How Developing Your Brand Book Strengthens Your Business’s Bottom Line

Published: July 26, 2022

Author
Mariah Raner

Categories:

What is a brand?

A brand is how a company, product, or individual is perceived by those who interact with it. Brands stick in the heads of everyone who experiences them: employees, investors, and, more importantly, customers. In the most basic sense, a brand is a perception. Defining your brand is incredibly valuable to organizations wishing to stand out, gain market share, raise funds, or just get noticed. This can be accomplished by creating a brand book where all of your brand assets are held.

What a brand isn’t

A brand is more than a name or a logo, a brand is the recognizable feeling these assets evoke for your intended audience. Further, it does not describe “what” you do or sell, but rather “who” you are.

What is a brand’s purpose?

Brands are business tools that drive measurable ROI. Defining the competitive advantage that helps an organization to differentiate from the competition is critical in standing out in the marketplace.

Building a brand is not easy work, nor is it permanent. Think of a brand as a living, breathing organism—it must be supported and constantly nurtured. This brand definition should be the yardstick by which decisions are made by the organization (who to partner with, whom to hire, who are evangelists, etc.). This will define how relationships are forged and brand connections are made—and retained.

Why understanding your brand foundation can help your business grow

Your brand is a touchstone that should guide everything from marketing and product strategy to your website’s visual design. The sum of all these parts is what helps form positive associations in the minds of consumers, increasing the likelihood that they will want to support your business. Everything they see, hear, experience, and believe about your products or services is part of this process, and that’s why all of it matters when building the foundation of your brand.

The elements of your branding foundation should include:

Audience/target market

graphic explaining the different types of market segmentation and how it fits in your brand book

Consumers gravitate towards businesses that engage with them in a more personalized way that demonstrates an understanding of their needs. That’s why a brand that tries to appeal to absolutely everyone is likely not to resonate with anyone. Instead, your branding foundations should be crafted with the ideal buyer and primary market in mind.

Market segmentation

Taking your research a step further, it’s beneficial to recognize this target audience based on the four types of market segmentation. These main segments include determining:

  • Demographic segmentation: think about age, gender, ethnicity, income, or marital status.
  • Geographic segmentation: this requires splitting your market up based on its location.
  • Behavioral segmentation: this contains factors like online shopping habits, loyalty, actions taken on websites, type of benefits they seek.
  • Psychographic segmentation: mental and emotional characteristics such as personality traits, interests, beliefs, values, attitudes, and lifestyle.

In short, you must know who your customers are, this extends to understanding what they’re feeling and what motivates them to take action. Having these comprehensive insights will help you make your brand as effective and appealing as possible.

Determining where your target audience fits

It’s important to identify where exactly your target audience falls on the radar. While this may seem like an unnecessary step, it’s beneficial. Below let’s break down primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences.

According to HubSpot, a primary audience is a segmented group of people a business chooses to focus on for marketing efforts. They have the buying power and ability to make purchase decisions. Secondary audiences can influence the buying power of the primary audience and should be thought about in marketing efforts for this reason.

They further explain that a secondary audience is comprised of people who aren’t the most likely to buy a product or service but are still second-most important. It’s crucial to market to secondary audiences because they are either a user of your product, or they’ll become a user of your product. Additionally, they can influence the primary audience into purchasing a product or service.

Lastly, tertiary audiences are the group of consumers who want to wait and see. They will assess the situation and pause purchasing decisions until the product becomes popular, fits within their price range, or until the product/service becomes a need. Simply put, primary audiences are action takers, secondary audiences are advisors, and tertiary audiences are evaluators. 

Competency

Your brand must communicate and explain the competencies of your business, which are any strategic advantages you have in your industry or market. In other words, what are your core strengths as a business? Some potential answers may include:

  • Higher quality products
  • Better value for money
  • Excellent customer service
  • Catering to a specific niche market
  • More ethical and socially responsible
  • Rooted in the community
  • Greater flexibility and convenience
  • Extensive product range
  • More stylish or greater “cool” factor 
  • More innovative and technically advanced 
  • A compelling company history

Once you properly identify these distinguishing qualities, you’ll have a good idea of how your brand needs to reflect these strengths. Ultimately, having competencies woven into your branding foundations is what allows your business to extract the maximum value out of them. 

Culture

It’s very common to think about branding in terms of external components, such as marketing campaigns, but your branding foundation has strong internal components as well. It’s important to outline who internally oversees branding and overall marketing.

Your company’s organizational culture should be aligned and integrated with your brand, just as your brand will naturally be impacted by your organizational culture. In the information age, modern consumers are more discerning than ever about factors like the norms of a company’s workforce. If there’s any kind of mismatch between your brand and your company culture, this is a problem that’s very likely to show up in one way or another, whether it’s low employee morale, poor customer service, or not earning the trust of customers.  

