Whether you are starting a new business or want to take your current business to the next level, the power of your brand (or brand) is of great importance to your potential success.
How you are perceived by customers, competition and the environment is all determined by your branding. You don't just build a respected and strong brand by ticking off a simple checklist. For a strong brand you need a long-term strategy.
Awesome branding for awesome clients
Our origins lie in branding. With our branding agency Loaded ink BNO we have been giving a face to companies, organizations, campaigns, products and people for 20+ years. With SYSO we often do that for SMEs, many web shops have known how to find us for years for a new branding, web shop and the necessary guidance to make a success of their online business.
Get to know the basic principles of brand strategy and branding below and discover the major benefits of a strong brand.
Branding terms explained
It is brand (English) or brand (Dutch) and all matching words based on this. The English and Dutch terms are often used interchangeably. We use the terms as we think make the most sense and fit the explanation.
What is branding?
Branding is a commonly used marketing term, it is the identification of a company. Fun branding fact: one of the first companies to introduce branding was Proctor & Gamble around 1930.
Good branding ensures that all communication and marketing is recognizable. A good brand distinguishes itself from the competition, exudes confidence and attracts the right customers.
At its most basic level, branding consists of a logo, a company's visual design, mission and tone of voice.
But your brand identity is also determined by the quality of your products, customer service and even how you price your products or services.
Here you can clearly see how all-encompassing branding is. An online company consists of three pillars that are all crucial for marketing your company. 1 - branding, 2 - webshop/site + blog and 3 - the supply of traffic.
What is brand identity?
Brand identity is therefore much, much more than just the logo or product of your brand. It is the general impression you leave with your audience, with a very own, recognizable house style that distinguishes you from the competition. You can say that the identity of a brand is its personality.
What is brand strategy?
A brand strategy is the holistic approach behind how a brand presents itself to its (potential) customers. A brand strategy includes all different brand elements, such as the tone of voice, brand story, brand identity, brand values and the overall atmosphere. If you present your company to the world with your brand, your brand strategy is the scaffolding that holds everything together. The five elements of a good brand strategy are:
- Brand story
- Brand tone of voice
- Brand design
- Brand Values
- Brand atmosphere
By having a website or webshop where you describe what you offer, run ads that promote your products or services, choose a specific color palette with which your company distinguishes itself, design a logo or have it designed and this on all your social media accounts, you brand your company. That is, you shape how the public sees your company.
Note: even if you don't do anything about branding, you still have a brand
Even if you've never been strategic about your branding, you still have a brand. For example, if you have poor customer service, it will ultimately affect how your customers see you. This allows you to be known as a company that doesn't care about the customers as much as you can be known for always putting the customer first at your company.
Ultimately, what your customers think and say about your brand is reality (not to be confused with what you would like them to think). It is the impression that comes to their mind when they hear the name of your company. It is based on a feeling they have that is based on their experiences they have had with you, good or bad.
That is why your brand strategy and having a brand management plan are so important.
Why you should take branding seriously
No company starts with the intention of creating an unreliable or shitty brand. Many entrepreneurs start a business with a grand vision of providing great products at a great price and creating loyal customers for life.
Again, if you have a business, you have a brand, whether or not you invest in building a strong brand identity. So you might as well give yourself every chance to succeed.
The goal of building a brand is to simply and easily help your customers understand what you offer. You do this through effective positioning. But it's not just what distinguishes you from your competitor (that's called: unique selling proposition - USP), it's the combination of all the ways you communicate what you stand for. In the case of branding, what you do is much more important than what you say (as is so often the case). If "customer is king" is your company mission statement, but you're not delivering great customer service, something isn't right.
Effective branding requires a strategic plan, including clear brand guidelines and the actual execution of what you promise.
Benefits of building a strong brand
Investing in your brand identity is therefore not only a kind of 'fun' occupational therapy, it also has many great benefits that can help your company grow and be successful on a large scale. The benefits of a strong brand include:
- Sell more
- Customer loyalty and recognition
- Help create a clear and inspiring mission or purpose
- Attract top quality talent to grow your business even further
- Developing strong brand equity will help you stand out from the competition
Again, building a strong brand takes time, but well worth the effort!
Brand guidelines and the branding process
Having clear brand guidelines is critical to maintaining a consistent and cohesive brand. When we have designed a branding, a brandboard is always created on which the visual identity is recorded; logo(s), colors, fonts and examples of application.
Examples of brand boards, you can find more in our case studies .
More than that...
But your brand encompasses not only how your customers see you, but also how your environment thinks about you. In addition to your logo and corporate colors, you can communicate your brand message and brand identity through:
- The atmosphere of your website/shop: is it positive, sleek, modern, clear? Or old-fashioned, messy or boring?
- A clear brand promise: what do you want to be known for with your customers?
- How your customers are treated: Are you known for great, personalized customer service and a great customer experience?
- Products: are they known to be of high quality?
- Pricing: Is your branding more geared towards upscale customers, or are you selling to customers who value a bang for the buck?
- Product packaging: good packaging can have a significant impact on your brand recognition and brand value.
- Public relations: PR and brand strategy often go hand in hand. How you respond to the challenges and mistakes made as your business grows impacts your brand.
- Sponsorships and collaborations: Who your brand collaborates with also plays a major role in your brand image.
- Advertising: Effective advertising is critical to improving your brand recognition. The messages to your audience should address their pain points, challenges, and needs directly.
You see, virtually every decision you make in your business ultimately impacts the power of your brand.
Brand management and branding tips to grow your brand
If your company does not yet have a consistent brand, or if you do not like where your brand currently stands, a 'rebranding' is a smart next step towards growth. This way you don't immediately throw away your current identity, which is important for the audience you've already gathered.
So avoid the temptation to burn all your ships and 'start from scratch' unless absolutely necessary. A new brand can drastically improve the health of your business, but you want to prevent your current customers from feeling out of place.
Revamping is our special skill
Branding restyling is something we have done a lot over the years, both with Loaded ink BNO and with SYSO. In such a project, we always immerse ourselves completely in the company and first look for the value that is already there, and then carefully revamp everything. We do this with great respect for what is already there and thus ensure a completely new, sustainable branding that will last for years to come! Check out the SYSO case studies .
Improve your brand
Here are some steps you can take to improve your brand in the eyes of your audience:
- Find out what your customers and audience value most about your business. What sets you apart? What are the strengths?
- Create a brand message and brand promise that expresses what your company wants to do for customers. In other words: what are you the best at? Coolblue, for example, will do anything for a smile. That's the brand promise. Marriott promises quiet luxury. What do you promise your customers? List 3 to 6 brand attributes that you absolutely want to excel at.
- Make sure everything that is visible to the outside world matches your desired visual identity and your brand. For example, if you promise innovation, don't use shades of gray and boring images. Colors and design play a crucial role in developing a strong brand image.
- Apply the visual branding to every marketing tool you use, social media accounts, ads, trade show/shop displays, mailings, tote bags, everything. This consistency helps both existing customers and new customers recognize your brand.
Branding is a complex process, especially since success or failure is determined by the reaction of your customers. If you get started with your branding, you will sometimes go wrong, but the costs of not investing in your branding far outweigh the negative consequences of being seen as an unreliable or shitty brand.
We do branding
The fact that we do branding is no longer news to you. We design logos, corporate identities and webshops, but did you know that we can also help you map out and improve your brand identity or expand your corporate identity and how about business coaching in that area? If you want to know more about this, let's get acquainted without obligation and book a focus call . That is often the first step towards a completely fresh insight.