What goes into making a brand, and how do you make a brand successful? This is a question that have troubled many marketers in recent times. As a marketer, you need to know how to think and talk about the elements of branding, and how to manage a brand identity successfully. Both are topics that can often be quite vague, and nuanced.
In this article, we will talk about the elements that should form the core of your brand’s identity, how to define its success, and what you can do to manage your brand effectively.
- What are the 6 Key Elements of a Brand?
- What are the Most Important Elements of a Strong Brand?
- What are the 5 Elements That Make a Strong Brand?
- What are the 7 Brand Elements?
- What are the 5 Main Elements of Brand Equity?
- What are the Elements of Brand Strategy?
- How do you Establish a Strong Brand?
- What are the Features of Strong Brand?
- What are the 4 Steps of Branding?
- What is the More Important in Brand Equity?
- How do you Choose Branding Elements to Build Brand Equity?
- What are the Principles of Branding?
What are the 6 Key Elements of a Brand?
Branding, in the most basic sense, is words and images, but it also extends much further than that. It’s how you greet customers, the napkins on the table, the style of your social media updates. It’s everything—tangible and intangible—that goes into the experience your customers have when they come into contact with your busi
Below, we break down your brand into the following six elements:
Brand voice is the consistent personality and emotion that you infuse into your company’s communications. It helps to humanize your brand, showcase your values, and distinguish yourself from competitors. Your voice is your brand’s steady personality that your customers know and love. Want to dive deeper into a brand voice?
Brand identity refers to aspects of your company that are recognizable in the eyes of consumers. Brand identity includes your company’s color palette, logo, and fonts/lettering, as well as how you visually present yourself on social media and through the company website. Brand identity also refers to your company’s physical presentation, including how you design your packaging and other tangible aspects of your brand.
Your brand promise is all about how you articulate the unique value that your business provides customers with. This includes your company’s vision and mission statements as well as your brand principles and value proposition. A brand promise sets customer expectations and holds your company accountable to meeting them. The more aligned your company’s actions are with your brand promise, the more trust and loyalty you will cultivate.
Brand values are the guiding principles and beliefs that your company stands for. By articulating your values and aligning your brand with something bigger and more meaningful than yourself, your customers will see that your brand is relatable and real—and that this truth extends far beyond just your product and service offerings.
Brand targeting means determining what segment of the market you want to reach. This includes segmenting your target market by identifying the characteristics of your target customer. This can be broken down into several components, including age, geographic location, and income level, as well as behavioral and personality traits (e.g. reason for buying the product, purchasing habits, etc).
Finally, brand positioning refers to where your brand stands in the market in the eyes of consumers, including how your brand differs from industry competition. Positioning takes targeting a step further, and involves strategizing your marketing efforts to ensure that your tactics are the most effective in reaching the targeted market segment.
In addition to solidifying your marketing mix, brand positioning also means cultivating a brand voice that will resonate uniquely in a busy marketplace.
If you’re thinking that you haven’t yet defined your brand, guess what? Your brand is still being defined in the absence of a strategy. Whether it is the manner in which you engage with consumers, the beliefs your company holds, or simply the logo that dons your packaging, you develop your brand each and every day, with every business interaction you have.
Every step that you take to define these six elements of your brand will increase your consistency and trust with customers.
What are the Most Important Elements of a Strong Brand?
A solid brand is the foundation upon which your corporate culture and future growth is built. Businesses like Lululemon, Zappos and David’s Tea are great examples of companies that have built success by living and breathing their brand.
Successful brands are built on three essential elements:
Focused, consistent branding makes it clear to customers what they can expect from you. We talk a lot about omnichannel marketing, and a focused brand is at the heart of this concept. You need to be presenting consistent images and messaging to customers in each of your marketing channels, whether it be your website, social media, email, advertising, displaying clear and eye-catching signage such as channel letter signage, or the in‑store experience.
How do you define your brand? Consider these three core elements:
Vision statement—What do you want to achieve? What are your core values? How will your brand reflect this? A vision statement helps you focus and rally your team to achieve your business’s over‑arching goals.