Reputation

Your company’s reputation is a strong contender for the most important asset in developing your brand. And getting a bad reputation is very hard to overcome. That’s why it’s essential to practice reputation management by closely monitoring what’s being said about your company. Plus taking steps to avoid any long-term damage. Brands with a better reputation can charge higher prices, enjoy greater customer loyalty, have more success with launching a new product or service, and are generally more profitable. Everything counts when it comes to your reputation, including the quality of your products, the customer service experiences your employees provide, and the overall expectations of what your brand will deliver. 

Brand Book Development: Phase One

Brand positioning

A brand position is the underlying bedrock idea or principle that at every turn supports a company or product. Without it, a brand can have no traction. It must stand for something fundamental. At its best, positioning elevates a brand above the fray so that people can’t help but take notice.

The formal definition of brand positioning is, “using marketing strategies to differentiate your company in the eyes of customers to appeal to your target audience within your specific market.” Successful positioning rejects conformity.​ When genuinely created, positioning elevates a brand so that people can’t help but take interest. Customers instinctively and unwittingly look for things that are different, unexpected, and inherently needed. A brand that differentiates from its competition will have an overwhelming advantage in the marketplace.  

Can a company survive without positioning? Absolutely. But we aren’t trying to just survive.

In fact, many businesses eke out a modest existence. You might call these lifestyle businesses. But branding isn’t about survival, it’s about: separation, uniqueness, thriving, and creating a lasting emotional connection with customers that fuel reputation not to mention visibility and growth. Brand positioning is where it all starts.  

Every brand should have these elements

the three elements that every brand should have: focus, differentiation, and relevance

Be different

Differentiation provides needed contrast and helps people make choices. It’s what makes a successful brand unique. Being different can be uncomfortable. 

A few ways your brand might set itself apart:

  • Project a distinct personality
  • Offer a unique business model
  • Separate yourself from competitors visually
  • Use distinctive copy to describe your firm and services
  • Offer a truly unique technology or service
  • Be the first or only firm to do something
  • Change your name to something bold and memorable

Be focused

A majority of new businesses today, especially early in their existence, want to be everything to everybody. They are a “yes” company. Instead of narrowing their expertise, many companies expand their service offerings in hopes of broadening their reach and attracting more customers. The problem with this approach is that lack of focus means you have more competition. ​

Today’s buyer wants a niche, they want experts, and they want a focus.

Own your focus:

  • Being local isn’t/ can’t be your only position: explain why you are better
  • Specialize in a specific industry, offering, or product line
  • Concentrate on a specific role with your customer’s organization
  • Specialize on serving a customer of a certain size
  • Focus on a specific geographic area

Be relevant

If you aren’t relevant, you aren’t in business. A company can be highly differentiated and specialized, but if few people actually want its services, the company won’t make any money.

Before you commit to a new direction, test the waters, and find out if there is sufficient interest in your specialty. You may find that the niche you are considering is simply too small to support your expenses, much less your growth ambitions!

Great brands can’t overcome irrelevant products.

Positioning statement

Preparing a positioning statement is something we suggest all brands do. This statement will act as an internal guide that you can reference at any time. Whether when looking to describe your company or persuade users to buy from you a positioning statement acts as a great inspirational tool.

Sample Statement:

[Brand Name] provides (1)____ with (2)____ than any other [Your Industry]. We do this by (3a)____, (3b)____, and (3c)____.

1 = target audience

2 = brief description of what you do

3a = attribute 1 (pillar 1)

3b = attribute 2 ( pillar 2)

3c = attribute 3 (pillar 3)

Pillars

Example of good branding; Nike's company pillars include creating innovation, bringing inspiration, and supporting every athlete in the world.
Real-Life Example: Nike’s Brand Pillars

Your brand pillars fit into your brand’s positioning statement. In other words, what are your brand’s top benefits or differentiators?

According to HubSpot, brand pillars are the values and characteristics that make up your brand. Your brand should be about how you communicate your message to the world. Brand pillars help you do that by defining the fundamental points that set your company apart from your competitors.

In the image above, you can see the example of Nike’s brand pillars. Their three brand pillars are:

  1. Creating Innovation
  2. Bring Inspiration
  3. Supporting Every Athlete in the World

Brand pillars help you clearly communicate your company’s goals publicly.  Defining unique pillars will continue to enhance and accelerate brand image.

Tagline

Example of good branding; Nike's company tagline—Just Do It
Real-Life Example: Nike’s Brand Tagline

Your tagline introduces users to the brand and beckons them to linger awhile and listen. Simply put, it’s how you express your positioning. To develop a successful tagline, it must support your brand and its position while clearly articulating your differentiation or an important company attribute. 

However, not every company has adopted a tagline. This brand element is optional but highly encouraged. 

Promise

An extension of your brand positioning is your brand’s promise. A brand promise is a statement made by an organization to its customers stating what customers can expect from their products and services. This is in terms of the benefits and experience- the tangible and the intangible. It often is summed up as “What does your brand do? And for whom?”.

