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Brand Building: How to Craft an Unforgettable Identity

Brand Building: How to Craft an Unforgettable Identity

What’s the first brand that comes to mind when you think of a soft drink? A sneaker company? A fast food joint? Chances are you instantly pictured the iconic logos and brand images of Coca-Cola, Nike, and McDonald’s, respectively.

That’s the power of great branding at work. Companies invest millions to cement their brands in the minds of consumers through clever marketing, quality products, and a distinct brand identity. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the art of brand building and how you can develop an unforgettable brand that separates you from the competition.

Buckle up because we’re about to enjoy the exciting world of brand strategy, identity, positioning, and more. Grab a notepad – you’ll want to scribble down all the juicy tips I’m about to drop!

What is a Brand?

coca cola brand extension example

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a “brand”?

A brand is the perceived personality, reputation, and emotions associated with a company, product or service in the minds of consumers. It’s how your business is recognized and remembered.

Think of brands like people. Nike has a bold, athletic, and aspirational vibe. Apple oozes sophistication, innovation, and creativity. Old Spice…well, they’re just hilariously wacky and fun.

Your brand encompasses so much more than just a logo or color palette. It’s the total experience and gut feeling people get when interacting with your business – the design, tone, customer service, core values, and more.

Why is Branding So Darn Important?

I get it; putting thought into branding can feel like a fluffy, nebulous concept when hustling to get a business off the ground. But stick with me because branding is critical for:

Differentiation: With millions of businesses and products vying for attention, branding helps you stand out as a purple cow in a field of plain old Holsteins.

Connection: Humans are emotional creatures. We’re drawn to brands we feel a personal affinity for and share our values. Branding fosters that emotional connection with your audience.

Consistency: A cohesive brand experience, from your logo to your website to adverts, breeds familiarity and trust with consumers.

Premium Pricing: Successful brand building allows you to charge more for your product or service. Just look at brands like Nike and Apple – branding is their most significant asset!

Any business, from a local plumber to a massive corporation, can benefit hugely from thoughtful brand development. It breeds customer loyalty, boosts marketing effectiveness, and fattens those bottom lines over the long run.

Core Elements of a Brand

While a brand is more than just visuals, defining your core identity through visual elements is a crucial first step. Here are the primary brand identity assets you’ll need:

Logo: The literal face of your brand should be simple, unique, memorable, and indicative of your brand personality.

Color Palette: Colors invoke specific emotional responses. Your palette should reinforce your brand traits (e.g. green for eco-friendly, yellow for happiness).

Typography: The fonts used consistently across your branding should align with your brand voice – modern and clean. Playful and quirky?

Imagery Style: The photography, graphics and illustrations used in your branding should collectively create a distinct and recognizable visual brand language.

Voice & Tone: This guides how you communicate as a brand across all messaging, copy, content, etc. Will you be friendly and conversational or professional and formal?

These core visual and tonal elements are the threads in the tapestry that is your holistic brand. They lay the foundation for your brand strategy and identity to build upon.

Crafting Your Brand Strategy

solve customer problems corporate brand strategy

With those core identity pieces in place, it’s time to develop a comprehensive brand strategy. This involves defining the intangible bits that make your brand genuinely resonate:

Brand Purpose & Positioning

Why does your brand exist beyond simply making money? Define a powerful purpose and ambition driving your brand – something that inspires customers and employees.

For example, Tesla isn’t just about making cool cars; their purpose is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Determining your “why” and how you want to be positioned in the market is a critical first step.

Brand Story & Personality

Every memorable brand has a unique, emotionally compelling story behind it that connects with its audience’s values and aspirations.

What’s your origin story? What setbacks did you overcome? How are you revolutionizing your industry? Injecting personality into that narrative through humor, inspiring anecdotes, etc., makes your brand feel more human and relatable.

Brand Voice & Messaging

Your brand voice and core messaging should flow naturally from the personality, tone and story you’ve created. Will you be quirky and irreverent like Skittles? Authoritative and trustworthy like American Express?  Uplifting and purposeful like Dove’s Real Beauty campaigns?

Consistency in verbal and visual messaging across all channels is critical for solidifying brand recognition and stickiness with your audience.

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Target Audience

Who exactly is the ideal customer you’re targeting with this finely-tuned brand identity? Clearly understand their demographics, psychographics, values, wants and needs.

The tighter you can define and intimately understand your bullseye audience, the more resonant and impactful you can make your branding resonate with them.

