Your handy guide to building a brand

Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonald’s, Google and Steve’s Plumbing. All, mostly, globally recognised brands. Companies can spend thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands and occasionally millions creating, developing and building their brands.

So what is a brand and why is it important to have one?

A brand is what identifies a product, service, company or individual and is often the first connection between said product or service and a potential customer. Think about it. When you are shopping in your favourite supermarket (all brands in their own right), we are bombarded with different brands. Do you go for the washing up liquid, that ‘leaves your hands soft’, the detergent you trust most to clean your clothes after seeing them on an advert? Or the baked beans you are most familiar with? And that’s just the groceries!

So why is it important?

Having a well defined brand helps your business by encouraging loyalty, by creating belief in a quality product and when your competitors are in a continual race to the bargain basement bin, it can protect the value of your products while they are discounting theirs. Having a quality brand with a good strategy behind it will get customers connecting with it emotionally, becoming fans and advocates for what you do – though your product or service has to match up quality wise!
Here are our 5 top tips and strategies for bringing your brand to life:

1) Start with a review of your business. It’s a good idea to pinpoint where you are in the market and research the needs and pain points of your customers. What does your business believe in? What are its values? What is its purpose? Who are the ideal customers your are trying to attract? Your brand identity needs to promote your business, connect with customers and differentiate you from your competitors.

2) Don’t try to copy other brands. Yes, imitation might be the highest form of flattery, but that won’t hold up when their expensive lawyers come after you. But that’s not the real point: carve out your unique identity, be authentic – this will build trust in what you are doing and show that you aren’t just another knock off. That said, this does work both ways. There are certainly lots of cases of big chains and corporations trying to mimic what independent brands are doing, so do take steps to…

3) …protect yourself. Your brand is your identity, it’s what you do business with, so do take steps to protect it. We could fill another article or three about this – type ‘protecting your brand’ into your favourite search engine to find a wealth of information.

4) Be consistent. You might have a beautifully crafted logo. Don’t stretch it into different proportions, change the colours at random or use weird typefaces all over the place. But this tip also applies to your tone of voice and how you speak to your customers or clients. Being consistent with your messaging will reinforce who you are as a product or business, creating awareness and an understanding of what to expect from you. This is where having some brand guidelines comes in to play (usually a document showing what you should and shouldn’t do with your brand, what colours to use and examples of your brands tone of voice). If you are a bigger organisation, you might even have a brand guardian or brand team to help keep things on track.

5) Consider your brand when communicating. Promoting your product or service can be a great way to reinforce your brand mission or values. Be careful not to dilute what you are doing by joining that bargain basement bin and offering crazy discounts. Rather than cutting your prices, maybe find ways to offer more value.

Written by Sean Brightman | Art Director & Senior Designer