How to build a brand.
Probably one of the most overlooked, yet most important elements of building an e-commerce, service, product based, or any business for that matter, is crafting a brand persona.
Many people outside of advertising and marketing still hold the notion that a brand is not much more than a logo and how your website looks to visitors. A brand is in fact so, so much more than that. To make a comparison, if a brand is a person, the visual elements of a brand (logo, font style, website design, photography style, etc.) would be the equivalent of how the person looked and dressed.
However, we all know good looking people sometimes can have the WORST personality, thats where the persona of the brand comes into play. The persona of the brand is usually the part of the brand that is overlooked, ignored and for most companies, never defined and developed. But, as we have all learned over time, personality and attitude are the MOST important aspects and attributes of any person.
There are many reasons someone may choose to purchase from you vs. your competitor. It could be price, quality, or convenience, but many times, especially with all else being equal, people buy into your brand. They buy into the reasons you are doing what you are doing. Your reasons for existing and what gets you out of bed in the morning. This moves above and beyond the obvious answer of making a profit and generating leafs. A profit is just the result of your business activities and decisions. It’s the ride that counts, the process that helps you to define not only who you are as a business, but WHY you’re doing it. What makes you different? Below are some useful frameworks for working all of it out, ways to help thinking like a brand specialist, I hope it helps you in some small way, or, if you ever need any help, myself and my company are always just a phone call or an email away. (www.mediaraft.co.uk)
Building A Brand Persona — The Various Elements
There are a few essential elements that make up a brand persona. Below I’ll go through each, one by one and provide an explanation to help keep it relevant:
1) Brand Pillars
Brand pillars are a few key words (usually 3–4) that embody what your brand is “about”. They serve as a starting point for developing your brand persona. Later, these words are used as a check against most activities of the brand, including marketing and advertising strategy, in short, they help your message stay consistent. For example, when creating your website, or an advertisement or even a conversation with your customer you do a check against your 4 pillars. Does your ad represent the essence behind those words? This is a simple tool for keeping your brand steady, unmovable and true to itself.
2) Brand Promise
A brand promise is a statement that you make to your customers which outlines the distinctive benefits that customers’ can expect with every interaction or purchase with your brand. Here’s an easy-to-use formula for writing your brand promise. (This perfect example of an equation comes from Brian Solis’s book “The End of Business As Usual”).
Brand Promise = We promise to Verb (how) + Target (who) + Outcome (what)
Don’t spend too much time worrying about this, it should always be simple and on point: Your brand promise just has to be a promise to yourself, your customers and your community that you can commit to following throughout your time running and promoting the company. Below are 2 examples of well known companies’ brand promise along with an example of them delivering on their brand promise:
Coca-Cola: “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.”
Virgin: “To be genuine, fun, contemporary, and different in everything we do at a reasonable price.”
3) Brand Essence
Brand essence is the core characteristic that defines a brand. The Brand Essence is usually stated in two or three words and should remain constant across product categories.
Some brand essence examples are:
Nike: “Authentic Athletic Performance”
Hallmark: “ Caring Shared”
Starbucks: “Rewarding Everyday Moments”
4) Mission Statement
A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of your brand, its your reason for existing. The mission statement helps to guide the actions of your company and brand, spell out its overall goal, provide an obvious path to follow with all future activities, and guide all decision-making processes. It provides “the framework or context within which the company’s strategies are formulated.”
A mission statement generally consists of 3 components:
Key market — who is your target client/customer?
Contribution — what product or service do you provide to that client?
Distinction — what makes your product or service unique, so that the client would choose you?
Examples of great mission statements:
Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
Amazon: Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
And who can forget?! It got them into trouble as I’m sure you all remember, but Fuji’s infamous “Kill Kodak”….Not recommending you go this far, as law suits can and will happen. But comedy gold it was, and hugely memorable….
Beyond the above elements of your branding, comes the aspects of your brand and company which the public will be able to see (and if you’ve got the above done correctly, also feel. These are your graphics, the face and body of your brand. The superficial, but high impact elements which tie in with your branding and give you a truly inspirational first impression.
