If you’re going to conquer the business world, you’ll need an effective brand. That, in turn, means that you need to build your brand accordingly. With time, effort, and patience, your business and your niche will be considered interchangeable by your target audience.
What is brand building?
Brand building is the art of firmly establishing your business in the hearts and minds of consumers. Building your brand means gradually applying core values to your entire business. Your online presence, your marketing, your direct communication with consumers … all of these must abide by the rules established in your branding.
Once complete, your brand will be instantly recognisable. If consumers hear your business name and can immediately describe the products or services you provide – and speak of them in glowing terms! – you have succeeded in building your brand.
Of course, creating a brand is not an overnight process. You’ll need to increase your industry reach and consumer awareness steadily. This is achieved by remaining consistent in your messaging, values and offering – as well as indulging in some memorable marketing and establishing an unmistakable visual identity.
Why is it important to build a brand?
Building and expanding upon a brand identity is key to improving the financial performance of your business. 88% of consumers prefer to purchase directly from a brand name they recognise. If you fail to build a brand, you risk alienating a significant proportion of your potential audience.
In addition, building a brand means that your business will become synonymous with your industry. If you need to conduct a weekly food shop, your mind will instinctively drift toward, “I need to go to Tesco.”
Depending on your budget and geography, you may need to switch Tesco in the above example with Waitrose, Sainsbury’s or Aldi, but you know what we mean. You’re likelier to think of a particular shop name than the generic concept of a supermarket. That is the power of brand building.
How to build a brand
Once your business to ready to undertake the branding process, you can get underway. Remember, though, you are building a brand. That means time and patience will be required. You’ll be undertaking a six-step process, which we’ll now elaborate upon in greater detail.
How to build a brand
- Choose your niche
The first and most important decision you’ll need to make when building a brand is choosing a niche to operate within. If you do not fully grasp what sector will benefit from your business offering, you cannot expect customers to do so on your behalf.
Sometimes, a niche is apparent and falls into your lap. You may inherit a business model, for example, or always know precisely what industry you want to work in. Other entrepreneurs need to consider what niche suits them best. Questions to ask in this instance are:
• What are you passionate about and prepared to dedicate your working life to?
• What are you knowledgeable about, and capable of educating and entertaining an audience with this knowledge?
• Is there room for another business within the niche that interests you, or is it already oversaturated?
• How will you resolve any problems that consumers experience?
• Will you be able to turn a profit in your niche within a set timeframe?
The Japanese concept of Ikigai can come in helpful here. Ikigai loosely translates as “reason for being.” As the owner and operator of an SME, you should always seek such enlightenment from your professional life. This will become the heart of your brand.
- Learn about your target audience
Once you have determined what niche you are keen to work within, you need to understand your consumers. Successful and effective brand building revolves and understanding what your audience wants – even if they do not know themselves – and delivering upon this.
If you undertake market research, you’ll learn the following:
• The typical age and economic status of your target audience
• How your audience wishes to be approached and marketed to
• Aesthetics and visuals that will appeal to your audience
• What experience and purchase journey the consumer expects to undertake
• Any pain points your audience experiences and wishes to have resolved
Let’s imagine that you run an ecommerce site that specialises in selling luxury jewellery online. Your target audience will likely be old enough to require dress jewellery and have the disposable income to invest in such products. They may be dubious about the quality and integrity of jewellery and wish to learn more about the origin of such products, including assurances that somebody obtained the products ethically.
These consumers are unlikely to pursue social media sites frequented by teenagers and require a marketing approach that focuses on quality and opulence. Take these learnings and apply them to your brand, steadily earning and increasing the trust of your ideal consumer.
- Research your competitors
Competition for business typically comes in two forms – direct or indirect. Returning to our luxury jewellery example, direct competition will be other sites and brands that appeal to a wealthy market and are prepared to pay a little extra for quality products. Indirect competition comes from the cheaper end of the industry and high-end department stores and antique dealers.
Both direct and indirect competitors merit investigating, but the former should obviously take priority. Consider undertaking a full SWOT analysis of your rivals in business. The big questions that you need to answer, though, include:
• What products and services are your competitors offering? Can you improve upon their service or selection?
• How does your pricing structure compare to that of your competitors?
• What advertising and marketing campaigns are your competitors running – and, more importantly, enjoying success with?
• What values and services do your competitors stand for?
Once you have this information, you can apply more building blocks to your brand identity. Do not outright imitate your rivals but take inspiration from what is working – and improve upon anything that is not.
