Branding is more than just creating a logo, choosing a colour scheme, or having a tagline.
It’s the sum of your company’s actions and interactions – everything you do to build awareness, shape perceptions, and create loyalty among your customers and prospects.
It’s the very essence of who you are as a company, what you stand for, and what makes you different from anyone else in your industry.
Your logo, slogan, and colour scheme play a role, as do the images you use, how your employees or staff interact with customers, the messages you deliver, and the overall experience you provide.
Suffice it to say, building a strong brand takes a lot of time and effort.
But the results are always worth it. A strong brand can help you attract and retain more customers, charge higher prices, and weather downturns
Inbound marketing is a powerful tool for building a brand.
By its very nature, inbound attracts people who are already interested in what you have to say — they’re actively seeking out your content because it’s relevant to their needs and interests.
These five steps can help you start building a strong brand for your business:
#1. Define Your Purpose
It will always narrow down to one question: “Why do we exist?”
Your answer to this question should be brief, memorable, and aspirational. It should also be something that differentiates you from your competitors.
For example, T-Mobile exists to “change how people live, work and play.”
Nike aims to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.”
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.
AT&T aims to “connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else.”
If you can’t answer this question, or if your answer is something like, “We’re in the business of selling ____,” you need to go back to the drawing board. Your purpose should go beyond just making a profit.
Remember, your brand is the sum of everything you do. So if you can’t articulate why your company exists, how can you expect your employees or customers to do it for you?
#2. Develop Your Brand Personality
Your brand personality is how your brand speaks and behaves. It’s the human characteristics attributed to your brand.
When developing your brand personality, think about what human traits best describe your company. Are you friendly? Fun? Helpful? Serious? Professional? Quirky?
Once you’ve determined your brand’s personality traits, make sure they reflect in everything you do — from the content you create to how your employees interact with customers.
Your brand personality should be consistent across all channels, including your website, social media, email marketing, and offline communications.
For example, let’s say you want your brand to be seen as friendly and helpful. In that case, your tone of voice should be warm and conversational. Your visuals should be inviting, and your content should provide value without being too sales-y.
Regarding customer service, your team should be friendly and accommodating, going above and beyond to help solve problems.
On the other hand, if you want your brand to be seen as serious and professional, your tone of voice should be more formal. Your visuals should be clean and sleek, and your content should focus on the facts.
Of course, you don’t have to pick just one personality trait. Your brand can (and should) have multiple personality traits that work together to create a well-rounded persona.
Just make sure those personality traits reflect in everything you do.
- T-Mobile’s brand personality is fun, unpretentious, and a little rebellious. This is reflected in their tongue-in-cheek copy, use of vibrant colours, and overall attitude.
- Nike’s brand personality is aspirational, inspirational, and innovative. This is reflected in their emotionally charged ads, cutting-edge product designs, and commitment to fitness and health.
- AT&T’s brand personality is helpful, friendly, and efficient. This is reflected in their customer service-focused approach, use of plain language, and easy-to-navigate website.
Think about the human characteristics that best describe your company, and then make sure they’re all reflected in your branding.
#3. Define Your Target Audience
You’ve most likely gathered demographic data on your customers before (age, gender, location, etc.), but when it comes to branding, it’s important to go a step further and develop buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional character that represents your ideal customer.
When developing your buyer persona, you should think about their:
- Demographics: Age, gender, location
- Psychographics: Interests, hobbies, values
- Goals: What they hope to achieve
- Challenges: What obstacles are standing in their way
- Objections: Why they wouldn’t buy from you
A buyer persona should be as detailed and specific as possible. The more you know about your ideal customer, the easier it will be to develop targeted branding messages that resonate with them.
Once you’ve developed your buyer persona, you want to keep them in mind in everything you do — from the content, you create to how you interact with them on social media.
Here’s an article you want to read on buyer personas:
- The Role Of Buyer’s Personas And The Buyer’s Journey In Your E-Commerce Success
- How To Create Marketing Personas Online In Singapore
- T-Mobile’s target audience is the growing millennials looking for an affordable, no-contract cell phone plan.
- Nike’s target audience is people of all ages who are interested in health and fitness.
- AT&T’s target audience is businesses and families looking for a reliable cell phone service.
Think about who your ideal customer is, and then make sure your branding appeals to them.
#4. Develop a Visual Identity
Your visual identity is how you present your brand through visuals. It includes everything from your logo and colour scheme to your website design and social media posts.
When developing your visual identity, it’s important to be consistent. That means using the same colours, fonts, and overall aesthetic across channels. Consistency will help people recognize and remember your brand, even if they see it for just a few seconds.
Your visual identity should also be unique. It should set you apart from your competitors and help people understand what makes you special.
Here are a few articles to help you get started with your visual identity:
- How To Build Brand Consistency
- How To Do Branding Online In Singapore
- Top 20 Branding Consultants In Singapore
- T-Mobile’s visual identity is youthful, vibrant, and a little rebellious. Their logo is pink and magenta, their website is colourful and fun, and their social media posts are often cheeky and irreverent.
