Years ago, a brand was just a logo or an icon that people recognized. Today, branding is so much more than that. People are more lifestyle driven, they want to use products and services that match their beliefs and want as much customization as they can get. Just a logo is simply not cutting it anymore. That’s why your business needs a branding strategy.
You need to show — through words and actions —what value you’re adding to the customer’s life, what your brand stands for — beliefs, values and personality — and communicate it in a way that attracts your dream client. And then wrap it all up in visuals that match your words and actions.
You need to give your dream clients a good reason why they should pick you instead of your competitor. And that’s where branding comes in. Branding will help you reach goals, attract the right customers and drive up your earnings when done right. That’s why it’s important before starting the branding process to know what branding is and why you business needs a branding strategy.
WHAT IS BRANDING
Your branding isn’t just your logo, it’s what makes your company unique. It’s your visuals combined with the value you give, what you stand for and how you communicate with your target audience.
In other words, it’s:
• Your visual identity
Your logo, color palette, slogan, etc. — even your office space needs to be on brand. It’s basically the first impression you leave with your dream client.
• Your product or service value
What’s the problem you’re solving?
• Your why
The personality of the brand: what are your brand values, what does your brand stand for and what are your beliefs?
• Your tone of voice
How you approach your dream client and how you communicate with them. Is it all strictly professional or can you throw in a joke every now and then?
Defining your brand
Before you can even start with branding your business, you need to define your brand. Find out what makes your brand unique. It’s who the brand is but also who the brand wants to be and who the brand wants to reach. It’s giving your business a personality that sparks intrest in your dream client and with whom they want to connect and eventually buy from. A great way is to formulate a brand statement, like mine:
“Fiona Gobbo Creative is a branding & creative concept studio that helps brands find their sense of self by having a consistent identity and bringing the brand experience to life.”
My added service value is that I always work with the purpose or the why of a brand or brand owner and than build an experience around it. It’s my personal way of approaching a branding project and how I think we’ll create the best branding that will turn heads of (potential) dream clients.
The added value
What problem are you solving for your client?
It’s the billion dollar question to define what your added value is for your target audience. You’re not just providing a service — in my case creating a branding strategy or design — but you’re solving a problem that your dream client is struggling with or needs help with. For my target audience it’s creating a consistent branding experience for their dream clients that aligns with the identity of the business or entrepreneur.
Finding your why
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” — Simon Sinek
If you haven’t heard of ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek or his Golden Circle model, quickly watch his TED Talk (and get his book after if you want to know more). The why of your business isn’t what you do — your product or service — or how you do your business, it’s the reason why you do it. It’s your beliefs and values. It’s what your business stands for. It’s its purpose.
And yes it’s a though one to crack but definitely an important one.
I belief that brands and business that are true to their sense of self create better brand experiences that help their dream clients with their problems and helps the brands reach their potential faster than lightning.
Want more example’s of why’s from other brands? This article has a lot of good and sharply formulated examples.
Let’s get visual
As a branding designer & stylist it’s still important to have visuals that match all the above. It’s the way you make your first impression. Your logo, slogan, colors, fonts, etc. should all communicate why you do what you do, what you do and what’s unique about your business.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BRANDING FOR YOUR BUSINESS
After knowing what branding is and how to define your brand, it is time to jump into the importance of branding — the why so to speak — and how it can make or break your business.
Creates a plan of action
When you define your branding strategy, you’re essentially putting a plan into place how to run your business and what you want to achieve. Your why, for example, is what you’ll consider your greatest accomplishment. And your visual identity already sets the mood of who you want to work with or for.
In other words, your branding will help you achieve your business goals. It’s your plan of action.
When you develop your branding you’re creating brand objectives — your goals — and who your target audience is — your dream clients — that you want to focus all your efforts on.
“Branding is not only about getting your target market to select you over the competition but about getting your prospects to see you as the sole provider of a solution to their problem or need.”
— Laura Lake (The Balance Small Business, 2018)
Another reason why your business needs a branding strategy is for marketing purposes.
Branding is the base of your business: who you are, what value you bring and why you do it. All of this is based on what you want to achieve as a business. Marketing is a tool to translate your brand into a message and spread it across channels targeting your dream clients. Marketing helps you achieve your business goals
If there isn’t a base — your branding — than all your marketing efforts will got to waste. You need a strategy to succeed, to create awareness, to define what makes your brand unique and to create loyalty. If you don’t define your branding than what are you going to communicatie to your target audience? It’ll probably be inconsistent and not a strong message.
It creates an experience
The biggest difference between just a logo and branding is that branding creates an experience. It touches people’s emotions, it unites beliefs and gives the full picture of a business. That experience is something your dream client can “touch” and connect with. It’s bigger than just a logo.
THE FUTURE OF WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A BRANDING STRATEGY
So what does the future hold for branding? Personally I think a lot of changes but it will still be important.
Not just words, action!
Sure you have a movement coming up with people wanting to go brandless and focus more on the value. In itself, that’s already a brand. For years you paid more for the brand logo being put on a product or attached to a service. People want more from brands. They want their beliefs to be aligned. They want brands to take a stance. They don’t want to hear just words but also action.
To me that just underlines the importance of branding. Because branding is more about why you do what you do instead of just a pretty logo.
What it means for brands is to find ways to bring your beliefs to life. If your brand belief is to provide better opportunities for the next generation of women, think about what you can do to make that belief a reality. For example, donate profits to a cause that helps women in third world countries to learn new skills.
If your words and actions don’t match, (potential) customers will stop buying your products or services or stop working with you or for you.
Customer centered experiences & niches
Branding will be even more customer experience centered. To do that, brands will have to focus on niches instead of the masses. Creating niches will help bring more focus to your branding and will also help wasting money on marketing efforts. The more niche your dream client is, the more likely it’ll be that the experience you’re offering will match their needs.
It’s all about dominating smaller niches and creating more success.
Voice search is definitely a thing of the near future. With Apple expanding their market for the HomePod, Google Home dominating the market and Amazon’s Echo, it’s not that weird to start thinking about how this will impact your brand.
Among things you need to think about are keywords and your tone of voice. But since we’re in the early stages — there are still a lot of kinks in the system that need to be worked on. Plus how the companies will want to monetize — it’s still hard to tell how exactly you can prepare your business. Personally I think investing in building strong relationships with your dream clients and making sure your SEO and marketing efforts are on point are good steps to protect your brand position. Which means that your base — your branding — needs to be on point.
BRANDING IS IMPORTANT & HAVING A BRANDING STRATEGY IS VITAL
In case you didn’t get the gist of the article: branding is important if you want to thrive and be successful as a business in this lifestyle driven day and age. But it’ll also stay important in the future. Define your why, what problem you’re solving, how you want to communicate with your dream client and wrap it up in one consistent visual identity.
It’s always important to keep pivoting your brand, to stay true to your values, at least every two years. Keep yourself informed on what’s going on in the world, in your field of expertise and in the life’s of your dream clients.