 While not required, developing a brand promise is valuable. Remember a brand promise must communicate a benefit, be credible, and be kept every time.

Defining your unique selling proposition (USP)

A unique selling proposition is what makes your business different from everyone else in your market. A USP should quickly answer the following:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • What goal does your target customer achieve by using your brand?
  • What makes you unique?

A USP represents the uniqueness of the brand and will likely stick out as something customers will remember. It’s worth going through this exercise to define what differentiates your company from your competition within the industry.

Naming your company: what’s in a name?

here is a list that layouts everything involved in a good brand name including uniqueness, trademark, domain, positioning, and search engine landscape

A key element of your brand is your brand name. At BrandCraft, we have had the opportunity to develop names for new businesses just getting started and for established companies looking to evolve their branding to reflect their growth. In either scenario, there are core components that create a successful company name. If you are looking to get started on naming your company, here is an outline of important considerations to keep in mind.

Staying power

This is likely the most obvious one – but vital. You want a name that sticks with your core audience and stands out when your potential customers are stacking you up against your competitors. You want a name that is easy to read, easy to say, and can easily be spelled. Remember, a company name is not only used to reference your brand, and in your logo, it’s also used in your web domain, email address, used in your phone greeting, and other forms of communication that you want to avoid errors in as much as possible.

Uniqueness

Your company name plays a vast role in your brand’s perception. It is often the first thing customers see and it’s easier to market a memorable and unique name. There are multiple businesses that work within the same industry as you. How do you set your company apart in a competitive environment? Well, your name makes a big difference.

Trademark Availability

While it can be easy to think of great names – it is much more challenging to come up with a great name that someone else hasn’t already taken – and has the legal right to. Before you start designing your logo and investing in your brand assets, it is crucial to vet your name through the USPTO’s trademark database to verify it hasn’t been claimed already. Note, trademarks can be registered by industry use and location, so it is possible to have the same name another company has trademarked in a different industry or state. At BrandCraft we strongly recommend having a trademark attorney double-check for you, and to assist in registering your name’s trademark

Search Engine Landscape

While vetting a company name concept, it’s important to search the name on search engines like Google to see what results come up. This might seem like a no-brainer – but it is a step that is easy to miss while naming your company. This step helps you determine 1.) if there is anything that might be poorly associated with that name (for example it’s slang for something that doesn’t align with your brand); and 2.) if there are too many similar-named companies or sites that could make it challenging for you to rank for your company name.

Positioning

Lastly, make sure the name aligns with the company’s position in the market and brand persona. For example, if your brand is polished, traditional, and structured, having a name that is too cheeky might not align with the impression you want to make. A company name is an opportunity to support the organization’s voice, create an ‘aha’ moment, and spark interest in a quick interaction. 

There are lots of great name ideas – but finding one that hasn’t been spoken for already, aligns with the brand direction, and creates a spark of intrigue is a challenge. It requires a string of creative juices and being willing to think out of the box while maintaining an understanding of how it will be perceived by your core audience. If you find yourself spinning on creating a name for your business – BrandCraft can help provide creative fuel to your fire. 

Mission

Example of good branding; Nike's company mission—Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world
Real-Life Example: Nike’s Brand Mission

Your company’s mission should encompass the fundamental goals and philosophies that are driving your business. Simply put, what is the “Why?” behind your company’s existence or further what’s motivating the things you do. Many consumers are more attracted to brands that can clearly articulate their goals, especially the younger generation. When your audience makes a genuine connection with your mission, they’re much more likely to try your products or service, recommend them to others, and generally perceive your brand more positively. Your company’s employees will also care a great deal about working towards an inspiring mission, whether it’s solving an important problem, providing high-quality services for the community, or doing business more sustainably.

Vision

An example of good branding; Nike's company vision— "to remain the most authentic, connected, and distinctive brand"
Real-Life Example: Nike’s Brand Vision

Simply put, a brand’s vision is intention. Not to be confused with the brand mission, vision involves telling your audience where you envision your company going in the future.

Values

Example of good branding; Nike's company values—community, sustainability, diversity, social responsibility.
Real-Life Example: Nike’s Brand Values

Defining your brand values is important as they serve as a tool that guides the rest of your brand framework. Not to be confused with brand goals, your brand values are how your business conducts itself on the road to achieving your objectives. Core values can be used to describe what the organization stands for, but more importantly, how the organization does business and builds relationships. Having values in place communicates to both your customers and employees what your company stands for. It serves more than just what you say.

Personality

Example of good branding; Nike's company personality—active lifestyle, inspirational, cool, innovative, aggressive and excitement
Real-Life Example: Nike’s Brand Personality

Brand personality can be defined as a brand’s human component. It’s that aspect of a company’s outward expression that says, “there are real people behind this business—people I can connect with.” It’s the hook that draws you in and emits an emotional vibe. Brand personality pierces the dull gray corporate wall and lets prospective customers see what they are truly getting.