- Consider your brand personality
Personality is just as important to a business as it is to an individual. Modern consumers want to feel a personal connection to businesses, not as though they are making purchases from a soulless corporate entity. This makes brand identity critical to building a brand.
This raises the question – just what is the personality of your business? Gather your team and brainstorm words that you feel can be associated with your offering. Use these words and values to create a positioning statement, and live and die by this going forward.
A positioning statement is not the same as a slogan or strapline for your business. That comes later in the brand building process, when we discuss the marketing of your product or service. Instead, a positioning statement is a fundamental belief in what your business stands for.
Whether that’s impeccable customer service, unique resolutions to long-standing problems, flawless products, ethical trading practices or anything else, you must abide by this positioning statement. If you do so, consumers will quickly notice this – and think positively of your brand as a result.
- Build a corporate identity
Next comes one of the most vital components of brand building – establishing your identity. At this stage, you need to use everything you learned until now to create the fundamentals of a brand worthy of the public’s adoration.
So much is involved here. You’ll need to study the psychology of branding, most notably colour, to choose the ideal corporate palette. You’ll need to build a website and maybe a mobile app if that’s the expectation of your audience. You’ll need to create branded stationery and visual identity, valid from your landing page to any printed communique.
Your business will also need a logo to stand out and capture consumer imagination. While a logo alone cannot rescue a substandard product or service, a memorable insignia can keep your business at the forefront of customer thinking.
Crafting the perfect logo for your business is a balancing act. You need something immediately appealing on the eye but also rewards closer examination. The logo needs to match your established corporate colours and remain suitable for inclusion in any formal communication.
An effective logo is a visual shorthand that captures everything you are trying to express about your business in one image. This is why the design takes place toward the end of building a brand. A logo is akin to placing a roof over the foundations of your existing branding.
- Market your brand and study its impact
Finally, the time has come to release this new brand identity into the world. Unless you are extremely lucky, your brand will not grow without promotion. This means that you’ll need to carefully manage your marketing approach.
You’ll need to create a shorthand slogan or one-liner to associate with your business, in addition to a social media presence. You may also want to consider email and other approaches. Set a budget for this and decide how you will promote your business. You may wish to consider bringing a third party, such as a marketing agency, to aid with publicity.
Of course, you’ll also need to review the speed at which your brand building progresses. Determine what you would consider an appropriate return on your investment. This could mean more significant profit margins, or it could simply be a greater familiarity in the marketplace.
Either way, ensure that your brand building progresses at a pace you consider appropriate. If you were hoping for faster results, think about what may need tweaking to reach a larger audience. There will always be more options for brand building, whether that’s embracing influencers or refreshing a marketing campaign following an audit.
Brand building costs – how much do companies spend on brand building?
The cost of brand building depends on various factors, including the niche you’re operating within and existing awareness. A new start-up business will need to spend more on brand building than a pre-existing company undergoing a rebrand.
If you do not have a budget set for brand building, consider consulting an agency for professional assistance. Doing so ensures that you’ll receive the maximum service and reward for your investment. Feel free to contact Creative.onl for a no-obligation quote and discuss how we can aid your brand building.
As a rule of thumb, most SMEs expect to spend around 15% of an initial outlay on building a brand. From here, an annual sum will be required to continue growing and expanding your brand awareness. Draw up a budget, but do not skimp and save on brand building expenses. This is the process that could make or break your business.
Brand building revolves around creating a reputation for your business that ensures you continually delight and attract consumers, whether new or returning. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, probably said it best when he described a brand as “what people say about your business when you are not in the room.”
In marketing terms, building a brand means ensuring that consumers can recognise your business through a visual shorthand. A logo, for example, or an advertising slogan. If somebody mentions Nike, thoughts immediately go to the ‘swoosh’ logo and “just do it” catchphrase. That is due to solid marketing brand building.
Brand building is critical as it’s how you establish a reputation among your consumer base. Building a brand means consumers feel comfortable purchasing your business as they know what you stand for. Your business is just a nameless, faceless entity asking for money without brand building.
Building a brand is priceless. If you take the time to build and establish a brand, your business will enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with consumers that lasts for generations. This will protect your business from the quirks and volatility of the local and global economy.
Anything that enhances the reputation and recognition of your business should be considered a brand building activity. Brand building begins with identifying an opportunity and assessing your consumer base and competitors before identifying your brand persona, designing a logo, and marketing your business to consumers.
Building a strong personal brand means gaining such recognition that your business is interchangeable with your niche. Google is an excellent example of this. In the 21st Century, most people will say, “have you Googled that?” rather than, “have you looked that up online?”