First off what is a brand? When you are building a strong brand, you are applying that brand’s visual elements to the materials you will use to promote your association or organization. It’s more than just a logo or a website, it consists of a variety of marketing materials that will represent your association. This might include stationery, business cards, signage, a website, digital marketing (emails, social media posts and advertising), print materials (brochures, flyers, forms, reports), product packaging, videos, etc.
It’s important to find a strong marketing agency that works with brand development and has succeeded in that arena. You can’t create a strong brand identity through a cookie-cutter process. It takes a team of professionals working with you to help you establish your brand.
Let’s see if we can help you cause a stir when it comes to building a strong brand for your association, by taking a look at 10 essential steps you should take to develop and provide your brand with a distinctive look and feel.
Step #1: Your Association Playground
When trying to achieve success, you need to make sure you are building a strong brand that is recognizable in the area that your business plays in. Regardless of whether you sell a product or a service, you must stand out from all “the other kids on the playground”. To get to this brand identity, it requires research and paying close attention to the details to develop a style that fits your business goals and strategic messaging. Once your brand is created, most companies develop brand guidelines to ensure that the look of the brand stays consistent when being represented throughout their marketing materials.
Step #2: Create Your Personality
You know you have one, right? Now, how are you going to show the world what your personality is? Start with your identity design. This design is essential as it sets the tone for your brand. It can be used to evoke specific feelings in your defined audience. Everyone knows Coca-Cola’s brand. They are always trying to promote their brand with their creative messaging and advertising. They are known for evoking a feeling when you drink their cola. It’s not just a drink, but a lifestyle. They have done a stellar job of using their brand to create the feeling they want it to evoke. So, personality plays a huge role in how you want your brand to be perceived.
Step #3: Get to The Core
When creating a brand, you want to look at your association’s core values. This really can establish how you see your organization and sets a tone for your brand. If others share similar values to your brand, then you will build a larger following quicker. When you think Apple, Tesla, and Beats, how do you perceive their core values? You think of high-tech, forward-thinking and connected to today’s culture. Now think about Weinstein Company, Fox News and Enron. They are perceived to have a bad reputation, from cancer to sexual harassment to environmental issues. Now you can see the difference in the perception of having strong core values over weak ones and how it impacts the world’s perception of your brand.
Step #4: The Ultimate Package
Who doesn’t like a pretty package? Why do you think Apple has done so well? That pretty white, sleek box is enticing, right? Even if you don’t sell a product it is important to sell your image in a neat little package. Developing a consistent look and message across all your marketing materials is how you can create a packaged look and feel to your brand. If your brand colors consist of blue, green and orange and you use red and purple on a social media post, do you think people will quickly recognize your brand? Of course not. Being consistent helps build your brand’s awareness by the way you package it.
Step #5: Be Different
Is your brand fun, classic, modern, elegant, bold or soft? The style you choose for your brand is what will help differentiate your association from the competition. The goal is to stand out in an oversaturated market. Developing a creative identity design that tells someone what you care about and developing an overall brand look and feel, can help you rise above and grab the attention of potential customers in your market.
Step #6: Get Attention
Get all the attention you can. Good attention, of course, is what you are after. By putting your brand on all your marketing materials, you will increase brand awareness. The more places your brand can be seen along with more vehicles you use to connect to the consumer, the more memorable your brand will be. Websites, social media, video, outdoor billboards, radio and, television are just some ways to get your brand seen.
Step #7: Hit the Bullseye
Finding and focusing on your target audience is key to getting and keeping customers. Any strong brand knows the audience they are targeting and what they’re interested in hearing and seeing. This is where a branding agency comes in. They can work with you to help you narrow your audience down and do back-end research to target them. Knowing your customers’ goals, passions and what they want to hear will be how you ultimately hit the bullseye with your brand.
Step #8: Remember Who You Are
One size doesn’t fit all. Just remember who you are and don’t try to be someone you’re not. That’s where the potential problem of attempting to create a strong brand identity can go wrong. Most people start studying other businesses or individuals who have the largest market share or popularity. If it works for them it must work for me, right? Every company is different and what works for one might not work for another. It’s good to know who you are up against, but you also have to be realistic about who you are in the marketplace and what will work for you. This is where sticking to your core values makes sense.
Step #9: As Loyal as Your BFF
Loyalty is big. Once your brand starts building a following of customers, you need to continue to grow their trust and loyalty. If the customer feels comfortable with your brand (knows that they can trust your company to provide and offer them the customer service and support they desire), then they will stay loyal to your brand. Look at Southwest Airlines. They may not be the biggest carrier or the most prestigious, but they keep their customers satisfied. Example: You buy a ticket, and something comes up and now you can’t go, Southwest says, “that’s fine with us, we know life happens, just use it within a year and you are good. Oh, and by the way, we won’t charge you to change your flight.” They build loyalty by being their customers BFF.
Step# 10: Don’t Forget to Change
As powerful as your brand is, maybe, over time it can become old or stagnant. Make sure to constantly be evaluating your association’s brand. Keep up to date on your audience and the changing culture around your industry. When you see change happening, don’t ignore it but embrace it. Change with it but remember to keep the core values you have established with your brand and improve on them. Take Nike for example, if they said we are only going to sell Michael Jordan basketball shoes, they probably wouldn’t be in business anymore. They instead still sell MJ’s shoes but capitalize on the other big-name players who are currently in the spotlight. Nike’s core value of providing a great pair of basketball shoes is still intact but they have evolved to meet the changing demands of their audience.
To conclude, your brand belongs to you. You want it to represent who you are and how you are perceived. In the world today we have so many choices and people can be choosy. The goal is to create a brand identity that is so unique, that you will be the only choice they think of. This takes time. Don’t rush the process but do it right. Utilize the steps above to help you get to that brand you are looking to build and become one of those strong brands that get noticed.