3 Fundaments for Your Brand Strategy
Branding creates your unique story. Builds a loyal and profitable relationship with your audience. Is the symbols, sounds, design, tone or personality that represent you and makes people fall in love with your brand experience.
When you create your brand, you create a perception in someone's mind in shape of a memory.
So how do you want them to remember you?
What is branding, and why does it matter?
Branding is perception. Your brand is the image your audience has in their mind when thinking about any element (name, symbol, product etc.) of your business. It plays the role of a perceptual and unconscious link between people and your start-up.
Through branding, you create a relationship with your audience, to a point where they feel engaged with your business on both an emotional and rational level. Relationship that strongly sustains the value-exchange between your brand and the audience.
Think about the importance of branding when you give a gift to a loved one. There is a big difference between giving a watch in a Tiffany box and giving one in a Tesco box. The Tiffany box and logo signals a high-quality, status product.
Brand image sends a message, and can signal status, quality or good value; sometimes it's the 'cool factor'.
Now, let's break it down in 3 fundaments: primary drives, personality and brand book.
1. First, define your primary drivers
Why do you exist?
What value do you bring?
How do you bring that value?
These are the questions you need to answer in order to define your business through a vision, mission and strategy. Why is this important? Performant businesses are back-up by a solid understanding of where they are heading to and how they are doing it.
Why, your vision.
Your vision is the reason why you pursue this idea. By defining this, on the most abstract level, you create purpose that will drive everything you do. Imagine your vision as the ideal world you want to live in, and you want others to believe it’s a great idea, challenging the status quo.
Google's vision to 'provide access to the world’s information in one click'.
Revolut’s vision to 'build sustainable, digital alternatives for traditional big banks'.
What, your mission.
Your mission is between abstract and hands on, something that you can achieve not only in the ideal, but in the real world. It is the answer to ‘what are you doing?’. It is why you and people get excited about your brand. You want to make it clear, yet ambitious.
Google's mission to 'organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful'.
Tesla’s to 'accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy'.
*Note: the vision and mission can be difficult to differentiate. While the vision is rather abstract, long-term and inspirational, the mission is the one that drives you everyday, in a more tangible way by being ambitious and realistic at the same time.
How, your strategy.
Your branding strategy is the plan for managing the branding elements to support the business vision and mission. Has the role of creating a strategic direction to develop the appropriate relationship with your audience. It ensures control over the experience of interacting with your brand.
Tesla appeals to the high-end consumer. The company is committed to producing both the fastest and most environmentally friendly EVs on the market. The company's brand strategy relies heavily upon delivering a premium customer experience. Musk himself is known for responding to customer tweets, asking his team to fix issues pointed on Twitter.
*Note: the branding strategy requires educated and specialised decision making. It must consider aspects such as segmentation, distribution channels, perceptual positioning, purchasing funnel etc.
2. Then, establish your personality
Who are you?
How do you look and sound like?
What do people feel when engaging with you?
What makes you unique?
Imagine your brand personality as a person. It has a style you recognise. Because it is especially knowledgeable of something, and you expect it to behave in a certain way. This makes it easy for people to build a relationship with you. Your goal is to develop a familiar personality related to positive and desirable attributes in their perception.
Is essential for your personality to have clear values, identity and tone.
Values, your core.
Your values define the primary principles you follow when making decisions. They are characteristics that people define you with, and you stay consistently true to. So whenever you must make a decision and you are not sure if it is the right call, check if it fits your values and mission, then also your strategy. We usually recommend up to 5.
Adobe's award winning company culture values are
“We’re sincere, trustworthy and reliable”
“We are committed to creating exceptional experiences that delight our employees and staff”
“We are highly creative and strive to connect new ideas with business realties”
“We are inclusive, open and actively engaged with our customers, partners, employees and the communities we serve”
Identity, your style.
Your identity is the looks and feel of your brand. It can be anything from your visual style to the atmosphere you create. It is what makes your brand feel unique and stand out. To create an identity to some comes naturally, other go through creative processes of various kinds. You want to have one or more elements that take you out of the crowd.
There are limitless ways to create your identity. However, creating a moodboard by collecting materials that suit you and find patterns of elements (we recommend Behance for moodboard creation). Or conduct basic research and ask people to define what makes you stand out, note down and find similarities that also resonate with your vision.
Apple’s minimalist design, clean lines, light typography and bold colours. Highly intuitive and always easy to use interface.
Tone, your voice.
Your voice is the kind of language you use when you communicate on behalf of your brand. The more unique and personal your tone of voice is, the more your audience will vibrate with your authentic feel and enjoy your content. This requires defining a few guidelines that make your voice consistent. You do this by setting focus points.
Microsoft’s tone of voice is
Warm and relaxed
"We’re natural. Less formal, more grounded in real, everyday conversations. Occasionally, we’re fun. (We know when to celebrate.)"
Crisp and clear
"We’re to the point. We write for scanning first, reading second. We make it simple above all."
Ready to lend a hand
"We show customers we’re on their side. We anticipate their real needs and offer great information at just the right time."
3. Finally, create a brand book
All those above are essential in order to create your brand book. The brand book is your business' personalised guide that contains all the content related to your brand that is needed to be consistent and accurate with your branding.
The brand book includes the essentials of
- Vision, mission, values
- Personality, tone of voice
- Logo and identity elements
- Colours, fonts
- Usage guidelines and examples
You will use the brand book to ensure everyone that engages with your business or acts on behalf of it understands the principles of your brand. In the short-run, it may seem less important. As you grow it will become indispensable, helping your business develop in a healthy direction, building brand equity.
Name a cool start-up, with uncool branding
Does not work, right? These highlights are the essential elements of branding a start-up. Variations occur depending on the type of business you run. More aspects come in play to establish a solid brand, such as positioning, experience elements, attributes. A marketing strategy must be also developed in order to define the touch points of your brand.
With these set up, you are ready to develop your marketing strategy and kick-off your start-up into the market.
Want to go further? Read about how to create the marketing strategy for your start-up.
Or text us here, and book a 30 min free advisory consult.