Consistent branding may increase your business’s revenue by 33%!
But the benefits of establishing a consistent, reliable, and trustworthy brand go beyond this. It is the foundation of your positive business reputation and the gateway to sustainability and growth.
However, to create a successful brand means to implement a variety of strategies across multiple channels and platforms.
This article looks into seven actionable steps for creating a branding plan that will help your business stand out and connect with your ideal customers.
1. Begin With the Fundamentals
The first step in creating a long-term, future-proof brand strategy is to define the following:
- Brand purpose: This is your “why” behind your business – the reason why you started it and why your brand exists. What role does your business have on the market? What needs does it satisfy with your target audience? Answering this will bring you closer to your brand’s purpose.
- Core values: These are the principles that guide your business throughout all operations, both internal and external. Your core values should be aligned with your target audience so they have something to relate to and be attracted to. Articulate your core values in specific terms and outline how you plan to live up to them because they help form the trust between you and your consumers.
- General target audience: The first step toward defining your ideal customer is to know who your general target audience is. These are people who make up the market for your brand. Establish who you sell to and how your products or services make their life better so you can meet their needs and solve their pain points. This definition of your target audience should go no further than general demographics, such as “young women aged 21-30,” “B2B marketers in small to mid-sized companies,” etc.
2. Create Your Buyer Persona / Ideal Customer Profiles
An ideal customer or buyer persona is a fictitious profile or representation of your most loyal customer who is most likely to buy from you and make repeat purchases.
This is a more granular definition of your target audience and goes beyond general demographic criteria. When defining your buyer persona, dive deep into their hobbies, online behavior, where they like to spend time, which social media channels they use the most, and so on.
Defining a user persona is critical for creating a branding plan that will efficiently connect you with your ideal customers. Data acquired about your customers, as well as the data you acquire about your competitors’ buyers and market research, are all essential for developing a buyer persona.
Some of the data that should comprise your ideal customer profile includes:
- Household income
- Causes they support
- Why they are buying your product
- How they are using your product
- How often are they buying your product?
- Where they spend time online
3. Analyze Your Competition
Another critical aspect of your branding plan is to define who you are up against on the market.
Think about your competition and answer the following questions:
- Who are your most direct competitors?
- What are the key aspects of their marketing/branding? How do they advertise their brand?
- What are the unique selling points of their products/services?
- What is their messaging like?
- Who are their customers?
- What do they do well and where do they fail?
- What does your business offer that your competitors don’t?
Answering these questions will result in a comparative analysis of your business against your competitors’ businesses. This should provide you with an idea of what specific market needs haven’t been met and how you can ensure that your brand meets these needs.
This will help you stand out among your competitors, by understanding what makes your business unique and different, which is important for the following step in creating a branding plan.
4. Come Up With A Brand Mission Statement
A brand mission statement, as any upstanding branding agency defines it, is a simple tagline that reflects your brand’s values and points toward your objectives.
This is a sentiment that summarizes your unique qualities as a brand and what you offer to your customers. It is an expression of what your business is passionate about.
Having defined your core values in the branding plan’s step #1, use those values to get to the bottom of your brand’s purpose. This informs every aspect of your brand building strategy and will form the basis of trust between you and your ideal customers.
The expression of your values and unique differentiators should be reflected in your logo, voice, message, and brand personality. A mission statement is the most direct manifestation of this, the one that your audience will associate with your brand.
Examples of brand mission statements that answer the question of what certain business do, include:
- Uber: We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion
- IKEA: To create a better everyday life for the many people
- TED: Spread ideas
- Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy
- LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful
5. Establish Your Brand’s Unique Value Proposition
Leverage the uniqueness of your business’s products, services, and benefits. Point them out as something that makes you unique and better than everyone else.
Memorable brands focus their branding strategies on what they offer and no one else does. You should also focus on these qualities. A unique value proposition is a brief description of these qualities. It gives your prospects a reason to choose your brand over others.
When creating your unique value proposition, it’s vital to remember that this is not simply a list of things that make you different. Instead, it should outline the value you provide your customers and how you can improve their lives.
Here are some of the examples of unique value propositions:
- Slack: Be More Productive at Work with Less Effort
- Digit: Save Money Without Thinking About It
- Lyft: Rides in Minutes
- Target: Expect More, Pay Less
- Evernote: Remember Everything
6. Identify Your Tone Of Voice And Develop Your Messaging Strategy
Brand personality is most effectively reflected in a brand’s tone of voice – how you communicate with your audience.
A unique brand voice that accurately reflects your brand personality, your offerings, and aligns with your target audience is another essential aspect of your branding strategy. To acquire a tone of voice for your brand – which can be playful, professional, helpful, corporate, formal, casual, etc. – you first need to identify your brand personality and the audience you are talking to. Your target audience will respond to your messaging better if your tone of voice displays traits of what they are attracted to and, especially, traits that they themselves exhibit.
Through this brand personality and tone of voice, you deliver your brand message. The first thing your brand messaging should address is the audience’s question: “How can this make my life better?” Your messaging’s end goal is to communicate that your business offers what your audience needs more efficiently than everyone else.
7. Create Your Visual Identity
A brand’s visual identity consists of elements such as logo, typography, colors, photography and other design cues that are the first thing prospects and customers notice about your business.
Your business’s visual identity is what will be used across all of your online and offline channels and platforms: your website, digital marketing, social media, packaging, press releases etc.
Your logo is the first point of contact your customers have with you as a brand. It should, therefore, be clear, understandable and communicate your brand personality. Visual identity elements such as your logo and specific brand colors increase brand recognition and awareness. They convey emotions about your brand to customers and help them remember you.
The number one rule in establishing your unique visual identity is consistency: consistent visual identity increases trust in your brand and comes across as professional and reliable. Well-established brands have brand style books that contain all the technical aspects of their visual identity. Brand books define the exact dimensions of a logo, styles to be used on different occasions, precise color codes, specific fonts and so on. This ensures consistency as your business scales and evolves over time.
Implementing a strategic approach when coming up with your business’s branding plan can help you develop a brand that reflects what your business is about and communicate your message to the right people. Following these seven essential steps in building your brand strategy ensures long-term consistency and a healthy foundation for your business’s growth.