Elevator Pitch

Given the opportunity, every entrepreneur can talk about their business for hours. But how do you squeeze that information into about 60-90 seconds to potential customers and get them to schedule a second meeting or even consider your business? The answer is a brand elevator pitch.

If you’ve been in business for some time, you’ve probably had a handful of opportunities to present your elevator pitch without even realizing it. Some of the situations where having a brand elevator pitch is essential include: 

  • When you’re meeting someone for the first time 
  • You have limited time to capture a person’s attention 
  • The person you’re talking to shows interest in your business or can help

Generally, it’s time to pull out your elevator pitch when someone asks you, “What does your company do?” or, “What do you do?”.

Before presenting the elevator pitch to your audience as an expert, you need to write it first. This critical stage requires thorough research to create a goal-oriented pitch that proves reliable and gets potential customers to pay attention to your brand. Here are a couple of tips to guide you in writing the perfect brand elevator pitch:

  • Understand the products and services you sell
  • Know your audience
  • Emphasize the key points of your product and service
  • Determine your end goal
  • Put everything together

Creating the ultimate brand elevator pitch is the first step of the process. The delivery of the pitch must be on-point for it to yield results and get the audience to commit. Further, follow these tips:

  • Time it
  • Practice
  • Speak clearly
  • Be conversational
  • Smile and display your passion

Voice and tone

Example of good branding; Nike's company brand voice—powerful, and inspirational with an element of grit.
Real-Life Example: Nike’s Brand Voice

Brand voice is how your company communicates. It’s easiest to look at how your brand would talk if it were a person. Brand tone expresses your core values through written words that speak to your intended audience. Your brand tone can help you communicate directly consistently and succinctly.

Messaging

Example of good branding; Nike's company messaging—"no more waiting", "they can't stop us", "lead with heart", "we play real"
Real-Life Example: Nike’s Brand Messaging

Messaging encompasses the words that help customers and prospects understand a firm’s value (why it’s useful) and values (what it believes in). It articulates the brand’s promise and stimulates the desire for a firm’s services. Brand messages tell a story that gets people excited about your services and rallies them behind your flag. In the war for customers’ hearts, messaging leads the charge.

Brand Book Visual Identity: Phase Two

In the business world, your brand is your lifeline. It’s how consumers perceive your business–the good and the bad. It’s the feelings, emotions, and everything in between that come to mind when people think of your company. Your brand identity takes things a step further. As a growth marketing agency specializing in branding, we’re here to guide you through the basics.  Brand identity is comprised of visible brand assets including your logo, colors, and typography. Designing a brand identity that people will remember is possible with a little imagination and a lot of consistency. Here’s how to make a good brand identity a great one.

An example of a brand's visual identity seem by the logo, typeface, brand colors, and photography style

First, you need a logo that represents how you want consumers to view your business. The icon should be simple, distinctive, and easily recognizable on all marketing mediums, from your website to social media and print materials. 

Uniqueness and memorability matter most here. Ask yourself:

  • Will it draw attention?
  • Does it accurately depict my business, mission, and values?
  • Is it easy to recognize and understand?

Businesses should have more than just one version of their logo. The main three are:

Think of this logo as an introductory mark, like a book cover. It can be colorful and contain a tagline. The best part? It holds all the elements in one main mark. (Peep some of our primary logos here.)

You’ll use this logo when you have less space to work with than the primary logo. Some alternative orientations you’ll find in a secondary logo are stacked or ultrawide. Secondary logos can strip away elements, simplifying the mark–which is fine and looks great online. (It’s one of the best logo versions for your website.)

Logo mark

This is often the simplest–and arguably the best–logo version. Logo marks usually lack text so you can shrink your logo file size as small as possible without impacting the readability. This logo version is considered best because the mark tests the success of connecting the logo to the company. Without relying on taglines, details, and colors, users can easily recognize this mark with the respective company. You can find these logos in the smallest places, like a favicon (the icon on your internet browser tabs).  

A professional company can pivot and swap in an alternative logo variant depending on the workspace. (Curious about what to look for in a logo designer? Check out this blog.)

Typography

Typography is another essential part of your logo and associated marketing materials.  Typefaces can convey a lot about a company, and how they’re used can make or break your brand identity. Whatever options you choose, ensure they go together for a clean, cohesive image. 

Before selecting a font, we recommend doing a competitive analysis to identify any general themes within your industry. Also, consider the right approach for your target audience. 

It’s easy to over-style fonts, which results in a discordant brand. Font styles should cover everything, including different font weights, underlining, italicizing, and capitalization.  

Of course, be wary of the number of characters in your headers if you go with an ALL-CAPS styling, as this affects legibility. You can read more about this here.

