What makes a strong brand? If you’re asking that question, rest assured, you are not alone. While many people are aware that a company’s “brand” includes its logos and colors, other aspects of the branding process may not be quite so familiar. Just the fact that you are thinking about branding at all deserves a pat on the back. Your brand is probably your agency’s most valuable intangible asset. It can help establish your competitive difference. On the other hand, a poorly thought-out brand can harm your reputation.
Building a strong brand, however, can quickly get complicated; it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to strengthen your brand that are relatively straightforward. Ready to learn more? Then let’s begin.
What is Branding?
Originally, branding was the practice of marking cattle or material goods. Later, in the middle ages, it evolved with the introduction of watermarks. During the Industrial Revolution, proprietors began placing distinguishing marks on generic, mass-produced goods to give them an appeal for consumers accustomed to locally produced products. By the late 19th century, branding had been developed enough as a field that legislation was passed to protect corporate investment. In the 20th century, the development of the field ramped up even further, with corporations introducing slogans and mascots, and taking advantage of new communication mediums such as radio and television.
Creating a memorable logo and visual palette can help your company leave a powerful first impression and separate it from the competition. All strong logos include several elements. A logo should reflect the nature of your business. It should use colors in an intentional manner that communicates aspects of your company’s personality. The fonts you select also need to work well with its other visual elements. Lastly, all logos should strike a careful balance between being distinctive and being simple enough for easy replication across a wide variety of marketing materials.
Of course, logo design is easier said than done. And if you are running an independent agency, funds may be too limited to pay for a graphic designer. Thankfully, there are now several sites online that can assist you in creating a professional DIY logo either for free or for a manageable price.
If you want a strong brand, then you must have a strong “brand promise,” a short, simple statement that outlines what consumers can expect from your company. A brand promise describes the products and services you provide, as well as the impact they will have on your customers’ lives. The purpose of a brand promise is two-fold. Once again, it helps your company create a positive and lasting impact on a consumer, concisely communicating what you can do for them. It also acts as a unifying force, clarifying a company’s scope and focuses, and helping lay the groundwork for other parts of the branding process.
Successful branding can’t happen in a vacuum. Instead, it must be infused into all aspects of an organization’s output. This brings us to brand voice – the tone in which a brand communicates. Establishing a memorable brand voice is a terrific way to give your company personality, but it also requires careful thought and consideration.
Not all tones are right for all brands. For instance, if you are cancer research company, it is probably not appropriate to communicate in a casual or jokey tone. Similarly, if you sell board games, you likely don’t want to project a stodgy air. Find the tone that works well for you and master communicating within its structures. Don’t forget that the strength of your brand voice hinges on it being adopted company-wide. All employees must be educated on the particulars of the company’s voice, and you could consider creating a style guide or full-scale brand book that they can use as a reference for any questions.
Your brand positioning statement describes your position in the marketplace. More importantly, this statement is your opportunity to describe further how you differ from your competitors and why consumers should choose to work with you over another provider. A well-written brand positioning statement involves a keen understanding of your target audience, knowledge of your core competitors, compelling use of your value proposition and evidence that you can deliver on your brand promise.
Let’s Start Branding!
Now that you have an understanding of some of the core aspects of branding, you should be ready to start putting it all together. While this list of steps is by no means comprehensive, by developing your brand aesthetics, promise, voice and positioning statement, you will have a great start on creating a distinctive identity for your business and a leg-up on your competitors.
Good marketing doesn’t just remain important as we navigate a global pandemic, it becomes imperative. Sorting out how to represent your brand while constantly adjusting to an ever-shifting landscape can be a tall order, but that doesn’t mean it’s unachievable. We’re all learning on an international scale, but you can put yourself ahead by remembering some easy tips.
