No matter what company or professional activity you run, having a strong brand is a must-have for any business in today’s competitive world. Especially in the more and more digital world we live in, it is important to have your own brand identity. With all online competitors there are, having a clear brand identity both offline as online, will set you apart from the competition.
Moreover, this will give your audience something to connect with and make them more likely to come back for more. Thus, you should never underestimate the importance of building your own brand. Which is why this unit will give some tips on how to build your own brand identity.
You can put into use the knowledge below when, among other:
- Working on a rebranding for your already set-up small company
- Ideating your prospective venture
- When collaborating with other to co-create a new joint project/service/product and you need to find a suitable brand identity for the output
The main aims of this Bite Size are:
- Understand the powerful impact of a professional brand (offline & online)
- Learn how to build your own (company’s) brand
- Learn how to use your brand image for your (company’s) goals
Branding your (prospective) business is important in many different ways, because the right branding defines your business in its name, slogan, design and symbols. It is where you as an organisation/solo-entrepreneur can be distinguished from other companies, products or services.
Therefore, you can say that a good brand will:
- Defines your business
- Clearly deliver a message
- Promotes Recognition
- Confirm the brand’s credibility in the marketplace
- Separate the brand from its competitors
- Emotionally connect target prospects with a product or a service
- Motivate the buyer to make a purchase
- Create user loyalty
This means that building the brand will determine how the public perceives your business and your products/services, which makes the branding and marketing of your business just as important as the quality and price of your product or service.
How to build your brand
No matter what industry or sector your business serves. It also applies to freelance or solo-entrepreneurs in the fields, who indeed need to stand out in a pool full of competitors.
On that note, building your brand might be related to finding out your unique value proposition towards (potential) clients and your community, and be able to communicate it effectively.
However, how do you actually build this brand around your business?
Here you have the 5 main steps that you can take to build your company’s brand.
Step 1. Determine your target audience
When it comes to marketing and building your brand, it is crucial to know who you are actually trying to reach. You will have to think of the products or services that you are selling and who they will serve. You can be as specific as you would like to be in choosing your target audience, but remember the more specific the better you can brand your business and the less competition you have to worry about.
Do research on your existing customers, target audience, competitors, consult available sales and data, and/or create buyer personas. Find all information you think will help you in providing valuable information about consumers, their habits and what suits your product or service the best. When you are doing your research, make notes of:
- The customers that you could most easily sell to.
- The customers that you would like to reach the most.
- How these customers speak and what they talk about.
There are many ways to do this kind of research, for example, you could do your own desk-research.
However, you can also choose to talk and discuss with your target audience, or maybe even your existing customers. Chances are, when you are involved in actual discussions with your target audience and existing customers, you receive most useful and valuable information and feedback. This can be a great example of collaboration!
Find out more about target audiences and how to find them in the following article or video:
- Article on target audience and how to find this: What Is A Target Audience And How Do You Find It
- Video on finding your target audience: 5 steps to identify your target audience | Start your business
Step 2. Determine your company’s personality
As mentioned before, you can be as specific in your choice of target audience as you like to be. However, keep also in mind that you cannot establish your brand to be everything to everyone. This means it might be better to start with a certain target audience on which you can focus.
Moreover, by finding where to focus on within the business, it will help establish and build the brand more clearly as well.
In order to think of what to focus on and what the tone of your brand will be, you can try to do the following exercises:
- Identify your positioning statement
The positioning statement is one or two sentences in which you state your place in the market. It should go something like:
We offer [product/service] for [target audience/market] to [value proposition].
The value proposition is the thing that adds extra value to your product or service or is your mission statement. Either way it is the one thing that you are competing on.
By filling this sentence you can help create an idea of your brand’s tagline, what are you working towards.
- Association game
Another way of taking a look at your own brand is by imaging it as a person:
What words would you use to describe this person? What would they be like?
Source: Kumar, B. (October 29, 2022) How to build you own brand from scratch in 7 steps (2023).[Text Wrapping Break]https://www.shopify.com/blog/how-to-build-a-brand
By associating words with your (prospective) brand, it can help create an image of your brand. This helps again in building your brand, since it will inform you what tone of voice of your business should use.
For example, if you choose the words Fun, Energetic and Young, you would use rather bright colours, playful shapes and informal language. Whereas if you choose the words Outdoorsy, Active and Efficient, you would use other colours, shapes and maybe even language.
Using this exercise will thus not only help you in creating your own image of the brand, but it can also help in creating the visual and written tone of voice of your brand.
