A recognizable and loved brand is one of the most valuable assets a company owns.
According to survey 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them.
As a small business, you may be competing against big brands with devoted customers and unlimited marketing budgets. That’s why you have to find ways to differentiate—with a solid brand building process of your own.
“Ideas are no one’s monopoly. Think big, think fast, think ahead.”
– Dhirubhai Ambani,
Simply put, your brand is defined by a customer’s overall perception of your business.
The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, says it even better: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Your brand is your reputation!
In today’s market, a successful brand has to be consistent in communication and experience, across many applications:
Now, brand building being simple? The truth is: branding doesn’t happen overnight…or even in a few months.
Building a brand is definitely a process. However, the ongoing effort will result in establishing long-term relationships with your customers.
This can lead to a steady increase in sales, more projects, word-of-mouth referrals, and advocacy for your products or services.
Your brand is defined by a customer's overall perception of your business.
The definition of brand building is to generate awareness about your business using marketing strategies and campaigns with the goal of creating a unique and lasting image in the marketplace.
Positive impression + standing out = brand success.
In 2020, the amplification of your brand image can be done effectively through various digital marketing activities:
Together, these channels are fundamental to gaining brand awareness and growth. We’ll dive into each of these elements in detail, later!
I simplified the path for a brand building process below, to help your business brand or personal brand gain a more loyal following.
Every successful brand has a powerful purpose behind it.
And so should you.
It’s what you wake up every day loving to do for other people (and the world) through your product or service.
There are four questions you should ask yourself when defining a brand purpose:
You’ll use these ideas to inform the foundation of your branding, through a tagline, slogans, voice, messaging, stories, visuals and more.
Studies show that 50% of consumers worldwide say they now buy based on a company’s brand values and impact.
So dig deep and find those nuggets of truth which can distinguish your brand from others.
In fact, in the video you’ll see below, Sinek explains how to truly differentiate a brand when most of them fail.
I’ve probably watched this presentation over a hundred times, and still get chills when I do. It’s one that I send to all clients prior to our kick-off meeting for the brand discovery phase.
Some people in the marketing industry think it’s overrated, but I disagree. It’s inspiring, certainly if you are new to branding a business or idea. And, there’s a reason why it’s one of the most popular TED talks of all time.
Sit back and take a look:
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
The goal is not to do business with everybody that needs what you have.
The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
You should never imitate exactly what the big brands are doing in your industry.
But, you should be aware of what they do well (or where they fail).
The goal is to differentiate from the competition. Convince a customer to purchase from you over them!
We’re always thinking about how to make a brand stand out from what’s out there already. Don’t skip this step in the brand building process.
Research your main competitors or benchmark brands. For instance, study how well they have gone about building a brand name.
For a brand name to be effective, it needs to be easy for consumers to recognize and remember.
The foundation for building your brand is to determine the target audience that you’ll be focusing on.
You can’t be everything to everyone, right?
When brand building, keep in mind who exactly you are trying to reach. You’ll tailor your mission and message to meet their exact needs.
The key is to get specific. Figure out detailed behaviours and lifestyle of your consumers.
I’ll explain with a few brief examples.
As you can see, targeting a niche requires committing to something very focused to start.
Brand creation relies on truly understanding the buyer persona. Here are a few of the things to document when describing your ideal customer:
To get even more definition for your brand’s buyer persona, dive into these details:
Identifying the target audience for your services or products is an exercise that will affect and benefit all areas of your brand building process, particularly marketing efforts. You want the right person consuming your content, clicking on your ads, opting in to your email list, etc.
As a result, determining the ideal audience for your business will support your overall digital brand building strategies. It’s definitely an important first step!
Have you thought about your brand mission? In essence, you’ll have to craft a clear expression of what your company is most passionate about.
This is your why; the reason you get up every day.
Before you can build a brand that your target audience trusts, you need to know what value your business provides.
The mission statement basically defines a purpose for existing. It will inform every other aspect of your brand building strategies.
Everything from your logo to your tagline, voice, message, and personality should reflect that mission.
When people ask you what you do: answer them with your brand mission statement.
You can use the information gathered from The Golden Circle exercise (see Step 1) to create a clear and impactful brand mission statement.
