Branding 101: Create a feeling, not just a brand

Last Updated on March 24th, 2021

The brand is one of the most valuable, intangible assets for any business. It is an identity, an image, and an experience that the consumer attaches to your name.

Human beings are creatures of habit who continue with their set patterns for a very long time. It is indeed a matter of familiarity and comfort that keeps any consumer hooked to your product or service.

There’s a reason why you always get the same Starbucks order: White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream on the way to work.

Similarly, the obsession with Tiffany diamonds or Swarovski Crystals on engagements and weddings can be justified through the same logic.

Studies from Neilson have proven that a whopping 60% of consumers would stay loyal to the brands they know and love instead of trying something new.

This statistic might not seem very promising to budding businesses pitted against the market mammoths.

A small boutique selling organic makeup cannot hire ‘A list’ celebrities like Maybelline. What it can actually do, is embrace the power of branding to stand apart from the masses!

In such situations, or perhaps in every case, the right branding can easily transport you to the top of the tower without pledging your home for loans.

When “how to create a brand” is in the talks – the key here is to remember that a brand is a lot more than a catchy tagline or a blob of color. 

Building A Brand Makes All The Difference

Before we get to how to create a brand…

Imagine you have a burning hot idea that can take the market by storm….

You dive deep into the first round of market research and continue to poke your brains until you find the perfect minimum viable product.

While many people would tell you that the MVP is the most significant feat in the journey, we would like to give you a baggie filled with ice and assure you that you have been mistaken.

It may seem like a hard blow to the face, but building a product is not as tough as selling it.

To be able to sell your product, you need to pitch it to the target audience in a compelling way so that the audience takes the leap and becomes your customer.

Building A Brand Makes

But is it that easy? Let’s have a look at Kimberly’s story.

Meet Kimberly. She is a young business graduate who believes that her Mocha-Java butter can save anyone from the pits of sadness. 

She conceived the idea while sitting at her study table, wallowing in the pits of darkness after an emotional breakdown. 

She made the body butter according to her mom’s recipe and found Nirvana when it touched her skin. 

She tried it with her friends and fellow students and realized that her product could truly save anyone from sadness. 

But with giants like the Body Shop, Bath and Body Works, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond leading the market, how could Kimberly sell her ‘Grin-Butterly’? She was all nervous when the one question kept buzzing her “how to create a brand?”

This is the phase where Kimberly and every other business must get serious about defining a business strategy that helps assimilate a brand strategy.

Talk about how to build a brand, the brand strategy acts as a roadmap that directs the efforts and investment needed to define a brand in the first place. Essentially, the strategy stops you from overspending since redefining the brand at a later stage would nullify all the efforts and dollars utilized right now.  

You must realize that getting someone to make a logo with your favorite colors would not suffice as branding for your product.

You may print the logo on all the packaging and stationery, but it will not come to life until you breathe the elixir of branding into it!

Technically, branding is like an iceberg with just the tip being visible. It seems like visual identity is the only thing that branding revolves around. Still, the truth is that the identity is a combination of the mission, vision, and ideology.

Building A Wall Brick By Brick

Take a step back and look at a brand identity as a structure. Regardless of the size, and identity must evoke emotional responses that could be overpowering or underwhelming. But to get that reaction, you will need to pay closer attention to the wall itself.

Proximity to the wall will reveal that the brand is built from individual bricks of personality, positioning, logo design, web copy, tagline, color scheme, and whatnot!

Just like any wall in a building, a brand too can survive a few tremors here and there, but if you ignore the foundation of the edifice, then you can imagine the repercussions.

The ‘tremors’ could come from changing consumer patterns, threats from competitors in the market, or even some latest technological or social advancement that plunges you into the deep end. Good luck surviving that!

Brand Building

Before the threat of tremors makes you anxious about the sustainability of your equity as a small business, you must rest assured that a well-defined brand strategy would help you stay strong in even the fiercest waves in the market.

The answer to your question “how to build a brand” lies in using the right strategy, and you are all good to go!

Defining Yourself Through An Identity

Defining Brand Identity

The brand is truly an asset that values more than the product itself. This is why brand building remains a high priority for every company, regardless of the scale of its operations.

The brand is literally and figuratively the combination of your visibility and reputation in the market. Then comes relevance that seals this holy trinity together.

Brand development is the process of creating a strong identity for your name and product that is intertwined with the pain points of the consumer. This process can be broken down into three simple steps:

  • Develop a strong brand strategy that is aligned with the objectives of the business.
  • Invest in branding tools that help you communicate the message without hassles.
  • Strengthen the brand with relevant additions and updates.

What Exactly Is A Brand Personality?

Your name and logo alone cannot help you stand apart in a crowded marketplace. Especially in the present, where options are abundant for every purchase, from bread to beds, creams to cutlery, there’s a plethora of options in every case.

