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Make a Brew The Process of Branding

The process of branding

Clare Froggatt
Clare Froggatt

How would people describe your brand? 

How do you want them to describe it? Quirky? Professional? Practical? No matter what direction you go in, branding is the path that will get you there, so here’s our process of branding.

A proactive and planned branding process will allow you to shape your brand with purpose and control. There are so many elements that go into building a brand, a structured process is the best way to manage everything. You don’t create a brand image all at once — it’s done one step at a time.In this blog I’ll break down the process of branding, why branding is important to small businesses and how you can get started. First, we look at the ways branding can improve a business and then explore the actionable steps you can take to implement your own branding process.

Why branding matters for small business success

It’s may not be obvious how branding influences the success of a business. It helps to keep the following in mind: if you want to define your brand with purpose, intention and build awareness, then you need to take a planned approach.

Branding is not directly responsible for customers’ thoughts and decisions with regards to your brand; but it can position you with a consistent image and story that, over time, can affect how people view your business.

How? By implementing a branding process, a business or brand will:

Communicate their unique difference from competitors.

Consumers don’t engage with your brand just to buy something. Your brand is an experience that can offer something beyond a tangible product. You can use that experience, along with other factors, to better position yourself in a crowded market.

Amazon, for example, has grown from an online book seller to a global online retailer, you can buy your groceries, stationery, clothing and pretty much anything other than a car – there’s still time for that to become a reality. What makes them different from any other online retailer? Amazon prides themselves on putting the customer first, they have scaled to offer fast delivery to cater for our on-demand culture. They have pretty much positioned themselves as the go-to for most online purchases.

Amazon logo sign
Harley Davidson motorcycle and logo

Build brand loyalty.

Businesses that have a consistent and memorable brand earn the confidence of customers. Customers are more likely to return when they know what to expect, they know that they are buying what they need and that it will be delivered in the same way every time.

Buying a Harley Davidson may be a dream to a customer, but they are an established brand with a variety of ways to associate with them. The customer already knows what to expect for their Harley experience, not the least of which is that the product will be high-quality. That assurance has a snowball effect leading to more-and-more business, as long as the brand is consistent in delivering that experience, which it does as loyal brand followers wear Harley Davidson clothing and even have the brand tattooed for all to see.

Set the value for itself and the product.

The branding process also allows you to influence how customers and the market perceive your brand. Your choices about what to wear or how your behave influence what people think of you, don’t they? It’s the same principle with the branding process, as long as your branding decisions are planned and consistent.

Apple started out with the mission to make us ‘Think Different’. They built their branding strategy around those ideals, and consistently innovate and communicate that identity in all their branded materials. That plan successfully attracted a customer base of customers who will queue for days to buy the latest iPhone launch.

Apple logo with Steve Jobs line drawing 'think different'

what is the process of branding?

The process of branding is a set of steps you take to raise awareness of your brand and build its reputation. It’s a must for new brands, but also a necessity for existing businesses, branding is an ongoing process that needs guidance and management.

A successful branding process creates a strong and unique brand identity, that’s recognisable across all your branded materials. Your brand identity includes; your brand colour palette, typography, tone of voice, logo and general imagery. All these assets need work in harmony to represent and convey your brand’s personality.

The most important thing when considering your own branding process is to know the goals and needs of your individual business: what you want to say and who you want to reach. The initial stages of the branding process will shape how you approach the later ones.

the step-by-step process of branding

Before you begin to work on your brand identity, you need to ask yourself some searching questions: who are you and what makes you, you? How do you stand out from your competitors? The answers aren’t always obvious, so focus on specific business goals and do your market research.

To better understand the branding process, let’s take a look at each step.

1. Build your brand strategy

The first step is the core of everything your business is and does. Who are you as a brand, or, who do you want to be? Define your “why” and focus on a set of values you want to have as a brand.

From a business perspective, ask yourself: who you are? What is your purpose, beyond profit or product? What difference does your brand make? What are your brand’s core values, your primary beliefs? The answers need to be clear and describe the internal and external operations of your business.

Your strategy should include specific objectives that track different points of your brand creation. The actionable items should include:

  •  Understand who you are.
  •  Identify who you are trying to reach (your target audience).
  •  Clarify what products and services you offer.
  •  Position yourself among competitors.

Your brand strategy links into your business strategy. Your mission and core values strengthen the culture of your business and help you to maintain consistency. Consistency is a great way to build brand loyalty.

2. Do market research

To position yourself in a market, you first need to understand that market. Building a brand strategy without knowing your target audience or your competitors is like plaiting fog.

To work out what makes you different and stand out from your competition, you need to know who they are and what they offer. You also need to understand — who is their target audience, are they identical to yours or is there a small segment that got left out? This helps you be more precise and focus on who your audience is and how your brand can appeal to them.

