It’s interesting when we discuss the topic of branding, whilst some seem to get the general gist most don’t understand how big of a deal it really is.
So what IS branding and why is it so damn important?
In short, branding is the emotional and mental relationship you build with your audience.
We’ve said it a million times and we’ll say it a million times more, it is NOT just your logo. It’s how people identify your brand, not how they label or make associations about it. It is, as we like to say, the letterbox to your house and we all know the heart beats from within the house
Let’s break it down for you into 5 simple points.
1. The story
The brand story is what ties in the emotional aspect of your brand. It’s so important to communicate this to your audience because it’s what builds that personal relationship (which we discuss later) with your audience. If people don’t know who or what your brand is, it’s up to you to tell them or they will just assume.
If you’re a brand that:
- aligns with a cause, communicate that.
- has strong values, tell them why.
- has passion, showcase it.
These are things that help you to build a loyal community through relatability and like-minded values. It helps to nail the right audience because naturally, they will gravitate towards you because they share those same viewpoints. In other words, it gives them reasons to buy from you instead of someone else.
So how do you do it? Through visuals and storytelling. If you have a product, bring in the human element of that product, show who makes it, who is behind it and how it came to exist. Personal experiences, hardships, vulnerabilities; these are what connect people personally and give them an emotional connection to your brand, which is much stronger when we’re talking about long-term loyalty.
One thing where we notice a lack of storytelling is Instagram. They may have a beautifully constructed visual feed, but if they aren’t tying in a good verbal story, that’s just pictures with no relatability. Your captions help to expand on the story, and this is where social media goes much deeper than your office admin (read that blog by Cherie from The Digital Picnic here).
As they say in the Harvard Business Review, “Build brand loyalty on shared values with your consumers. It is not the number of interactions a buyer has with your brand, but the quality and relatability of the interaction.”
Which brings us to our next point, relationships.
Stop thinking about what you sell and start thinking about how you’re selling it. Customer service, retention, experience; these are key to how you make your customer feel, and they will be the ultimate winner in the deciding factor. Think about how you feel after a positive interaction with a brand, you feel appreciated, that appreciation will be remembered, and it’s called emotional motivation.
As humans, we’re shaped by our emotions. A lot of our buying patterns are unconscious decisions. They stem from our families, our childhood memories, so when we buy brands, it’s because we have an emotional tie with them.
A perfect example is the Cottee’s cordial TV ad from the 80’s. Think about how they advertised with their famous jingle we all remember too well – ‘My dad picks the fruit that goes to Cottee’s, that makes the cordial, that I like best‘ (for those that don’t it’s here). They’re bringing in the family connection, they’re drinking the cordial because their dad picked the fruit. It’s similar circumstances for us as consumers, we buy products we grew up with, we can change and make our own decisions, but in most cases, we buy what mum and dad bought. Especially for things like washing detergents, which smell like home.
Another thing, how can you solve a problem. If your brand can be the answer, you will emotionally connect. Think about it.
Like the above, the relationship you choose to build with your audience will flow on into your reputation. If a customer/client has a bad experience with staff or service, you bet they’ll head to social media to spread the word. In most cases, more so that a positive experience and this can be really damaging to a brand, regardless of if you have a pretty logo (ya get?). So it’s important to make sure that you create systems and processes that maintain your brand’s continuity across all touchpoints (whenever someone interacts with your brand).
How can you create positive experiences with your audience so it reflects favourably with your brand? This can be as simple as writing a handwritten note in a package that’s delivered, sending a little something extra to show you care, or simply making sure that they’re aware that they’re not just another number.
When you go above and beyond, ask your customers for a review. If they’re happy, they will write one! Reviews are extremely important, did you know that ‘84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation’ (Bright Local 2016).
Personality is crucial in relation to a brand’s identity. If someone were to ask what personality your brand had, would you know?
This helps to dictate visuals, tone and the communication with your audience. If you don’t know what personality your brand has, then how do you expect people to relate? It’s exactly the same as when we try to make friends as people, we suss out who their personalities to see if we click, well, it’s exactly the same as a brand. Hence why telling your story is also important (as we’ve already mentioned).
We like to say our brand is Reese Witherspoon with a kick of Lily Allen (because, we’re sarcastic like that, oh and love a good F bomb on the occassion). By talking like this, showing our personality in visuals and generating discussion on platforms like Instagram stories, people can identify who we are and what we stand for. This then gives the audience the ability to say yep, we want to follow or no, not for me. Either way, we’re fine with it because we’re also trying to find our people!
A perfect example is how Boost communicates with their audience on their socials, they’re quick-witted and fun. By showcasing this, they engage the right audience, generate playful discussion to stay relevant and people know who they are and what they stand for.
If you’re vague with your personality, you will never cut through to the right audience. By speaking and acting a certain way, you will attract a certain crowd. So if you have a target market in mind, you need to showcase the personality that would relate to them but be authentic to your brand.
If you can’t speak the right tone, hire someone who can verbally do it, like a copywriter. If you can’t visually articulate it, hire a brand/communication designer. Trust us, it’ll make a world of difference.
Lastly, flowing on from that last point in personality. Your visual and written tone help to identify you, from the way you use your words, to the style of imagery you use, it will all set the scene. Not sure what we mean, check out the visual image guidelines we created for Cubbi here.
Your business stationery, which a lot of people confuse as their brand identity, is just a tiny piece of the puzzle. Your brand style needs to be carried across all of your marketing material from website to business cards, to social media, to emails, they should and always communicate the same brand tone.
Your identity consists of a range of things but the main areas to focus on are:
- Branded assets (eg. Icons)
- Typography (brand fonts)
- Tone of voice
Here at YO&O we’re big on a holistic brand approach, that means helping brands to really understand their direction, strategy, message and identiy. Below is an example of the branding guidelines we created for non-profit Sunny Street so they’e consistent in market.
Once everything is placed together, it should convey an overall message. For more on your visual identity, we have a downloadable file over on our resources page.
Basically, we need to be looking at the bigger picture when it comes to branding. How do you want to be seen? Who do you want to be reaching? What message are you trying to communicate? How do you want your customers to feel? These are all really important questions and ones that need to be addressed prior to putting content to market, because just like everything else unless you have a strategic objective, it’s a waste of time and money.
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