The word ‘brand’ originates from the concept of using a hot iron to ‘brand’ cattle or produce to denote their worth or value.
In 2020, a brand can still be used to suggest the value of goods or services, but the meaning of the word brand reaches far wider than simply a stamp of approval.
Every day and in every situation we encounter, we are surrounded by brands. In fact, since the start of the pandemic, many smaller brands have understood the need to expand their brand to incorporate online branding as well as the more traditional ‘shop front’ branding. But a brand is much more than a logo and company name.
In this article we’ll look at the different elements that make up a brand, and how a well defined brand has the potential to increase your bottom line.
The Visual Elements of your Brand
The most obvious form of branding are the words, images and colours associated with your brand: everything that is visible to consumers and that allows them to associate your assets with your company.
Your brand name and logo are two of the easiest ways customers will recognise your company. When deciding on an original logo and company name, or if you’re looking to rebrand your company, you should be aware of the following points:
- Design – is the image in your logo easy to recognise? Is it simple enough for people to remember? Does the image reflect your company’s purpose?
- Colours – are the colours you’ve used appropriate for your business? Do the connotations match what you want your customers to think about when they think of your brand? Colour can improve brand recognition by up to 80%, so it’s important to think carefully before you decide.
- Font – is the font easy to read? Can it be understood within a matter of seconds? If new customers will need to take time understanding your swirly calligraphy, it would be a good idea to use a different font.
- Slogan – do you have a slogan that is easy to remember and reflects your brand values?
- Tone of voice – your tone of voice is how your company speaks to others. Are you knowledgeable and reliable, or playful and innovative?
One of the most important things to consider about your visual branding is ‘is it consistent?’ In order for your brand to earn trust with customers, it should be easy for customers to recognise you. By keeping the visual elements of your brand the same across your website, social media channels, marketing campaigns, and physical marketing materials, your brand’s authority will increase among the general public as you are easily recognisable.
Your Brand Intention
Your brand encompasses more than just the elements customers can see. One of the key factors that makes up your brand is your intention or values. What is your brand aiming to do for its customers? What values does your company uphold?
The aim of your brand should be easy to pinpoint and will usually be the services you provide. But for the purpose of branding, your intention should move further than just the services you sell. Your brand should incorporate the reason why you offer these services, and who you are trying to attract.
If you offer IT services for small to medium sized businesses, that’s great, but why do you offer these services? Do you focus on customer service and providing excellent communication to your clients? Are you always looking to offer the most affordable solution? Being aware of your values as much as you are aware of your services is essential because it will provide you with answers that should guide the rest of your branding decisions. For example, if your focus is on customer service, the tone of voice your brand uses should be informative, responsive and polite.
The Feeling your Brand Emanates
The way a brand makes a customer feel is often a reflection of both the visual elements of a brand and the brand’s intention. When customers interact with your company, how do they feel? Are they left feeling satisfied? Excited at the prospect of working with you? All brands, regardless of if they know it or not, want a customer to leave an interaction and feel a certain way. It could simply be satisfied with the service, or impressed and looking to invest more money into your brand. It’s important for you to know why and how you want your customers to feel, and build a brand that will have this effect.
Emotion is used by a lot of incredibly successful brands, and they focus on selling an emotion or feeling as much as their product. Coca-Cola’s most recent marketing message plays on the idea of ‘opening’ the UK following the COVID-19 pandemic, and uses the poetry of a spoken word artist to convey a sense of togetherness, and feeling of movement into a new normal. By creating an association between the idea of building a ‘happier and better future’ through being ‘open’ – and of course, opening a can of Coca-Cola – the brand have aligned themselves with a new and better future post pandemic and turned the negative emotions felt by most of the UK during this crisis, into hope for the future.
The Chatter About your Brand
Ironically, one of the most important elements of your brand to be aware of, is something that you have little control over: how people outside of your brand talk about your company.
Would you recognise your brand if it was described by an outsider? If not, why not? It’s really important to pick up on any discrepancies between the two points of view, and find out where the message is being distorted, or values are being lost.
Look at reviews of your company on industry comparison sites, as well as your own social media pages, and read the reviews on Google. In order to react to any comments and make changes for the future, you have to be aware of them in the first place.
Ultimately, your brand encompasses everything consumers use to identify your company. Whoever, however and whenever customers engage with your brand, they should all receive the same experience, and finish the transaction feeling the same way.
How they feel, is down to you.
A consistent brand is a credible brand and the more trust a consumer puts into your brand, the more likely they are to use your services – and recommend others to do the same.
Sources directly referenced (in order of use):