By definition, a Brand is a particular identity or image associated with a business, a service(s), or a product(s). Essentially, your brand exists in the minds of your customers. That existence, good or bad, is determined by how well your brand is positioned and the consistency of exposure to your ideal customer.
Sounds a bit overwhelming doesn’t it? In short, think about brand as the way your customer perceives your company and the service(s) or product(s) that you offer.
When you think about your brand, you should begin to think about your entire customer experience from your logo, packaging, marketing/sales materials, advertising, website, social media, and the overall experience your customer enjoys from the time they first experience your brand all the way through the buying process and beyond.
» The Importance of Branding
» Brand Recognition | Preference | Insistence
» 12 Actionable Tips to Create a Strong Brand
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Every company has a story of how they came into existence. Maybe it started with a desire to reduce plastic waste, by producing a reusable straw. Or, perhaps your company aims to help patients, in non-emergency situations, by providing easy access to a licensed doctor when their family PCP is not available. Enter the MDLIVE iOS app. Your business idea or product may be similar or even more ambitious and revolutionary than these. You too have a story to tell, and you can start today by building a rock solid brand identity.
One of the most important facets of building a strong brand identity is to realize that if you do not consistently invest into your brand and tell your story the way you want, your competition will be sure to lend a hand. The hard lesson for any company is that branding is not optional in today’s market place. The seemingly over-saturation of products and services is almost deafening, and yet, your brand needs to have a voice. To be recognized by your ideal target consumer, who desires your product over everyone else, who eventually tells their entire social circle how awesome your company is. Sounds good doesn’t it?
Creating Brand Loyalty can be broken into three distinct qualities; Brand Recognition, Brand Preference, and Brand Insistence. The last is the Golden Goose of any brand, ‘true believers’ repeatedly laying golden eggs everywhere without giving it a second thought. These fan-boys, evangelize for your brand, encouraging sales, insisting they choose you to whomever they talk to. Die-hard loyalty like this is not made overnight. It takes consistency over the long haul. Let’s start by taking a look at the strategy behind brand recognition.
Hind sight is always 20/20 isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to be a part of Apple, Nike or Amazon when they were just starting out? Their brands are now recognized worldwide. One look at the classic Apple Icon and you know exactly what quality of tech you are buying. Sports enthusiasts will clamor for the latest Nike shoe that just hit the market. If you want fast shipping, you checkout Amazon, find your product, add it to your cart and in two days, you’re enjoying your brand new pink fuzzy slippers that you couldn’t live without. Successful brands help their customers achieve the holy grail of Brand Insistence. This is achieved by creating a level of recognition through consistency, messaging, and an identifiable visual style. Let’s unpack each of these to better understand the three aspects of Brand Recognition.
Consistency. Plain and simple. Successful brands are consistent. Consistency in font use, layout style, photography choice and retouching style to name just a few. These are the obvious visual consistencies that appear, it seems, on every corner and browser window. If you are paying attention, it’s hard to ignore how well certain brand recognition campaigns are assembled. Visually stunning and market focused, they consistently tell a story through words, phrases, and even the tone of the narrators voice. One tie that binds all great brand recognition campaigns together is the strength of its consistency over the entire campaign. An important key to building a strong brand… Consistency.
Messaging. If I asked you to explain to me what your business does, could you quickly and succinctly give an adequate pitch in less than 60 seconds? Would I walk away with a reasonable understanding of what you do? How we communicate matters. The words we choose and the manner in which they are conveyed are of the utmost importance. Crafting the message of your brand is the same. Any content that you develop, including your tagline, should easily convey your Brand Positioning. Brand positioning consists of your Customer Definition, Brand Personality, Value Proposition (Brand Promise), and Audience Persona(s). Establishing your Brand Positioning will shape what you say and how you say it.
Style. The visual impact of your brand begins to establish, in your customers mind, the quality and strength of your product or service. Your style is a building block for your customers and the beginning of their belief in you, setting the stage for your hero… your product or service. Much like the set of a theatrical production, every detail is considered, explored, and examined if it will help or take away from the experience of your audience. When building your brand style, it’s easy to get lost in the details so it is important to view your brand style objectively. Each brand element should compliment the other elements. Consider how strong your brand can be when your logo, color choice, photography style, and all other aspects are working together. Building an effective Brand Style is the sum of its parts.
