Building a Brand

What is a brand?

Simply put, a brand is the way your business or product is represented, perceived and experienced by an audience. People often believe a brand is just a visual identity, which helps to differentiate one company or product from another; brand identity and building that identity is much more than that. It’s about your businesses’ values, ethics and vision, as much as it is about the service or product you provide.

Building a brand is, at its core, about creating familiarity and recall. It’s about the extent to which your audience or potential clients are familiar with and therefore recall your brand and everything associated with it. Think about your favourite brand. Is it the name that comes to mind, or their logo or key designs? Think of Nike, do you think of their name in writing or the tick logo?  Think of Amazon. You think of the smiley arrow on a box right? Well also think of the logo (insert image or link to the logo for Amazon). Did you realise the start of the smiley arrow takes us from the letter A to the letter Z in Amazon – which subliminally repeats the message that you can get everything there from A to Z.

Why do I need a brand?

Getting your brand right is integral to being memorable. This is what we refer to as brand awareness. This is the ease with which a person recalls a brand. It isn’t just, whether somebody remembers your logo, symbol, mark, piece of music or the strapline you use, it’s much more about the power that’s behind this visual or oral queue and what that small interaction means to them emotionally.

Ensuring the brand always represents your business, requires careful management; making sure it’s continually associated with your company’s values, vision and ethics. If your business product is a natural dog food, and your company vision is to provide the best quality natural ingredients to create healthy, happy dogs, then your brand will need to represent this. This can include the colours used, words and images, all working together to reflect the purpose.

A brand represents how you want your business or product to be remembered and talked about, if you’re not there. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, himself agrees with this (read his quote here).

Think about that, for just a moment. How do you want people to talk about you personally when you leave a room? As being honest, reliable, fun? It stands to reason businesses want to be remembered in a certain way too!
A brands personality can be reflected in all areas of a business from marketing, to internal behaviours and the customer experience. Unfortunately a brand without purpose, is a nice logo but nothing more.

What benefits will my business see from having good branding?

Brand is important! The ability to communicate so much information to potential clients, in a single visual or oral interaction (a logo, piece of music or strapline for example) is invaluable. Ensuring this association is positive is key to helping generate leads, sales and differentiating yourself from your competitors.

Take Nike; we all know their trademark tick. It’s a simple tick (or Swoosh as they refer to it) but with careful brand management, Nike have built a mark which once seen, represents:

a) Nike
b) Sportswear, footwear or just sports
c) ‘Just do it’, their motivating strapline
d) Positivity
e) Desire
f) Performance
g) Aspiration for achievement and success.

Recalling all this, in a single visual image is an extraordinarily strong brand message and one with high brand awareness in the marketplace. They’ve worked hard following a dedicated set of rules and creative formula, to make sure the brand stays consistent and true to the values, ethics and experience perceived by their audience.

Think back about brands you like and respect, they will often be consistent and provide a familiar feeling. Again, it is important to remember brand is, at its core, about familiarity and consistency. It’s about the extent to which your audience or potential clients are familiar with (and therefore recall) your brand. And therefore being consistent with the imagery and messaging is highly important to create credibility and reliability with the audience.

You can ‘tweak’ and ‘refresh’ a brand image but if you depart entirely from the brand you’ve built, you can make customers feel uneasy, potentially losing them. Brand awareness needs to be carefully cultivated and maintained, enabling you to become a preferred supplier in your marketplace, resulting in more sales and leads.

How do I understand the reach of my brand?

As we have mentioned the brand if the representation of the values and personality of the business. Therefore the key to creating a brand is to understand your company values and personality. We used above the example of Nike (set up internal in page link), we referred to how people perceive Nike. But what was their aim for their company and what were they trying to portray with their brand.

Nike Mission: “Bring inspiration and innovation to ever athlete* in the world. *If you have a body you are an athlete.”

Read the details for their website here.

Nike Vision: We see a world where everybody is an athlete – united in the joy of movement. Driven by our passion for sport and out instinct for innovation, we aim to bring to every athlete in the world and to make sport a daily habit.

Nike Core Values: Performance, Authenticity, Innovation and Sustainability
According to Comparably (a US website that rates companies as employers), 77% of Nikes employees align themselves with the mission, vision and values of the company and see them as:

• Do the right thing
• Be on the offense always (so always look to how to do better/look for the next opportunity)
• Sever athletes* (*remember Nike sees everyone as an athlete)
• Create the future of sport
• Win as a team.

Do you know what Nike stands for? To help embody their mission, vision and values, they were looking for a symbol that matched with these visions. Originally called blue ribbon Sports (until 1978), their goals have always been similar and the “swoosh” and the company name change took on board the name of the Greek Goddess for victory, Nike. The Goddess inspired the Greek warriors.

The swoosh, was termed from the sound of something or someone passing by at speed. So the tick or swoosh embodies fast, speed and motion, and it was shaped to look like a wing, and the converging lines also represented speed and direction.

With a name then stands for victory and inspiration to those who wish to be. Do you now see what a logo and symbol means more than just a pretty picture? There is a great article explaining the important of the Nike name and branding from DesignHill here. But as you will read, getting it right can take a lot of time, and a lot of review. But for a design we all think is part of our culture, but was rejected many times before it was adopted, it just goes to show, sometimes things take time.

So when looking at your branding, consider the mission, vision and values of your business. It is important that you ensure your audience can understand your branding embodies this. It may take time and careful management of the brand and messaging to imbed these with the visual representation of the brand. But this is where you marketing research and strategy will help you do just that and take your audience on that journey, and lead to good brand awareness (insert link to brand awareness) which you can than measure and learn, develop and improve from.

We understand there’s a lot to get your head around, when starting to create a brand, potential and existing customers will recall. If you would like some support, along with producing recommendations to improve your sales and lead generation free of charge, get in touch here.

What else do I need to know?

You need to live and breathe your brand, and so it is easy to be blinkered to the fact that those outside of your circle may not know your brand or see the brand in the same way that you do.

Positive perception and consistency with the brand is key. Researching how you are perceived now, without assuming the answers is really important. Combining this with our four steps; research with a strong marketing strategy, on point communication and design, and the measurement of its effectiveness will be key to enabling you to grow your brand awareness and in turn your business long term.

Before deciding on a brand if you have the opportunity, always try testing it with your different types of audience, and also those who are not your key audience to gauge how they see the logo and what they feel it represents with and without the additional messaging your marketing may carry.

If you already have a logo, there is no need to completely redesign. Sometimes a complete redesigns without a good reason (say a merger or a major change of company focus for example) can indeed have a negative impact on a brand. So be careful to rebrand or alter your brand for the right reasons, and to make sure you communicate the reason for the rebrand to your clients and audiences positively.

Sometimes it may be better to ask your clients what they like about the branding you already have, and what they would like to see changed before you start, and then do small “tweaks” over time rather than one big change. As the point of the branding is the instant visual recognition you don’t want to destroy that with what you have already built and have to start again.

At Need to Know Marketing we love providing information for SME’s so they can grow. We also understand this work can be time consuming and difficult to begin with. To assist you, we provide a free of charge one hour consultation, where we have an open discussion about your business objectives and what you’re looking to achieve.

Following the consultation we will provide you with a marketing strategy, advising how we recommend meeting your business objectives through marketing. If you are interested in knowing the cost of our services, you can use our calculator as a guide.

“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.”

Walt Disney knew telling a story is always always easier with pictures. It crosses all barriers. The best story tellers are always the best at engaging their audience.