A Brief Guide to Branding in 2023

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“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

Seth Godin

Branding is a complex concept and it’s much more than having a great product, creating a fancy logo and coming up with a catchy tagline.

These tangible elements are only the beginning of the process. 

There are various more elusive and subtle factors that can make a world of difference when it comes to how your audience perceives your brand and feels about it.

Every touchpoint counts, and a well-thought-out strategy is essential.

The Importance of Branding

Everything linked to your company and/or product is built on your branding, including your brand narrative, client communications, and the weekly reports your sales team publishes internally.

Your company’s brand serves as the lifeblood and soul of what it stands for. From the beginning, you must take branding seriously and keep it top of mind through every success and setback that your company has.

Let’s examine the advantages of branding and how it affects your business.

1. Branding Aids in Developing a Distinctive Identity

Any visual representation of your business, including a social media post, product packaging, an email, or a video ad, will immediately evoke a certain emotion in the viewer. That “something” should ideally be constructive and memorable.

Customers will begin to form an identity for your brand in their minds when they come into contact with it at various touchpoints.  As long as they regard your brand as having a favorable and distinctive identity, their thoughts, ideas, and feelings about it move from awareness to preference and eventually loyalty.

2. Branding Enhances Corporate Culture and Inspires Personnel

Both within and outside of your company, branding is crucial. It develops a strong and stable corporate culture in the same way that a brand identity becomes recognizable and welcoming for your customer.

Your team members and employees will experience more motivation and a stronger feeling of connection when your brand is established and has a solid basis. Along with core values and personality, well stated brand objectives and projections will assist develop a workplace culture that the entire team can be proud of.

3. Branding Encourages Sales and Helps Your Marketing

The foundation of your marketing approach, both aesthetically and via storytelling, is a strong brand. All of your marketing content and assets must follow its guidelines for conception, creation, promotion, and distribution.

Your marketing will have a greater impact on your target audience and provide better results in the shape of engagement, sales, sign-ups, customers, and loyalty when it is backed by powerful and consistent branding.

Branding Glossary

  • Brand Identity: The visual representation of a brand and its values, which encompasses the colors, logo, font styles, images, message, and overall look and feel. Brand identity is essential for helping customers recognize and identify with a brand. It should evoke familiarity and inspire trust in the customer. That’s why you must implant your values and branding message in the logo design.
  • Brand Equity: The value of a company’s brand name and associated assets. This includes intangible elements such as reputation, customer loyalty, positive associations, etc., all of which contribute to increased revenue potential. Measuring brand equity is useful because it allows companies to make sound decisions based on tangible metrics rather than assumptions alone.
  • Brand Voice: Refers to the tone used when communicating with customers via any channel (e.g., website content, emails). It should be consistent across each platform to ensure that customers have a clear idea of what type of company they are dealing with at all times. 
  • Brand Storytelling: A way of conveying your brand message in an engaging way that connects with customers by taking them on an emotional journey. It helps to create an emotional connection between the customer and the brand by giving them a unique experience that stands out from competitors’ stories. 
  • Brand Positioning: The strategy used to differentiate your brand from competitors by focusing on key differentiators such as quality products or services, price point or positioning within the market segment. This helps create a lasting impression in the minds of customers who can then easily recall why they chose your particular product or service over another one. 
  • Brand Awareness: Describes how recognizable your brand is among consumers in a given market segment or geographic area. The main objective here is to build recognition so that more people know about your business or product offerings than those who don’t; this creates an advantage over competitors who aren’t yet known in the same level detail. 
  • Branded Content: Any material created for marketing purposes that reinforces your brand story or values in some way (e.g., blog articles, video clips). This type of content should both inform and entertain viewers while also creating an emotional connection to the brand itself—allowing people to become more invested in what you are offering them through storytelling techniques like humor or nostalgia.

Best Practices for Creating a Strong Brand

1. If Your Brand Were a Person…

Who would it be?