- Nike’s visual identity is aspirational, inspirational, and innovative. Their logo is simple but iconic, their ads are emotionally charged, and their cutting-edge product designs.
- AT&T’s visual identity is helpful, friendly, and efficient. Their logo is straightforward, their website is easy to navigate, and their ads focus on customer service.
Think about the feelings you want your visuals to evoke, then make sure they’re reflected in your visual identity.
#5. Have a Unique Selling Proposition?
Your unique selling proposition (USP) sets you apart from your competitors. It’s what makes you special and worth paying attention to.
When developing your USP, think about what makes you different and why that matters to your target audience. What do you offer that nobody else does? How can you solve your customers’ problems in a way nobody else can?
Your USP doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler it is, the easier it will be for people to understand and remember.
Here’s an article to help you develop your USP:
- Critical Elements To Creating A Powerful Marketing Plan
- Insider Tips On How To Create Superior Value Proposition (Part 1)
- T-Mobile’s USP is “no contract, no credit check, and no hidden fees.” They offer a simple, straightforward cell phone plan that’s easy to understand and sign up for.
- Nike’s USP is “Just Do It.” They encourage their customers to push themselves and reach their fitness goals.
- AT&T’s USP is “More for your thing.” They offer a wide range of products and services, from cell phones to TV and the internet.
Think about what makes you special. For example, are you the only company in your industry that offers a certain product or service? Do you have a unique way of solving your customers’ problems?
How to Use Inbound Marketing to Build a Strong Brand
Now that you know how to build a strong brand, it’s time to implement that knowledge.
Here are five ways you can use inbound marketing to give your brand the much-needed boost:
Create Consistent, High-Quality Content
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of turning a profit that you forget that your customers are people, too. To build a strong relationship with your target audience, you need to create content that appeals to them on a human level.
The principal idea behind inbound marketing is to create content that draws people in rather than interrupting them with ads. When you produce high-quality, helpful content, people will be more likely to pay attention to your brand and continue doing business with you in the future.
Give your audience access to entertaining, informative blog posts, helpful eBooks, engaging infographics, and more. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the type of content you can create, so get creative and have fun with it.
Promote Your Content
Creating great content is only half the battle. Or what purpose does it serve if nobody ever sees it?
Make sure your target audience knows about the amazing content you’re producing by promoting it through social media, email marketing, paid ads, and any other channels you have at your disposal.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Share your blog posts on social media.
- Write a guest blog post for other websites in your industry.
- Promote your eBooks and white papers through email marketing campaigns.
- Use paid advertising to draw attention to your content.
Add a Blog to Your Website
If you don’t already have a blog on your website, now’s the time to add one. A blog is a great way to show your target audience that you’re an expert in your industry and always staying up-to-date on the latest news and trends.
Not sure what to write about? Use your blog to give your customers helpful tips and advice, share interesting case studies, and announce any new products or services you’re offering.
Think of every new blog post as an opportunity to show your target audience that you’re the best at what you do.
Use Email Marketing
Are you among the group that still thinks email marketing is a dying art? Think again.
Email marketing is still one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to reach your target audience and promote your brand. In fact, email marketing has an ROI of 4,300%, so it’s definitely worth your time and effort.
These days, it costs little to almost nothing to send an email blast, and many great email marketing platforms have simplified the process of creating beautiful, professional-looking emails.
You just have to be careful not to overdo it. Nobody likes to be bombarded with emails, so ensure you’re only sending relevant and helpful messages to your target audience.
Here are a few ideas for email marketing content:
- Announce any new blog posts or other pieces of content you’ve created.
- Share coupon codes or discounts with your subscribers.
- Invite people to attend an event or webinar you’re hosting.
- Send a monthly newsletter with industry news and updates.
Leverage social media
Social media, a watering hole for today’s generation, cannot be ignored if you want to build a strong brand.
No matter what industry you’re in, there’s a good chance your target audience is spending time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you’re not already active on social media, now’s the time to start!
Not sure how to get started? Here are a few ideas:
- Create social media profiles for your business on all the major social media platforms.
- Post regular updates on your social media pages.
- Engage with other users on social media, including potential customers and influencers in your industry.
- Share your blog posts, infographics, and other content pieces on social media.
- Use social media advertising to reach a larger audience.
Use CRM and Analytic Tools
To build a strong brand, you need to understand your target audience and their actions when they land on your website. Thankfully, many great CRM (customer relationship management) and analytic tools can help you do just that.
Tools like HubSpot Sales, Google Analytics, and Social Flow allow you to track the behaviour of your website visitors, see what type of content they’re interested in, and even score leads so you know when someone is ready to buy.
While a CRM tool collects data about your leads and customers, an analytic tool helps you make sense of that data to make better decisions about your marketing strategy.
CRM and analytic tools can help you with insightful data for building a strong brand, so be sure to invest in one (if not both) of these tools if you’re serious about taking your branding to the next level.
