Great branding doesn’t happen overnight. Success doesn’t come when companies decide to just do it on a whim and boil their entire essence down to three words. Instead, strong branding comes from having an excellent understanding of your target audience, knowing what features make your brand stand out from your competitors and being able to make the latter extremely appealing to the former.
Branding, as a term, is broad and loosely defined. It is made up of a number of more specific focuses, such as brand identity, logo designs and brand colors, and brand awareness and recall.
In this guide, we cover branding in detail with a wealth of curated information available through hyperlinks and videos. From the big picture right through to the various different components that make up branding, this guide serves as the perfect reference for any company looking to break into the market, reposition or rebrand.
Ensuring that all of your branding material is consistent and correct for each individual channel requires some know-how. There are three main ways companies go about doing this: in-house, through an agency, or by outsourcing the requirements.
In-house branding can be effective, but only if the team has the insights and knowledge necessary to deliver. While many C-Suite executives have an excellent understanding of their product, not all have a deep understanding of their brand.
Pros: In-house teams are affordable, adaptable and agile
Cons: There may be a general lack of branding experience
High-quality branding is what agencies do. They have experience and case studies to draw upon and have exposure to market trends and competitor positioning. Agencies usually provide short-term branding and campaigning, though companies can use agencies for all of their advertising requirements.
Pros: In-depth branding experience and knowledge
Cons: Working with agencies might mean a BIG spend
Outsourcing your branding is an attractive option for those with neither the in-house skill set necessary nor the agency budget. You simply scope out the requirements in a brief and outsource this to a design service like Superside. Outsourcing can offer a faster, more cost-effective way to achieve great branding without the need for an agency or in-house creatives.
Pros: Branding design tailored to your business
Cons: Not many — slightly less agility than in-house
Deciding on and refining your branding edge is a challenge, but it’s supposed to be! Decision-making, such as which colors should represent your brand, or what your tone of voice will sound like, is often a combination of strategic (including data analysis) and creative input.
In both instances, understanding is critical. Every key decision should be supported by strong business reasoning. This is made easier by knowing which branding elements are which, and how best you can leverage each to boost your brand awareness and affinity.
Branding is, at its core, the perfect overlap between strategy and creativity. We sat down with HubSpot’s Global Head of Creative, Dmitry Shamis, to hear his thoughts on corporate branding and the biggest mistake companies make today.
Before you begin any branding rollout, it is essential to have a target in place and a metric to measure your performance. If you think of your product as a movie, your brand strategy is the trailer. It must be enticing to the right audience and should be stress-tested before going live to ensure that all outcomes have been considered and prepared for. Use data analysis to gain insights and make tweaks accordingly.
An impressive brand strategy will set you up for success before creative has even started.
Brand development goes one step further than strategy does. It seeks to improve (or create, in the instance of an emerging business) the perception of the audience to build lasting loyalty. Brand development can even go so far as to include customer surveys to better grasp what they might want from your brand. Author and speaker Marty Neumeier puts it best: Your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what your audience says it is.
It’s common (and good!) practice for businesses to critique their branding to ascertain whether changes are needed or not. This is known as brand auditing. It is, in essence, the deep dive that identifies what is going right and what is going not so right, as well as the reasons why. Brand audits are time-intensive, but the insights you can glean are invaluable.
To conduct an audit of your own, make use of this step-by-step brand audit guide.
Branding packages (also known as brand or corporate identity packages) are a collection of digital and physical resources used to develop or establish a brand. These packages typically include a logo design, visual identity and style guide for all future design work to follow. Branding packages can vary in pricing, depending on the scope of work and if any extra elements are required.
See exactly what a branding package includes to determine if this is something your business may need.
Your brand identity includes all the resources necessary to keep your brand consistent across all channels. Chief among these is the logo: it sets the tone for the brand and the rest of the visual resources.
Brand identity—how quickly your audience can recall your brand by your specific colors, jingle, or commercial editing style—is the first step to brand loyalty and standing out from your competitors. Building a strong brand identity comes from determining your brand’s mission, vision and values, and using those as the core around which an appropriate, appealing brand persona is constructed.
Check out some of the best brand identity examples here, complete with applicable tips and tricks.
Good brand guidelines go beyond color palette and logo usage do’s and don’ts. They frame how your brand is represented across all consumer interactions (including tone of voice, which may vary from your marketing material to your customer service). Brand guidelines are paramount to consistency. You want your brand to look and feel harmonious across different touchpoints and to different consumers.
Use these brand guidelines as inspiration, and see the differences between SME brand guidelines and those of a large corporate organization.
Where brand identity looks at how aware your audience is of your brand, brand positioning looks at where that awareness stacks up relative to your competitors. Depending on your product and industry, you can frame your brand positioning strategy around price point, quality or convenience. Cementing your brand position is a long-term venture, but one that can make your product become synonymous with your industry.
Look at how brands like Amazon and Tesla position themselves and learn how to create brand positioning that is perfect for your business.
Brands that tell great stories succeed, and brands that leverage social media to do this succeed faster. Relying on brand storytelling is a great way to build long-lasting audience appreciation.