Defining your brand should be the first step in your strategy. 

64% of consumers say that shared values are the main reason why they have a relationship with a particular brand.  

Try imagining it as a person in order to establish its purpose, core values, beliefs, and other characteristics that make it unique. 

Your brand’s DNA, that is, a set of distinctive qualities that your brand possesses, is what distinguishes it from similar brands that sell the same type of products. 

And this is exactly what humanizes your brand and makes it appealing to your target audience. 

Here’s what you should think about when defining your brand’s DNA:

  • Background story. Sharing a story on how your brand came into being and what inspired you to build it is a great way of relating to your audience on a more personal and profound level. 
  • Target market. Do you want to target a specific niche market or focus on a general, mainstream market? 
  • Pricing. Does your brand offer high-end products or services or the best-buy deals? Defining this is what sets you apart from your competitors. 
  • Community involvement. Contributing to the greater good of your community can help you boost brand awareness, build a long-lasting relationship with your audience, and improve your bottom line. Consumers are more willing to spend more when making a purchase from socially responsible brands. 

2. Who’s Your Audience?

This is another crucial question as it will help you create the right visuals, relatable copy, messaging, and brand narrative, as well as pick the communication channels that your audience uses. 

Generally speaking, by understanding your audience, their needs, interests, and pain points, you’ll be able to address their concerns, offer them solutions, and communicate with them using their language. 

One of the most common mistakes that new brands make is trying to please everyone for fear of alienating prospective customers. This seemingly play-it-safe approach doesn’t work and results in bland, generic outreach. 

Instead of that, focus on a smaller segment and specialize in offering them excellent customer service. Maybe your audience won’t be humongous, but it will be loyal. 

Remember that 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your customers, so try to identify who’s at the core of your customer base and direct your branding efforts at those people. 

So, how do you do that?

First of all, do your research and create an ideal customer profile (ICP) as well as buyer persona(s). This will allow you to have a relatively accurate roadmap that will direct your marketing and branding efforts. 

Secondly, slice and dice your audience into smaller segments and create tailored messaging and content that resonates with their needs and interests. 

3. What Do Others Say? 

As Scott Cook, Co-Founder of Intuit, puts it, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” 

83% of consumers are more inclined to trust peer recommendations over what brands tell them. 

This means that you need to find out what your audience and competitors say about you and run a detailed background check on your brand. 

One of the best and most effective ways of building trust with your prospects is leveraging social proof. Ask your existing happy customers to share their success stories with you and post them on your website and social media channels.

Given that consumers on average read 10 online reviews before making their purchase decision, it’s clear that your brand can highly benefit from these online ratings.

Use the opportunity to ask your customers what they think about the product they purchased and your brand by sending them a short customer satisfaction survey along with your Thank You email. You can later use this feedback in your promotions.

Offering incentives is a legitimate method of encouraging your customers to write an online review. 

Finally, you’ll most certainly encounter bad reviews. Instead of ignoring or deleting them, make sure to address every single complaint in a friendly manner and promise to fix the issue in a timely manner. 

Handling negative feedback properly will generate positive PR for your brand. 

4. Consistency Is the Key

Make sure that your messaging, tone of voice, visual identity, and above all, service and product quality are consistent. 

Consumers like when a brand is dependable. They want to know what exactly to expect when they purchase a product, and this predictability is crucial for customer loyalty. 

The same goes for your narrative. 

If you want your prospects to remember and recognize your brand, your messaging has to be aligned with your brand’s appearance as well as with your audience’s lingo. 

Once you find your brand voice, use it across your communication channels, and while talking to your prospects directly.  Every interaction with your customers should have the brand’s ABCs – attributes, behaviors, and characteristics, incorporated into it. 

That’s why developing brand guidelines is essential for maintaining consistency.  

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

While it’s OK to borrow some ideas from other successful brands, you should be very careful about this when it comes to creating your own brand identity.

It’s the authenticity and uniqueness that really matter. 