This is where your brand identity comes to the rescue.

The brand is how people at large perceive you when an interaction takes place. It rules both the impressions that are in your control and also those that you cannot.

This is the right time to think of each person as a ‘personal brand.’ Every human being has a name, a face, a reputation, style, a unique tone of communication, and other such traits that make us different from one another.

Just like we are a population of seven billion-plus individuals who continue to be different from one another despite our similarities, businesses are on the same plane.

Each business has its own products/services, fonts, logos, colors, reputation, and voice that collectively impact the perception people associate with it.

Google did not become the god of search engines in a single day. Nor did Apple defeat all other brands at the end of an evening.

Brand building requires consistent effort in maintaining the same meanings and connotations over an extended period of time. This meaning is to remain uniform across all channels of branding because this is exactly what defines the personality of your brand.

Once you establish a brand and its meaning, then all that’s left is to keep maintaining it with consistency.

Exactly Is A Brand Personality

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos.

You may find it helpful: Should You Get Logos For Personal Branding?

Why Branding Matters?

Why Branding Matters

Why branding matters is a common question, the truth is that it is not always easy to see how the process of branding can influence the business’s success.

This is why you must remember that defining the purpose is the cornerstone of any brand identity.

The purpose alone has the power to keep a brand afloat even in the most challenging times. When you define the purpose of your brand, then intention and awareness would follow through without any challenges.

While branding most definitely cannot control the direct response and perceptions a customer makes, it can steadily influence their thoughts in terms of the decisions they make about you.

A cohesive strategy that helps you build a strong narrative that remains consistent is precisely what you need to change the way people think and view you.

The worth of branding can be measured through the goals it achieves for your brand.

Communicates Your Uniqueness Amidst Competitors.

A consumer does not engage with a brand for the sake of just purchasing a product. They look forward to the experience your brand offers them.

The postmodern consumer no longer needs the tangible product that you have listed for sale. Instead, they want the value you can add to their lives that is unavailable that the door of your competitor.

Why does Shake Shack have a loyal customer base when it is just a fast-casual burger place? After all, KFC and McDonalds have been operating the same business model for a couple more decades than the Shack!

They are able to sell because their product is different!

They take pride in the hormone- and antibiotic-free ingredients. The health advantage helps them strut their wings in the crowd of burger restaurants and still manage to sell the classic comfort that plate of burger and fries offers a hungry soul!

Builds Brand Loyalty.

Any company that succeeds in building a consistent and memorable brand wins the confidence of its consumers.

Since we have already established the fact that the customers like to return to brands that they trust, building the right expectations becomes a matter of high priority for every company.

If a consumer likes to purchase things online from Amazon, then they will continue to purchase things from the same ecommerce platform even if the products are overpriced.

This is because they know what to expect from Amazon.

Any lesser-known platform would not be given the same advantage, even if it listed the same product at a fraction of the original price.

The consumer is confident that the product will be according to their expectations and it will reach the doorstep at the time of delivery that Amazon provides.

The power of this familiarity is such that it leads to a snowball effect that continues as long as the brand remains consistent.

Establishes The Value Added To The Consumer’s Life.

Branding gives you a semblance of control over how a customer perceives the brand.

Just like your ensemble, hair and makeup affect the way others look at you. The same way branding tweaks the perception of the target audience to get favorable results.

The crowd-favorite Starbucks was founded with the intention of offering a chirpy workspace to students, office employees, and everyone else to gather and hang out.

The mission to make socialization affordable over coffee helped the brand stand tall even when there was a new coffee shop popping up on every street.

The Cost Of Brand Awareness

Brand Building

How to build a brand, you ask? Understand the merits of brand awareness, we say!

Creating a brand is just the beginning of the journey that concerns long-term strategies.

What your brand stands for and continues to be, are the questions you must answer at this stage. If you want to be consistent in your communication and brand experience, then you must know these things.

Cost Of Brand Awareness

Source: Deloitte

How should you interact with the consumers at different stages of the brand experience?

What will you do to facilitate the consumer after a negative experience?

How to build a brand that actually solves the problems not just sell?

Addressing these concerns at an early stage will help you stay clear and careful at later stages when you are actually creating a brand and broadcasting it to the public.

Companies usually maintain a calendar to keep up with specific brand goals, but not every business needs to be so staunch about dates and chronology.

It would be best if you remembered that the phase your brand is experiencing in terms of growth and market share is the driving force of brand awareness here.

Try to leave enough room for your brand to grow and evolve so that you don’t lose sight of the primary values and pillars you had erected at the start of the branding process.

Lessons From The Masters: The Tasty Case Of Coca Cola

“Too many companies want their brands to reflect come the idealised, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character, and no public trust.” – Richard Branson.

Master Coca Cola Brand

Coca-Cola is one of the most favorite sodas available on the surface of the earth. Its unique taste and signature shade of red makes it almost comforting.