Value proposition—What value does your organization provide to customers that no one else can? Defining your unique value proposition allows your team to focus on one or two differentiators that make you to stand out from the crowd and deliver the right thing to the right people.
Positioning statement—How do you want to be perceived in the marketplace? Branding is about matching customer expectations with how your organization wants to be perceived. Your positioning statement describes this balance.
Your brand establishes firm ground on which to bring your organization to life for customers. It makes it easier for your marketing, sales and customer service teams to all speak with one, consistent voice.
This consistency across the customer experience is what breeds trust. Trust produces sales and encourages loyal, repeat customers.
Once you have a clear definition of your brand, you can zero in on the right market for your business. You can target customers that share the values, behaviors and personality traits you have defined for your organization.
A well‑defined and consistent brand experience allows you to not only attract like‑minded customers but also like‑minded employees. Now you are creating a community. In this way, a strong brand clarifies how your organization behaves both externally and internally.
Now that you have a clearly focused brand, it’s time to bring it to life. Content is the vehicle to achieve this. Good content allows you to interact with your community. You position yourself as their ally by sharing your expert knowledge through how‑to blogs, videos, webinars, infographics, eBooks, etc.
With this content, you are building engagement with customers and framing how they can use what you offer to fulfill their needs or desires. If your brand definition allows you to be more aggressive, you might consider email or advertising campaigns that explain why your organization is the best, or only, solution for them.
What are the 5 Elements That Make a Strong Brand?
Successful branding begins with a well-defined brand that is RELEVANT to your market. You might think that since you have a logo, tagline, and business card, you’ve completed your branding. But, unless you’ve carefully considered and defined ALL five of the key brand elements—position, promise, personality traits, story, and associations—you still have work to do.
- Brand PositionThe Brand Position is the part of the brand that describes what your organization does and for whom, what your unique value is and how a customer benefits from working with you or your product/service, and what key differentiation you have from your competition. Once you’ve defined your brand position, make it available in 25, 50, and 100 word versions.
- Brand PromiseThe Brand Promise is the single most important thing that the organization promises to deliver to its customers—EVERY time. To come up with your brand promise, consider what customers, employees, and partners should expect from every interaction with you. Every business decision should be weighed against this promise to be sure that a) it fully reflects the promise, or b) at the very least it does not contradict the promise.
- Brand PersonalityBrand Traits illustrate what the organization wants its brand to be known for. Think about specific personality traits you want prospects, clients, employees, and partners to use to describe your organization. You should have 4-6 traits (5 is ideal), each being a single term (usually an adjective).
- Brand StoryThe Brand Story illustrates the organization’s history, along with how the history adds value and credibility to the brand. It also usually includes a summary of your products or services.
- Brand AssociationsBrand Associations are the specific physical artifacts that make up the brand. This is your name, logo, colors, taglines, fonts, imagery, etc. Your brand associations must reflect your brand promise, ALL of your brand traits, and support your brand positioning statement.
What are the 7 Brand Elements?
These seven elements of a strong brand will help you cultivate a strong, positive brand image to tell the world the right story.
1. Purpose-driven. A strong brand knows what it is–and what it isn’t. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, it knows its purpose and mission, and spends all of its energy working toward being exactly what it was designed to be and solving the specific problems it was designed to solve.
2. Unique. Good brands know their value proposition and can quickly articulate how they stand out from the competition. They don’t jump into an over-saturated market and ride on the coattails of existing brands–rather, they distinguish themselves through a brand message that frequently references the particular functions and features that set them apart–above and beyond.
3. Knows its target market. A thriving brand is acutely tuned in to who is most likely to buy their product or use their service. All brand messages are designed to appeal to this carefully researched market. It’s OK if a brand doesn’t appeal to people who are quite unlikely to become a customer.
