Through quickly browsing in an average grocery store, one could not help but notice that the competition among brands is pretty tight. So many logos of different colors and sizes clutter themselves onto the shelves. They try various tactics to appeal to consumers and reach the cashier. And these are just the brands that hit the shelves—the major retailers.
Standing out in a sea of competition is much more of a challenge than just staying afloat the market. Most of the time, the only difference between the two is strong branding.
What is a Brand?
When hearing the word brand, most people assume it's just the logo, name, and slogan. But a brand encompasses much more than what most of us know.
A brand is a culmination of visual, emotional, and psychological perceptions of consumers towards a company. No matter how a company defines its own brand, the end-game is still that of what people know, feel, and think of the brand.
With that in mind, we can conclude that a strong brand appeals to its consumers beyond the visual level (logos and colors). Rather, they connect to people in the emotional realm. The greatest brands present themselves as friends, not just products.
The Best of the Brands
When we crave for a sugar rush of a drink, rarely do we say we want soda. We opt to say Coke or Pepsi. This is how we know these brands have strong identities. They are brands we usually never run out of in our own fridges. But Pepsi and Coca-Cola did not build their conglomerate empires in a night. It took decades for us to replace our vocabulary of the word soda with Coke or Pepsi.
Here are what we think some of the biggest players in their industries and a short analysis of their brand identities.
One of the most recognizable logos out there is Nike's Swoosh™. Founded in 1964 and originally called Blue Ribbon Sports, the company was rebranded to what we know today as Nike in 1971. Their slogan "Just Do It." can be found printed, embroidered, or engraved in many of their products and advertising mediums. They mainly appeal to athletes and fitness enthusiasts ages 15-45 but recently found their brand relevant to high-fashion dressers' smaller niche.
Nike is synonymous with resilience and strength.
Many of you could be reading this article on an Apple device. Apple was founded in 1977 and is almost always associated with its founder, Steve Jobs. Steve was a forerunner in the tech industry and served as a thought leader for the whole duration of his career. Apple carried the archetype through the years and continues to stand out in the market with its slogan "Think Different."
Apple is known for its deviation from the usual and a touch of simplicity and innovation.
Ford is one of the biggest players in the automotive industry, especially in the United States. The Ford Motor Company boasts of its heritage and how it witnessed the growth of the economy. From their muscle cars to monstrous trucks, Ford is an emblem of the American Dream. In fact, roughly half of all customers in 2012 owned another Ford vehicle at the time of purchase.
Ford stands for security, safety, and reliability.
Perhaps, the most recognizable logo in the fast-food industry is McDonald's Golden Arches. Their global presence coupled with effective marketing raised the brand into a foodie go-to. Whether you are a kid wanting to order the Happy Meal, an employee in line for a cup of coffee, or a student getting a quick take-out, McDonald's menu always has something for you.
McDonald's is a brand associated with family-friendly, affordable, and delicious food.
With over 150 years in the market, Heinz came to be a brand always present in our kitchen cupboards or tables. You can find Heinz in the grandest of restaurants and in hotdog stands just across the street. Heinz built its brand in the foundations of its heritage, something that your grandmother, your mother, and yourself love. As their 150th-anniversary slogan states, "150 years of clean plates."
Heinz is ketchup; ketchup is Heinz.
How did these brands evolve to be the goliaths of their industries? Well, it's no secret that they spend billions of dollars on brand research and marketing. So, how can your brand be the next necessity? Let's talk about that.
The 6 Pillars of a Strong Brand Identity
It is clear that what brands do boils down to this: communicating. Knowing your audience is paramount to your success as a brand. This entails knowing your audience's demographics, socioeconomic statuses, interests, struggles, and motivations.
Knowing audiences could be easier if you are an avid user of your products or services. Say you own an online store selling workout equipment. If you are a fitness enthusiast yourself, you know your customers' lifestyle, goals, and challenges. Relating to these will give you a great vantage point in knowing your audience. Researching the market or your audience is a solid first step in developing a great relationship with them.
A great example we can look at is Nike's positioning statement: "For serious athletes, Nike gives confidence that provides the perfect shoe for every sport." (Emphasis added)
Athletes are people who like to think of themselves as passionate and motivated to be the best in their sports. Nike's positioning statement appeals to this very emotion, coupled with getting the greatest athletes as their brand endorsers.
Perhaps the most important and challenging part of building a brand is coming up with a brand name, slogan, and logo that would embody the brand's ideals in their entirety.
Since the start of the 21st century, old dominating brands have participated in a trend of logo simplification. This made logos easier to remember.
Psychologically, we are more leaned to recall pictures that we see rather than words. This phenomenon is called the pictorial superiority effect. This could be the reason why big brands are more than willing to spend handsomely on their logos and other visual elements.
Now, let's talk about what makes a great logo.