What's your brand mission? Craft a clear expression of what your company is most passionate about
We all know the Nike tagline: Just Do It. But do you know their mission statement?
There will always be brands with bigger budgets and more resources to command their industry.
Your products, services, and benefits belong solely to you.
Starting a brand that is memorable means you dig deep to figure out what you offer, and no one else is offering.
Focus on the qualities and benefits that make your company branding unique.
Assuming you know exactly who your target audience is give them a reason to choose your brand over another.
It’s important to note that this is not just a laundry list of the features your product or services offer to the customer or client. Think about how you provide value that improves consumers’ lives (outcomes or results that are experienced).
Here are a few examples:
Your voice is dependent on your company’s mission, audience, and industry.
It’s how you communicate with your customers, and how they respond to you.
A brand voice could be:
There are endless adjectives and possibilities that can build a brand voice behind your messaging.
Ultimately, you want to choose a brand voice that makes sense and resonates with your target customers.
You’ll see that if you find and use the correct brand voice, you have the strongest chance of connecting with consumers.
This is particularly important when publishing blog articles or social media posts. Maintaining a consistent voice will help your brand image become recognized on multiple channels in the same way. A community of followers, readers or subscribers will come to expect a certain brand voice and brand personality when they consume your content
When building a brand, tell customers succinctly who you are.
Use the business voice you have chosen for your brand.
Your messaging should be intricately associated with your brand and conveyed consistently.
This part of the brand development process goes beyond your logo and tagline to define the key aspects of:
A brand story is an opportunity to communicate on a human level, making a direct emotional connection with your consumers.
What this means, is that the language you use should be understood immediately while striking an emotional chord.
Make it simple and clear.
Most importantly: when creating a brand story, address not what your product can do…but why it is important to your customer.
When you think about how to build a brand, visuals probably come to mind first. We haven’t even talked about these until this deep into the brand building process!
This step may be the one where you need help with creative execution.
The most exciting (and arguably the most important piece) of the brand building process, is to create a brand logo and tagline for your company.
This logo will appear on everything that relates to your business. It will become your identity, calling card, and the visual recognition of your promise.
So be willing to invest the time and money by creating something exceptional to reinforce the visual identity for your business.
Need help branding your business? Hire a professional designer or branding agency with logo and identity design experience, to help make your brand stand out.
Their expertise will ensure that you get a unique and timeless mark for your business.
A designer can also develop brand guidelines, to ensure consistency for any future application of the logo and associated brand color palette or fonts.
A strong brand style guide will include the following things:
The brand building process never stops.
Your brand should be visible and reflected in everything that your customer can see, read, and hear.
Let me explain.
If a client walks into your office, or a customer walks into your store—your brand image should be on display both in the environment and with personal interactions.
Anything tangible–from business cards to advertisements, to packaging and product–needs the stamp of your logo.
On any digital platform, ensure that your brand looks the same everywhere. Use your brand style guide to create consistency with visuals such as color and logo use, fonts, photography, etc.
Your website is the most important tool for marketing your brand. When you design your website: incorporate your voice, message, and personality into the content.
Profile pages for social media networks should be branded visually, and with your chosen voice for engagement.
Social Media Best Practices for Business
And don’t forget about video! YouTube, Facebook Video and Facebook Live, Snapchat and Instagram Stories are all platforms that need to have content executed with your unique brand voice and personality.
For those venturing into podcast audio, adhere to a theme that supports your brand message, value, and voice.
Unless you decide to change your brand into something that is more effective based on measured consumer response, consistency is key.
Once you establish a brand voice, use it for every piece of content you create.
Document all the brand guidelines you create and distribute internally for reference.
What is brand building worth, if it is not consistent? Don’t constantly change your branding. The inconsistency will confuse your customers, and make long-term brand building more difficult.
When you build a brand that works for your small business, you (and your employees) are the best advocates to market your brand.
No one knows your brand better than you, so it’s up to you to spread the word.
When hiring employees, ensure that they are a culture fit–aligning with the mission, vision, and values of your brand.
Encourage employees to establish a personal brand that aligns with your company brand building process, further strengthening reach.
Give your loyal customers a voice. Encourage them to post reviews, or share your content.
Now that you know the steps for creating a brand successfully, I want to quickly go over the components needed to really set up a good digital foundation to build upon.
