So, you want to know what it takes to create a strong brand?
You might think a perfectly designed logo will do it, or a killer color scheme, or maybe even a ridiculously catchy slogan!
The fact of the matter is there is much more to a brand than its obvious visual elements. A brand is consistent, emotional, personal, understanding, bold, and so much more.
Experts explain how to create a brand
Don’t just take it from me. I asked brand marketing experts what they think it takes to build a memorable and successful brand.
Here is what they had to say:
1. Relate to customer needs
“Marketers tend to be brand focused. This is understandable, as in-house marketers, we are in the trenches, living and breathing our service or product on a daily basis. However, clients and consumers are in the driver’s seat, and we must meet them where they are. A marketing philosophy that I live by is brand and demand need to go hand in hand. No matter how many optimizations you do to get people to your site, if you don’t relate with them you are likely to lose out on their business, and your efforts will be in vain.”
“A sure way to water down your brand from the start is by playing it safe. People don’t realize that this is the time to be fearless. Create a unique brand voice that shows your company’s personality – you don’t want to fit in; you want to stand out. Be funny. Be edgy. Be authentic. You don’t have to please everyone. In fact, you shouldn’t try. As long as you are speaking to your target audience and they ‘get’ you, don’t worry about everyone else. When your branding truly reflects who you are and what you do, the right people will love you for it.”
- Diane Callihan, Director of Marketing, Roger West
3. Become a thought leader
“Create content around topics your customers care about. Content marketing establishes your brand as an expert that has something valuable to say. Publishing articles, videos, and case studies online is a great way to get search engines to associate your brand with your niche. This is hugely important for obtaining organic traffic, which in turn can bring low-cost leads. Create content around the questions people ask and the problem they are trying to solve. Look at competitors’ content that rank - how can your brand produce something better? Educate your audience, and they will respect your brand.”
“Be your brand day in and day out. Your brand shouldn't be a mask you put on when facing corporate investors or a persona you use when handling the media. Your brand should be as authentic and real outside of working hours as it is in the office. Representing your brand should feel natural. When you build the foundation with defined fonts, colors, and slogans, be absolutely confident that every detail aligns with your purpose. Make sure you and your employees embody those details within yourselves. The fundamentals should match your lifestyle. What do you accomplish in your free time? Who are your role models? How do you spend your money? All of these questions will help guide you toward your brand's focus and personality. Once you have that identified, it's up to you to ensure that your daily choices and actions reflect it in a positive way. That's true branding, no matter what your business is.”
“Humanize your brand and make sure you avoid an overly corporate brand personality. In doing this, you'll be able to produce a relatable label that your target demographic can focus and be a part of. There's nothing worse than dealing with a big faceless company that creates an awkward, overly formal environment. Keeping that personal, almost vulnerable approach with brand identity is a great way to gain loyal customers and push for interest in your products. ”
“Brand success is all about being radically authentic. This means pushing your own comfort levels as much as possible. Customers can spot disingenuous brands from a mile away. Today, a brand’s truth is more valuable than simply presenting a polished image. And if you do brand truth right, you’ll always be unique in your competitive set.”
“Branding is all about name recognition and establishing the 'voice' of your organization. One of the best and even perhaps the most inexpensive ways to accomplish this is through establishing opportunities for guest posts and expert comments. Guest post writing doesn't need to be elusive and magical. In fact, it can be very simple. Reach out to authoritative blogs and websites within your niche, or even think outside of the box and discover new areas where you can develop an unexpected customer base. Before you know it, you'll have a network of promotional possibilities at your fingertips!”
“While we all wish there was a secret that could make brands explode overnight, the best way to build a brand is to have an impact on someone else’s life. When your product or service truly transforms someone’s life, that person tells people. Branding is really about how much value you can provide, whether that’s in your actual product or service, or in your social media and digital strategy. The more value you provide, the more people like, share and tell others. That’s how powerful brands are built.”