Four Ways to Create Brand Recognition:
Be Social. Regular social engagement increases awareness. How often do you post to your social channels? A good recommendation is to post twice a week to start and increase your engagement as you are able. Social engagement also includes your activity on other relevant posts by influencers or partner channels.
Be A Guest Blogger. In addition to your own weekly (or more frequent) blog posts, guest blogging can gain awareness through exposure to a new audience. Blogging helps to establish your authority, trust-worthiness, and relevancy in your market. Speaking to a new audience that already has the trust of the platform on which you are guest blogging on will add to your awareness and increase traffic to your website through external links.
Be Informative. Gather specific information that helps to strengthen your service or product. These data points are often the differentiator that distinguishes you from your competition. Work with a professional graphic designer that can design a beautiful info-graphic for you to share. Your designer can also create your info-graphic in such a way that it will be shareable on your social channels as well as usable for any other marketing materials or advertising that you endeavor to create.
Be Optimized. If you have a website, make sure it is working for you by optimizing your website for search results (SEO). Setting up a good SEO strategy is key to converting leads into sales and opportunities for increased awareness. Researching your keywords, search phrases and optimizing your page content to rank higher in search results is just as important as publishing content on a regular basis.
How well do you know your ideal customer? How does your service uniquely solve their problem? Are you connecting with your customers on a personal level and addressing their short-term and long-term needs? These are the root drivers that create brand preference. Answering these questions, and others, will in-turn present your brand with the opportunity to influence customers actions and buying decisions.
Imagine, if you will, an aisle at your local store. There are lots of products, probably 3-4 shelves filled high with attention grabbing, well designed packages. Each stating that they are the best. Some of the products look very familiar. You search specifically for the product you want, bypassing all of the other products until you find exactly what you want. You pick your product off of the shelf and purchase, leaving satisfied knowing you bought the perfect solution. This scenario represents the combination of Brand Recognition, Preference, and Insistence.
Now imagine this same scenario, but in your customers mind. They know the brand they want, they have been trained to prefer it, and they now insist that this is the product that they need. Your Brand needs to be on that shelf. How do you create this brand preference? By understanding your customers, knowing their buying intent, and providing a buying journey that is easy and seamless. Let’s unpack this a bit by starting with your value proposition and how this fulfills your customers needs.
Value Proposition. Built upon customer relevancy, benefits, and differentiation your value proposition, should clearly communicate the results your customer receives and what makes you different. All of this needs to be understood clearly and with a few seconds. Your value proposition should contain a headline, a short 2-3 sentence paragraph or sub-headline, and several key benefit bullet points. Finally, provide your customer a visual that creates an impression and strengthens your written value proposition. This can be as simple as a logo and an abstract background. Your brand identity design will provide guidance, and working with a professional designer to craft the perfect visual will help immensely.
Research. Knowing your customer is one of the biggest assets a brand can have. Having the proper research data will help you to intimately know your audience, how to reach them, and what marketing channels are going to be most effective. Using market data to develop brand persona’s will help establish your ideal customer. Sometimes called brand archetypes, persona’s will identify your ideal customer, their wants, needs, desires, values, lifestyle, buying intents, as well as other distinguishing factors. Chiefly, brand persona’s answer the question “How do we solve their unique problems?” Customer persona’s drive many, if not every aspect of a brand’s marketing strategy; they reveal your brand’s secrets to success.
Motivating your Market. From your research, you can study what drives customer behaviors and see how that affects your product or service and your customer’s awareness of your brand in the marketplace. In our on-demand, technological world, it is paramount to utilize the available marketing channels from social media to word-of-mouth advertising. Your goal is to create a brand image that evokes a sense of reliability in your image, tagline, messaging, and overall brand. As we stated earlier with your brand recognition, consistency is king.
