“What makes a good brand?” is a question that keeps marketers and business owners up at night. And given the strength of a brand can add millions to a company’s value, who can blame them?
Yet branding is not just for multinational businesses floating themselves on the stock market – any business of any size should be considering its brand.
Your brand is everything your business means to people – the set of qualities it evokes when someone hears its name. Every encounter people have with your business, from advertising to customer service, contributes to your brand in some way.
Clearly, a good brand is a vital asset, so what can you do to define and build yours?
1. Your Voice
Your business’s ‘voice’ is the fundamental way you speak to your customers: online, over the phone, on posters, letters and emails. Before you decide on your brand voice, you should decide which traits you both do and don’t want to embody. As a practical example, let’s say you’re a new online florist aimed at a younger audience. You might decide on a voice that is:
- Emotionally Invested
You might also decide that your voice is not:
What you say, and much of how you say it, will, of course, vary depending on setting. Your tone will change to suit the format or scenario in which you’re speaking. But whatever the circumstance, you should always seek to express a settled combination of traits that define your business.
Here are two examples of brands who’ve really nailed their voice and the essential traits they communicate:
- Boots – a comforting, feeling-oriented voice that suits a company selling health and wellbeing
- Ikea – their quirky, humorous use of language matches the efficient creativity of their product design, and stands out from other furniture brands, which are usually quite serious in tone
2. Your Visual Language
Branding works on people’s verbal and visual memories, so you should establish your own distinctive visual identity. Your business needs its own visual language – the set of rules and conventions for how your materials look.
A visual brand language will be applied consistently across everything you produce. It incorporates multiple elements, but its four fundamentals are:
- Typography (fonts and typefaces)
- Colour scheme
Your choices can effect the way people see your business. For example, serif or ornate fonts convey a refined, serious identity, and dark colour palettes are often used by luxury brands. Conversely rounded fonts and lighter colours are often used by companies that want to come across as fun, friendly and approachable. Think about what you want to convey about yourself with these choices.
Some examples of brands with superb visual languages:
- Apple – instantly recognisable logo, simple but iconic ads and modern typography.
- Transport for London – iconic roundel logo that is repurposed for different lines, distinctive and consistent typography, informative ads across the public transport network.
3. Your company strapline
This is the phrase that appears beneath your logo – the words you want customers to think to themselves, involuntarily, as soon as your business comes to mind. For Apple, it’s ‘Think Different’, For Nike, it’s ‘Just Do It’. What’s your unmistakable call to attention going to be?
Your strapline needs to be brief, memorable and exude relevance as soon as its seen next to your logo. This isn’t easy, but here are two companies we think have excelled:
- Tesco – ‘Every little helps’. The brevity and offbeat grammar is memorable feel instantly relevant to the company’s goals without over-egging anything.
- Ronseal –‘Does exactly what it says on the tin’. This strapline manages to be both funny and serious, conveying no-nonsense utility and wry Britishness.
In the end, all these elements need to align with each other, and be used together consistently across all your communications.
As a practical example of how this could work, let’s imagine you’re running a properly-branded banner ad. Ideally, it will:
- Feature your logo and strapline together, either at the top or bottom of the ad
- Employ your brand’s colour scheme and typography, both of which will match your logo (and your Call To Action button)
- Convey appropriate messaging written in your voice and tone
- Link to a website that exhibits all of these brand conventions