4. Stays on-brand at all times. Strong brands must clearly and consistently communicate who they are (both features and personality) in every single official communication from the brand itself. This definitely doesn’t mean a brand has to be overly serious–unless that’s part of its brand personality! That also means its OK to be funny, clever, or cheeky, but only if a brand calls for it. This means every press release, memo, tweet, and Instagram post need to be considered through the lens of the brand’s personality, and every brand representative needs to be acutely aware of when and how they represent the brand across all marketing, PR, customer service, and social media.
5. Authentic. Brands that stand the test of time don’t try to be something that they’re not. While this is similar to being purpose-driven, it’s more nuanced. Being authentic means that not only does a brand stringently define who it is (purpose), but it ensures that “who it is” is really who it is.
6.Thick-skinned. Every brand will get negative feedback, no matter how perfectly that brand is strategized, defined, and executed. Some of the feedback is legitimate, in instances where a brand has made a mistake or needs to right a wrong. Sometimes, “haters are just gonna hate.” Never more so than in the very public realm of social media, a comprehensive branding strategy needs an on-brand plan for managing customer disappointment, responding to negative press and negative feedback, and correcting mistakes.
7. Visually striking: Strong brands have a logo and colors that are unique, instantly recognizable, and congruent with the brand personality. And it needs to be visually consistent absolutely everywhere. This type of “picture” will speak a thousand words about a brand, and any small variation will at best be confusing for customers, and at worst make it look like the business doesn’t take itself seriously.
What are the 5 Main Elements of Brand Equity?
1. Brand Loyalty
This could be a reflection of customer attachment to a brand when faced with competitive brands in terms of price, quality and repetitive purchase. A loyal customer sticks to a likable brand like glue and would hardly ever consider choosing another brand.
Hence Reduced marketing costs, higher profit, trade leverage and opportunity to lure new customers.
2. Brand Awareness
To establish awareness, consumers need to know who you are and what you do. As long as the consumer is aware of your existence, they will be able to recall and recognize your brand.
You could dominate consumers’ subconscious using different branding strategies, making them more comfortable to choose your brand among your competition.
Brand Awareness is an anchor to which other associations (point 4 below) can be attached. It creates familiarity-liking, signalling commitment making your brand worthy to be considered by consumers.
3. Perceived Brand Quality
This could be linked strongly to ‘reasons-to-by’ your products. The moment quality is attributed to a brand, other products associated with that brand will be perceived to have the same level of quality (e.g. iPhone lines have been produced with high quality, hence, consumers suspect that iPad lines have the same level of quality). Hence, Perceived quality contributes to build trust and sustainable brand equity.
4. Brand Association
Unique set of brand associations help consumer process and retrieve relative information about specific brand. It helps as a differentiator between competition, providing other complimentary reasons-to-buy, that could establish positive attitude toward the brand.
For instance, a brand could be associated to luxury life style and social groups (eg. Louis Vuitton), or to safety (eg. Volvo Cars), or to celebrity (eg. Ashton Kutcher and Lenovo Yoga Tablet), or to environmental responsibility (eg. IKEA).
Nevertheless, the main point here is to bear in mind that the stronger and meaningful your brand associations to consumers, the stronger and favorable your brand will be in their minds.
5. Proprietary Assets
These features add to the competitive advantage of your brand, as well as, the protection of your brand from competition over time. That includes patents, intellectual properties, established relationships and trademarks.
What are the Elements of Brand Strategy?
Brand voice, brand design, brand values, brand story, and brand vibe are the key elements of a successful brand strategy. Below, we’ll walk you through each one.
Your brand story is the narrative you use to communicate essential moments in your business’s origin story, core beliefs and values, and the purpose of your business.
Brand stories further spark connection between your business and customer base. By sharing why you exist, what you stand for, and what inspired you to get started and keep going, you create an open environment where people can get to know your business on a deeper level.
The words and phrases a brand uses to communicate with current or new customers across different marketing channels and on its website is called brand voice.
A brand’s voice informs the type of brand messaging a business uses. It often plays the biggest role in forming connections with a customer base by fusing a brand’s personality with its core values. A strong brand voice might remind you of your sarcastic best friend, kind teacher, or reassuring doctor.
