What is your brand, anyway? It’s more than just the colors you use or your slogan – although that is an important part of branding. But your brand goes far deeper than that. At its core, branding is about how you communicate with customers and potential customers across all channels. Your brand is the essence of who you are and what you do.
Think about a brand like Apple. While you know the logo, that isn’t the essence of what makes up the brand or how you perceive it. The same goes for Nike, Disney, and Netflix. And though it’s intangible, we’ve all felt strongly connected to a specific brand at some point, whether through an amazing marketing campaign, a product you totally love, or by buying something from a business whose values completely align with yours.
Developing your brand properly is a key step in putting together a solid marketing strategy and plan. Without your brand, what would you be selling to customers anyway? So, how do you define your brand? While at first, it might seem simple to explain who you are and what you do, it takes a significant amount of research and consideration once you start getting into the details.
Here are four steps that you absolutely can’t skip. To make it easier to remember, we’ve put together a checklist that can help you work through each step sequentially, until your brand is properly defined.
1. Describe your unique value proposition
Ultimately, your brand itself will be a differentiating factor in and of itself. But having some attributes which set you apart from your competitors is an important way to attract new customers. Do you solve a problem other businesses don’t? Does a percentage of your profit go to charity? Do you have an amazing warranty? Is everything locally made? The unique value proposition can be directly related to your products and/or services, or it can be tied into your brand itself.
Identifying your unique value proposition is an important first step in defining your brand. It gets to the core of the specific benefit you offer (which other competitors don’t), as well as the problem you solve for your target audience.
2. Figure out your target audience
If branding is about how you connect with your customers (or potential customers) then it follows that you can’t define a brand without defining your target audience. Who are your ideal customers? What do they do, where do they live, and what do their lifestyles look like? Only by defining who you want to communicate with can you build a brand around them, rather than around you.
If your target market is 65+ women, for instance, then your brand marketing efforts shouldn’t be rife with slang or communicated mainly via TikTok. It doesn’t mean that your ideas aren’t great, just that they don’t fit with your target audience. Your well-defined target audience needs to be the star of the show if you want them to buy something from you!
3. Decide on your brand pillars
What does your brand stand for? Why does it exist? Clearly articulating your brand pillars will help you sum up what is important to you, how you communicate, and what makes you…well…you. Ideally, they are also values and characteristics which your customers resonate with and find important. The brand pillars usually fall into five categories, known as the five P’s:
In many cases, brand pillars also define what you do (and don’t do) when presented with opportunities or when facing a crisis. For instance, organizations that promote sustainability would pass on a partnership that could increase profits but leans strongly for single-use plastics.
4. Brand identity
Brand identity is a broad term, admittedly. It usually covers the way that you communicate things to customers and the “outside world.” It incorporates elements like your tone of voice, the brand colors you use, your logo, your tagline, any documents or collateral such as flyers and business cards, your brand story and vision, and your style of messaging and use of language.
These should all be cohesive and fluent. If a customer were to see a billboard, an email from an employee, a social media post, and a blog on your website, everything should feel like it fits together harmoniously. If the website is very formal but your ads are very conversational, or you use different color schemes from social media to print, you run the risk of looking disorganized and unprofessional.
Start defining your brand today!
Being a small business owner often means you have to wear a lot of hats. While that’s a fun challenge, it can also be intimidating to step straight into defining your brand when you’re not a marketing professional. Well, truth be told, it can be intimidating even if you are a seasoned marketer!
DirectLync is here to help you wear that marketing hat with pride. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of DirectLync to help scale your marketing efforts, stress-free!