“The most powerful brands are founded in a profound purpose – or what I call a Big Audacious Meaning. It is the difference your brand makes in a person’s life, a community, or even the world. When you start with clarifying this essential core of who you are, you lay the foundation for an exceptional brand. It comes from explaining what your business is best at, what it is passionate about, and what difference it can make, and making sure each of these elements aligns with the other two. Getting to this truth is incredibly enticing to those you hope to serve. After all, you are showing them how engaging with your organization can help spread a little more good in the world. People want to align with brands that help them feel like they are having an impact with their dollars and their time.”
“Every brand must genuinely care about the people they serve. Be willing to bend over backwards to satisfy a quality customer. If a client has a bad experience, make it right with them and offer discounted products or service for next time. Motivate your employees to create an experience your customers will never forget. In turn, they become an insanely loyal salesforce!”
“If you’re a new business, remember the David & Goliath story when you enter into an industry dominated by big names. David knew that he could not beat Goliath if he engaged with this giant in a conventional manner, so he changed the rules of engagement and well, you know the rest. Outsmart your competitors and establish a highly successful brand by changing the way you engage with your potential customers. Never let anyone forget why you are better than the crowd.”
“Before a brand can build outwards, it has to build inwards. It has to be a haven of inter-connected minds. Not like a matrix, but more like a family. The dynamic has to be one of unconditional business decisions. There is no wrong, only degrees of risk. Families are built on shared experience: emotional, thrilling, embarrassing experiences. Shared experience forges our bonds and frees us to work without fear of recrimination, and together we push the boundaries of what brand building can be. Your company should focus inwards and build a culture unique to you, then look outwards.”
-Mark Fielding, Sales and Marketing Manager, Huski
13. Make your customer the hero
“Ensure the message on your website is clear and isn't confusing. Creating clear copy means starting with a clear definition of your ideal customer. If you understand exactly who your customer is, your website can better suit their needs. It is essential to position your customer as the hero of your brand. Some brands focus on themselves, and the ‘About Page’ from these companies tend to only be about the company and not about the customer. There is a strategy behind appealing to the customer’s pain point through the ‘About Page’. When you appeal to them as the main character, and less of a supporting role, the more successful your company will be. It’s important to have a clear message but it’s equally important to guide your customer, quickly and easily, to their ‘Call to Action’. Build your brand as a story by taking the audience from a pain point to a resolution. When a customer is satisfied from beginning to end, they become the winner in your brand story.”
“Survey your employees and customers to get a sense of your company's brand, both internally and externally. You should see a consistent theme in the responses that align with your core values as a company. If the responses don’t align, you must work to make this a reality. To strengthen your brand, make sure all of the decisions made by the company align with the core values. You'll find that these decisions become easier to make as your sense of your brand becomes crystal clear.”
“Your strategy should always be consumer-first. It starts with them: Who are they? Where are they? What do they value? That’s where your brand needs to be, both live and on social media. Directly align activations, events and brand placement with your social media strategy. Here’s the formula: whether it’s a fun party, cool collaboration or an interactive installation, you must put it where your target consumer is and allow them to create and share authentic content. Give them a reason to care, and you’ve created what we call a win/win/win: favor for the brand, a value-add for the consumer, and amazing social content that resonates with your buyers because they’ve had a hand in creating it, sharing it and starring in it. Meaningful participation creates a reason to care (and great brand recognition)”
A lot goes into building a successful brand, but after all is said and done, it’s evident that the most important facet of any brand is the people who support it.
Cater to your customers, understand them, fulfill a need, or fix a pain point for them. Cherish the relationships because those are the people that will build your business an adored and prosperous brand.
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Hannah is a former content marketing associate at G2. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Journalism. In her free time, Hannah enjoys running with her dog, Teddy, traveling to new and exciting places, and capturing the beautiful places she travels to with her DSLR camera. (she/her/hers)