For better or for worse, the term ‘branding’ has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. When choosing a reliable marketing and design agency, it’s important to be discerning.
You need to work with somebody who can articulate the purpose and strategies behind branding, and ultimately, how it will help you achieve your goals.
What is branding?
To the layman, branding evokes visuals of logo design, colours and fonts. While this isn’t incorrect, there’s a lot more to it – starting with the reasons behind why we brand.
Why do we brand?
Branding is there to establish you as an authority, and build a reputation with your customers. When building a brand, we need to consider:
- Our values: our mission statement, our goals, our USPs
- Helping the consumer: do we understand their pain points and work to overcome them?
- How we communicate: how do we present ourselves on and offline? What message are we trying to convey?
Understanding the values
This is perhaps the most important part of the branding process. It helps to promote self-awareness – to understand why we do things, not what we do. If it worked for Apple, it can work for you.
We discuss values in an initial ‘discovery session’. This may start with a simple set of adjectives, e.g. we are friendly, efficient, fast, and then move on to more substantial mission statements e.g. “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”. (Thank you Tesla.)
At this stage, we also conduct competitor research to help pinpoint our USPs. A competing bakery in Chorley might offer delivery for example, but do they cater for gluten-free customers? Are their ingredients locally sourced?
We can conduct competitor analysis in any of the following ways:
- Trialling the user journey on their website.
- Identifying locations, product/service ranges and pricing.
- Analysing social media engagement.
- Using a SWOT analysis to identify their weaknesses and strengths.
Once we know what the business does differently, we can add this to our communications strategy.
Helping the consumer
This second stage may also require some market research. We could do this ourselves using primary market research tactics, such as online surveys or focus groups.
Alternatively, we could use secondary market research data – tools such as Ipsos Mori, YouGov, or trade publications can all give us customer insights.
This helps to inform our customer journey, and in doing so, helps us to make things easier. If customers are complaining about poor website user experience, for example, we can review our website and streamline the process. If they complain about customer service, we can offer personalisation, chatbots, account managers and follow up calls.
Why does all of this matter? Because it informs our communications.
Communicating these messages
This is where the logo comes in! Let’s go back to those values – if we want to be fun, for example, we need to reflect this in our branding. This may involve:
- Customising a fun font, like using personification or inconsistent lettering.
- Creating a conversational tone in our copy – using informal language.
- Designing a unique logo.
- Establishing a set of brand guidelines.
The latter is most important because it helps designers, copywriters and web developers to stick to your values. Brand guidelines determine everything from your house style (e.g. capitalisation) to taglines, slogans, and even brand colours.
Don’t forget – colours can also influence how customers feel, so we need to bring this right back to our brand values.
Above designs are concepts to understand initial engagement.
Rinse and repeat
The branding process is a hard slog, but with some trial and error, you can nail your core messages. Don’t forget to trial your branding – there could be something you missed, or something that confuses customers. A focus group is a great place to start.
Then once your brand is established, you’re ready to unleash! Need a little help getting started? Ask us about our branding services in and around Manchester, Preston, Bolton and Chorley today.
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