Great brand storytelling is about grabbing and holding consumer attention. It improves brand appreciation, recognition and recall. If you were to imagine a Coca-Cola ad right now, it’s likely that something jumps to mind involving a feel-good sharing moment. This is the power of storytelling, and top brands know how to leverage it to create the desired perception in their audience.
Don’t let the “telling” in brand storytelling fool you: visuals are a key element and, when used correctly, are a strong driver in invoking the right emotions in your audience. Especially in video, visuals can capture and convey vast amounts of information almost instantly. Success lies in ensuring your visuals are cohesive, compelling and aligned with the nature of your brand.
Create a visual identity complementary to your brand and use this in your storytelling.
Arguably the worst thing a brand can be is forgettable. Branding assets, both physical (like marketing material) and intangible (like trademarks, domain names or company culture) are essentially revenue pillars, so it pays to make them recognizable and memorable. Make your branding assets stand out, and your brand presence in the market will follow suit.
Follow the guide and examples showcased in this blog to create your own unique branding assets.
Picture the McDonald’s logo. You see how easy it is to envision the exact red and yellow? That is the power of strong brand visuals. Selecting and making use of the right colors and imagery is a significant factor in the success or failure of branding.
Color theory is the fancy term given to displaying information through color. Depending on the context, red can either mean stop, caution against heat, or be used to highlight an error message. The beauty of color theory is that it is universally understood, making it an essential design tool in branding. Use will be shaped by your industry, the message you want to resonate with your audience and the end goal (a brand awareness campaign may use a different color CTA to a sales campaign, for example).
Take a look at color theory and the effects thereof in this blog.
Typography is the epitome of ‘it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it’. In parallel to color theory, different lettering is characteristic of different meanings. A thin, tall font is elegant and refined. Thick, chunky letters are rugged and rough, appealing to a sense of adventure. Fonts with curved edges are fun and friendly. Typography and brand harmony are critical in achieving engaging brand visuals.
Find your font by learning more about typography trends.
Building a brand community gives businesses access to a hugely effective marketing channel and a sizable revenue stream.
A brand community is exactly what it says on the box: a group of consumers brought together by a shared interest in that brand. Brand communities can be self-sustaining (think Land Rover clubs or Porsche meet events), or they can engage in a space created by the brand itself (such as Spotify’s community). The benefits of brand communities are extensive: user-generated content, a platform for brand advocates and access to quantitative and qualitative first-party data.
Take inspiration from brands like LEGO and Ben & Jerry’s, and build your own brand community platform.
Before you can connect with your community, you first need to assess where they organically gravitate. This could be one social platform over the rest—Reddit and TikTok play host to numerous community bases—or a blend of online and offline events, as is the case with Harley Davidson. Depending on your industry and brand identity and positioning, connecting with your community can range from the use of UGC, to hosting events, to inviting them to join in any existing goodwill initiatives.
Get your brand marketing right and leave lasting impressions with your community.
Without brand recall or recognition, marketing serves little purpose outside of any direct engagement. So you want to ensure that any community content is eye-catching, relatable and memorable. Knowing exactly what your community identifies with is crucial to compound success, both appealing to your current community and growing it simultaneously.
See more about what brand recall and recognition can do for your community.
Out with the old and in with the new. Rebranding is something done by businesses both large and small, and is almost always successful provided you can ace your timing and direction.
Rebranding and brand refreshing is not uncommon. It usually happens to reignite consumer enthusiasm, but can also come about as a result of a brand simply needing to refresh and modernize its look. In instances of both rebranding and brand refreshing, a good strategy goes a long way. Create clear, well-defined reasons, map out a start-to-finish plan, measure against data and refine as you go.
Find out more about the transformative process behind rebranding and brand refreshing.
A full-scale rebrand includes everything from a new color palette to an updated or completely redesigned logo. This is where strong reasoning and knowledge of your audience are so essential. A rebrand well done is a rebrand well-received, benefitting from PR, word of mouth and new interest. But when a rebrand misses the mark, it can set a company back and lead to an unwanted poor reception and negative exposure.
Take a look at some famous logo rebrands that hit the bullseye, and some that missed the dartboard entirely.
In 2015, Konsus was launched. In 2019, that company rebranded to become Superside. This involved a new name, new look and new logo. It was an exciting transformation, one that was rooted in reasoning and supported by data and design. Although rebranding is always a big step to take, it can act as the launch pad to bigger, better and more meaningful things.
Turn knowledge into action by implementing the branding strategies and elements that will benefit your business. For further assistance with branding design and expertise, look no further than Superside to make your branding truly unforgettable.
Sofie is a Senior SEO & Content expert who specializes in Operational Management. From being a journalist at your daily news television broadcast, to producing videos and writing travel blogs; she has ended up at the more technical side of content and has a nose for sniffing out the creative pieces that will make your competitors look like digital noobs.
When not answering all SEO questions with ‘that depends…’, she is happily cooking up a storm, tasting wine and cheese samples or searching for the best flight tickets to her next travel destination. She is happy to connect with you on LinkedIn.
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