You can bring that brand to life with a robust brand strategy blueprint! This guides everything – your logo and identity design, products and services, marketing, company culture, and more.

Hold up…don’t get too excited yet! We’ve still got mounds more branding ground to cover. Next, are the tactical implementation details separating shab brands from truly iconic ones.

Brand Identity Design

volvo corporate brand identity design

Remember the core visual elements I mentioned earlier – logo, colors, typography, etc.? It’s time to sweat the critical details that elevate your brand’s identity into the stratosphere.

You can go the DIY route using tools like Canva or Wix. Still, I recommend enlisting a professional branding agency or design firm for a genuinely world-class brand identity. They have the skills and experience to craft a cohesive, intentional identity that resonates.

During this design process, you’ll refine and expand your core visual brand assets into comprehensive brand guidelines defining:

  • Color palette – specific color codes, usage examples, hierarchies etc.
  • Typography system with approved brand fonts for all layouts
  • Logo suite with different lockups, sizing, and precise space requirements
  • Image/iconography style guides for a consistent visual language
  • Illustration, photography and videography styles
  • Branded marketing templates for ads, social posts, presentations

The goal is to meticulously document every visual detail so your brand assets can be implemented perfectly across every customer touchpoint.

This attention to detail separates throw-away brands from ultra-recognizable juggernauts like the Nike Swoosh, McDonald’s Golden Arches, or Coke’s iconic script. Iconic brand identities become burned into our psyches through deliberate repetition and impeccable consistency.

Website & Digital Presence

With a solid brand identity system, one of your top priorities should be building an exceptional website that encapsulates the brand you’ve created.

Your website is the virtual front door to your business – often the first interaction many customers will have with your brand. As such, its design, user experience, and messaging need to flawlessly breathe life into your new identity.

Work with seasoned UI/UX designers and developers to create a visually stunning, user-friendly website experience that immerses visitors in your brand story from the second they land on your page.

Think bold image/video backgrounds, compelling animations and interactions, purposeful use of brand colors/typography/graphics, persuasive microcopy, and more. Everything should ultimately guide visitors towards your core product/services while leaving them captivated by your brand.

But don’t stop at just the website. Bring that same branded design approach and voice to all your digital presence:

  • Social media profiles and content
  • Lead generation campaigns
  • Mobile apps and software
  • Email/SMS marketing and chatbots
  • Video content like promos, product tutorials, etc.
  • Online ads and paid media

The more you can immerse potential customers in a unified, persistent brand experience at every digital touchpoint, the stickier and more impactful your brand will become over time.

Speaking of digital marketing, let’s talk about…

Brand Marketing & Advertising

dynamic content advertising

Your branding efforts would be fruitless without a robust strategy for effectively promoting and amplifying that brand through marketing.

Innovative companies employ a mix of creative brand-building marketing tactics to raise awareness and favorability:

  • Content Marketing: Create authentic brand content (blogs, videos, graphics, podcasts, etc) that entertains and educates your audience
  • Social Media Marketing: Leverage social to connect with and engage your audience through curated, on-brand posts, content, ads and influencer collabs
  • Video Advertising: Use sight, sound, and motion to emotionally compel viewers and implant your brand messaging through TV, YouTube, OTT and digital video ads
  • Out-of-Home: Own physical environments through billboards, transit/place-based advertising, experiential events, sponsorships, and real-world stunts/activations
  • Influencer Marketing: Align with authentic influencers and creators who resonate with your audience to extend your brand’s reach

Combining a mix of upper-funnel brand awareness tactics with more lower-funnel, direct-response performance marketing is crucial. You need that ubiquitous brand presence to capture attention and affinity initially. But then you have to facilitate an easy path to conversion once interest has been piqued.

A data-driven, full-funnel approach blending brand strategy with measurable ROI is how exceptional brands are genuinely built and fortified over time.

Brand Voice & Personality Cultivation

Memorable brands take on larger-than-life personalities that transcend just their visual identity. They make us laugh, inspire, and amaze us, ultimately fostering an emotional bond.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the raging success of brands like:

  • Wendy’s and their Twitter roasts
  • Denny’s wildly random and absurdist Tumblr presence
  • Charmin’s hilarious and unabashedly delightful #TweetFromTheSeat campaign
See also  Creative Branding Package: Crafting an Irresistible Identity

The point is injecting authentic personality into how your brand shows up and speaks across channels is powerful! It forms deeper connections with your audience through a shared voice, humor, beliefs etc.