Travelers have been noted to say that seeing the beloved red ribbon of Coca-Cola ads on the billboards on an exotic island had helped them relax immediately!

But the question here is, when you think of Coca-Cola, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Without a doubt, it is the logo and red ribbons that keep the brand grounded in our memory, almost like an ingrain on the DNA.

But if you think for a little longer than the first few seconds, then the ‘share a coke’ campaign, the polar bear, and red celebrations on every occasion can be seen in your head without needing a screen!

What is that sorcery?

Well, that is the brand identity Coca-Cola has built over the decades in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The red logo in script text is the basic identity of the brand. According to color psychology, red evokes a sense of confidence in the consumer, whereas the typeface of the script embodies celebration and joy.

You may brew a cup of English tea for breakfast or get a Tim Hortons when you have a long day of work ahead of you. But you get a can of Coca-Cola in the middle of the day to enjoy the afternoon.

Now that is what a strong brand ‘face’ needs to accomplish!

Another surprising element in Coca-Cola’s branding strategy is the visual of a unique bottle shape on their logo that is not seen on any other beverage.

This ensures the consumer that they are getting a unique experience that cannot be imitated by other rivals in the market.

Thus building trust and credibility in the audience around the globe.

Another Case In Point: What A Semicolon Means?

The Semicolon Bookstore and Gallery is not a giant in the bookstore universe, but it is a testament to the concept of strong branding and personalizing perceptions.

When Danielle Mullen was diagnosed with a tumor on the ocular nerve, she immediately decided to seize the day and build her legacy. She chose the name Semicolon Books to help remind others that there is more to life, even when you have a period lying in the middle of your sentence.

The mission for the store of simple; nurturing the bond between words to empower the community. She wanted to reintroduce literature and help people bond over books like the previous times.

This led the store to commit to the people of Chicago as it welcomed more and more customers each day.

The literacy rates in Chicago were influenced by the powerful movement of #cleartheshelves to allow local students to take books home free of charge.

Encouraging BYOB to the local residents as they continue to chill in the store and hang out with fellow readers, the owner and their family developed a beautiful camaraderie between the people.

The Semicolon Books have shown how a brand goes further than the visual value.

How To Create A Brand In Eight Steps Or Less?

Now that we have discussed the significance of branding at length, it is indeed time to start working on a brand from scratch. After all, we are here to learn brand building. Here are eight steps you can take to establish a successful brand in the digital age of 2021.

How to Create a Brand

Study the business strategy first.

Talk about brand building, If you build a well-differentiated brand, then growth would come naturally to your doorstep.

But before one starts dreaming of high revenue and strong brand identities, it is ideal to understand the business and what it plans to do in the short and long term.

The intentions of organic growth and the overall strategy play critical roles in the start of the branding trek.

On the route to how to create a brand, you need to allocate your resources and time according to the route your business intends to take.

Going back to the story of Kimberly, she had the clear intentions of developing a brand that attracts a niche audience. 

She was planning to sell the tubs of Grin Butterly as a side hustle while still working full-time. 

Hence, she did not need a hefty budget for branding or even marketing.  

Know your target audience

Ask me, how to build a brand from scratch…I’ll say,

You cannot proceed towards brand building without knowing the specific group of consumers you wish to target.

Considering everyone as your target would derail you significantly. This is why having a clearly defined audience becomes a necessity for high profit and high growth.

The more diversity you have in the target audience, the minimal your marketing efforts would be!

Systematic research comes in handy when you are still deciding your target audience. Rerunning such searches at the end of each quarter of the year can help you remain relevant and authoritative in your audience for longer.

Doing your homework will help you understand the priorities, perspectives, and pain points of the audience. This way, you can anticipate their needs through your brand message.

The goal here is to broadcast a message that resonates with the audience and reveals the strengths of your business simultaneously.

This research will dramatically reduce the marketing risks involved in brand development.

Establish your brand positioning

Once you know your audience and business goals, the next step is to find the brand positioning within your niche of the market.

Ask yourself, what makes you different from the others?

Why should a client come to you when the others are also offering the same product?

How to create a brand that gets all the eyeballs?

While companies choose to publish positioning statements to show their potential and prowess, a smaller brand can achieve the same goal through web copy and promotion strategies.

Ensure that you promise something deliverable instead of a farfetched claim that is hard to fulfill even in utopia!

Establish the message of your brand

The message and brand messaging strategy help in the translation of the brand positioning for the target audience. The potential customers can be further broken down for specific products, or you can even go ahead with a comprehensive message for all.

You need to emphasize the points that are relevant and relatable.

So, if you are selling CBD or CBD products, then you must also address the concerns a client may have about your wares. The health benefits and possible reactions must all be facilitated to the customer without making it a blatant punch in the eyes.