In general, it’s best to use a primary font for your company name and a separate font for your tagline. Both fonts should be readable, but it’s okay to choose a more elaborate font for the business name. The tagline should be simpler so as not to distract. 

Tip:Remember to stick to three fonts at most. Adding too many fonts can be distracting and take away from the logo. 

Pro tip: When selecting a typeface for your brand, confirm the primary one has a Webfont to ensure you can use it on your website to reflect your brand. Consider using Google Fonts or Adobe Fonts.

Color Palette

Fun fact: color influences up to 90 percent of first impressions about a product, service, or brand. From a company’s standpoint, that means your choice of brand colors is vital. 

Your color palette can distinguish your products and services from comparative options. They can also affect how people feel when they look at your brand. 

Considering the emotion your brand inspires in others is essential when deciding on a color scheme. This is where color theory and brand psychology come into play.  Color theory is the collection of rules and guidelines which designers use to communicate with users through appealing color schemes in visual interfaces.

The meaning of colors

Many colors have a specific meaning.  There is a reason why many banks are blue as it evokes trust. Red is the color of passion. Yellow represents wisdom. Consider the theory of color when choosing a palette. Here’s a quick breakdown of what colors can mean in branding:

  • Red: This color is all about intensity. It can drive you to act just as easily as it can make a brand look bold and alluring. 
  • Orange: If innovation and creativity are the goals, orange is your friend. It symbolizes results and positive thinking, inspiring people to make the connection that using your products or services can give them the solutions they need. 
  • Yellow: It generally translates to positive, friendly, and carefree. When the goal is to make a brand look warmer online, a yellow color scheme is perfect. 
  • Green: You’ll see this color most often in natural brands. It gives off feelings of balance and a journey toward “growth” and personal development. 
  • Blue: This color is serene and peaceful–and brands who use it often hope to convey those traits. It can also represent dependability and a solid foundation. 
  • Purple: Like red, purple can signify strength. It can also show class, making a brand look more luxurious and desirable.  
  • White: Most minimalistic brands opt for white. It looks clean and simple, and it pairs well in the tech world–making complex products look less intimidating. 
  • Black: You can’t get more sophisticated or professional than black, which complements many logo colors. It also looks secretive, which begs people to look. 

Visual Language

Your brand imagery is the stylistic extension of your visual identity guide. Often this is seen as photography styles, icons, graphics, or illustrations. It’s important to define a consistent style so that it strengthens your brand identity and makes it memorable.

This is an area where brands tend to fall short. Often, you will see brands with fragmented icons, photography styles, or mixed illustrations. This may leave your users lost and confused.  Here’s a brief list of why it’s important to develop a complete visual language for your brand:

  • Creates a united look and feel
  • Helps with quality control
  • Propels your brand forward
  • Optimizes each piece of content

Ultimately brand visual language helps you connect with your audience while continuing to build trust in your brand. Do not skip over this step in the process.

Brand Book Strategy and Research: Phase Three

Brand strategy is a plan that defines who a company is, where they want to go, how they get there, and why they want to go there. This is an extension of your overall business strategy. A brand strategy orbits the elements that drive brand awareness, brand equity, and brand sentiment. A successful brand strategy includes the brand’s mission, its promises to its customers, and how these are communicated.

Internal Brand Audit

A brand audit is a thorough analysis of your brand’s performance. It looks at how your company is performing compared to its competitors, what kind of experience your customers are having, and whether your values and your messaging are aligned. An audit will make sure you’re clear about who your target customer is, what story your company’s marketing and communication are telling that customer, and whether your brand is reaching those customers effectively. Finally, it allows your team to combine all this information into a clear strategy that fits with your brand’s goals.

When you conduct a brand audit, you’ll start by coming up with a list of all the data points you want to consider. Then you’ll identify your primary goals, and create a plan based on those goals. Next, you’ll collect and analyze data, and then use those insights to find solutions and plan for the future. The data points you look at can include getting the opinions of your customers and employees, as well as members of your target demographic who aren’t customers, through focus groups and surveys.

Additionally, you should look at your marketing materials and your website, and evaluate analytics data like your bounce rate, conversion rate, and where traffic is coming from. Finally, look at your social media pages, both qualitative engagement data and the story you’re telling about your brand. Your marketing team can do this yourselves, or you can hire an outside expert.

Benefits of auditing your brand

A few benefits of performing regular internal brand audits include:

  • Identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Prepare for rebrand (if needed)
  • Catch up with growth
  • Find and fix problems
  • Align internal and external branding
  • Understand customer experience
  • Continue to scale your business

If you’re looking for a place to start, reference this checklist as a guide to aligning your brand’s assets internally and externally.

Competitor research and analysis

Why is competitive research so important? To guarantee you stand out to prospective customers you need to know how you look and sound—especially against your competitors.

