As a small or medium sized business, having a strong brand can improve your revenue by at least 30% because a strong brand means you have made a good impression on people as the solution provider for a problem.
Strong brands like Apple and CocaCola have a core foundation for whatever branding they undertake and this core foundation is what has guided them into becoming the world class brands that they are.
A strong brand helps a business stand out and appear trustworthy to the right audience. It is therefore very key to put the work in towards having a strong brand via some basic foundation principles that we have broken down into 10 steps.
1: Determine Your Why and How
2: Know Your Competition
3: Determine Your Target Audience(s)
4: Develop Your Brand Strategy
5: Create Your Brand Identity
6: Create Your Brand Story
7: Tell The World About Your Brand
8: Promote Your Brand
9: Review Your Progress
10: Always Choose To #ProceedWithJoy
1. Determine your why and how
Successful brands have a set of defined values, or guiding principles that appeal to their target audience(s) enough to get them to buy. These values are essentially the brand’s purpose. To create a clear brand purpose, you should answer the following questions
- Who are we as a brand?
- Why do we exist as a brand?
- How is our brand different?
- Why would/should people care about our brand?
These questions should help you identify features and benefits of your brand, its products and/or services. They will also help give your target audience(s) a reason, or more, to choose you.
2. Knowing your competition can guide you to becoming a strong brand
To differentiate your brand properly from the competition, you need to have an idea of what they are doing and how they are doing it. Checking out their messaging, reviews/social media comments made by customers is a good place to start.
No you are not knowing your competitors so you can copy them verbatim. No no no. You are knowing your competitors so you can learn from them and refine your approach from those lessons. In fact, read this paragraph again and replace competitors with mentors.
3. A strong brand knows it’s target audience(s)
Identify at least 2 main classifications of people who would be your ideal customers. These classifications are called buyer personas. They are essentially a list of characteristics of those you believe would be interested in buying from you. Identifying demographic variables like age, sex, education and profession and then layer in psycho-social variables like hobbies, motivators, favourite brands, personality traits, life philosophy, etc. is a good place to start. These buyer personas will then guide your brand messaging and marketing efforts over time
Our How To Create Useful Buyer Personas For Your Brand article can be of help to you.
4. A brand strategy is critical to becoming a strong brand
Your brand development strategy is the long-term plan to achieve a series of long-term goals that ultimately result in the identification and preference of your brand by consumers. – bynder.com
A brand’s strategy is essentially documentation that gives guidance and structure to your brand. It explains your brand’s vision and mission and what sets your brand apart from competitors. It also speaks to how you want your target audience(s) to see your brand.
This is essentially the HOW of your brand in more detail. To start getting clarity on your strategy, it is important to answer questions like the following.
- How does your audience currently see your brand?
- How would you like your audience to see your brand in 6/12 months?
- What steps can take you go from where you are now to where you want to be in 6/12 months? (better still How do you want to go on the journey from #1 to #2)
Putting these in writing and ensuring it is followed in all forms of communications is critical to building and maintaining a strong brand.
5. A consistent brand identity will help to build a strong brand
Brand identity is a set of visual components like colour, design, and logo, that helps to identify a brand. A brand’s identity also helps to distinguish a brand from others in consumers’ minds. The ultimate goal of brand identity is to ensure customers remember a brand and connect with it. Your brand’s identity is a key part of your journey to become/remain #aBrandThatSells. You can see brand identity as rules and regulations that control how a brand communicates with the audience.
Your Identity is the way that you convey this to the public with visuals, messaging, and experience. Your brand strategy will influence how you present your identity and align it with your purpose for the most impact.
Keeping a brand’s identity consistent is important when it comes to creating the right impression. A set of brand guidelines, that document the do’s and don’ts of your brand, can help ensure a business sticks to its identity.
Developing a good and effective brand identity is a continuous process. It is therefore important not to get hung up on details early on. It is unrealistic to expect a silver bullet moment when you see brand identity concepts. So, take it slow and steady knowing fully well that it can be updated and upgraded along the way.
6. Create your brand story or stories
Using stories to tell your audience the uniqueness, value and purpose of your brand is essential to getting your business to become #aBrandThatSells because storytelling has been at the heart of connecting people to almost anything forever.
Stories build familiarity and trust like word of mouth marketing does and gives your audience more clarity on things you can do for them because they are efficient at passing/explaining complex and abstract ideas. For example if a product or service is a combination of smaller ones, telling a story lets you pass that message across much more easily and in ways a reader can be familiar with,
- People will not easily remember the formal definition of a brand but they will remember the products and services of that brand to which they can relate to easily
- Stories are easier to connect to for the audience in comparison to technical information.
- People and remember stories way more than they can remember formal information
- People share stories more readily and easily over sharing other learned information.
This why the big brands like Coca Cola, Apple, Pepsi, Samsung, Nike and more are focused o one message per time that ultimately finds it way back to connecting their audience to ease, safety, joy, happiness and more.
You can find some more about storytelling in our Storytelling, Does it really work? Peak Milk as a case study article
7. Tell the world about your brand because closed mouths don’t get fed
Put together everything in the steps above and then start talking about your brand, and what it does (products/services), to as many people as possible. Your brand is essentially what people say about you when you are not in the room and to get them to say good things means you must first and foremost do good things and then share the stories of those good things you have done.
The way you present your brand to people determines how they will relate with your brand. For internal parties like staff and consultants goes a long way to influence how they rate your brand and the work they will do for/with you.
The way you present your brand to external parties like clients, investors and even competitors determines how much you can bill them for your products and services.
So, it is first important to tell your stories and then secondly to tell it properly with the right visuals.
8. Promoting your brand is critical to making it a strong brand
After you tell your story with good visuals, the next thing is to ensure that those stories reach as many people as possible because the more people you reach, the higher your chances of becoming successful and strong.
No brand will really grow and become hugely successful without one form of promotion or the other. Be it paid ads or influencer marketing, ensure you use available marketing techniques to spread the word about your brand.
9. Review your progress over time
After a few months of sharing your stories and promoting them, it is important to review what you have done so far. Good and honest reviews will point you towards the things that are good and have worked for your brand and those that have not. From your reviews, you will determine the things you must do again because they worked and the things that need to be improved on.
Using questionnaires to get feedback from your customers about your service can also point you towards the stories you need to tell going forward.
Reviews are not so you change your whole strategy every 30 or 90 days. They are for you to find out how to improve your results based on your current strategy. Your brand strategy should be something you stick to for 6 months to 1 year if you really want to get it to work. Parts of it can be modified based on reviews but not an overhaul every 30 or 60 days. No strong brand is created like that.
10. Always Choose To #ProceedWithJoy
You will face ups and downs on your journey to become #aBrandThatSells. It is important to always choose to always move forward. Learn from setbacks and don’t give up easily on becoming a better version of your brand. There is a reason the strongest brands in the world like Apple and Facebook are always releasing updates to their products and service – THEY ARE LOOKING FOR WAYS TO DO AND BE BETTER. Do likewise in your own little way by choosing to #ProceedWithJoy no matter how hard it feels because in the end there is #VictoryForTheHardWorker