Take a Multi-channel Approach
Inbound marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. To be truly effective, you need to take a multi-channel approach that includes a mix of content, SEO, social media, email marketing, and more.
The goal is to reach your target audience where they spend the most time online and engage with them on multiple levels.
Just as companies use a mix of radio, TV, print, and online advertising to reach a wider audience, you need to use an assorted blend of inbound marketing channels to reach your target audience.
Here’s what you should do with each channel:
- Content: Use your blog, infographics, eBooks, and other content pieces to attract new visitors to your website and convert them into leads.
- SEO: Optimize your website and content for the search engines so you can rank higher in the search results and get more organic traffic.
- Social Media: Use social media to build relationships with potential customers, share your content, and drive traffic back to your website.
- Email Marketing: Use email marketing to nurture leads and turn them into customers.
Focus on the Customer Journey
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to build a strong brand is to focus on the customer journey.
What is the customer journey, you ask?
The customer journey is the path that a potential customer takes from becoming aware of your brand to when they become a paying customer.
There are three main stages in the customer journey:
- Awareness: This is when a potential customer becomes aware of your brand or product.
Example: A blog post about the benefits of a new type of product
- Consideration: This is when a potential customer considers your product or brand as an option.
Example: A blog post comparing different products in the same category
- Decision: This stage is when the potential customer decides whether or not to buy your product.
Example: A blog post with a coupon code for your product.
To build a strong brand, you must create content that appeals to each stage of the customer’s journey.
If you only focus on one stage, you’re likely to lose potential customers at other stages of the journey.
Creating a mix of content that appeals to all stages of the customer journey increases the likelihood that a potential customer will become a paying customer.
Building a strong brand is like building a house.
You must lay different foundation stones to create a strong, long-lasting foundation.
The same is true for building a strong brand.
It helps to focus on different aspects of your business to create a strong, recognizable brand that will stand the test of time.
Here are the eight foundation stones you need to lay to build a strong brand:
- Develop a Compelling Brand Story
- Create a Memorable Logo and Tagline
- Conduct Market Research
- Develop Key Messaging
- Create a Visual Style Guide
- Invest in Marketing Technology
- Take a Multi-channel Approach
- Focus on the Customer Journey
By focusing on these eight foundation stones, you can create a strong brand that will help you succeed in the long run.
Developing a Compelling Brand Story: Why Should You Bother?
Your brand story is the foundation of your entire inbound marketing strategy.
It sets you apart from your competitors and drives everything you do, from the content you create to how you interact with your customers.
A compelling brand story will make people want to do business with you, so it helps to develop one.
Here’s how you can create a compelling brand story:
Start with your mission statement.
Your mission statement should explain what your company does and why you do it.
For example, our mission at MediaOne is “to help SMEs grow better.”
Once you have your mission statement, you can start to develop the rest of your brand story.
Think about what sets you apart from your competitors.
What are your unique selling points?
What do you do that no one else does?
Answering these questions will help you develop a brand story that is unique and compelling.
Finally, think about the people you want to reach with your brand story.
Who are your ideal customers?
What do they care about?
What do they need to know about your company?
Answering these questions will help you develop a brand story that resonates with your target audience.
Creating a Memorable Logo and Tagline: How to Make Yours Stand Out
Your logo and tagline are two of the most critical elements of your brand.
Your logo is the visual representation of your brand, and your tagline is the phrase that sums up what your brand is all about.
To create a memorable logo and tagline, you must keep two things in mind: simplicity and uniqueness.
- Your logo should be simple enough that people can remember it, but it should also be unique enough to stand out from your competitors.
- Your tagline should be short, sweet, and to the point.
It should be easy for people to remember and, most importantly, sum up what your brand is all about.
Conducting Market Research: How to Know What Your Customers Want
Market research is an integral part of developing a strong brand.
Market research lets you learn about your target audience, their needs and wants, and what they think of your brand.
There are a few different ways to conduct market research, but the best way to get accurate results is to survey your target audience directly.
You can use online and in-person surveys or focus groups to gather this data.
Once you have this data, you can start to develop key messaging and create a brand that best resonates with your target audience.
Developing Key Messaging: How to Craft a Message that Resonates
Your key messaging should be based on the results you get from your market research.
It should be focused on what your target audience cares about and what they need to know about your brand.
To develop a messaging that resonates, you must keep two things in mind: simplicity and emotion.
Your messaging should be simple enough for people to understand. At the same time, it should evoke an emotional response.
The best way to do this is to focus on the benefits of your product or service.
What will your target audience get out of using your product or service?
Answering this question will help you develop a messaging that best resonates with your target audience.
Creating Compelling Content: How to Make Yours Stand Out
Content is a key part of any inbound marketing strategy.
But not all content is created equal.
To make your content stand out, you must focus on creating compelling, interesting, and informative content.
The best way to do this is to focus on your target audience’s needs and wants.
- What are they interested in?
- What do they need to know?
Answering these questions will help you develop relevant and interesting content for your target audience.