It sets the tone for the relationship that a customer will build with a brand over time and shows them what they can expect from it. A brand that doesn’t carve out a personality-filled voice risks losing that connection or sending a different message than it truly wants to.
Creating an internal style guide for brand voice ensures it will show up consistently.
How your business shows up visually—from color palette to fonts to photography style—on your products, website, and marketing platforms is called brand design, and it’s often the first and quickest way a potential customer within your target market can understand what you’re all about.
Great brand design can be communicated via a sunscreen bottle with chic packaging, a bright label easily recognized at the grocery store, or fun shapes and elements on a website. Aside from speaking to what your brand is all about, brand design also illustrates a point of view and taste level.
A potential customer might love your brand partly because of the way you package and design your products, or because of the colorful templates you send out with an email newsletter. Like art, brand design can draw an emotional response.
A lack of design can leave your brand without a visual identity, which prospective customers will pick up on. Designing the visual components of your brand—from product labels to packaging inserts to your homepage—gives it a stronger position in the market, can improve customer experience, creates a strong visual identity, and can help differentiate you from your competitors.
Elements of brand design should also appear in a brand style guide alongside tone of voice specifications. As it pertains to a visual identity, this includes color hex codes, font weights and styles, logo usage, and more.
Why does your company exist? What matters most to you? Are there causes that your business is actively working to solve?
Questions like these help get at the heart of your brand’s values, or the beliefs and principles that guide your business.
Brand values become the parameters that help you discern if a decision or partnership fits the goals of your business, help you build connections with your community, and find potential customers who share similar beliefs. They also help with your brand positioning, as a brand’s values can be a main differentiator for you.
Brand values are often codified via brand guidelines, which can be used in tandem with a style guide. In addition to tone of voice and visual identity requirements, brand guidelines may include a mission statement, spell out a brand’s core values, and share do’s and don’ts for how to appear on social media and other content marketing channels.
A brand’s vibe is the general sentiment it emits on its website, social media channels, product packaging, etc. The vibe could be anything from playful to sarcastic to serious to funny, and is an amalgamation of the ways a brand’s personality, values, and aesthetic line up.
If you’ve ever been to Palm Springs, or a craft coffee shop, you can sense a certain feeling or energy the moment you arrive. While many businesses operate online these days, it’s still possible to inject a specific vibe into the way someone feels when they interact with yours.
How do you Establish a Strong Brand?
According to Statista, strong brands enhance business performance primarily through their influence on three key stakeholder groups: (current and prospective) customers, employees and investors. They influence customer choice and create loyalty; attract, retain, and motivate talent; and lower the cost of financing.
For example, Google is one of the most recognized brands in the world. In North America alone, the brand’s value amounted to approximately 229 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, and has continued to increase exponentially ever year since.
The following are a few steps on how you can get started on creating your own successful brand:
- Determine target audience. Think about who your business needs to reach, that way you can customize your key messages and branding to who you want to reach and can effectively talk to those audiences.
- Know the competitive environment. Research and understand your competition’s positioning, so you can differentiate your business. The research will also uncover how your brand compares to its competition, as well as the perception of your brand in the marketplace.
- Create a logo. It should evoke the keywords that surround your brand and be memorable and stand out among your competitors. If your brand is “trustworthy” or “innovative,” make sure your logo matches.
- Write down your key messages. These are the points you communicate when someone asks about your brand. Key messages capture the essence of your company: What does your business do? Where is the value? How is it different? What are your unique qualities and benefits? What does your business believe?
- Make sure your actions match your words. This is the easiest way to build a positive reputation, which leads to more relationships and more revenue.
- Be consistent. This is extremely important. Use the same colors, design, words and typeface on every touch point with your prospects and existing members. No one can tell your story better than you, so make sure you don’t keep changing it.
- Incorporate your logo across marketing channels. Your brand should be visible in all you do and what your customer sees, from your place of business to your website, advertisements and social media marketing.
What are the Features of Strong Brand?
For a brand to truly succeed it needs to be as competitive as possible. This includes having an entire team working behind a brand, from the most basic administrative assistants to those in a higher power position. There is no use in sitting back and hoping for the best; a successful brand goes above and beyond consumer expectations to remain on the cutting edge of its industry.