Birth the brand visuals

Building the visuals for a brand is like sculpting the face of your beloved. This is one of the most important steps towards brand building

This is the stage where you start brainstorming the name, logo, and tagline to make a unique brand.

Whether you are an older business rebranding themselves or a new one altogether, you must start with a concept that not only stands apart in a crowd but also benefits your tribe.

The logo and tagline carry the message that symbolizes your brand as the bottle for Coca-Cola or the golden arches for McDonald’s.

Make sure that the visuals not only please the eye but also carry symbolic references that can sit well in the subconscious minds of your target audience.

Once you just do it, then you bring Cristiano Ronaldo onboard.

Develop a practical content marketing strategy

Since we live in a digital world that is seemingly getting faster with every passing day, you must pay attention to the content you publish about your brand.

Content marketing is very well-suited for brands trying to hold their ground in the fiercely competitive arena of ecommerce. You need to publish high-quality content that adds value to the life of the consumer instead of merely decorating your brand.

The more you help your target audience, the better your authority would be. It must be noted that your authority is built from visibility, reputation, and relevance; the holy trinity strikes again!

The seismic change in lifestyles and consumer culture has rendered the traditional sponsorship and advertising efforts of awareness building rather useless in the present times.

Once you begin to add subtlety to your advertisement efforts, you crack the code of successful branding!

Get started with the website. 

If you are going in the direction of brand building, know that the website is your digital storefront. Just like a Tiffany store is strategically plastered in the Tiffany blue elements here and there, your website must also emulate the same spirit.

Your site must compel the target audience to convert into a sale, rather than being just a lead for your business.

The use of emotionally-engaging copy and content that hits the right chords can work magically here. When you weave in the potential of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), your branding and marketing efforts will come to fruition immediately!

Keep an eye on the brand.

The final step in your branding journey or you may say brand building journey is to implement the strategy and keep tracking it.

Only those brands win that continues to evolve and grow from the mistakes of the past. Solid brand strategies are often developed with positive intentions, but they have the possibility of turning out the wrong way.

This is why keeping an eye on the performance of your branding efforts and strategy is an immediate need. You must ensure that the performance metrics and analytical statistics such as search traffic verify the direction of your brand.

Solidifying Your Brand Image

After drilling down the surface to lay the foundation of your brand image, you need to ramp up the promotion of your business to ensure customer loyalty and sustainability. Today, solidifying the brand image has become as easy as tapping a few spots on your phone screen.

Whether you choose organic promotions on social media platforms or opt for paid marketing, either of these can have remarkable results.

Social media is a goldmine for new businesses as it allows a business not just to engage the target audience but also understand their needs and patterns on a holistic level. A robust social media presence can increase the traffic on your website as well.

This can only work when your brand’s social media presence is consistent and compelling. The content must fuel the emotional attachment for your brand so that the consumer cannot help but submit to the appeal of your CTA (call to action).

Still stuck in the same loop of how to build a brand? You can elevate the brand’s presence through the route of integrated PR to social media influencers popular in your niche. This is how gaming apparel and equipment often reach out to Pewdiepie.

The merits of a style guide

Brand style guides are often considered optional by SMEs (small and medium enterprises), but the reality begs to differ.

A brand style guide goes a very long way in ensuring success throughout the branding process. All the research and homework that you invest in building a strong brand image might go to waste if you don’t have a comprehensive style guide for your assistance.

It is a technical resource that addresses how you can utilize the brand assets. Every successful brand has one that mentions the usage of the logo, tagline, and even the brand story.

Common elements of brand style guides include:

  • Brand story
  • Voice
  • Logo usage
  • Imagery
  • Color palette
  • Typography

This resource guides the aesthetics of the brand with sound theories to back up the changes. Whether it is the difference of hue in the color palette or resizing the logo on the homepage of your packaging, it covers everything.

You should also read: Merchandise Branding: Why Is It So Important For Your Brand?

Final Thoughts: The Process Is Continuous

If there is one thing you can take away from the first section to the last sentence of this blog, it is the fact that a brand is not limited to the visual aesthetics of a company.

Even if you win a free car with the same appearance, color, and model if you were told one was made by Audi and the other by Toyota.

Which one would you pick?

A vast majority would choose the Audi. Because at the end of the day, the value associated with Audi and the expectations of luxury attached to the name would be hard to match for a simple Toyota.

In other words, branding can literally change the way we see things physically and also psychologically.

Here’s a quick question for you: how many brands did we mention in this resource?

  • A Picture of Waqas D.

    Waqas D.

Waqas D. is the co-founder of the branding and website agency, FullStop™. He supercharges brands by crafting memorable logos, brand identities and engaging websites. Besides thousands of startups and medium-size businesses, FullStop has worked with likes of Microsoft & L’Oréal. View our portfolio or get in touch.

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