Remember Your Voice
Voice matters in branding. No one’s looking for generic ad jargon from social media content when things are normal, and they’re certainly not going to respond to it while in isolation. While everyone’s seeking some sense of normalcy, it’s important to remember that a shift in social strategy doesn’t have to mean shifting your voice. Outside of eliminating some dangerous buzzwords and avoiding jokes that may make light of the current situation, the voice you’ve cultivated up to this point should be the one you maintain as you continue to market.
Check for Insensitive Words
A good rule of thumb here is to avoid the use of anything that might pertain to the pandemic as a whole. It’s not so much avoiding the topic as it is wanting to avoid reminding your audience of their current situation. Avoid phrases like “killer deal”, or any health-related terms while drafting copy. It’s also wise to hold off any phrases that include gathering or events until Stay at Home and Shelter in Place orders are lifted.
To that end, remember to maintain an added level of sensitivity in your content. Use words or phrases that encourage a kind of togetherness without overtly stating or implying physical connection or gathering. You want phrases and keywords that make people feel less alone. Talk about how engaging with your post or taking your offer can help them do things like contribute or connect while avoiding the normal ad phrases like “take advantage of” or the idea of profiting off of or from something.
Copy Editing Still Matters
This might feel like a no-brainer, but we’ve all got a lot on our minds right now. It’s easy for copy editing to fall by the wayside while you’re juggling so many things, but clean copy is always a critical aspect of any social strategy. It’s wise to avoid any embarrassing typos while most of your demographic finds themselves at home with a little bit more time on their hands.
Current Clients Over Lead Conversion
While it can be tricky, the most engaging and effective content is going to be the kind that makes your audience feel comfortable. We’re in constantly uncomfortable times, and folks are just looking for something familiar and easy. We always want new clients and a larger reach, but your primary focus should be on contributing to the conversation with your current reach. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, and people will remember who kept things focused on business as usual rather than forming a sense of community and outreach amid uncertainty.
Sensitivity Is Key
Keeping things light in our interactions is a great way to make people feel at ease, but it’s a difficult line to tow right now. There’s still space to be witty but be sure that you’re maintaining a level of sensitivity while doing so. With emotions at an all-time high, a poorly placed joke can lead to lost engagement now more than ever before. This can easily circle back to remembering your social voice. You don’t have to change your entire strategy, just be extra mindful for the time being.
It’s really that simple! No one’s asking anyone to reinvent the marketing wheel. You can still have exceptional brand strategy amidst a pandemic, it’s just about adding a little extra dash of thoughtfulness into the equation.
Gone are the days
when branding was limited to simply promoting a product or a business.
Today, companies are
increasingly being challenged to incorporate a meaningful purpose into their marketing
and advertising campaigns.
research, 75 percent of consumers – here and abroad
– expect businesses to contribute to their personal wellbeing and quality of
life, while 84 percent expect brands to provide content that entertains, tells
stories, provides solutions and creates experiences and events.
Purpose is especially important when marketing to
percent of whom say they’re
partial to brands that implement environmental and social change into their
A new biometric
research report from Porter Novelli/Cone, published earlier this week, goes
even further in suggesting that purposeful content should lead the narrative of
“Purpose ignites physical and
emotional responses: Purpose-driven
advertisements were more effective in two-out-of-three brand categories tested,
with higher levels of attention, emotion and arousal from these advertisements
overall,” the study found.
other words, businesses that are searching for ways to build – and
maintain – customer loyalty would be wise
to focus on purposeful messaging that supports, for example, responsible
business practices, a charity or a social cause.
Purpose builds deeper bonds
Other key findings
in the report suggested that purpose builds deeper bonds.
A whopping 79
percent of Americans, noted the study, said they feel a deeper and more personal
connection to companies with values aligned with their own. Moreover,
respondents said they’d be more likely to feel better about brands with
And that’s not all:
brand advocates and amplification,” research showed.
viewing purpose-driven advertisements, those who were surveyed also said they’d
be more likely to talk about the advertisement and the brand with friends and
family and share and discuss the advertisement on social media.
the biggest takeaway, though, is this: Nearly 73
percent of respondents said that given the current social and political
climate, they feel an urgency to support social issues, while 76 percent noted
that businesses dedicated to addressing social and environmental issues helps
them feel like they’re doing their part.
