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BLOG - BRANDING

What is a brand?

When most people think of branding, corporate giants like Apple, Coca Cola or McDonald’s probably spring to mind. It’s easy to dismiss investing in branding as something for the big boys, but defining your brand and building a strategy early on are just as important for SMEs as for big enterprises.

But what is a brand and why does it matter? Read on to find out more.

What does brand actually mean?

A brand is defined by the Business Dictionary as:

“A unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed to create an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors.”

In a nutshell, it’s the impression your customers get when they hear your name or see your logo. But it isn’t just your identity, it’s the blueprint for everything you do. It’s your mission. It’s how you deliver on your promises. It’s your products and services. And of course, it’s how you do things differently from the competition.

What are the benefits of good branding to my business?

Branding projects are long-term strategies that reap long-term rewards. Building a brand helps you to stay on message, gives customers greater clarity into what you do and can provide a shortcut for decision-makers by making your core values more memorable. In a crowded marketplace, a company’s brand becomes its calling card and helps cut through the noise to get noticed by potential customers.

An initial investment in branding will also provide the framework to scale more cost-effectively if you decide to offer more products and services, expand into new markets, or simply get bigger. 

Today’s customers are looking for more than just great products and services, they want to do business with like-minded people who are open and transparent about their values and goals. 

Your brand is not just about creating a unique look, it’s about how you make people feel — a good reputation will help you win more customers, and attract and retain the best talent.

How can I define a brand strategy?

The first step is to consider your company vision and goals. Do you want to inspire customers with innovative products and services, or do you want to become a respected authority in your field? What is your unique selling point (USP) and how can you make the most of it? Do you want to be fun, or serious?

Set out the what, how and why of branding:

  • What is your product or service?
  • How is your approach unique?
  • Why should customers come to you?

What’s the best way to create a unique identity?

Having a brand statement is a great way to keep sight of your overall mission. Nike has been using ‘Just do it’ since 1988 and it still sounds fresh and catchy, while being relevant to its industry.

 Think about your visuals; your logo, colour palette, imagery and typeface. Keeping things clean and simple will appeal to the broadest number of people and make you more memorable, like Nike’s iconic black and white tick.

Remember that different colours and styles evoke different feelings. You might love bright orange, but would a calming shade of blue suit your business better? If your business is a little bit quirky why not go for a playful logo?

What’s the best way to keep messaging consistent?

It may sound obvious but templates are your friend when you want to strengthen your brand. From consistent company-wide email sign-offs to standard letterheads, small touches have a big impact.

Take it further by creating a style guide for written and visual assets. Innocent Drinks is a great example here with its playful copy and iconic hand-drawn imagery. 

innocent

Taken from their Instagram channel, this is classic Innocent — you wouldn’t mistake this post for another drinks company.

How can the customer experience help to shape my brand?

What people are going to remember most about your business is the customer experience. Make sure your employees are all working towards the same goals and using the same tools to give your customers a consistent experience. 

By embedding your customer experience goals in the culture of your organisation, people will start to associate the positive experience you gave them with your brand.

For example, Amazon Prime customers all rave about free 2-day delivery. That’s because Amazon has defined free 2-day delivery as a USP of its Prime offering. There is clear signposting on the website for Amazon Prime customers to remind them that they’re getting a special service. Behind the scenes, there is a dedicated Amazon Prime team ensuring that the service complies with Amazon’s overall ethos, but with a little bit extra.

How and where should I engage with customers to get the best ROI?

SMEs don’t have the budget to be omnipresent, so think carefully about where you engage with customers. If you want to appeal to different groups, segment your audience and develop multichannel campaigns to reach out to them on their preferred platform.

Building a rapport with customers is also a great way for them to get to know your brand and help you monitor feedback.

In the early stages of defining your brand, being agile and responsive is invaluable as you discover what works and what doesn’t with your target audience.

What impact do partners have on my brand identity?

So you’ve got a pretty good idea of what makes your business unique, but what about the people you connect with? By aligning with companies who reflect your company ethos and values you will amplify each other’s reputation and strengthen your brand.

Quick tips

Remember these 5 top tips for building a successful brand:

  • avoid clichés
  • less is more — don’t overcomplicate things
  • be practical about what you want to achieve
  • manage costs — prioritise
  • be consistent.

Branding in action

Here’s an example of how we helped one customer capture the spirit of the organisation with smarter branding:

CASE STUDY - The Real Soul Choir

Mission: Changing perceptions

The Real Soul Choir is a funky, inclusive choir that needed a brand to match. We wanted to attract everyone with a passion for singing, regardless of their background.

top view of branding and web design on ipad and merchandise

The Real Soul Choir is a funky, inclusive choir that needed a brand to match. We wanted to attract everyone with a passion for singing, regardless of their background.

We created a modern, energetic logo that shuns clichéd notions of song notes or treble clefs. The hand-drawn images on the website represent the diverse members of the choir, and the monochrome colour scheme is equally appealing to all genders.

To attract younger singers, we’ve included links to the choir’s playlist on Spotify, meeting our target audience on a platform we know they love to engage with.

By creating a brand as unique as the choir, we’re helping it to challenge perceptions and get people from all ages and backgrounds singing from the same song sheet.

Read the full case study and more examples of branding projects we’ve done to see how to successfully create a brand. 

If developing a brand strategy is daunting, fear not. Download our whitepaper or get in touch with our team of experts to discuss how YUMYUM can help your business thrive.