The brand you build for your company is your voice in the world. It’s how you identify yourself, attract customers, and stand out from the competition. It’s as personal as a fingerprint and just as important.
And yet… some companies don’t put the enough effort into building a memorable brand. The problem with a haphazard approach is that you may end up losing control of your brand. People may form opinions of your company that directly contradict your brand’s values.
For that reason, you must put care and attention into building the brand you want – a brand that represents your company, your employees, and your core values. Here, we’ll share the top five ways to build your brand.
#1: Give Your Brand a Personality
The first thing you need to do is give your brand a personality. A brand might not be a person, but it must have a personality. People have a tendency to assign personality traits and characteristics to their favorite brands. You want to project those traits instead of leaving them up to chance.
The first thing to consider is your brand’s values. What does your company believe in? For many companies, the values they project are two-fold. They represent the company’s culture and governing philosophy as well as its relationship with consumers.
For example, you might want to convey values like community service and compassion. You can use a combination of introspection and customer research to determine the best values to project.
The second component of brand personality is the personal attributes you project. A company like Pixar project personal attributes of kindness, fun, and creativity. By contrast, Red Bull focuses on risk-taking and playfulness as its primary attributes.
If your brand were a person, what would it be like? That’s a good question to ask as you figure out the personal attributes that you attribute to your brand – and that you want others to attribute to it.
#2: Give Your Brand a Visual Identity
The next thing you can do to build your brand is to give it a strong visual identity. From the moment a potential customer sees something associated with your brand, they begin to form an impression of who you are. The visual representations you use – your logo, colors, icons, and typography – should all communicate the essentials of your brand.
The first part of visual branding is your logo. Designing and choosing the right logo is important because your logo appears almost everywhere your brand does: on your business cards, stationery, company vehicles, store front, website, and social media profiles.
Your logo must adhere to the standards of your industry while still being unique. Often, companies in the same industry use similar images in their logos. You don’t need to avoid them, but you do need to find a way to make your logo stand out from your competitors’ logos.
Colors and Icons
The colors and icons you choose to represent your brand, both in your logo and on your website and products, say a lot about who you are. For example, blue is a color that’s associated with conservatism and trust, and it is by far the most popular color in logo design. Red conveys excitement and passion, and yellow is optimistic but may also signal caution.
Sometimes, colors may be functional as well. Green is commonly used to signify nature and is a popular choice for agricultural and environmental companies. When you choose colors, try to find colors that look good together and produce the emotions and associations that you want them to.
Finally, think about the typography and fonts you use to represent your brand. A font can say a lot about who you are.
Many companies today choose Sans Serif fonts for their clean, modern lines. However, a creative company might choose a playful or bold font, and luxury companies sometimes use script or ornate fonts to represent their brands.
The font you choose must work with your icons and colors to form a cohesive visual representation of your brand.
#3: Give Your Brand a Voice
Visual representation is important, but so are the words and tone you use to speak to current and potential customers. Determining which voice to use for your brand breaks down into two steps.
Who is your target audience? When you know who they are, then it’s easy to come up with the right tone to speak to them. Think of your brand’s personal attributes and values and let them guide you to the proper voice.
A company that markets to wealthy retirees wouldn’t use the same voice as one that markets to parents of young children. You should always be thinking of your audience and the language that will appeal to them.
Language and Tone
Once you know who your target audience is, you can come up with the proper language and tone to use to reach them. A toy company might use short words and a playful tone to appeal to children. By contrast, a company that markets software to engineering firms might use a formal or even dry tone combined with industry jargon.
A good example of a company that has a distinct and effective tone that’s perfectly tailored to its target audience is the skincare company Dove. Their audience is almost exclusively female, and they use a warm, feminine, and empowering tone on their website and in their social media posts.
Think of your audience as a friend. You know who they are – how will you speak to them?
#4: Give Your Brand a Purpose
The next element of branding to consider is y our company’s purpose. It is increasingly important for companies to have core values that they represent – and to have a mission they hope to accomplish. Millennials, who already make up a significant percentage of the workforce, prefer to work for companies whose purpose they support.
What is your company’s mission? A mission statement is a popular way of expressing a mission. What do you hope to accomplish? A mission statement is a big-picture view of how you see your company.
Here it may help to look at an example. This mission statement is from beverage company Honest Tea:
Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, healthier, organic beverages. We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity we use to craft our products, with sustainability and great taste for all.
What you can see from that statement is that it reflects a desire to create honest products in an honest way. That’s what makes it a mission statement – it speaks to the company’s core values.
The next part of creating a purpose is having a goal. The goal you select should be hinted at in your mission statement but the goal is what you actually intend to pursue.
For example, Honest Tea’s mission statement suggests that the company believes in sustainable agriculture. One of their goals might be to support organic farming by buying only from farmers who use sustainable methods and by avoiding the use of products that are not sustainable. Either one of those things might translate into a specific goal for the company to pursue.
#5: Give Your Brand a Dream
Finally, you can make your brand strong and unique by giving it a dream. Some companies have goals so ambitious that they might appear to be out of reach – and yet, in many cases, the companies who articulate a dream are also those that achieve it.
If a mission statement is a way of articulating your company’s values, a vision statement is a way of articulating its loftiest ambitions. What is the best possible outcome you can imagine for your company? How can you put it into words?
Here again, it may be helpful to look at an example. Arguably, the most famous vision statement of all times comes from computer giant Microsoft. Here it is:
A computer on every desktop.
In just five words, the company articulates a huge dream: a vision of a world where every desktop features a Microsoft computer.
If you’re thinking that such a dream is unlikely to come true, you’d be right. Microsoft has competitors, worth ones, and the likelihood that they’ll be able to vanquish all of them is unlikely. However, if you look at it in a pragmatic light, you can see why such a statement would be effective. It says a lot about the company that they strive for something so grandiose.
Closely related to vision is the idea of innovation. Is there something to be said for tradition and stability? Of course, but often the companies that we think of as the most stable started out as the biggest innovators.
Think of Ford as an example. The earliest automobiles available in the United States were Fords. They were at the leading edge of the automotive industry and Henry Ford is justifiably a legend.
Today, a Ford might not have the excitement of some of the newer manufacturers, but it started out as an innovator. And to some degree, all auto makers are innovators because they come out with new models every year.
Tesla is a great example of a company that embodies innovation today. Its determination to create electric cars that are just as good as those with combustion engines keeps it in the news – and gives it a recognizable brand.
What do you want your brand to be? The art of branding a company is a complex one, but if you take the time to create the five specific elements of branding mentioned here, you’ll be well on your way to building a memorable and lasting brand.