Creating a strong brand is a lot like building a house. It starts with building a solid brand foundation, or brand strategy.
Your brand strategy is the foundation in which all of your branding and marketing efforts are built.
Without taking the time to build a brand strategy, the foundation of all of your branding efforts will fall flat. For instance, if you’re having trouble getting traction with your marketing efforts or you’re attracting the wrong kinds of customers, you may have a weak brand that lacks strategic focus.
That’s why it pays to build a strong brand foundation before you starting marketing your organization.
But just to be clear——branding isn’t just your logo. It’s what makes you different than every other company out there.
That’s why your brand strategy should be the foundation of everything you do.
The problem is most businesses skip this important step. They want to get right to the part sexy stuff — creating campaigns to promote your business. But without a strong brand foundation, your marketing efforts will surely crumble.
Elements of a Strong Brand Foundation
So, how do you build a strong brand foundation?
You start with a stellar service or product that your target audience loves. But, once you have that, there are four key ingredients you need for a strong brand foundation:
1. Brand messaging.
The first step to building a strong brand is to solidify your key messages. These messages communicate who you are and what you do as a company.
It’s important to build strong, consistent messaging so prospective customers immediately understand what you’re about and why they should buy from you. You want to communicate the benefits of your company and what makes you different from the other options available.
How to determine your brand’s core messaging
Here are some questions that will help you think through your company’s messaging:
- Why does your company exist? What change do you want to see in the world? Why did you start your organization? The answer to these questions can help you identify what we call your Core Why.
Defining a powerful Core Why can help you narrow your focus and help you determine what you stand for as an organization.
- What is your mission as a company? In other words, what core problem do you solve for your customers?
- What makes you different? What is something that only your company does? Understanding what makes your organization unique will help you stand out in a sea of competitors.
- What is your company’s story? Every brand has a story. What is yours? This could be the story of how your company got started or why you exist. People identify with stories. Crafting your story is a powerful way to communicate what your company is about.
- What are your core values? Your core values demonstrate what you stand for as a company. What do you believe or value above all else? Perhaps you place a priority on responsiveness or
- What is the personality of your business? Are you professional and serious or laid back and fun? Giving your brand a personality will help you find your company’s voice and hone in on your messaging.
Once you’ve answered these questions, hone them into three or four key messages that you will weave into everything you communicate as a company.
You also might want to consider developing a tagline — a short, snappy statement that communicates the spirit of your brand. For instance, our tagline is “helping business take flight”, which communicates our aspirational persona and brand promise of helping businesses succeed.
Although a tagline isn’t completely necessary, it can be an effective way to succinctly communicate your brand’s message — if you do it right.
2. Cohesive brand identity (or logo).
Once you know your brand’s message, you must establish the visual identity for your brand. This is your company’s logo, which is the visual representation of your brand.
It’s important that your logo effectively communicates your company’s key messages. The design, colors and font choice all play a key role in communicating who you are as a company.
What do you want your logo to say about your company?
For instance, using vintage typography can communicate that you are a time-trusted brand. Or, choosing bright, vibrant colors evokes optimism, cheerfulness and excitement.
Considerations When Designing Your Brand Identity
When developing your brand identity, there are some key questions to ask:
- Does this visually represent who we are as a company? How does it make people feel when viewing it? And is that what we want people to experience?
- How does our logo look at different sizes? Will it reproduce well when scaled down to a social media avatar or blown up on a billboard?
- Will this logo still look good a year or two from now? In other words, will this logo stand the test of time?
Once you’ve solidified your visual branding, it’s important to keep it consistent.
Establishing brand style guidelines will help ensure your logo is used appropriately and not altered for various uses.
After all, a logo is a visual cue to help people remember your company. Using it consistently will improve the recall of your brand and make sure your company is always portrayed the right way.
3. A solid home base.
In addition to nailing down your messaging and logo, you should build a digital “home base” for your company online. This should be a website that you own — not a Facebook page or a blog.
After all, your website is your digital storefront for your company. It’s important that you’re not renting space on someone else’s platform.
In today’s world, there are few companies that don’t need a solid website. Make sure your website delivers your brand promise, visually represents your brand and communicates what you’re about.
And if you want your website to drive leads and sales (and who doesn’t?), here are some of the most important elements your website should include.
4. Company-wide integration.
Once you’ve taken the time to build your brand’s foundation, then you should integrate that into everything you do as a company. Branding should influence how your team answers the phone, the way your products are packaged and even how your office is designed.
Think through how your company can live the brand each and every day. After all, everything is marketing in today’s digital world.
Brand Development Before Marketing
After you’ve done all this, then you can focus on implementing your marketing efforts and determining where best to distribute your message (i.e. advertising, social media, email marketing, etc.)
If you skip this foundational brand development work, your marketing efforts won’t be nearly as fruitful.
What do you think? Have you taken the time to build a strong brand foundation?