Entrepreneur Magazine defines branding as “your promise to your customer.” Everyone has heard of branding; whether it’s “brand name,” “personal brand,” or the field of branding and brand marketing, these buzzwords are a permanent hot topic in the business world and beyond. Your brand defines what you and your company do. But it isn’t only that. It is how you are known. It is what people come to expect from you. Your brand image draws customers to you that share the same ideals and sets you apart from your competition.
So how do you start building your brand and making the many (often seemingly small) choices that compose a brand? You don’t just think of a random name, slap on a logo, and start putting content out there. While it may look effortless, a LOT of thought goes into all of your favorite brands. Here are five important pillars of branding that, when put together, will make up the core of your brand (which you can build on over time).
Your Mission Statement
The biggest mistake people make is confusing your mission statement with what you do; in fact, it’s much more focused on WHY you do it. It touches on a more emotional and personal level of what drives your business, aside from money or traditional success. In industries with very similar companies or products, a mission statement can make all the difference when attracting customers or generating PR. To kick-start building your mission statement, remember why you started your business in the first place, and what motivated you before you started making profit.
Aside from determining your company’s mission, don’t forget to emphasize where your company is heading. A company’s vision is where it aspires to be after achieving the mission, so keep this in mind when you create a brand. Where do you see the company in 5 years? 10? For example, if you plan to take on the global market, make sure your branding suits this image; for your logo, slogan and overall aesthetic should be suitable for not only your current position, but where you see yourself in the end.
Name & Logo
These can be challenging, but trust us, THEY MATTER. 99% of the time, these are people’s first impressions and introduction to your brand. Your name, logo, colors and design help you set the tone about what your brand is about, what you do, and how you approach your work. Everything from colors to fonts have a lot of subliminal tones, and so does your research about how you want to come across with your logo. When choosing a name, we suggest using some of the brainstorming tactics we discussed in our blog. While it is possible, changing your name and logo can be a bit of a hassle, so try to take your time to make a decision you’re confident in.
Value propositions convey what value your company can offer to your customer; they aren't just tasks you can complete. Here’s an example: if your product is “logo design services”, one of your value propositions would be “help develop a custom brand identity.” Value propositions are where you sell yourself to your potential customers or clients. You show off what sets you apart from competitors and how your services can directly affect and improve their lives and businesses.
You’re more than just a pretty logo. Your brand voice cannot just be the combination of voices running your accounts - that is confusing, inconsistent, and downright lazy. Developing a brand voice is a crucial element of branding yourself. Are you casual or scholarly? Are you funny or serious? Long or short winded? Sarcastic or straightforward? What topics do you touch on? What is completely off limits? Check out brands similar to yours and brands you admire (and even those you really dislike) to learn a bit about their brand voice and see what you can take from that. Take a look at their brand voice on their websites, social media accounts, any media/video they’ve created. Answering plenty of questions like the ones above and building a “style guide” is a great way to start developing your brand voice and making sure your employees stay consistent of your goals.
Now that you are aware of the five important pillars of branding, it's time to either start your own brand or give it a makeover. For more info on factors such as brand identity, check out our blog post "Stand out from the crowd! The basics of branding". We wish you luck on building your brand.