What is Branding
Branding is the process of creating a distinct identity or a layout for a business in the mind of your target audience and consumers. At the most basic level, branding is made up of a company’s logo, visual design, mission, and tone of voice.
But your brand identity is also determined by the quality of your products, customer service, and even how you price your products or services.
A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that distinguishes one seller’s good or service from those of other sellers
By building a website that describes what you offer, designing ads that promote your goods and services, selecting specific corporate colours that will be associated with your company, creating a logo, and featuring it across all your social media accounts, you are branding your company.
That is, you are shaping how and what people’s perceptions of your business are.
Ultimately, what your customers think and say about your brand is the reality (not what you’d like them to think). It’s the impression that pops into their minds when they hear your business’ name.
It’s based on a feeling they have that is based on their experiences they’ve had with you, good or bad.
Effective branding requires a strategic plan, including clear brand guidelines, as well as alignment as a company on your desired brand identity.
Unique brand can have a huge impact on your bottom line by giving you a competitive advantage over your rivals and helping you acquire and retain customers at a much lower cost.
In ecommerce, where new companies (and therefore, new competitors) are springing up every day, an established brand can be an invaluable asset in bringing customers and generating profit.
HOW TO BRAND YOUR BUSINESS
- Research your target audience and your competitors
Before you start making any decisions about how to create a business brand, you need to understand the current market, i.e., who your potential customers and current competitors are.
There are many ways to do this:
- Google your product or service category and analyse the direct and indirect competitors that come up.
- Talk to people who are part of your target market and ask them what brands they buy from in your space.
- Look at the relevant social media accounts or pages your target audience follows and are receptive to.
- Go shopping online or offline and get a feel for how your customers would browse and buy products.
2. Pick your focus and personality
You can’t establish your brand to be everything to everyone, especially at the start.
It’s important to find your focus and let that inform all the other parts of your brand as you build it.
Here are some questions and branding exercises to get you thinking about the focus and tone of your brand.
- What’s your positioning statement?
A positioning statement is one or two lines that stake your claim in the market. This isn’t necessarily something you put on your website or business card—it’s just to help you answer the right questions about your brand and aids in creating your brand’s tagline.
Your positioning statement should go something like…
We offer [PRODUCT/SERVICE] for [TARGET MARKET] to [VALUE PROPOSITION].
Unlike [THE ALTERNATIVE], we [KEY DIFFERENTIATOR].
For example: We offer water bottles to help hikers stay hydrated, while reducing their carbon footprint. Unlike other water bottle brands, we plant a tree for every bottle you buy.
Your unique value proposition is the one thing you’re competing on. Find it, go in on it, and make it a part of your brand’s messaging.
- Choose your business name
What’s in a brand name? Depending on the kind of business you want to start, you can make the case that your name matters very little or it matters a lot.
As we’ve said before, a brand is so much more than a name. The personality, actions, and reputation of your brand identity are really what give the name meaning in the market.
But as a small business owner, your company’s name is probably one of the first big commitments you have to make.
It’ll impact your brand logo, your domain, your marketing, and your trademark registration, if you decide to go that route (it’s harder to trademark generic brand names that literally describe what you sell).
Ideally, you want a store name that’s hard to imitate and even harder to confuse with existing players in the market.
If you have plans to expand the product lines you offer down the road, consider keeping your business name broad so that it’s easier to pivot, rather than choosing a brand name based on your product category.
- Write a slogan
A catchy slogan is a nice-to-have asset—something brief and descriptive you can use as a tagline in your social media bios, website header, custom business cards, and anywhere else where you only have a few words to make a big impact.
Keep in mind that you can always change your slogan as you find new angles for marketing—Pepsi has gone through over 30 slogans in the past few decades.
A good slogan is short, catchy, and makes a strong impression to boost brand awareness.
- Choose the look of your brand (colours and font)
Once you’ve got a name down, you’ll need to think about your brand design—how you’ll visually represent your brand—namely your colours and typography. This will come in handy when you start to use a website builder to make your own website.
Choosing your colours
Colours don’t just define the look of your brand, they also convey the feeling you want to communicate and help you make it consistent across everything you do. You’ll want to choose colours that differentiate you from direct competitors to avoid confusing your potential customers.
Colour psychology isn’t an exact science, but it does help to inform the choices you make, especially when it comes to the colour you pick for your brand logo.
- Design your brand logo
A brand logo design is probably one of the first things that come to mind when you think about building a new brand. And for good reason: it’s the face of your company, after all, and could potentially be everywhere your brand is.
Ideally, you’ll want to create your brand with a logo that’s unique, identifiable, and scalable to work at all sizes (something often overlooked).
- Apply your branding across your business
Applying your branding across your business gives it a cohesive brand story. A brand story represents “who” your business is and what it stands for. It sets the stage for every interaction customers have with your brand, in-store and online.
In Shopify’s research on what wins buyer and customer trust, we found that buyers shopping on an online store for the first time often look for a business’s mission and purpose to see if they share any values with the business (e.g., sustainability).
They will turn to its About Us page to learn more about who they’re buying from and, for more socially conscious customers, how the business is run. If your business has a brand story, share it, because it can help the shopper feel reassured yours is a legitimate business.
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