About the study
The research combined an
online study of more than 1,000 American adults with the results of biometrics
testing among a select group of respondents.
It measured facial, heart
rate and skin conductance impulses that captured levels of emotion, attention
and arousal/stimulation upon viewing a randomized set of advertisements.
Respondents viewed two ads
from the same brand: a Purpose-driven advertisement (e.g., support of a social
issue, responsible business practice) and an advertisement focusing on the
functional attributes of the product (e.g., performance, features or
The research found that purpose-driven
messaging has a greater ability to capture the physical and emotional attention
of respondents compared to functional narratives.
If you’re exploring the rental market, it may be time to lower your expectations when it comes to landlord discounts, gift cards or complimentary amenities, writes Diana Olick, real estate correspondent at CNBC.com
As the rental market heats up and home ownership cools, rent prices are rising and freebies are falling out of favor.
Listings on HotPads, Zillow’s rental website, that mention at least one concession are down nearly 30 percent from the same time last year, and just one in 100 rental listings currently show any kind of move-in special.
No matter the size, mission, strength or success of your
strategies are necessary components to building trust, establishing
relationships and strengthening awareness.
But like everything else, branding practices are constantly
evolving, and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and understand what
your future branding strategies should entail.
To help, here are three best-practice branding trends that need to be on your radar:
human: Technology is wonderful for increasing brand recognition,
and you should embrace it. But don’t forego human interaction.
At a time when
trust is precariously fragile, it’s vital for businesses to establish human
bonds. Strive to engage with your clients beyond social media platforms and
problem-solvers, aim for empathy, be an expert in your field, share knowledge
and insights and recognize that emotional, face-to-face communication tips the
trust scale in your favor.
Be authentic and transparent: When your business opens its curtain and
provides public visibility, it shows that you’re authentic and transparent.
And clients and customers
rank transparency above just about everything else. In fact, a Sprout Social
Report released in 2018 showed that 86 percentof Americans believe
transparency from businesses is more important than ever before.
Additionally, 73 percentof consumers are
willing to pay more for products that guarantee total transparency. The numbers
Businesses need to account for the public’s increasing
demands for transparency and develop practices and processes that convey honesty
is the key to content: A
compelling narrative that connects with your target audience is key to telling
your story, and a story without soul falls down the rabbit hole.
When creating branding content,
it’s all too easy to focus solely on promoting a product or service, but
falling into that formula potentially robs businesses of cultivating
relationships and providing meaningful value.
When you tell the story of your brand, aim to be
enthusiastic, inspiring and passionate—and don’t be afraid to show some
emotion. It’s good for the soul, and it speaks to your human side.
It can be helpful to have a baseline understanding of what intellectual property is; and how it can benefit you and your agency.
Intellectual property comes in many forms. Your company logo
is intellectual property. So is the name of your agency, any tag lines you’ve
developed and consistently use to identify your company, your color schemes, if
you have any – and content you’ve originated, like your website’s copy.
The good news about intellectual property is that it clearly
identifies and separates you from your competitors. What can be a challenge,
however, is challenges to your right to use your agency’s name or logo – if
another entity takes issue with the use and raises the question of your right
to its use.
IP lawyers know the ins-and-outs of intellectual property,
but it can be helpful to have a baseline understanding of (a) what intellectual
property is; and (b) how it can benefit you and your agency.
The World Intellectual Property Organization
(WIPO) is a helpful
website dedicated to intellectual property issues.
Who hasn’t stopped, looked up addresses (including one’s
own) – to determine what a property is worth, how it compares to similar
properties and whether or not professionals involved in appraisals really know
what they’re doing?
As Zillow and similar sights today embrace the added option of selling a
property and eliminating real estate brokers’ commissions, the conversation about accuracy is a fast and furious trending topic.