To have a memorable brand identity you need to be distinctive. Some of the world’s most popular brands, such as Apple, Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza, have successfully achieved this. For instance, Apple is widely known for its minimalist approach to design and technology as well as its innovative products.
Starbucks is known for its high-quality goods and services that are consistent across every store worldwide. Giving your customers a specific reason to use your services will without doubt keep them returning to your brand, time and time again.
Though it’s possible to build a brand on a short-term basis without passion, maintaining the success of that brand over the long term is incredibly difficult without passion. Some of the world’s most successful people, such as Steve Jobs, Roger Federer and Oprah Winfrey, did not or have not succeeded without passion.
Passion is the force that drives us even through the most challenging of moments, propelling us to work harder than everyone else to continually deliver greatness. If you possess a genuine passion for your brand, that passion will rub off on your customers who will feel just as enthusiastic and excited about your products or services as you are.
With all of the above being said, it is still important to be consistent in everything you do as a brand. Consistency is the blood that runs through your brand, differentiating it from the competition and enabling it to remain in the memories of your consumers for longer.
It also brings familiarity to your brand, which automatically leads to loyalty. Provided you consistently deliver high-quality goods and services, you can expect your customers to return back to your business in future.
The world’s greatest brands are supported by influential leaders who continually aspire for greatness. Whether that involves a sports team, a large corporation or a small business, the most successful of these will have an influential leader backing them. When you think of Apple you immediately think of Steve Jobs, who was an extraordinary leader who taught us all many valuable lessons about strength and leadership.
As a business owner, you need to live and breathe your brand in order to inspire both your workforce and your clientele to possess the same enthusiasm and passion for your brand. This in turn will lead everyone associated with your brand to feel deeply affiliated with it as your passion for what you do truly shines through.
Another important characteristic of a successful brand is exposure. Well-known sports brand, Puma, combines numerous marketing channels to reach out to its target audience, including video, social media and experiential marketing to truly immerse its customers into the brand.
Although you may not have a budget as vast as Puma’s, thanks to the internet it has never been easier to increase exposure of your business. By developing a presence on social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and reaching out to customers through multiple channels, you have a better chance than ever to reach consumers and establish your brand on a global scale.
7. Audience knowledge
Last but not least, you cannot achieve any of the above without having a thorough knowledge of your target audience. You can easily do this by performing in-depth research about the demographics of your target audience.
This not only improves the quality of your content but also helps you to communicate with your audience in a way that directly appeals to them, which in turn encourages you to create a strong, human connection between your business and your target audience.
What are the 4 Steps of Branding?
To begin the brand-building process, it is essential to consider the brand resonance model. The Brand resonance model describes how to create compelling, active loyalty relationships with customers and does so by building a brand in a sequence of steps. This model considers brand positioning and the way it affects what consumers think, feel, do, and how they resonate or connect with a brand.
The brand resonance model works hand-in-hand with the four steps of brand building. The four stages are as follows:
Step 1: Brand Salience –
In this step, it is crucial to establish your identity and ask yourself as the brand, “who are you?”
Here a brand needs to “ensure identification of the brand with customers and an association of the brand in their customer’s minds with a specific product class, product benefit, or customer need.” Salience means that something is Important and relevant.
Therefore, brand salience implies that we recognize the brand, and it is relevant to us. Brand salience is the measurement of consumer recall of the brand in different consumption situations. How persuasive is the brand’s awareness? Are our consumers aware of what needs our brand can satisfy?
Step 2: Performance and Imagery –
In this step, it is essential to develop your brand’s meaning and to answer the corresponding question, “What are you?” It is vital to “firmly establish the totality of brand meaning in the minds of customers by strategically linking a host of tangible and intangible brand associations.”
In the performance and imagery step, we expect the brand to perform, and to perform well; we need to develop and communicate to our audience imagery relevant to our brand. Brand performance describes how well the product or service meets the customer’s needs.
