Top 10 tips to creating a successful brand
Establishing and managing a brand is difficult, but it can be the difference between success and failure for any business.
Here, we outline our top 10 branding tips to help create a brand that people recognise, engage with and, importantly, become advocates for.
1. Know the difference between a brand and a brand identity
Put simply, your brand is the personality of your business. It’s built up of:
It’s what people would say about your product or service when you’ve left the room. Your brand is the non-tangible perception that lives in your customers’ or prospective customers’ minds. Done correctly, a brand gives customers something to identify with, connect to, and trust.
Your brand identity is the tangible representation of your brand – it’s the set of tools used to express your business personality. You can touch, see, feel and hear it.
These can range from distinctive visuals to meaningful communication that’s unique to your brand. A strong brand identity is crucial to engage customers and differentiate your business from competitors.
2. Get to know your target audience
Who will use your product or service? The deeper you go, the better you can attract your target audience. Get down to specifics such as age, education, job, salary, relationship status, whether or not they have children, what they ‘like’ on social media, what they read and where they hang out.
Targeting the wrong audience can lead to negative assumptions of your brand – or simply being ignored entirely. Think back to an advert you’ve seen on social media that’s left you wondering – why am I seeing that? Did you buy that product, or engage with the post?
3. Look at your brand landscape
Creating a brand landscape allows you to zoom out and see where similar brands sit alongside yours. To do this, collect information about competitor brands and aligned brands – then see which strategies, campaigns, and content have (and haven’t) worked, while taking in creative direction for the future of your own.
Then, a helpful way to visualise your brand landscape is to imagine your brand, along with your competitor brands, all stacked on a supermarket shelf. Does your brand stand out? Is it attention grabbing? Or does it merge into the background – sad and overlooked?
4. Acknowledge your brand’s superpower
When creating a brand, it’s vital to consider what your stand-out feature is. Things like:
Am I the only environmentally friendly service provider in your sector?
Are my services the cheapest?
Are my products the most exclusive?
Do I fill a specific niche in my market?
Whatever your superpower, it’s important to lean into it when creating and promoting your brand. Your target audience doesn’t have time to research hundreds of brands to find the product or service they need. You need to make it easy for them to identify, remember, and importantly, choose your brand.
5. Identify, don’t explain
One of the biggest misconceptions of a brand identity is that it needs to explain what the business does. It doesn’t. But it still needs a lot of thought packed into it, both on a design and psychological level.
Let’s look at logos, for example. Tech giant Apple has achieved the highest value ever calculated for any brand, but its name and logo has nothing to do with the services and products it offers, right?
Look deeper. On a design level, it works as a simple, striking silhouette that’s instantly recognisable – something most distinguished brand designers will tell you is a vital logo component.
6. Think longevity
Rebrands can be a great way to keep up with current trends, but to ensure your brand identity is going to last, it’s important to have a great concept at the start. Here are three brand identities that do this brilliantly:
Nike: Taking its name from a Greek goddess of victory associated with athletics and competition, many would agree that Nike’s success is largely down to its brand identity. The ‘swoosh’, for example, is simple, legible and conceptual. It’s easy to replicate and is said to be recognised by 97% of the population. So much so, Nike dropped the name from its logo altogether in 1995. Like Apple, Nike plays heavily on its ‘values’ in its communication. You’ll very rarely see a product in the brand’s advertising. It’s not the logo part of the brand that is as powerful – it’s getting people onboard with Nike’s values of being different and if you buy its products you’re aligning yourself with the brand.
Coca-Cola: If we look at Pepsi vs Coca-Cola’s, the latter brand identity and logo has remained pretty much the same from the beginning, whereas Pepsi has had multiple rebrands. The proof is in the pudding – research has shown that customers see Coca-Cola as honest and more reliable than Pepsi.
Moonpig: Another great example of a rebrand – and a modern success. Moonpig went from a logo with gimmicky pig on a moon to a consistent, typographical-led brand with just one link to its name: the colour pink! Plus, the ‘oo’ of Moonpig is a simple, graphical representation of the snout of a pig. To look at this brand identity from the outset, you wouldn’t know what they do, but paired with successful design and marketing, it’s become instantly recognisable based on the typography and colour alone.
7. Make it practical
When thinking about your brand identity, you also need to think about how your brand visuals and voice will work across multiple platforms, sizes, print and web. For this to work, simplicity is key.
Many organisations are following a recent trend of simplifying logos and brands. This is influenced in part by the move to digital, where simplicity is often preferred. As well as practicality, responsiveness is vital.
Mastercard is a great example of this. Its logo is two bold and simple circles that work in both colour and black and white, big or small, print or web. Then there’s its motto (There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard), which is strong, snappy and memorable.
Put this all together and you have a brand identity that’s always instantly recognisable and identifiable.
8. Nail your colour palette
Strong brands have a strong colour palette. Done right, your colour choices can be instantly associated with the brand, with no other visual cues.
An understanding of colour theory is important when designing your palette – the brain processes colour before it processes words or shapes, after all.
The designers for McDonald’s knew what they were doing when they picked primary colours red and yellow for the fast food chain’s brand identity. Red is a colour that increases heart rate, which helps to increase your appetite, and yellow is associated with happiness and excitement. We’re craving fries just thinking about it.
Have a look into the psychology of different colours and then ask yourself – which emotions do you want your brand to evoke?
9. Make sure it’s consistent
In order to be instantly recognisable across the web, social media, and IRL marketing materials, your colours, fonts, placement and tone of voice should be consistent across everything you do. Some of the most recognised brands in the world have impeccable consistency across their messaging and visuals – it’s this dependability that contributes to them being immediately identified by almost the entirety of the world’s population.
10. Invest in brand guidelines
If you want everything your company produces to be consistent, create a set of brand guidelines.
Also known as branding guidelines, these are simply a set of clearly defined standards and rules that communicate and show how your brand works.
Brand guidelines also demonstrate what your company does and what it stands for. They can be a summary of your entire brand. The general things covered are:
Tone of voice
Branding can be difficult to navigate, and often trying to tackle it in-house can lead to poor results, either due to unconscious bias and/or historical associations. Often, the best people to help establish your brand are those with no association with it. Only they can give a truly unbiased perspective and challenge those who need to be challenged.
A branding workshop is a great tool to help develop and establish a brand. But creating the brand is only a small part of the larger puzzle. Once the guidelines are established, they need to be adhered to through constant management. As discussed in Point 9, consistency is king and for a brand to really stick, all team members need to adhere to it all the time.
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Written by Kara Clifford
Design perfectionist Kara adds creative flair to all our projects. Her skills lie in print, branding and moving image.