How do you build brand preference? Social engagement, regular posts on your website, newsletters and email campaigns. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, it’s how you greet someone that walks in the door, it’s the sincere “How can I help you?” that encourages customer interaction, “Let us know what you think.” or “How are you?” add value. Strong brand awareness combined with outstanding service, online or in-person, leads to brand preference which will eventually translate into growth.
Three Ways to Reinforce Brand Preference:
Brand Value. Know your differentiating factors. In any marketplace, there is confusion and saturation. Knowing what makes a customer value your product or service over everyone else will be the difference between blending in with the masses or standing out and getting noticed. Work with a professional brand identity developer that can help you know your unique value proposition.
Brand Benefits and Your Market. Research what makes your target customer tick. Know their lifestyle, buying habits, social engagement, what they need and want, and what they value. Understanding these traits will help your efforts to connect with them through targeted engagement, allowing you to speak to them personally through their natural channels. Having a great market research team helping you to evaluate KPI’s (Key Performance Indicator) will provide you with the necessary resources for data collection and market analysis.
Market Motivation. Brand awareness doesn’t happen over night. It takes consistent engagement through a strategy that personally connects with your target audience. This is why knowing your audience and their tendencies are important to your brand strategy. You can only connect when you know where your audience will be. Is it Instagram, coffee shops, or craft breweries? Motivating your audience starts with a well planned engagement strategy and utilizing targeted ads, text messaging, traditional print marketing, or a specific platform that will connect with your audience.
I mentioned earlier that achieving brand insistency is the culmination of a great brand strategy, knowing your audience and a lot of hard work. Understanding your Value Proposition and how to effectively communicate that is the primary key to generating brand insistence. The customer loyalty that is developed will create brand fanatics that endorse your brand product or service wherever they go. It’s undeniable. It also takes time and… consistency.
A great brand starts with recognition. Are your audience members and key stakeholder aware of your brand? Is it the first one that comes to mind?
Recognition and awareness then moves into preference. Are your differentiating factors customer-relevant and compelling? Do you add value for the price and is that value important to your audience?
Finally, preference will build insistence. Is your product or service accessible? Do your customers perceive your brand to be convenient? Do you connect with your customers on an emotional level?
At a very basic level, brand insistence happens when someone sees themselves in your brand. They identify with your brand and have now put your brand on the shelf of awareness in their minds. If someone says “I’m an Apple person,” they mean that they identify with the innovation, product quality, and clean design that IS Apple. They personally connect with and value the brand characteristics that Apple has created.
To be sure, Apple built their brand loyalty and insistence strategically, from the ground up. And you can, too.
Five Drivers of Brand Insistence:
Awareness. Built by combing a unique visual style with messaging that speaks directly and personally to your target audience. Embracing a discipline of consistent engagement with your audience will help them recognize your brand over your competition.
Differentiation. Know what makes you different and better than your competition. These brand qualities, combined with your value proposition, will set you on the path to ever increasing brand preference.
Value. Know your differentiating factors. Your value proposition is your hero statement here. Resonate with your target audience through your messaging and style. Begin to champion your value proposition in a way that creates interaction, recognition, and preference.
Accessibility. How easy is it for your customers to interact with your brand? Do they perceive your brand to be convenient? What is your brand doing to help remove barriers and road blocks for your customers to enjoy your service or product?
Emotional Connection. All brands connect emotionally with their buyers. It could be through a compelling story that evokes memories of the past or it could be a simple solution for every day people to simplify a task in their life. Emotionally connecting with your customers will establish a preference and insistence for your brand.
The goal of building a brand identity is to move customers from brand recognition to brand insistence. Businesses should be striving to maximize their brands exposure and accessibility through regular, consistent engagement.
Developing a brand identity takes a lot of work and know-how. At Werle Creative, LLC we love helping business re-discover their brand, their value and how to properly speak to their ideal audience. If you are ready to re-discover your brand, schedule a FREE 30 minute call with us.
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Mark Werle | Creative Director
Werle Creative, LLC
I'm a creative enthusiast who loves the outdoors and his family. I have been designing and 'branding' for over twenty years. Some might say I am a perfectionist, but in reality, I have a penchant for fine-tuning details until they feel right. I also love great conversation over a good cup of coffee. Book a time to connect with me. I'd love to meet you.