Brand imagery is used by brands to meet their needs psychologically. Brand imagery refers to more intangible aspects of a brand and allows consumers to recall their experiences and associate a brand with its products and imagery.
Step 3: Judgement and Feelings –
In this step, it is important to determine your brand responses, “what about you?” “What do I think or feel about you?”
The objective of the judgment and feelings steps is to “elicit proper customer responses to the brand.”
In the judgment and feelings step, the consumers are developing feelings and making a judgment about our brand. By making judgments about our brand, I mean consumers are evaluating product performance, their experience with the service, and/or making a judgment on whether they would consider our brand when needing to fulfill future needs.
Everyone has an opinion, but the brand judgment stage works to ensure the consumers have a reasonable opinion of the brand. Brand quality, credibility, consideration, and superiority fall within this category, and here a brand strategize ways to ensure consumers’ judgments are favorable.
Step 4: Brand Resonance –
Finally, in this step, it is important to develop brand relationships. Answer the questions, “What about you and me?” “what kind of association and how much of a connection would I like to have with you?”
Brand resonance is the last step in the brand resonance model. When something “resonates” with you, you understand, feel in common with, or can sense it. Brand resonance means just that, the consumer has developed a loyalty to your brand, they resonate with it, feel connected to the brand and the community associated with the brand, they enjoy the engagement and feel attached to your brand.
This is the stage of the model that all brands are ultimately trying to achieve. This is because brand resonance means brand loyalty; it means the consumers who resonate with your brand will always choose your brand first; they don’t consider competing brands to fulfill their needs.
What is the More Important in Brand Equity?
Breaking down the components of brand equity can help you build your business more effectively. When you understand the factors that contribute to equity, you can target them specifically and take a more well-rounded approach to building more equity for your Knowledge Commerce company.
Think of brand equity as a jigsaw puzzle. You have to move all the right pieces into place to gain the most benefits. When a piece goes missing, you lose the opportunity to give your company the equity it deserves.
The most important components of brand equity are the following:
- Brand Recognition
- Brand Awareness
- Customer Experience
- Customer Preference
- Customer Retention
- Perceived Quality
How do you Choose Branding Elements to Build Brand Equity?
A brand element is an immediate thing when we create a brand. This is necessary because the brand element serves to identify and differentiate the brand. A brand that does not have the brand elements can’t be said as a brand.
In fact, the model of customer-based brand equity also suggests that marketers should choose a name element, it aims to increase brand awareness. The name element itself include brand names, visualization, etc. To build a real brand equity, several criteria must be possessed.
In general, there are six criteria when determining brand elements, including:
1. MemorabilityBrand elements always have a connection with the brand equity. Memorability is a necessary condition to build brand equity to achieve high brand awareness. For example, propane gas canisters brand name Blue Rhino featuring mascot animals’ powder-blue with a distinctive yellow flame is likely to remain in the minds of consumers. Brand elements that we make must be catchy and easy to recognize.
2. MeaningfulnessIn addition to the brand, parts should be remembered; brand items also need to have a real meaning, both descriptive and persuasive. It is hoped this meaning can influence consumers to consume these products. Description of the meaning contained can be:
- General information on the categories and contents of the product.
- Specific information about particular attributes and benefits of the brand.
3. LikabilityBrand elements are easily remembered and recognized, meaningfulness, and likability would attract offers many advantages. Besides brand elements are clear and convincing marketing communications section will assist in building awareness and brand equity. Also, the brand elements must also be aesthetically unpleasant.
4. TransferabilityTransferability measures the extent to which brand elements increase brand equity for new products or new markets. There are several aspects to criteria like this:First, how brand items useful for lines or extensions category?
Usually less specific name, the easier it is to be transferred to the entire group.
Second, to see the extent to which brand elements boost brand equity across geographical boundaries and market segments?
It depends on the content of the cultural and linguistic quality of the brand elements.
Difficulty in translating names, slogans, and packages into other languages and cultures are also encountered by marketers who are already top, and it has become legendary over the years. For example, Microsoft.