At BrandCraft, we use competitor research to inform all functions of marketing. Whether it’s digital marketing placement, design, or content, our goal is to make it stand out from the rest. And we’re not the only ones. According to HubSpot’s 2020 Marketing Report, 72% of businesses currently perform market research. Plus 80% use that research to make key business decisions.

The landscape of your industry will change. It’s important to conduct regular competitor research for these reasons: 

Maintain your competitive edge

80% of consumers are researching you and your competitors before making a final choice. As a result, you need to make sure you stand out with your marketing placement and message. 

Clearly understanding the competitive landscape in your market or industry allows for trend predicting and service innovation. You might notice your competitors aren’t taking advantage of marketing channels like search engines or newer platforms like TikTok. You may even realize their marketing messages and branding don’t speak to certain audiences that have buying power. These are possible opportunities for leverage over your competitors. 

Better understand your customers

The process of competitor research starts with acting like a customer. That is to say, it’s easy to overlook what the sales process looks like for them. You could be missing gaps in your industry’s sales process. Perhaps there is an opportunity to provide more accessible engagement options beyond a contact form – like a chatbot or remote meeting booking option. Sometimes just making it easier for your customer to get started over your competitors is a huge leg up. 

How to conduct competitive research

Fortune 500 companies invest in tools and teams to conduct deep competitor and trend research. While you might not have the resources the big guys do, there is a lot you can do and gain without their budget.  Here are tactics we use at BrandCraft that you can implement too: 

Shop the market like your customer

While it might be tempting to take your top-of-mind competitors and go straight to their website, try to avoid that. Shopping like an undecided consumer provides better insight into their experience for better or worse, allowing you to find opportunities to improve your customer journey and to see competitors you might not think about. This looks like searching for your product or service on search engines like Google, reviewing social profiles, and clicking their ads and posts to their ad placement, content, and ad journey. 

Use competitive research analysis tools

Use tools like SpyFu that provide insights on how your competitors rank in search engines and predict their advertising history with search engines. Search engines are not only the digital channel with the most buyer intent, meaning users are searching for products or solutions when they are there. Seeing the keywords or phrases your competitors rank for can provide insights on opportunities for you to either dominate search engines where they aren’t or to invest more in keywords you want to compete with them on. 

Take notes of how they talk about themselves

The undecided consumer that you are fighting for will rely on what the brand says about themselves to determine if it’s the right fit for them. The tone of their content, the features and benefits they focus on, and the design and imagery they use communicate to a potential customer what their experience with that brand will be like. It’s important to know how your competitors talk about themselves, to ensure you are setting yourself apart with your brand’s tone, content, and design. This is all part of positioning your brand.  

Take notes on how others talk about them

You know your reputation matters – and so does your competitors. Read their reviews on Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, or anywhere else they have reviews. Take note of themes or words used by their customers. Compare them to your reviews and see what you find. Are your customers saying the same thing as theirs? Much like how they talk about themselves, reviews are another way to see how your brand’s position stands against your competitors. 

Takeaways

Never assume how you stack against your competitor. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and know how you stack against them. Remember your customers are learning about you before they talk to you. Understanding the first impression your brand makes in comparison to your competition is vital. 

Conducting this research regularly can provide insights into new opportunities in the market.   The hardest part of doing this research is remaining unbiased. Above all, remove what you know about your competitors from your mind to ensure you have fresh eyes like the consumer shopping in the market.

Brand Book Personae Development: Phase Four

Buyer personae are simple representations of your brand’s ideal customer on paper. 

Buyer personae aren’t exactly a replica of your customers, but they should be able to cover a few things such as:

  • Demographic profile, where they live, work, age, gender, etc.
  • Where do they spend most of their time?
  • What do they care most about?
  • What triggers them to buy something?
  • What problem do they need to be solved?
  • What is their measure of a problem that’s solved well?

That covered, here are the reasons why buyer personas are important for your brand.

A strong buyer person can help and land new customers plus retain existing ones

A well-researched and thought-out buyer persona can help attract new customers to your brand. How so? 

According to Forbes, the key to successful branding lies in creating a strong connection with your customers. Your brand can only create a strong connection with your customers by knowing what they want while solving a problem they have. 

You’ll be able to find new customers for your business by impressing on them that you’re the best solution to their problems. The end result is that your brand will attract customers who will remain loyal to your business.

Further, research, as seen in the European business review, suggests that it’s more costly to acquire new customers than retain existing ones. This is based on the fact that people are loyal and more willing to buy from brands they trust.

With well-tuned and researched buyer personas, your brand will be able to satisfy most of your customer’s needs, making them loyal to your brand and less likely to defect, and they may also refer your brand to others.

Your brand will also save up on costs to acquire new customers when you have loyal customers.

Use the persona to gain more ROI from your marketing efforts

When you create buyer personas, you can picture your ideal customers, identify their main problems, and determine where to find them. 

