“I’m lovin’ it.” “Just do it.” “Because you’re worth it.” – without even mentioning the names of these brands, you already know which brand these taglines belong to. That is the power of impactful, memorable branding. Of course, these big companies have spent millions on their marketing to achieve these kinds of results by playing their message over and over again through different channels, but if there’s one thing to take away from these giants, it’s that one of the keys to staying top of mind with your consumers is consistency.
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.Seth Godin
According to Forbes, consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23%, and 71% of companies have seen a negative impact caused by confusion due to inconsistent branding. But how is consistency achieved in branding? First, we have to go back to the very definition of branding. And no, your brand isn’t just about your logo. The logo is just a small part of one of the elements of branding called brand identity. Brand identity refers to the tangible, visible components that represent your brand. Your brand is a combination of tangible and intangible elements defined to shape how customers think of you. Therefore, branding is the cohesive strategy or narrative of putting all of these elements together.
Marketing guru Seth Godin puts it best when he says, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Now that you know that branding consists of different elements, it’s time to enumerate what these elements are.
These elements are often recorded through a document called Brand Guidelines or Brand Standards, to be used as a reference for creating marketing collateral for different channels, such as print, broadcasting, and social media. According to Inc.com, 95% of companies have formal brand guidelines, but only 25% actually follow through with them. This is a huge missed opportunity in marketing, as 71% of companies see a significant negative impact caused by confusion due to inconsistent branding. With that in mind, as you follow through this list, try to evaluate for yourself if your brand has a clear direction with regards to these elements.
Before your logo, your website, or even before putting any form of marketing out there, you need to look within your brand to identify your unique traits and motivations. Learning these characteristics will help you position your brand and create a strategy on how to present your brand.
1. Brand Story
Who are you? Why do you do what you do? The brand story is your narrative of your business values. Mastering the art of storytelling through branding is the perfect way to build trust and loyalty. Being genuine with your story is key, and 91% of consumers prefer to buy from an authentic brand. This is where you start, and all other elements will fall into place and reflect on your story.
2. Brand Positioning
Take the time to identify your target audience. Are they Adults? Children? Male? Female? How much income do they earn? You know what they say – you can’t please everyone. Brand positioning determines your place in the market, and by doing so, you can figure out what approach to take in connecting with them.
3. Brand Voice
46% of a brand’s image comes from what they say, and how they say it. Brand voice refers to the way you communicate with your audience through language and tone. Some companies even come up with an entire personality for their brand, as if it were a whole human being. This makes a brand more personal and relatable to its target audience.
4. Brand Differentiation
What sets you apart from other brands? What do you want to be known for? Brand differentiation is all about the promise that only you can deliver. As you enter the market, the competition will certainly be fierce, but by having a strong selling point and by delivering on that promise, you will see a rise in customer value and satisfaction.
5. Brand Experience
Brand experience combines expectations and reality when a customer consumes a product or avails of a service. If you visit different McDonald’s branches, you won’t feel lost. The experience in one branch will most likely be the same as in another in terms of ambience, customer service, and food quality. This is attributed to a consistent definition of brand experience.
Having identified what makes your brand, it’s time to give it a face. More than just decisions that make your brand look appealing, if done effectively, these components play to the psychological aspect of marketing. Choosing the right colors, typography, and imagery helps make it easier for your logo and overall brand identity to get your message and character across.
1. Color Palette
When we think of the color red, what brands or products come into mind? We immediately think of Coke, Canon, and maybe Netflix. What about the colors blue, yellow, and green? On color alone, we are able to identify which companies really excel in their branding and marketing efforts. This is because brand colors improve recognition by over 80%. Each color has its own psychological effect and portrays certain emotions, both positive and negative. 93% of buyers focus on color when making a purchase, so choosing brand colors that influence decisions based on how you want them to feel would be a good idea.
Typography refers to font choice in your logo and branded materials. Font choice makes a huge impact. Brand fonts that do this well can be easily recognized even when taken out of context. There are four major types of fonts, each conveying a different feel that you want your brand to have. Firstly, serif fonts (ex: Times New Roman) have a more traditional, classic and old school feel. Sans serif fonts (ex: Arial and Helvetica) are more modern, sleek, and timeless. Script fonts, which resemble handwriting, can portray feminine or elegant qualities. And display fonts, which are unique and artistic (think Walt Disney logo), can really make a brand stand out with bold shapes and lettering.
3. Form and shape
Form and shape come into play in the logo icon (if present) and supporting graphics. Just like typography, different compositions can inspire specific reactions from your target market. For example, circular or rounded shapes can come off as playful, youthful, or more feminine but also give a sense of community and love, while straight-sided shapes with sharp edges are more formal and masculine but can also convey strength and trustworthiness. Line orientation also plays a role. Vertical lines portray stability, while horizontal lines portray tranquility.
4. Art and photography
This refers to the mood and emotion brought about by visuals such as photos, illustrations, and even videos. This can also be a culmination of color, form, and shape with solid imagery. Art direction plays a huge role, as these visuals are more literal and purposeful in expressing the brand’s desired message.
5. Sound and smell
Some brands add another dimension in their marketing through something called sensory branding, wherein they bring others senses into the picture. This works best for retail or businesses with physical locations and ties into brand experience. Try to remember the last time you walked into a Starbucks. What did you hear? What did you smell? Little do most customers know that the French instrumental music and the strong smell of roasted coffee in the air are all deliberate decisions made by the company’s marketing team.
Now that we’ve identified these elements, it’s time to decide how these components all fit into your brand. Have you clearly defined them? Do these come into play in your marketing? Have you built guidelines around them?
If you have a clear direction with regards to these elements, all that’s left is to consistently follow through with them in all of your marketing practices.
But if you feel that you are lacking in some or most of these areas, don’t fret. None of these issues can’t be fixed by doing some thorough market research and building a strong branding strategy. Is rebranding a possibility? Perhaps. But by starting with having a solid foundation in place, you’ll be on your way to being part of the 60% of marketers whose brand is well aligned with their long-term goals.
Of course, creating an impactful brand isn’t done overnight, and you can’t always predict your consumers’ reactions and perceptions towards your brand. Which is why you might need a virtual CMO to meticulously assist you.
At Peregrine Consulting Group, we have exactly the right people who are enabled with the tools and frameworks to guide you through the process, having over a hundred checkpoints to leave no stone unturned. We are equipped to help your brand get the recognition and loyalty you deserve. Get in touch with us and we can start steering you in the right direction.