Step 3. Determine your company’s look
[Text Wrapping Break]Thanks to the positioning statement and the association game, you should have created a clear image of what you think your business should look like. Based on the results of these exercises you can start establishing the actual look of your company. Some essential elements that you need to consider are:
- Brand colours – What colours will you use in your logo, on your website, in your emails, promotion material, and maybe even products you sell. Colours of your brand do not only define the look of your business, they also convey the feeling that you want to communicate.
If you doubt what colours to use, you can look for the psychological impact that colours have on customers. You can use the words of the association game, and see what words fit best with what colours.
- Fonts – Just like your brand colours, the use of fonts can also make a difference in how your customers perceive your business. Also here, different fonts can convey different feelings. Where, for example, sans-serif fonts are often perceived as more friendly, serif fonts can perceive rather traditional feelings. It is recommended to use two fonts, one for headings and one for body text. This prevents confusing your visitors/readers/followers.
Within the Blue-C approach, the association with the blue economy can therefore also be used in the development of branding. Think of the target audience that is interested in the blue economy, or the colours or the words that could be associated with the blue economy. Or, maybe, you will also benefit from thinking about unique features in your area that could be used to promote your brand and attract visitors to the area.
Remember that your branding needs to remain uniform across all your communication, platforms, products etc. It is important for both your existing customers and potential new customers to be easily recognized.
Whether it is on your website, your social media platforms or in a sales brochure, your brand style must be used throughout everything.
Step 4. Apply your branding across your company
Now that you have built your brand identity, you need to share and show it. Take into account that this is not only important for your (potential) customers, but also for your employees.
Therefore, if you’re a business owner it might be helpful to create a style guide for your staff. This way, everyone in your company knows what your brand should look and sound like, which ensures uniformity throughout your business.
In case you are an employee yourself, then remember the relevance of the brand identity for the company you work for, and therefore, keep its presence as much as possible.
The next step is drawing attention to your brand and making sure it gets noticed by your target group. Both the look of your brand as the channels you use play crucial roles in drawing attention to your brand. In order to get the attention of the right target group as efficiently as possible, you will have to research beforehand where your target audience is easy to reach.
What digital tools or social platforms do they mainly use? What are other channels where you can reach your target group?
In order to work as efficiently as possible, you can choose to create an online marketing campaign. This means you make a plan of how to reach a certain online marketing goal. Some things that you need to consider when you make an online marketing campaign are as followed:
- Knowing your goals and set objectives – What do you want with the campaign? Draw attention, increase customer engagement, brand awareness, increase your sales, etc.
- Use Call to Action (CTA) – In order to get an immediate response of your target audience, you should provide them with a Call to Action, such as ‘Click now’, ‘Give us a call’, or ‘Buy here’.
- Study the market – As mentioned before, in order to reach your target group, you should know where to find them. By studying the market you will understand what locations you need to target and what marketing tools you can use for your campaign.
- Use content strategies/schedules – Make a plan of what content you will share. Think of content such as informative blogs, articles or maybe even events. Besides creating an overview of the content you will share, you should also make a schedule of when to share what. This way you will ensure consistency on your social media platforms or website and draw attention to your business and brand again.
- Learn from past experiences – Learn from mistakes and innovate new ideas. Or use statistics and data of past experiences, to improve your marketing campaigns.
You can learn more about online and offline marketing by having a look at our “Productization & Marketing” and “Digital Marketing and Social Media” Bite Sizes.
Remember that besides uniformity, consistency is crucial when you develop your brand. The more consistent you are with your company’s brand identity both online and offline, the more familiar your company will feel to your target audience. Moreover, consistency helps your brand appear more stable and reliable.
If you want to learn more about building an online marketing campaign, we invite you to watch following videos on the essential steps in building one, also go read the article below with more tips for improving your digital marketing campaign.
- Video on essential steps in building an online marketing campaign: 6 Essential Steps For Creating A Successful Digital Marketing Plan
- Article on tips to be used in online marketing: The Top 23 Digital Marketing Tips For 2023
Step 5. Evaluate your brand
When you have established and built your brand, you will have to take a step back and review your brand in an objective way.
Does the brand hold the value you wanted and needed, does it impact your consumer’s buying choices, is the brand doing what it should do for your company?
Shortly said, the brand evaluation needs to look at the brand from an outside perspective and review the objective perception and value. To evaluate this, you can ask yourself the following questions to check whether your brand is strong and valuable enough:
- Does the brand relate to our target audience?
- Will the audience instantly understand what our company is about?
- Will our brand attract the right target group?
- Does the brand share the uniqueness of what we are offering?
- Does the brand reflect the promise we made to our target group?
- Does the brand reflect the values that we want to represent to our customers?
These questions can also be used as a guideline throughout the development of your brand.