To better understand your market, try these two tips:

  • Create buyer personas. Put yourself in your buyer’s position by creating a profile about them. A buyer persona is a fictional “character” made up of the statistics and beliefs about your target customers. Where do they shop? What do they do for fun? Which social media channels do they use? Knowing this information can help you focus your branding decisions.
  • Identify your competition. This step is about positioning and differentiating yourself. What works for your competitors and where the gaps are, and what can be improved? How can you carve a niche in your particular market?

Researching your competitors is essential when designing your brand elements and creating your brand voice. While it’s good to stand out, you still need fit into the conditions of the market.

For example, if your competitors use neutral colours, it may be because neutral colours work best for that market group. Choosing bright colours would make you stand out from your competition, but it would ultimately put customers off if you do not fit their needs. While you want your brand apart, you still need to account for the expectations of the market.

3. Develop your brand identity

Your brand identity is made up of tangible, recognisable elements that work to create cohesive whole. The main objective of every brand identity is to create something distinct and recognisable by customers.

The identity brings your brand to life and turns it into an experience, something customers can interact with. Your brand identity includes distinguishing verbal and visual features, as well as an overall personality. Developing these elements is the most creative part of the branding process.

The most valuable part of your brand elements is, without doubt, the logo—but it’s not the only thing:

  • Brand name. What are you called? Does your business name mean anything to you or your industry? Will it stand the test of time, does it make you stand out? Is the domain name and social media account names available? Consistency is an important factor when thinking of or reviewing your business name.
  • Colour palette. The colours you use in your brand visuals need to work seamlessly with your identity. You want to stand out from your competitors, but you still need to fit in with the market’s expectations. Market research combined with the practical aspects of colour psychology can help you find the perfect balance.
  • Typography. Having only a few main font types for your brand helps you maintain consistency and recognition. With too many fonts, you lose that effect. If you use too many fonts it becomes hard to read your content, also think about where your content will be read, both on and off-line.
  • Brand voice. If your brand were a person, how would it talk? What would it talk about, and what tone would it use? Would it be formal and professional, or would it be more casual and joke around? To design your brand voice, think about what message you want to share and how it fits with your brand personality. In all forms of communication, from text to video, to imagery, choose a language that “sounds” like you.
  • Additional elements. There are lots of branding elements to choose from, and your brand’s needs will dictate which ones work best for you. If you sell a tangible product, imagery and visuals will be a top priority; for a service-based brand, other things like reviews or branded blog articles work better.
  • Logo. Designing your logo is a key point in your branding process. As the main representative of a brand, your logo drives the rest of the brand design. It’s hard to mention successful logos without thinking of McDonalds ‘M’. Their logo became such a strong representative of the brand because all the elements of their packaging and signage work together to build the brands identity, it’s bright, fun and unmistakable.

Designing all these elements may seem scary with so many things to think about beyond who you are as a brand and who your target audience is, including the skills of marketing and graphic design. If you have a question about this or need help working out what to do email growth@makeabrew.co.uk

4. Create your style guide

It’s often considered “optional,” brand style guides are important for ensuring the success of your branding process. All the work you put into understanding your brand and designing your brand elements is wasted without a style guide to keep track of your choices.

The style guide is a recipe book that outlines how to use your brand assets and is an essential resource. All successful brands have a style guide for the use of their logo and branding assets.

Your brand style guide usually includes provision for your:

  • Brand story
  • Voice
  • Logo use (especially if you have more than one)
  • Imagery
  • Colour palette (with exact colour codes for print and digital use)
  • Typography

To summarise, your brand style guide ensures that your design choices and brand assets are consistent no matter what you are producing or who’s handling them. This core resource takes into account things like resizing your logo or using your assets with different colours. It can also include details like whether your brand uses traditional or modern punctuation.

Style guides one of the best ways to manage your brand between multiple people in different departments. As your brand evolves over time, you update your brand style guide every few years to reflect new branding trends.

5. Work on brand awareness

This step of the branding process is looks at your long-term branding strategies. Creating a brand is only the beginning.

Who you are as a brand is very important in this step (not that it isn’t for all the other steps). You need to develop your strategy so that your branding is consistent in all communication, as well as experience. How do you interact with customers at different stages of the experience? Do external broader issues influence how they might interact with your brand?To work on brand awareness, best practice is to have a calendar on which specific branding goals are set. The most important thing to remember in this step is that your brand is growing. Leave breathing space in your branding process to allow room for changes without losing your core.

the process is continuous

There’s a great deal of satisfaction in building something, allowing all the parts to interact and fit together. When you consciously choose what to include or take away, then you yourself become a part of what you’re creating.

But unlike constructing a building or painting a picture, building a brand never really ends. There are always tweaks and sometimes even complete do-overs, not to mention periodic updates. A reliable core to your brand personality is key to riding out those detours bumps in the road, if you think you are losing your way, look back to the core of it all: your values and purpose.

So now you know the process of branding, but if you need help branding your business?

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