These are the key areas my own brand agency executes on when we build brands for businesses just like yours. Let’s review the ways to build brand awareness through marketing, engagement and community building.
Your website is the most important marketing tool you have for business growth and brand building.
This is the place that your consumers will visit to learn more about your business, and take action when they are ready. Not only does the user experience have to be exceptional in order to convert, but your messaging needs to tell your brand story.
It’s important to have all the right pieces in place when first launching your website, from domain name registration to web hosting, to the right content management system (we recommend WordPress).
Your website has to load fast and be mobile-friendly (a responsive web design).
SEE ALSO: 5 Most Common Website Design Mistakes to Avoid Right Now
Your website is the most important marketing tool you have for business growth and brand building
Most of your brand marketing activities will drive traffic back to your website. Aside from a professional and beautifully designed interface, your content has to be compelling.
This brings us to the next element of a great digital brand strategy: SEO and content marketing.
One of the most effective long-term ways to increase brand awareness and generate relevant organic traffic to your website is search engine optimization (SEO) and the right content.
There are many ways to achieve positioning in search engine results. Aim to develop a comprehensive strategy addressing the major search engine ranking factors, as well as creating highly valuable content that satisfies user intent.
Here’s the deal:
A defined content marketing strategy will help you better connect with your target audience and support them through their customer journey—building brand trust to ultimately result in conversions.
Most importantly, the foundation piece for your SEO and content publishing efforts will always be your website’s blog.
When building a blog for your brand, you’ll want to consider:
SEE ALSO: How to Build a Successful Blog for Your Business in 2020
Don’t just stop at a blog though! Brand content can also exist as infographics, video, podcasting, case studies, whitepapers, lead magnets and more.
One of the most effective long-term ways to increase brand awareness to your website is SEO and content.
Savvy consumers frequently use social networks to make the decision to purchase from a brand—over 74% of them!
How can your brand best educate, communicate and engage with customers and clients through social media?
Social media marketing best practices include the following activities:
A well-defined social media strategy will help determine what to achieve in order to better connect with your community.
Every brand should be represented consistently across all social media networks via the posting of relevant, high-quality content. With social media, your aim for consumers is first to gain trust. Then become loyal. And then, advocate for your brand’s products and services.
Savvy consumers frequently use social networks to make the decision to purchase from a brand—over 74% of them!
Did you know your highest click-through rate will come from the emails you send to your list? Don’t underestimate the power of list building early on in your brand building process.
Think of your email marketing list as your most close-knit community and treat your subscribers as such.
You can build a brand subscriber list through various opt-in forms on your website, such as:
The right content, at the right time, to the right person is critical for driving traffic to your website and increasing conversions from email. What’s more, not all email messages need to be sales-driven, as consumers are in different points of the buyer journey.
Use the following types of email campaigns when targeting specific audiences within your marketing funnel.
Email is king when data proves that email marketing efforts have an average ROI of $44 for each $1 spent!
Your highest click-through rate will come from the emails you send to your list! Don’t underestimate the power of list building early on
Building a successful paid advertising campaign for your brand comes with a unique set of challenges. There are multiple elements that contribute to the overall effectiveness of your pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
A strong paid ads campaign on platforms such as Google Ads or Facebook relies heavily on:
Paid advertising alone can drain your budget…once the ads stop, so can the leads and sales.
The allure of paid advertising is that it can yield quick short-term results. It is certainly effective, however, you’ll want to do PPC in conjunction with all of the above inbound marketing channels for long-term ROI.
Ongoing, you’ll want to monitor progress in key areas month-over-month and year-over-year. From this data, tweaks to your brand building and marketing activity can be made to leverage those tactics which show the most opportunity.
Analytics reporting should always support the strategic goals and KPIs for your business.
It always comes as a huge surprise that 75% of small business sites do not use analytics tools to track performance!
Your first step is ensuring that your website has Google Analytics installed. This tool is free and will give you loads of valuable information about user behaviors. It also allows you to set up goals to track conversion.
Analytics reporting should always support the strategic brand building goals and KPIs for your business
Now you have a great overview of the tactics behind building brand awareness through marketing, engagement and community building.
Putting all these components together with a strategy and consistent execution packs the punch that any new or existing business needs for successful brand building in the digital age