Farmers brand their cattle for a reason: so you'll never mistake one of their herd for someone else's. Every brand is bold, unique, and the sum of years of hard work. It's the same in business. Your brand identity is the equivalent of Farmer Bill's cattle stamp. It's a mark of who you are and who you're not. Cutting corners, compromising, or failing to police how your brand is presented to the world muddies up that brand promise - and your reputation.
Let's take a look at why clear branding matters and how to make sure your brand stands strong in a crowded marketplace of contenders.
Your Brand Stakes Your Claim In the Market
Your brand is both a statement and a promise. It tells people who you are, what you're all about, and gives people a frame of reference. A brand that's clear, uncompromising, and consistent lets you take control of your reputation. Here's why having a brand that's inarguably yours matters.
- A point of differentiation. Strong branding positions you in the market in relation to your competitors. There might be other people doing what you do, but no one's doing it exactly the same way or for the same audience. Strong branding helps you carve out that niche and claim it as yours and yours alone. There are plenty of donut places out there, but none with the cachet of Krispy Kreme.
- Sets expectations. Branding creates expectations in both your customers' and employees' minds. Your brand identity tells people whether you're laid-back and easygoing or driven and business-minded. Being consistent in your branding tells people that they can expect consistency in everything you do and sell. Would you buy a Big Mac from a place with silver arches? Probably not.
- A framework for your goals and vision. A brand isn't just about looks (although those are a big part of it). Your visual identity is built upon a larger branding framework that encompasses your goals, vision, values, and mission. Having absolute clarity on those lets, you chart a direct course towards success without the risk of getting hung up or sidetracked by distractions or questions. Take Disney. They're all about sharing magic through storytelling. Whether they'd ever put out an R-rated film full of violence isn't even a question.
How to Build a Powerful, Unforgettable Brand
You know that strong branding matters - and that sticking to your branding guns is vital. But how do you build a brand that people remember, identify with, and intuitively "get"?
- Find your own niche. Build a brand identity that's true to who you are, and that stands on its own while being recognizable as part of your category. Dig deep: a brand with an authentic story resonates more than one that is just about looks.
- Write your own brand guidelines. Sit down and define who you are, what you stand for, and what you're striving to do. Create a playbook that outlines your voice, your messaging, your visuals, and exactly how your branding assets should be used. And make sure you don't stray from that path.
- Align your brand with your culture. Is your branding saying one thing and your corporate culture another? You need to get these aligned before things go off the rails. Get buy-in from employees by offering workshops, branded items, brand ambassadorship, and marketing collateral that helps cement your brand identity. And ensure that marketing and leadership are on board and leading by example.
- Create consistency across all channels. In a digital world, brands usually reach customers across a combination of channels. If your social media, digital marketing, and in-person sales all exist in separate silos, inconsistencies will arise. Get those teams talking to each other and ensure that your brand is seamless and consistent company-wide.
- Participate in brand outreach. Getting your brand out there in the right ways is vital for brand building and recognition. Advertise in places your brand is expected to be. Support non-profits and local organizations aligned with what you stand for. And participate in the forums, events, platforms, and digital channels that make sense to your brand.
The goal of your branding efforts should be to build a brand as strong, clear, and unique as the mark left by Farmer Bill's cattle stamp. Be bold, uncompromising, and unyielding in what you stand for, and your brand will stand the test of time.
At StellaPop, we're experts at building and marketing brands that rise to the top in their category. To make sure your brand is resonating with customers the way it should get in touch! We'll help you build a brand identity that can't - and won't - be ignored.