To cultivate a compelling brand voice and personality:

  1. Clearly define the human traits you want your brand to personify as if it were an actual person (e.g. humble rockstar, classy snarker, best friend, eccentric genius – you get the idea).
  2. Develop detailed guidelines and content governance to ensure all branded communications uphold that persona in a consistent, recognizable voice.
  3. Train internal teams and agencies to embody that brand voice across all marketing and customer interactions.
  4. Fearlessly commit to that persona in your content and messaging, revealing the delightful human side of your brand.

Over time, this living, breathing personality will give your brand an ever-more recognizable and beloved identity that audiences connect with on a deeper level. And in our hyper-saturated world, connecting is what sells!

In-Person Brand Experiences

nike brand experience example

With all the digital marketing tactics at our fingertips, it’s easy to overlook the power of tangible, in-person brand experiences.

However, creating immersive real-world activations where people can directly interact with and experience your brand offers unparalleled impact in fostering awareness, affinity, and loyalty.

Think of creative ways to surprise and delight customers through unique pop-ups, sponsored events, product launches, stunts, samples, or out-of-home advertising that sparks curiosity.

Even seemingly mundane things like your product packaging design, store/office environments, employee apparel, and sponsored events are opportunities to physically bring your branding to life.

Bonus points if you identify creative ways to create user-generated content by encouraging customers to share your brand experiences through Snapchat geofilters, branded hashtags, photo ops, and more!

The more unforgettable brand-centric moments you can facilitate in the real world, the more you’ll imprint yourself in customer’s memories and hearts. Talk about loyalty insurance in today’s demanding times.

Brand Partnerships & Influencer Collabs

As the saying goes, you’re the company you keep. Strategic and influencer partnerships fuel rapidly expanding awareness and positive brand associations.

Some partnership opportunities to explore:

  • Co-Branding: Create an entirely new co-branded product like Bape X Adidas apparel or Starbucks X Barnes & Noble café concepts
  • Sponsorships: Sponsor events, teams, venues, personalities, etc. that align with your brand ethos and audience (e.g. Red Bull’s extreme sports sponsorships)
  • Influencer Campaigns: Enlist influencers and creators who embody your brand personality to promote your products/services through sponsored content
  • Affiliate Marketing: Build an army of partners incentivized to sell your offering through their marketing

The shared audience engagement and compounded brand equity you gain can be exponential when executed strategically. However, the key is identifying partners, events, or creators that are a natural brand fit.

You want something that makes people say, “Oh wow, that partnership/collab makes perfect sense and is beneficial for both brands!” It’s not something disjointed that feels like a blatant cash grab.

Brand Consistency & Governance

brand consistency across multiple channels

This is where many brands stumble. Even with gorgeous branding guides and well-articulated identities, maintaining precise consistency across all channels over time is a constant battle.

Why? Brands are brought to life by humans who can stray off-course without proper brand training or enforcement.

Establishing rigorous brand management systems and governance is crucial for long-term brand integrity. Some key practices:

Internal/Agency Briefings: Regularly provide detailed brand orientation to staff, agencies, and partners. Leave zero room for ambiguity on brand guidelines, voice, mission, etc.

Marketing Workflow Processes: Implement formalized processes and approval chains so all branded content & campaigns are adequately vetted before launch.

Brand Compliance Tools: Use digital asset management systems and automated tools that enforce approved brand colors, fonts, assets, etc.

Brand Councils: Designate centralized teams or critical stakeholders tasked with safeguarding and evolving the brand to avoid erratic, off-brand actions.

Periodic Brand Audits: Inspect all brand touchpoints and presence across internal teams/agencies/partners to identify any inconsistencies or deviations.

Constant vigilance is needed to uphold flawless brand consistency. One slip-up in voice, visuals, or experience can undo years of hard work strengthening your brand. So institute sound brand management disciplines from day one!

Corporate Culture & Internal Branding

Who brings a brand to life day in and day out? The people behind it – your internal teams!

That’s why shaping your internal culture and operations around your brand is so pivotal. Because if your employees don’t authentically embody the brand identity you’ve crafted, how can you expect customers to connect with it genuinely?