Logo — Choose carefully, remember functionality and style should always take precedence over fancy pants squiggles and images that could date quickly, oh and it should be timeless and minimal, wherever possible. Choose the right agency, not some cheap freelancer, especially if you’re a bit clueless — that’s ok, most non designers are, but remember plenty of people aren’t, especially your customers. You’re not going to recreate the Nike swoosh, but keep it classy and clean.
Never forget that It. Matters. You also need to be able to look at your logo for probably 10 hours per day without it grating on you (for the first year at least ;) Saying that, I’ve heard that if you’re not seething at something you sweated over, created and ended up loving a year ago, you’re no true designer. Luckily for you guys, you don’t need to be….
Tagline — Consistency, consistency, consistency — Take your time, use a marketing agency if necessary, go over all of the above and keep it memorable, clever and innovative. Cheese is ok, depending on the business, but don’t go full stilton.
Website — Right, your website can be your best selling tool. Likewise with logos, it needs to be perfect: Responsive (thanks to Google’s latest algorithm you NEED a mobile ready site), functional, aesthetically striking and on brand. It should also be constantly evolving and developing, just as your business does. It should embody your branding throughout, visually and in terms of copy, which leads us nicely onto…
Tone of Voice — Incredibly important, go back to the customer profiling and branding work you’ve already had done. You need to decide on a tone that will appeal, without being OTT or annoying. If you’re in the financial sector, probably not a great idea to do sarcastic humour with a hint of offensive on trend jokes. Keep it relevant folks.
Colour Palette — You’ll be discussing this with your design team, but again, think Ockham’s Razor, often the most simple and subtle is the answer. Also it might be worth checking out some articles on colour psychology, to make sure you’re not scaring people away. Personally, I love orange, but for some people it screams danger. Ask a professional if you’re not sure.
Font Families -Simplicity is best. Helvetica is king, that’s just my point of view. Go with a primary and secondary font style, and never use more than 2/3 on any advert, blog or promotional piece, you want sleek. And it goes without saying that comic sans use will not be tolerated. (I will find you).
Photographic Styling — If you’re employing a photographer for products, or just for a shoot to help promote and share company culture at your place of work, make sure she/he knows and understands your brand voice and persona first. Imaging is becoming more and more important, especially on social media (which you NEED to be on by the way, whoever you are and whatever your business), so make it count!
Ok folks, if you’ve made it this far I commend you! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post, I hope it’s helped and given you an insight into how we at Mediaraft approach our branding projects.
Below, in case you’re interested, I’ve used our own company as a case study, so feel free to peruse and see all of the above, in action.
Until next time! Take Care & Kindest Regards,
BRANDING CASE STUDY — MEDIARAFT
Research & Customer Profiling:
Key market — Who is your target client/customer?
Target customers are businesses or individuals who are looking for assistance in creating graphics to promote their business/represent their brand in a digital or printable format, or companies who wish to use digital platforms to advertise and promote their product/services to a wider audience of existing and potential users.
Customers are: Business owners, marketing managers, creative directors, startups, charities.
Contribution — What product or service do you provide to that client?
A range of services, tailored to their business type and client base, including design for print and online, website development and refinement and various digital marketing campaign tools and strategies.
Distinction — What makes your product or service unique, so that the client would choose you?
We have designers and marketers who are able to offer completely bespoke campaigns.
-The imagination and insight of our staff, who have won awards, worked with huge names, developed portfolios over several decades and also understand the formula to creating powerful campaigns
-Our use of the very best industry leading tools and platforms
The ability to work effectively across a range of platforms, simultaneously (to build brand personas that connect and are intrinsically relatable and memorable).
Brand Pillars: Innovative, stylish, powerful, intelligent, on trend, passionate, bespoke
Brand Promise: We promise to deliver perfectly tailored, innovative graphic & marketing solutions to worthy, exciting businesses in order to facilitate their growth & success
Mission Statement: Bringing your vision into focus (with style, insight & imagination)
Our design style, logo, portfolio and creative process can all be seen by visiting our constantly evolving, stylish, functional and modern website
Thanks again for reading, I look forward to reading your comments and getting some feedback!