By trying to steal some of the big brands’ thunder, you’ll only hurt your brand’s integrity and turn it into a lame imitation of your more famous and successful competitors.

Your brand should reflect your unique values to which your audience will easily relate. 

That famous quote about people not buying products but the best versions of themselves sums it all up.

Your whole branding and narrative should make your audience feel special, important, and good about themselves. 

6. Make a Great First Impression

This is becoming increasingly difficult nowadays with all the brands out there trying to find their place under the sun. 

Similarly, consumers have way too many options, which means that you really need to make a killer first impression if you want them to notice your brand. 

While creating a website, make sure to use a professional logo maker since the logo is the first thing most website visitors will notice. Your website is usually the first contact that your audience has with your brand, so you’d better make it count.

Research studies have shown that the visual appeal of a website plays an important role in getting visitors to stay longer, and according to one of them, it takes people no more than 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about it. So, investing in visual design and an iconic logo will win your brand a ticket to your audience’s hearts. 

7. The Importance of Added Value 

And this isn’t just an empty phrase, but a very serious approach to branding.

Contrary to popular belief, brands belonging to the low-end market can also add value. 

The point is to always deliver on your promise to customers.

In order to add value, you should establish the following:

  • What makes your company, products, and services stand out among your competitors? When you identify your USP, make sure to promote it across your communication channels in a clear and concise manner. 
  • What specific benefits do you provide to your audience and are they better or more important than the benefits provided by your competitors?   
  • Is your brand providing enough value for the price you’re charging? 

This can be particularly tricky, especially for new companies that are only starting to build their brand, so I’ve discussed this in one of my podcasts turned into blog posts about how to overcome all these hurdles on your way to success. 

8. Build Brand Awareness 

There are different methods for spreading the word about your brand, and the best way to capitalize on WOMM is to be helpful and provide your target audience with some advice on how to solve their common pain points.

It wouldn’t hurt to throw in a couple of incentives too.

Here’s what you can do:

  • host webinars on the topics that your prospects are interested in;
  • join forces with a brand from a complementary industry and offer your respective audiences added value;
  • create useful e-books, how-to guides, and other helpful resources; 
  • give away swag and branded freebies;
  • offer free shipping;
  • create a referral program. 

All these simple tactics are highly beneficial for your branding efforts, and they show your audience that they’re more than just a means of achieving profit for you. 

9. Create Emotional Appeal 

Our Largest Sales Glossary defines emotional sales as a sales approach that heavily relies on evoking strong emotions in prospects. It can be done either by generating excitement around a product or service or by tapping into the negative emotions like fear of failure or anger over a poor customer experience with another brand.

Did you know that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious?

This means that besides listing all those cool features and benefits of your product or service won’t convince your prospects to buy from you unless you’ve managed to create some kind of emotional appeal. 

By understanding your target audience and their problems, you’ll be able to strike a responsive chord with them and establish a connection. 

Here’s what your brand should evoke:

A sense of well-being. Describe how your brand can make your customers’ lives better, and how it can enhance their sense of well-being. 

A sense of belonging. Customers, even though they want to be unique and special, still want to be a part of a group.  

A sense of security. People expect consistently positive customer experiences and that’s what makes them come back.   

10. The Power of Thought Leadership

People trust experts, and by establishing yourself as a thought leader in your niche, you’ll ensure that they trust your brand too. 

This isn’t easy and won’t happen overnight. 

Start by publishing useful blog posts which tackle different issues from your industry and offer your opinion on the important things. 

Build your professional reputation by sharing your expertise and experiences in the field and try to be as helpful as possible. 

Attend different industry events and apply to be a speaker. 

Be active on social media and interact with your followers on a regular basis. 

All this will help you become an authority in your field and encourage customers to trust your brand. 

A strong brand strategy is essential for differentiating your brand in a competitive market and turning your prospects into loyal paying customers, and these 10 tips will keep you on the right track.