and its main concepts.
The colors should match and translate the emotional message of the brand. For example, a read color always means leader, a purple one is usually associated with creativeness, and blue color communicates confidence and professionalism.
The logo should be simple, minimalistic and sticky. It should also associate with your products, convey positive messages about it.
That’s how companies with enterprise-level corporate branding go about it.
Do you want to learn more about the branding process?
Download a FREE Ebook: 7 STEPS TO BUILD A QUALITY BRAND.
The main requirement at this stage is to follow the procedure. First, you need to implement elements of your brand’s identity into all the areas your company inhabits. Be that in printed items, website, email, digital ads, product packaging or something else. Elements of the brand should always appear in unison and create a complete picture. Only then the interaction with the brand evoke excitement in your customers’ mind and they will come back to it time and time again.
Why corporate branding?
“Take whiskey. Why do some people chose Jack Daniel’s, while others choose Grand Dad or Taylor? Have they tried all three and compared the taste? Don’t make me laugh. The reality is that these three brands have different images which appeal to different kinds of people. It isn’t the whiskey they choose, it’s the image. The brand image is 90 per cent of what the distiller has to sell.”
© David Ogilvy, “Ogilvy on Advertising”
Online logo generators are personality killers
As technology and AI gets better and better, more services providing cheap, quick and automated branding tools come online. While these services can only make something similar to real brand identity, many self-starting entrepreneurs tend to neglect why corporate branding is important, seeking cheap, low-quality solutions that will inevitably damage them in the long run. When a young company enters the market and has a cheap, “standardized“ look, it immediately falls into the grey area of companies fighting over every client that’s left after the real brands.
This applies not only to online design generators but also to cheap self- or freelance-made logos for $30. And the reason for it is that this process doesn’t include basics like an analysis of competitors, target audience, concept creation or other fundamentals necessary for the high-standard identity creation. Cheap logos are made in a couple of hours from a brand strategy template and all of them look similar. It’s a well-known and often cited fact that a Nike logo cost $35. However, the year when it was first created is 1971. But that was just a logo, the company became a brand after having worked with an advertisement agency, which had really managed to convey the company’s main message to the consumer by making a lot of efforts including the creation of colourful, eye-catching video-commercials.
This begs a conclusion – one should never neglect the importance of getting a brand at an early stage of a company’s development to ensure the long-term prosperity of the business.
A brand is a fragile flower that needs to be maintained and treated well
These days, in the era of Information Technology, opinions and trends tend to change so quickly that every established brand has to maintain its identity up-to-date to stay competitive on the market. The ability to adapt in accordance with the market conditions is one of the most important tasks for any company. However, the difficulty is to keep the brand committed to its initial brand values and principles through the changes. Even if those changes are visual, adaptive to the modern design requirement or conceptual.
Among good examples of brands that were able to adapt in accordance with visual requirements are Google, McDonald’s, Nike and others.
Another example is “Old Spice” that was forced to adapt to the change in its customer portrait – as it started to lose the younger customers because its branding appealed to the older segments of customers. As it began to rebrand, the company has launched an ad campaign which, with unique and reckless humour, has conveyed the message that using their product is a sign of leadership and confidence.
In both cases, the products stayed the same. The only thing that changed was branding and consequently, the customer’s perception of the company and its products. Thus, if your brand is slowing down its pace, perhaps it is out of date and needs some fresh air.
To sum up, it’s important to emphasize that branding is a long process. It starts with an idea, after which concept is redefined and recreated many times throughout the company’s existence. Special attention should be paid to brand development during the initial stage because those efforts can lead to a snowball effect. The real benefit of a good brand is in it’s long-term potential.
The best decision a new business could make is to ask an expert in the complete branding service field for help – and rest assured that you’ll have your branding done right. It means a capable agency that is able to conduct quality research of the market and competitors. After that – create a unique brand identity that stands out at first sight, and then – make and execute a working strategy on its development for ultimate brand disruption.
And for corporate branding services – you know where to find us!
Also, consider checking out a directory with over 70 free Design eBooks.