Moreover, to improve the outside perspective on your brand, you can use some other tools to evaluate your brand. For example, you can take a look at different quantitative metrics, which you can find through the amount of visitors on your website, likes or followers on social media or other metrics through for example Google Analytics. Furthermore, you can ask your team, stakeholders or your audience for some feedback. Ask questions such as:
- Do you know this brand?
- If so, what are your perceptions of this brand?
- If not, what do you think this company does?
- How does the logo of our brand make you feel?
- What does the look and feel of the company tell you about the company’s personality?
- What does the brand mean to you?
- What values do you connect to this brand?
Once you have collected all the information, you will have to analyse the feedback on your brand to have an idea of your brand’s current state.
How far are you from your destination regarding branding?
Try to think of what aspects are working and what not, and thus if you need to drop some things. This will lead to you deciding whether you need to rebrand, or work towards a different brand sentiment or increase your brand equity. Based on the decision you make, you can go back to one of the steps and change what is necessary.
Throughout branding your company, it is important to evaluate once in a while, since it is important that you keep your brand up to date. When you decide to attract another customer group, make sure to also start this process again, since other customer groups can ask for other branding strategies.
The look of the brand identity in the tourism and hospitality industry differs per business, since it depends on many different factors what the brand should look like.
For example, what type of food it is serving, is it for more luxury customers or for Joe Average, is it rather traditional or modern.
All these factors should be taken into account when companies are building their brand.
Even though you would think that in this sector you would use the same association words for all companies, it is still important to realise that the target audience can differ per company. Therefore, building the brand per business is also essential for this sector.
The energy sector has many different target groups and more generic target groups in general. Making the development of branding slightly different compared to the sectors above. However, there are still possibilities in which companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors. For example, the use of the relation to the blue economy can be used, same goes for ‘green energy’. Others could be rather focused on the sense of security and stability for consumers. Each focus asks for a different approach to building the brand.
The fishing industry could respond really well to the blue economy, and could therefore also use this in their branding. Sustainability is getting more and more important for many customers. Thus, by combining aspects of both sustainability and the blue economy, the fishery sector could create a very strong brand. However, the strength in which you want to incorporate these aspects depends on your target group.
The same as in the fishing industry, companies in environmental protection could respond very well to the blue economy and use aspects that are important in the blue economy in their branding approach.
Furthermore, this industry, in general, evolves around a different goal than the other industries do. Where other industries rather focus on increasing their customers or their profit, environmental protection rather raises awareness. Which makes their branding approach also slightly different.
This is a sector that is more likely to be focused on business customers rather than private customers. Which automatically makes the approach to building their brand different from other sectors. This might ask for a different tone of voice, different channels where they can reach their customers and maybe also more business-like looks.
Branding in the support services sector also depends highly on the service they offer, and who they offer the service for. Depending on their target group, support services should choose their branding approach, and choose their tone of voice, colours and fonts. Making it also important for this industry, to build the brand per business.
- BIM – Bord Iascaigh Mhara
- Blue Growth
- Fáilte Ireland
- Hotel Kakola
- Marine Money Greece
- Native Rose Hotel and Harts Pub
- Recycle your cooking oil
- Reducing food waste to increase sustainability in tourism
- Reshaping the crowd’s engagement in culture – Study
- Sustainable Small Ports
How brands are built – a podcast on how professionals build their brand, what they do and how they do this. – How Brands Are Built on Apple Podcasts
JUST Branding – a podcast on the process of bulding your brand, where professionals will share their insights, tips and resources. – JUST Branding – Podcast.co
Video on finding your target audience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hrds11HixC4
Video on essential steps in building an online marketing campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=7ypjsp_DpgU
Article on target audience and how to find this: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/what-is-a-target-audience-and-how-do-you-find-it/467926/#close
Article including an infographic on the psychology of colours in marketing – https://digitalsynopsis.com/advertising/psychology-of-colors-in-marketing/#:~:text=84.7%25%20of%20buyers%20claim%20that,with%20royalty%2C%20and%20so%20on
Article on tips to be used in online marketing: https://rocketexpansion.com/digital-marketing-tips/
Article on how the energy industry uses brand building – https://www.frontify.com/en/industry-branding/How-Energy-Industry-Mastering-Art-of-Branding/
Article on how to build your brand in the fishery sector – https://midwestliprippers.com/2021/09/26/building-your-brand-in-the-fishing-industry/
Article on how to use social media effectively to promote your brand or products/services – 15 Ways To Market Your Business on Social Media (2023) (shopify.com)
Helpful online tools:
Generator for colour palettes – Coolors – The super fast color palettes generator!
Tool for browsing in different fonts and see what fonts go well together. – Fontpair – Free, beautiful fonts and font pairings curated just for you