When driving on highways, we take a quick glance at billboards, and usually, we don't take the time to digest everything they contain. This is where simplicity plays the most important role. Simple logos can be used anywhere and everywhere: from small app icons to gigantic murals. A great rule of thumb for a simple logo is a six-year-old's ability to draw it from memory.
Apart from simplicity, a logo must be suitable for the brand and industry it serves. This is evident in the sports apparel industry with their logos having sharp curves and pointy edges and the kids' toys industry with playful symbols. When logos and other visual elements are not suitable to the industry and the audience, brands will seem out of touch with their consumers.
A great logo is one you can remember. When built only on simplicity and suitability, your logo may just fade into the crowd. Still, a logo's main purpose is to stand out. Some brands deviated from simplicity but still dominate their industries partly because of their unique logos.
Going back to the definition of what a brand is, we can water it all down to communication. Branding is communicating. This step requires a deep knowledge of your audience (step 1). Your target audience needs a brand that feels tangible like a friend, and they will know when you are just faking it. Speaking the language they speak personifies your brand into someone dear to them and may just lead to long-term consumer-product relationships.
If your product or service is something you use regularly, then you are part of the audience. You may do a quick SWOT Analysis of yourself to get to know your audience better.
(SWOT Analysis: List down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.)
Another channel for you to know the language better is to check your brand and your competitors' reviews. This way, you can address their concerns in their own language.
What are their buzzwords? What keywords do they use to search for your brand? Knowing these will help you tailor a personalized and compelling call-to-action.
Before anything else, what does your brand mean to you? As the owner, you must be the one who knows the most about your brand. It is not just about memorizing the dates of milestones or the ingredients. It is about knowing your brand to the heart. What are its values? Its dos and don'ts? Its mission and vision? Once you have a solid understanding of your own brand, asking for help from other experts, such as website designers, developers, and writers, will be easier.
Brands with authentic core values are consistent with the emotional experience they deliver. This is why we always support that little Mom & Pop convenience store across the street. They are real, they are consistent, and they can be trusted.
Starbucks' former CEO, Howard Schultz, once said, "Mass advertising can build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they stay loyal to the brand."
We here are All Things WWW couldn't agree more! Keep on reading because we have also prepared questions you should ask yourself to know your brand more.
Ask any boxer about their opponent; they will most likely define their strengths and weaknesses. Before a fight, athletes watch tapes upon tapes of their opponents' matches to know their style and find a weak point to attack. The same is true for branding.
Knowing your competition is the foundation of effective brand marketing. If you are clueless about how other brands in your industry market themselves, you will end up struggling to be different and rise among them. Gaining insight into your competitors will pave you a clear path to the next actions to take.
There are many aspects of your competitors that you may want to know about. Here, we have listed a few important ones to look at.
Company Size and Revenue
Is it a David and Goliath kind of competition? If they are much larger than yours, you can market your brand to a segment of your audience they may be ignoring.
Products and Offerings
Perhaps you have a hidden gem of an idea they haven't thought of yet. Attend trade fairs to be updated on the industry's developments and get an x-ray of the competition.
Knowing the competition SEO-wise will allow you to bid for keywords you can rank up in. To learn more about this, we have just the right article for you here.
All brands take actions that adhere to their goals. This musters consistency and effectiveness in all their marketing outlets and touchpoints. Identifying your short, medium, and long-term goals will serve as a roadmap of your future development.
There are a lot of possible objectives you can consider. You can categorize them into qualitative and quantitative goals.
Your short-term goals can be: to raise SEO rankings, complete 200 orders, book 10 appointments for a short span of time—like a month or two.
Medium-term goals are your objectives for the year, such as release a new product, introduce a new service, or grow several leads.
Long-term goals could include branching out, partnering with other companies with the same plans, or be a household name.
Your goals must be S-M-A-R-T.
Following these criteria, your objectives will be realistic and will be easier to act on and achieve.
MAKE YOUR BRAND IDENTITY BRIEF
Lastly, all brands must have their own identity brief. To help you come up with your own, we have prepared guide questions you should answer. Take note; some questions may take you a day or two of thinking. You do not have to rush; for this exercise, we aim for high-quality, genuine answers.
What is your business name?
Which industry does your business operate in?
What are the milestones in the history of your business?
How did you come up with your business name?
What are your biggest goals in the future?
Are your target customers male or female?
How old are your target customers?
How much do they earn in a month? A year?
Are there specific traits, hobbies, or interests you see as particular to your ideal customer base? (Are they gym goers, do they go to night clubs)
What benefit can you provide your customers that no one else can?
How will your customers learn about your brand?
What brands are your direct competition?
What makes you different from your competition?
Describe your business in one sentence.
Describe your business in three words.
Describe your business in one word.
If your brand were a person, how would you describe its personality?
How do you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand?
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