When Microsoft launched Vista operating system in Latvia, Vista’s name means “chicken” or “female shabby” in the local language. To avoid such things, companies should review all elements of their brand to see the cultural meanings before being introduced into new markets.
5. AdaptabilityThe fifth criterion for determining brand elements is an adaptation. Adaptation from time to time. Changes in consumer value, or simply because of the need to keep the contemporary brand requires that most of the elements be updated. Brand elements are adaptable and flexible will be easy to update. For example, a logo or a character who can be given the look or design a new one for them appear more modern and relevant.
6. ProtectabilityLast criteria when determining brand elements is the brand elements should be protected both in law and in a competitive sense. Companies should choose the brand elements can be protected by international law, registering the name to legal entities which remain officially, and defending trademarks of a competitive unauthorized breach.
Additionally, a brand must be protected from competition. If the name, package or other attributes are easy to copy, there will be many unique names that may be missing.
Thus, when determining brand elements six criteria must be considered. Brand elements should be easy to remember and easy to recognize the first standard that is memorable.
Second, the existing brand elements should be descriptive and persuasive means meaningfulness or significance. Brand elements should also be exciting and fun, and it aesthetically pleasing, it is the third criteria of brand elements is likable.
The fourth rule is, transferable where we have to remember that this product will be sold not only in the region but also across geographical boundaries and cultures so that we also have to consider the matter.
What are the Principles of Branding?
The first step in creating that all-important connection between customer and brand is being recognized. Some brands opt for a simple brand identity, others use a more elaborate construction built from the experience one receives when using the product.
Creating a strong brand identity is a necessary first step for building a brand and it should guide all the brand manager’s decisions regarding packaging, shop design and ad campaigns. Simply, everything connected with the brand comes back its identity. Good brands are synonymous with their product, so every creative and strategic decision should be tied back into the wider brand identity message.
We’ll use the example of Clipper Tea: a company with an extremely strong brand identity. The package design, the material used for the products, the language: all reflect a feeling of natural, unprocessed tea. The branding team have worked hard to cultivate an identity that appears extremely organic.
Unbleached tea bags hint at environmental consideration, while the textured card packaging, along with the hand-drawn style design, hint at nature’s perfect imperfections. Their points of difference – ‘to improve the welfare of our workers,’ ‘pure ingredients and a clear conscience’ – place their product as an antithesis of the corporate, mass-produced tea brands.
So the brand manager knows and understands the brand identity, but what message does she want consumers to take away? When a brand becomes synonymous with a particular meaning, quality or emotion – think of Apple’s iMac and its connection to graphic design – consumers start to make decisions based on perceived value. “If I get an iMac, therefore, I will become a more creative person”. The decision suddenly becomes easier:
“If I’m serious about doing what I love [creating graphics, for example], then I simply must buy an iMac. The large, high-resolution screen, the streamlined software integration with Adobe… it’s really a no-brainer. It just… works!”
Companies can tout their message all they want, however, it’s the customer’s response that is king. If a brand becomes recognizable and its meaning is understandable then it’s up to the customers to decide if they believe in the brand’s message.
Market research should be carried out before a brand launches to understand how customers perceive the brand and its product. Depending on the results, steps might be taken to align the brand with the particular response being aimed for. This could mean venturing back into the brand’s identity and meaning if the desired result is not achieved.
Once identity, meaning and response have been established, the brand should be on its way towards creating long-term relationships with customers. For success, all the aforementioned principles of branding must come together (and combine with the product) to give customers a reason to keep going back.
Loyal customers are more likely to repeat buy, pay more for a product and may even become promoters of the brand themselves. Simply, they’re invaluable. How is this level attained? Allowing product standards to slip is a sure-fire way to alienate those most loyal. Sure, they may stick with a brand that is dropping its standard for a while, but winning these customers back is often more challenging than gaining their loyalty in the first place.
So continued improvement and innovation of a product is a good way to encourage customers to stay loyal; maintaining and developing the strong and consistent brand message to coincide with product innovations is a must. Marketing material should find the appropriate way of creating a narrative around product innovation, no matter how small it may be.