Successful brands like Zappos, Southwest Airlines, and Spotify work relentlessly to instil brand ideals and pride into their internal culture, operations and employee experience through:

  • Brand immersion programs for new hires to understand the identity/personality
  • Branded campuses, workspaces, swag, events, and more that celebrate the brand
  • Employee recognition programs tied to living out core brand values
  • Mobility programs that let staff experience the brand in different roles
  • Operational improvements that reflect the brand’s customer experience
  • And more!
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The more you weave your brand ethos into the very soul of your company, the more effortlessly your external brand experience will shine through as authentic. Your employees will organically emit the brand DNA you’ve instilled.

So consider the power and importance of crafting a solid internal branding and culture program! It’s the not-so-secret sauce behind truly iconic brand-building.

Brand Measurement & Analytics

building brand awareness social media

Lastly, continually measuring and optimizing your brand’s health through quantitative analytics is mission-critical.

Too many brand builders get caught up in splashy campaigns without tracking performance. But how do you improve or justify budgets without metrics?

Some key brand measurement tactics to prioritize:

Brand Tracking Studies: Survey a sample of your target audience regularly to measure shifts in critical brand metrics like awareness, favorability, associations, purchase intent, etc.

Social Listening: Using monitoring tools to analyze brand sentiment across social conversations, reviews, forums, etc., to understand how you’re perceived.

Website Analytics: Tracking your site’s user behavior flows, engagement rates, and conversion metrics to optimize brand touchpoints.

Campaign Attribution: Employ rigorous cross-channel attribution models to pinpoint the incrementality of brand marketing efforts.

Focus Groups & User Testing: Directly observing and soliciting consumer feedback on brand assets, messaging, and experiences to identify potential friction.

Collectively, these insights illuminate what’s working (or not) with your brand positioning and identity – informing pivots or reinforcing current strategies. Consistent brand measurement transforms branding from art to scalable science.

With a holistic, data-informed approach to brand development, promotion, and refinement…you’ll be well on your way to colossal brand growth and prominence.

In Conclusion: Crafting an Unforgettable Brand

Whew, that was a doozy of a branding crash course! To quickly summarize the fundamental principles of truly exceptional brand building:

  • Define a comprehensive brand strategy founded on purpose, story, and audience insights
  • Design an iconic visual identity and brand language to separate you from the pack
  • Commit to flawless brand consistency across every single customer touchpoint
  • Infuse your brand with an unmistakable personality that emotionally resonates
  • Master the art of immersive, memorable brand experiences both digitally and IRL
  • Strategically amplify brand awareness through intelligent marketing and partnerships
  • Instill brand values and pride throughout your internal company culture
  • And continuously measure brand health through performance analytics!

If you thoughtfully weave all those elements together, you’ll manifest an enduring, game-changing brand that people won’t just be aware of…but will crave and evangelize.

Isn’t that the dream for any successful brand – to be so distinctive, compelling, and beloved that you become a memorable part of the cultural zeitgeist? Is a brand synonymous with the very product or service category you represent?

It’s no easy feat, for sure. Brand building is an ever-evolving journey, not a finite destination. But stick to these principles with a steadfast, omnipresent approach, and I’m confident you’ll get there!

Now over to you… Are there any final burning questions on building an absolute beast of a brand? Let’s run through some FAQs!

Brand Building FAQs

How much should I budget annually for branding and brand marketing?

There’s no fixed percentage since budgets vary widely across industries and company stages. However, a general rule of thumb is to allocate 5-12% of your total revenue towards brand building. For a new company, 10-25 % should be invested heavily upfront in establishing your brand.

How can I measure the ROI of brand marketing efforts?

Implement rigorous multi-touch attribution models and brand tracking studies to quantify brand awareness, perception, and revenue impacts. Look for established brand valuation consultancies to help build a tailored brand measurement framework.

When is the right time to partner with influencers or other brands?

Anytime! But ideally, after you’ve solidified your brand identity and guidelines first. That way, you can be very intentional about aligning only with partners who are an intuitive brand fit and can organically extend your reach/equity.

What role does a brand tagline or slogan play? How do I create a good one?

Taglines can be very powerful for quickly communicating your brand’s essence and personality. But they are optional and challenging to create. If pursuing one, make sure it’s highly differentiated, memorable, authentic to your brand, and withstands the test of time.

How often should I evolve or “rebrand” my brand’s visual identity?

Plan for a complete brand identity refresh every 5-10 years max to stay current. But your core brand strategy, purpose, personality, etc., should have evergreen staying power. Tweak visual elements as needed, but don’t stray too far from your brand’s roots, or you’ll lose hard-earned equity.

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