With these three variables alone, you’ll be able to develop a marketing strategy for your brand that positions your brand as the ideal solution to their problems and create a marketing strategy that hones in on where your ideal customers are most likely to be. For instance, it may be social media for younger customers or media covering conservation matters if your ideal customers care about conservation.

By targeting your ideal customers, you’re most likely to have warm leads that are easier to convert and close. Also, if you’re using paid advertisements like Google Ads, or Facebook Ads, the low bounce rate may lower your marketing costs.

You’ll also save resources that could’ve been wasted by concentrating your marketing efforts in places your ideal customers don’t normally frequent.

A persona offers better audience segmentation

Creating buyer personas isn’t a one-off act. You keep doing it, and most of the data will come from your brand’s ideal customer.

While creating buyer personas relies on data from previous customer encounters, and data from survey companies, brands can also engage their customers, both current and potential, albeit indirectly. You should engage your audience regularly, and while you’re at it, pick their thoughts. 

You can do this by sharing helpful content and, in return, getting comments. Brands can take this a notch higher by sharing great content and asking their audience to sign up for more helpful content. You can be creative with the sign-up form, get their email and phone numbers, and ask about their gender or age. Anything that would help you create relevant audience segments.

In return, your brand will benefit by sharing content relevant to specific customer segments. By targeting each segment’s needs, your brand will be better positioned to get more lead conversions and increased revenue.

Increased revenue

Recent Salesforce research determined that a brand’s public image and conformity to buyers’ ideals affect how 75% of all buyers decide on purchases from a brand.

Well-researched buyer personas are almost a guarantee that you’ll be targeting the ideal customers for your brand. You’ll also be able to identify their needs, position your brand as having the most effective solution to their needs/problems, and identify with their beliefs.

This, in effect, translates to more leads for your brand, better conversion rates, reduced marketing costs, and more revenue for your brand.

A persona can reduce product development costs

The customer-centric design ultimately guarantees customer satisfaction and loyalty to a brand. Unfortunately, failure to research and develop customer-centric products has also led to some of the most catastrophic product launches, as evidenced by this article

However, not all brands do this, and the price they pay is spending more time and resources redoing their designs to fit customer needs.

With the help of buyer personas, your brand can concentrate on developing products or services that address your customer’s needs and, in the process, save your brand precious time and resources while bringing more revenue and recognition to your brand.

Final thoughts

Buyer personas are incredibly useful for any brand. While they might seem obvious and maybe tiresome to create, you’ll be grateful you took the initiative.

No matter your brand’s size, you can never go wrong with buyer personas. Remember, people change, and you should update buyer personas regularly, and if time and budget allow, create even more buyer personas.

Brand Book Touch Points: Phase Five

Businesses interact with customers on different levels and in many places, but instances of lack of proper energy, bad implementation, and vague ideas may sometimes occur. Appropriate brand and marketing strategies enable businesses to interact with consumers, mainly through fulfilling customer experience and influencing its delivery. Brand touchpoints make it easier for brands to evaluate customer needs, improve customer experience, and promote their brand, determining how customers view them.

Typically, a brand sets up expectations for its customers, and fulfilling them helps improve customer experience. Therefore, learning different types of brand touchpoints and planning helps decide which ones best suit your business’ marketing strategies.

What are brand touchpoints?

A brand touchpoint refers to any interaction and exposure potential customers, or customers have with brands, whether before, after, or after making a purchase. These interactions occur at different places, online or offline, and at various times. Besides, touchpoints are grouped based on uniformity and consistency in promoting brand experience, developing favorable brand perception, and ensuring a higher retention rate.

Brands often craft and construct their touchpoints to engage customers, giving them the best experience. Generally, these touchpoints allow businesses to communicate with their consumers daily and get them closer to the brand. With compelling, clear, and customer-enlightening interaction, a business can have successful contact and build strong relationships with customers.

Common brand touchpoints

Brand touchpoints are evolving and updating constantly because customers’ expectations also change over time. Before deciding on a specific brand touchpoint, consider your customers’ journey. That said, here are some common brand touchpoints:

  • Social media: social media offers a platform to build brand awareness and relationships, significantly impacting a customer’s journey. Social media touchpoint examples include media ads, sharing relevant posts, responding to customers, and collaborating with influencers.
  • Company content: Strong company content, such as blog posts, podcast episodes, online courses, and online reviews, are effective forms of brand touchpoints that promote interactions with customers. These either be sales-focused content, entertaining or educational content geared towards the customer.
  • Website: Your website is almost always the first touch point a user checks out when exploring your brand.  Having a consistent and concise website that clearly communicates your value and reputation will go a long way with potential customers.
  • The point of sale: A fast queue and straightforward transactions are some positive impacts businesses can use to streamline the customer’s journey if they are shopping in-store. In addition, if you are an e-commerce, offering faster, precise, and simple online purchases help lower cart abandonment and promote retention.
  • Post-purchase feedback requests: After any purchase, allowing customers to provide feedback helps promote interaction and build relationships. Again, post-purchase feedbacks enable businesses to make decisions that improve the customer journey.
  • Marketing channels: These are effective brand touchpoints that make customers feel heard and empowered. This can range anywhere from email marketing to company event promotions. It helps enhance customer relationships and interaction, building trust with the brand. While also making your brand easily recognizable across many mediums.
  • Advertising: The correct advertising techniques will help you reach your target market at every stage of the customer journey if done right. A few methods you may consider using are online ads, print ads, radio ads, podcast ads, streaming services, outdoor/transit, print ads and so on.

