Before we get into building your brand, there’s a bit of background we need to get out of the way. Asking the question “What is a brand?” may seem like a silly question but most people don’t fully know or understand exactly what a brand is. I would argue that most marketers don’t even know.
For most people a brand is usually boiled down to the most iconic representation of a business, the logo. While the logo does tend to act as a centerpiece for most brands, a logo is one very small part of the overall brand.
Seth Godin in a blog post titled simply define: Brand, stated the following:
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.
So if a brand is in fact expectations, memories, stories and relationships, how can we better craft and control these to help ensure customers see our brand in a positive light?
As mentioned in the intro, every business has a brand, the question is, is that brand how you actually want to be seen? Crafting your brand (branding) allows you to better control your message and more effectively tell your story to help shape customers’ expectations, memories, stories and relationships.
Elements of a Brand
If we’re going to develop a brand we need to break down the major elements of a brand further. We briefly touched on the fact that all businesses have a brand, and in the eyes of the law, a business is practically seen as a person. Much like person, a brand is made up of two major components, personality and looks.
A brand consists of both controllable and uncontrollable elements. Let’s break them both down below:
A. Controllable Brand Elements
Controllable brand elements are the things you have some level of control over and the opportunity to craft. This guide will teach you how to develop these controllable elements.
- Brand Persona (Personality)
A brand persona is a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name and is the personality in which you deliver your customer experiences. A brand persona is something to which the consumer can relate, and an effective brand will increase its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits. Keep in mind that customers are more likely to purchase a brand if the brand’s persona is similar to their own or in which they aspire to be.
You brand persona can be reflected in every touch-point with your visitors and customer including everything from your policies (strict, lenient, friendly), the tone you use to communicate with customers in emails (Richard, vs. Hello Sir vs. Hi Richard vs. Hey Richard!), and even though your advertisement’s image and copy.
When you define the persona of your brand, you can much more effectively communicate it and relate to your core customers through all your marketing touch-points.
- Brand Visual Assets (Looks)
A brands visual assets are the things that are front facing and can include everything from the look and feel of your website, the color pallet you use, your logo, your ad designs and even your packaging and unboxing experience.
Humans are a very visual species so your visual assets are really important. The fact that most people sum a brand up by it’s logo supports that notion. Your brands visual assets help to create a style and mood while also reflecting the brand persona and providing an overall visual representation of your brand.
B. Uncontrollable Brand Elements
Uncontrollable brand elements are things that add or subtract from your brand that are out of your immediate and direct control. Although through your controllable brand assets above, you can positively or negatively influence the uncontrollable brand elements below:
- Customer Experiences
Customer experiences are the interactions; touch points and ultimately the feeling customers develop towards a brand. It is the sum of what they see, hear and feel through all their interactions and touch points. To some extent, you’re probably thinking that you can control your customers’ experience, and much of the time you can. However, the experiences your customers have with your brand ultimately belonged to the visitor/customer and each of them have their own methodology for evaluating each of the touch points. So while you have some control over your customer/visitor experiences, you don’t ultimately control the final experience in the end.
- Customer Expectations
Each customer has their own expectations not just for your brand, but for business and purchasing online in general. Unfortunately you have little control over these expectations. For example, some customers might be Amazon Prime members and have been conditioned to think that shipping should always be free and orders should arrive the next day that they even expect it with much smaller businesses. If this is something your business can’t deliver on, you may fall short of your customers’ preconceived expectations.
- Word of Mouth
What your visitors and customers end up saying about you online and to others is out of your direct control. Word of mouth and what people say about your brand online can significantly contribute or detract from your brand.
Final Notes: If you’ve read up until this point, you should have a much better understanding of what a brand is, what branding is, and how to strategically approach the process. Remember, every interaction with your visitors and customers brings the opportunity to improve your brand in their eyes. Referring back to your brand pillars can help you keep your brand consistent and help you respond appropriately in every situation you’ll back.
Finally, branding is hardly a onetime action or process, it’s constant and ongoing. Make sure you revisit your brand every six months or so to make sure it still reflects your audience and the message you want to portray.