Here at CREATE180 Design, we emphasize the branding process from the very start of any web design project and continuously through our marketing campaigns. Making the efforts to nail down the basics of your brand identity provides a solid foundation on which to build everything. It saves a great deal of time and money in the long run and helps you become a more compelling presence in your industry.
Branding is a big concept. A lot of people think it’s just another word for marketing, but really, marketing is just one component of branding. Branding includes everything that affects the perception of your business or organization. And not just your consumers’ and potential consumers’ perception—also, your existing and potential employees, contractors, partners, vendors, and everyone else.
Also, branding never ends. There’s no point where an organization can (or at least should) say, “Well, we’ve done everything we can to establish and promote our identity.”
That’s not to say that there isn’t a finite process at the outset for branding your business. There are seven essential initial steps to go through. While successful brands are always testing and tweaking what they lay out at the beginning, the groundwork is there.
Here’s a quick look at these seven steps, along with links to more in-depth information about some of the terms:
- Figure out why people should come to you. This involves figuring out your unique selling proposition and competitive differentiator. Unless you’ve patented some revolutionary new product, you probably have steep competition. Customers or clients need a convincing reason to choose your brand over all the others.
- Decide who wants what you’re selling. Define your target market as narrowly as possible (without getting so narrow that there’s not enough people left to sustain your business). Without a clear idea who your audience is, you can’t market to them effectively.
- Determine how to appeal to your target market. It’s not enough to come up with some demographic data about your target market. If you stop there, you’re stopping short, which is a common mistake. Delve deeper into the buyer persona of your audience so you understand what they are and aren’t looking for. This is critical to connecting with and engaging them, to building a valuable following for your brand.
- Create your brand persona. You can’t do this strategically without knowing your buyer persona. Deliberately design a brand voice and a brand personality that appeals to your target market. It should be consistently applied to all your web design, marketing, public relations, hiring practices, and other aspects of branding.
- Combine the first four steps into a main message. Once you have a handle on your value proposition, who you need to reach, and how to speak to them, it’s time to create your brand promise. It’s a single message that communicates your organization’s purpose. It should convey the most important thing that makes your brand special to your buyer persona, crafted in a voice that resonates with them.
- Get everyone in your business on the same page. The entire staff should be familiar with the basics of branding you’ve ironed out in this process. Organizations often find it highly effective to write a brand vision statement. This is only for internal purposes. It can be as long or short as it needs to be to unify everyone around a common goal and your brand promise, establishing consistency across all areas of your business and fostering a sense of company pride.
- Consistently implement your branding. Once you’ve done all the homework and legwork, apply it in a uniform manner. Just like you use the same logo and business name everywhere, use the same brand persona to communicate the same main message to the same specific people everywhere. Use these branding steps to guide your store environment, web design, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, advertising, hiring and employee training, customer service practices, and everything else. This is the secret to building a strong brand with a solid image that continues to thrive and achieve ever-greater success.