Just as we put effort into how we represent ourselves publicly, so too should your company. People want to know who you are, and brand identity is about how people perceive that and feel about your brand.
Brand Image is how all of those things combine to convey this to the public. What channels are you using to advertise? What style of language do you use in your copy content? Are there consistent styling cues such as colour schemes and design elements that set your brand apart easily? Presenting a strong, unified brand identity will build trust and present a professional appearance.
Branding goes much deeper than just logos and catchy slogans. It covers every part of any interaction with your business. It can be factual, but also very emotive – ie: it’s how your brand makes people feel. When branding is executed well, a company can be instantly recognisable. Think of some of the world’s biggest brands – Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nike; any interaction with these brands is encapsulated by branding. Their logos, colour schemes, advertising voice and even customised typography. They are more than a product or a service, they’re an entity. Branding is your identity, and consistency generates authenticity and trust.
Your company’s branding sets the expectations of a client or customer. Are you consistent in your approach? Are you able to deliver what you say? Much like maintaining a certain standard of your own appearance, your brand image communicates to a client how experienced, professional and competent your business is. Maintaining continued, consistent branding builds an established business image. If you know who you are and you’re doing it well, customers will respond positively and place more trust in you.
Well the short answer is: Go Deep. Start with the very core of your company – Who are you? No doubt you’ve already worked on a business plan and you have goals and plans on milestones you’re aiming to hit. But further to this, it’s also beneficial to begin building a Brand Strategy. A brand strategy will allow you to outline what you are aiming to achieve with regards to your brand specifically, rather than focusing on specific sales numbers or products (which are also important in their own right, undoubtedly). But a brand strategy is something different, and should be considered before any other marketing strategy is devised for a few very important reasons.
Firstly, if you are unsure who you are or what you’re trying to achieve, then your client base will be too. Forget about visual elements for a moment and spend a little time ruminating on your company identity and how you want clients to feel when they think of your brand. That’s your first piece of brand identity.
Next comes the more structured elements of how you’re going to express those core values and achieve those goals. If you want your business to be seen as happy and fun, make sure you document this and follow through with all elements of your communication and marketing endeavours. Focus on using bright, warm photography. Ensure your tone of voice is not too formal, but still conveys a level of professionalism. A good brand strategy will provide guidelines for content production and communication across all channels used.
Once you have outlined your brand strategy and have a clear understanding of your tone of voice, it’s time to begin focusing on content. Content marketing is the bridge that will join you and your customers together. Thinking about your target market, try to come up with content to post about that’s relevant to your brand, but also contains things your clients will want to see. Your content will need to incorporate your logo, colour schemes, typography, tone of voice, design elements and anything else that is unique to your brand presence online. It may seem like a daunting process, but it’s extremely worthwhile in the long term in regard to how your business will be perceived.
An important and often overlooked factor in social marketing is the importance of authenticity. Customers don’t just want to know about what you’re selling. They want to know who you are. The last decade of social media saw an explosion in the exploitation of the platform and a rise in things like ‘fake news’. Recently, people have returned to a real desire for genuine authenticity. Don’t be afraid to show your clients a little of who you are, because studies have shown that authentic content is extremely effective and building brand loyalty online.
Brand Identity, strategy and image may seem complicated, but they are a marketing Holy Trinity that form the basis of all other marketing activities down the road. Investing the time to build a solid foundation from the beginning ensures your brand will be positioned for success, and has a solidified platform to launch from. A polished, modern web image in 2020 is just as important as a well presented physical storefront. Invite them in, and create a space where they’d like to stay.