By Dhun Patel & Chaitra Patel
If you think branding is an activity meant only for the likes of the Nestlés, ITCs, Apples, and Googles of the world, then it’s time to think again. Branding has never been more important to businesses both big and small than it is today!
But, why are we saying this?
‘Branding’ is an oft-misused word that’s casually thrown about, to indicate logo design and/ or visual elements. It’s much more than that! A strong brand does not develop overnight merely on the basis of a logo. It takes plenty of thinking, strategy, planning, design, and communication, to build a successful brand.
The good news is, it’s not really as intimidating as it sounds. All you need is a reliable brand strategy partner who’ll execute an infallible plan that’ll help you lift off your brand.
Here is how you build a winning brand, through a systematic design process.
1. Research as building blocks
Once the initial pleasantries are done, it’s time to address the 3 Ws of business — Who, What, and Why. Imagine you walk into a party and do not know who the guests are, what the occasion is and why you are there. How would you strike a conversation or develop a rapport with these people, if you don’t have the answers to these basic questions?
Now, apply this analogy to your business. Who are your consumers, what are you trying to sell and why should they buy from you? It all boils down to doing your market research right! So, the first step to creating a thorough business strategy is to identify and study your target audience, understand their pain points and what it is they really need.
Always ask the right questions, challenge assumptions, and test hypotheses. Use data to unlock insights, identify opportunities and formulate a winning strategy. Whether it’s trying to understand how consumers make decisions about their buying process or determine the ease with which they are able to differentiate and pick out specific brands in a crowded supermarket aisle or e-commerce page, ensure that research is the cornerstone of your entire process.
2. Defining the brand — what’s it all about
A brand in many ways is like a human being. It should ideally display all the characteristics that we attribute to people. To understand how, let’s go back to the party analogy. Assume you’ve done your homework (research) before entering the party, so you know a little bit about the others on the guest list. As you introduce yourself and network, you find that each person in the room is different from the other. Each one has a name and an identity of their own, a distinctive body language, style of dressing, and talking; each person in the room has a unique story that defines them. Amidst this gathering will be one or two people who noticeably stand apart from the rest. They are charismatic and draw plenty of admirers towards themselves because their story and self-presentation make them stand out. That is exactly how a brand ought to be — it needs to tell an outstanding story that users will sit up and take notice of.
To design a brand without these attributes in place is akin to painting a portrait from a photograph. It lacks identity and emotion. Ask yourself if your brand fulfills these prerequisites. If you find yourself fumbling for answers, then you know you need an expert to intervene. What follows next, is an interesting process of ‘re-discovering’ your brand, through its name, its tagline, a unique identity, a tone of voice, and a strong positioning statement that explains what your brand is all about.
3. It’s all in the communication
The cornerstone of every brand is, a compelling story. The brand needs to strike an emotional chord with its consumers; say something that they can relate to. That’s the only way they will ever develop a strong relationship with it. You have realised the importance of ‘research’, before attending a party with strangers, and you see the need to be unique. Now imagine that all eyes in the room are on you. What is it that people will notice about you first? Is it your physical appearance or the confidence with which you speak and carry yourself, or perhaps, the very subject matter that you speak about? Truth is, it’s a combination of all these. You are being watched, your every move is being scrutinised, and you’re probably being judged for what you wear and how you speak. That’s exactly how consumers react to brands too!
The visual elements of your brand, such as the logo (brand identity), the typography, style, colours, etc. are some of the major touchpoints that consumers look at first. If your product entails packaging (most consumer products do), they are quick to pick up or reject your brand, purely on the basis of how the packaging appeals (or does not) to them. They’re also keen to know what your brand says and how it says it. Does it say something that they want to hear, in a tone they identify with?
4. Market your brand right
A brand’s marketing strategy is what finally seals its fate. Its success is fuelled by, both its reputation and its visibility. So, assuming you’ve cast quite the spell at the party, and gained a few admirers, how do you ensure you continue to be in ‘circulation’? Dale Carnegie in his global bestseller, ‘How to win friends and influence people’, recommends that you ‘market yourself’ so that you can change the way the world views and treats you. Now, apply the same principle to your brand too. It works!
There are numerous ways to market your brand. But today it’s essential that your marketing plan accounts for a strong content strategy. Your brand needs to be an expert on the subject matter, to make an impact with consumers. Use interactive modes of communication such as videos, blogs, vlogs, social media updates, etc. that stimulate an interest in your brand. For a more detailed dekko, build a clean website and make it easy for consumers to visit or shop online; it’s an important touchpoint for them. And finally, when you’ve got your brand out there, do take a moment to reflect upon what it is you did right that made it a success. Track your brand and its performance, because otherwise, your strategy might just become redundant even before you know it.
So, there you have it — a comprehensive list on creating, developing, and growing a brand in the right way.