Effective ways to plan your brand touchpoints for the customer journey

Each brand has its way of optimizing its marketing strategy based on its unique audience. While several ways exist to plan your brand touchpoints, it is essential to consider those that guide your customer down the overall buyer’s journey. We list a few ways below:

  1. Identify and improve existing touchpoints
  2. Create new brand touchpoints
  3. Learn from other brands
  4. Make touchpoints user-friendly
  5. Get feedback from customer
  6. Create a plan and measure results

Bottom Line

Brands need to identify their touchpoints that offer maximum impact, mainly in achieving a particular set of business goals. Continual monitoring and analysis of touchpoints ensure an effective plan to uphold strong relationships and improve customer experience.

At BrandCraft, we can help you get more insights into brand touchpoints for your customer journey. Schedule a free consultation with our growth strategist to learn more today

Brand Customer Loyalty and Equity: Phase Six

The connection between brand equity, customer awareness, and confidence in the brand that distinguishes it from rivals and brand loyalty plays a key role in the financial performance of most businesses. The higher your brand equity, the higher the likelihood of attracting and retaining loyal consumers and consequently increasing your company revenue. Trust in the brand, quality, personality, value for money, and good connections are all components of brand equity.

Brand loyalty

Consumer brand loyalty refers to the favorable associations with a specific product or brand. Customers that display brand loyalty are dedicated to a product or service, evidenced by repeated purchases in the face of rival attempts to entice them away. Corporations pay substantial sums in customer service and marketing to generate and sustain brand loyalty for an established product.

Loyal customers usually buy a brand regardless of convenience or cost, mainly because it satisfies their requirements. They, therefore, do not find the need to try another brand.

Most established brand-name items compete in a highly competitive market flooded with new and old competing products, many of which are scarcely distinct. As a result, businesses adopt various strategies to build and retain brand loyalty. They spend their advertising funds on messages directed to a portion of the market comprised of loyal consumers and like-minded individuals who may become loyal customers.

As a business owner, you should adopt continuous monitoring and research to determine your goods or service utility to find adjustments to boost your customers’ benefits and brand loyalty. When a business ignores consumer trends, it risks losing brand-loyal consumers, decreasing the company’s brand equity, and diminishing potential revenues.

Companies can jeopardize consumers’ loyalty when they lose faith in a brand. When businesses get mired in controversies, consumers often suffer and lose belief in the brand’s ability to continue offering value.

With the proliferation of social media and the capacity to express ideas and share experiences online, adverts no longer define businesses. Customers’ perceptions represent the brands. If you keep the customer at the forefront of everything you do, your brand equity will increase, and many will be loyal to your brand.

Brand equity

Accordingly, brand equity is the value of your brand in the marketplace. Just like having a higher brand value allows your brand to sell things at a higher price point, having high brand equity means your brand is easily recognizable and well-known within the market. This is a great indicator of company strength and performance specifically in the public markets. Businesses may build brand equity for their goods by ensuring that they are memorable, readily identifiable, and of high quality and dependability. Additionally, mass marketing initiatives contribute to the development of brand equity.

When your business has substantial brand equity, people are ready to pay premium prices for its goods, even if they could acquire the same item for less from a rival. Customers pay a premium to do business with a company they recognize and appreciate. Since a company with brand equity incurs no additional costs in production or transporting the product to market than its competitors, the difference in price benefits their margin. Thus, your business’ brand equity allows it to earn a higher profit on each transaction.

Brand equity contributes to linkages between the perceived advantages and costs associated with a product. As a result, your product or service pricing remains unchallenged. When people see your brand, they automatically believe it is high quality. They will be willing to spend a premium on your product or service.

Building brand equity is more than a means of generating short-term revenue. It is a technique for fostering long-term business wealth generation. Your branding plan must have an equity component since it significantly influences a brand’s capacity to establish and keep a competitive advantage. If you need a third-party assessment, we will arrange a free consultation appointment when you’re ready.

Wrapping it All Together: Make Your Brand Successful

Today’s consumer desires individualism and personalization. Brands have never mattered more and have never been more niche than they are today. Some large brands thrive, but the trend is for brands to continue to specialize and serve smaller, more loyal tribes. Even large brands of today tend to introduce their own niche brands into the marketplace to remain competitive. Brands matter as much today as they ever have.

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