Let’s start with a riddle. “I am no one thing and yet I am everything. I cannot be touched or held, yet I am the most valuable thing a business owns. What am I?” The answer is, of course, a brand. The term brand has evolved multiple times over the years and it can be pretty difficult to explain or define. If you asked ten people what the word brand means, you would probably get ten totally different answers.
To help us figure out just what a brand is, let’s take a look at some of the most iconic brands in history such as: Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola, IKEA, McDonalds, and many more. Are the “just do it” athletic commercials the brand? No, they are a shining example of marketing. Is the iPhone Apple’s brand? No, that’s just one amazing product they sell. Branding is several intangible things working together to elicit a specific emotional response in connection to a business. It’s not only the identifying look of your business, but the feelings and mission behind your business as well.
There are several different aspects that work together to create your brand. A killer brand is much more than just a unique name and a logo. Make sure that you give proper thought to the following areas when starting or rebuilding your business.
Name & Tagline – Of course your business needs a unique name and a quick and catchy tagline that helps identify you. Your identifiers will become part of your brand. To make them most effective they should match your vision for the company and how you want to make customers feel when they hear your name.
Logo – An iconic logo is one that customers can spot and easily identify from a mile away. The best ones are super simple (such as the golden arches of McDonalds, an apple with a bite missing for Apple, or the intersecting circles of Mastercard).
Architecture / Design – The architecture of your brand is the specific colors, fonts and design elements that you will use consistently in your marketing, packaging, website and anything else your brand touches.
Mission Statement – What outcomes is your business working towards and what drives you? The mission can contain your purpose, vision, mission, values, and objectives.
Company Culture – The culture of your company is equal to the collective spirit of both leadership and employees. A strong company culture can help you attract and retain valuable employees. Zappos is a shoe company that is known for its strong company culture that values the customer experience above all else.
Personality & Voice – Personality and voice have become even more important now that businesses and customers communicate directly over social media. Your company’s personality will show through in the way you communicate and with the imagery of your branding. Is your personality playful or serious? Does your personality make your business more authentic?
Website & Social Media – These assets can be considered both marketing and branding at the same time. They should be consistent with your established mission, personality and architecture.
Having a strong brand can propel your business forward. It should influence every product or service you create, and every word or image that you use to communicate with the public. With the right branding you will not only stand out from the crowd, you’ll create new crowds just for your business.